Repsol Honda riders Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa finished today's Grand Prix of Valencia in fifth and seventh places after an enthralling 30-lap race that saw both riders carving their way through the MotoGP field. The final race of the season produced exiting duels throughout, and the Repsol Honda riders were in the thick of it from outset.
Dovizioso made a fast start from ninth on the grid and fought his way up to sixth at the end of lap one. The 24-year-old Italian had taken another position next time around and in the early stages was matching the pace of the leading riders. His pre-race target of another podium finish looked possible at this point. The middle section of the race saw Dovizioso battling again with the Gresini Honda of Marco Simoncelli, and once more it was Dovizioso who came out on top after some committed moves by both riders.
Though diminishing grip in the final phase of the race meant Dovizioso couldn't take the fight to Ben Spies who passed him with four laps to go, his fifth place today was a creditable result considering his midfield starting position. With seven rostrum finishes to his name this year, Dovizioso has completed a positive season and secured a comfortable fifth place in the World Championship.
A brilliant performance from Pedrosa saw him light up the early part of the race and for the first eight laps it looked like the 25-year-old Spaniard was capable of pulling off a stunning victory. An exceptional first lap from Pedrosa - even by his fast-starting standards - saw him climb from eighth on the grid to fourth after the first corner before launching an audacious attack into turn two and claiming two more places. This was Pedrosa at his totally-committed best and he proceeded to hunt down Casey Stoner in front, setting the fastest lap of the race on the way.
By the end of lap seven the gap to Stoner was down to 0.062s, but almost inevitably fatigue began to set in for Pedrosa, who is still riding well below 100 per cent fitness after his recent collarbone injury and subsequent surgery. Unable to maintain his early pace, he gradually slipped to seventh place at the chequered flag, which was good enough to comfortably secure second place in the World Championship ahead of Valentino Rossi, who took the final podium position today. Jorge Lorenzo won the Grand Prix of Valencia after a two-thirds distance pass on Casey Stoner, who finished second.
With the 2010 season now complete, the Repsol Honda Team takes a one-day rest before returning to Valencia for two days of testing, starting on Tuesday, in preparation for the 2011 campaign.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO - 5th - World Championship Position 5th - 206 points
"We have done a good job here at Valencia and we can be happy that we were the first Honda rider home today. Our pace wasn't enough to compete for the win so we can't be totally satisfied of course, but overall we've had a positive end to the season. I was missing some speed in the middle of the corners today which is an area to work on in future, as is improving the stability under braking. I'm disappointed I couldn't re-pass Spies, but my tyres were very worn by the end and I couldn't fight in the last laps because the grip was dropping off quite a lot and it was difficult to maintain the pace from the first part of the race. Anyway it was a good battle with Simoncelli again and I hope there will be more like this next year - it shows that pocket bikes was a good training ground! Overall we have to be satisfied with the job done by Honda, the team and myself throughout the year and I'd like to thank all those involved. The package has improved a lot and, whereas last year we were struggling, this year I've been consistently faster. We still have some fine tuning to do for next year - and that can start here in the test on Tuesday."
DANI PEDROSA - 7th - World Championship Position 2nd - 245 points
"This was the one of the hardest races of my life and also one of the ones I can feel most proud of. Honestly I was not sure at all before the start that I could do 30 laps today, but I managed to do it and I'm very happy now, and also exhausted. I made a good start and to stay with Stoner in the early laps was amazing for me. I fought as hard as possible to maintain the pace for as long as I could and it was during this period that I set the fastest lap of the race. But of course my strength was ebbing away little by little and I was caught by the group behind me. From then on I just concentrated on staying on the bike and finishing the race - I was counting down the laps. To finish second in the championship was not our goal at the beginning of the season of course, but only we know how hard it has been to keep second place after the crash in Japan. We will take our time to recover after this race and we can also have a useful test on Tuesday and Wednesday in preparation for next year."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Today we have finished a long season and first I would like to thank all the sponsors, team members and the riders for the commitment and effort they have put in throughout this year for the Repsol Honda Team. It has been a tough season at times, and this race was no exception, especially for Dani who was not riding at full fitness. He pushed to the maximum today and his start to the race really gave our Honda fans something to cheer. Andrea also pushed hard for the podium finish he wanted to end the year with, and although he couldn't achieve that today, he has made a lot of progress this season and I believe he will continue this and become even stronger in 2011. Finally, I'd like to say thank you for the support of all the Honda fans around the world. Next season the Repsol Honda Team will come back even stronger and work as hard as possible to achieve the best possible results for all those fans."