Catalunyan GP: Honda race report

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) solidified his hold on second in the MotoGP World Championship with a fine second place in his home grand prix before a crowd of 81,426 on a sweltering afternoon at the Circuit of Catalunya. The race was won by...

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) solidified his hold on second in the MotoGP World Championship with a fine second place in his home grand prix before a crowd of 81,426 on a sweltering afternoon at the Circuit of Catalunya. The race was won by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), with Casey Stoner (Ducati) third, the trio completing an identical podium to last week's Dutch TT.

Pedrosa, racing in front of friends and family from his nearby hometown of Sabadell, got the jump on the 17-rider field as they sped down the kilometer-long front straight. But a front end shake on the run to turn one had knocked his brake pads back and he arrived at the highest speed point on the track with no brakes. Pedrosa made the split second decision to ride onto the tarmac run-off. He rejoined the field in ninth place.

From there it was a fight to the front, with Pedrosa gaining spots quickly. He was fifth by the second lap, third by the sixth and into second on lap 16.

His elevation into second came at the expense of teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Dovizioso had gotten away with Lorenzo and matched him corner for corner, even taking the lead on the fourth lap. Then Lorenzo took advantage of a mistake by Dovizioso to reclaim the lead and controlled the pace.

The Italian was riding hard to keep pace with Lorenzo. From the start of the race his rear brake wasn't working properly, which made it difficult to settle the rear of the machine for corner entry. He was able to be fast, but there was added pressure on the front and he was always on the limit. The aggressive riding finally caught up with him. Dovizioso was within half a second of Lorenzo when he lost the front end and crashed entering turn 10, the entrance to the stadium. He remounted and rode dust-covered to 14th, and two valuable championship points.

Once in second Pedrosa was under pressure from Stoner, but remained steadfast and took his fourth podium of the season. It was also his second in a row, which he believes shows that he's able to demonstrate the consistency needed to remain in the championship fight.

He now has 113 championship points to 165 for Lorenzo after seven of 18 races. Dovizioso sits third with 91.

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) came into the race better prepared than ever. He had the advantage of a new chassis and forks, supplied by Honda in recognition of his recent results, which he put to good use by qualifying third fastest.

For the race de Puniet took a gamble on his rear tire. On a day of 49C track temperatures, the Frenchman was the only Honda rider, and one of only four riders in the 17-rider field, to opt for the harder Bridgestone rear. De Puniet was hoping it would give him an advantage over the second half of the race, but it wasn't so. Instead he moved into a solitary fourth on the 15th lap and rode it home.

Still, the result was his best of the season and moved de Puniet into a tie for fourth in the championship with Nicky Hayden (Ducati), and sole honors as top non-factory rider.

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) rode valiantly to finish just behind Hayden in ninth place. Melandri was riding just over a week after separating his left shoulder at Assen and in considerable pain. Braking was difficult and by the end of the race he was relying heavily on the right side of his body. He held Hayden off until the three laps from the end. Even when he was in ninth, Melandri never gave up and missed out on eighth by just over .1s.

Kousuke Akiyoshi finished his second and final ride on the Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V by scoring three championship points, his most ever. The 35-year-old Honda test rider, who was riding in place of the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, came out on top of a friendly battle with fellow test rider Wataru Yoshikawa, 41, of Yamaha. Akiyoshi learned a great deal about racing at the grand prix level and will put it to good use as he returns to his job as a test rider in Japan.

Akiyoshi will be replaced at the next grand prix in Germany in two weeks' time by Alex de Angelis, the former MotoGP rider who's racing for RSM Team Scot in Moto2 this season. The team has said the San Marinese remain on the bike until Aoyama is fit to return. No date has been set. When Aoyama does return, de Angelis will return to his Moto2 duties with RSM Team Scot.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) was on pace for a career best result when his day came to a premature end. Like de Puniet, Simoncelli had the use of a revised chassis and forks in Spain. The tall, lanky Italian used them to good effect by finishing the first lap in fifth, then slotting into a secure sixth on lap two. He was pushing de Puniet when he let off the brakes too early and the front end washed away on the 14th lap. And, despite his first race crash of the season, the MotoGP rookie came away encouraged with his form and the progress the team has made.

The Moto2 race began with a massive crash in the first turn that would have a profound effect on the outcome of the race.

It was hard to assign blame for what happened, but it appeared there was some overaggressive riding mid-pack which caused a chain reaction that sent eight riders to the ground with several more forced to take evasive action.

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2) was ahead of the carnage and sped into the lead, unhindered by a broken collarbone which had been mended exactly one week earlier. He was leading on lap two when what would turn out to be a critical mistake took place.

Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) passed Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3) under a waving yellow in the turn one crash site, a clear violation. Within a few laps a marshal held a sign with his number and a "-1," meaning he should move back one position, but it was clear he didn't know what it meant. His team tried similar communications, both with their arms and with their pit board, but nothing worked and Iannone was assessed a ride-through penalty, which he served on the 16th of 23 laps.

As soon as Iannone pulled into the pit lane, Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3) took the lead and sped to victory, his first in the MotoGP class and the first for the Tech 3 team. Takahashi also had two wins on a 250. The margin of victory was 5.037s.

Luthi overcame the discomfort of his recently mended collarbone to emerge victorious over Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter). Luthi passed the Spaniard on the 22nd lap and beat him to the flag by .163s.

A spirited battle for fourth went to Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing, FTR) over Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) and Simone Corsi (JIR Moto2, Motobi).

Despite finishing sixth, Elias continues to lead the championship with 111 points. Luthi moved into second with 94, with Simon third at 77. Shoya Tomizawa (Techomag-CIP, Suter), who came to Spain second in the points, crashed on the fifth lap. He'd been relegated to the back of the field after avoiding the first turn disaster.

Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) scored points for the third time this season with a 14th place finish in the 125cc race which was won by Marc Marquez (Derbi). Having had less success in Assen last week, the young German vowed to do better and he did. Though he didn't get the best of starts, Schrotter methodically attacked the riders in front. Having finished the first lap in 19th, Schrotter continued his march making his final pass on the last of 22 laps.

Now, after three consecutive races, the paddock can take a breather before reconvening at the Sachsenring for the German Grand Prix on the weekend of July 16-18.


Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd
"I made a really good start and was leading towards turn one. I had a bit of a front end shake on the way to the first corner but I didn't think anything of it until I hit the brakes and... for a moment there was nothing. I was surprised because it was not such a bit shake, but anyway I pumped a few times and it came back, but by then it was too late and I had to run wide. I took it slowly to get back on track because I didn't want to be to be penalised [for cutting the corner]. And then I tried to recover as quickly as possible and make up the positions I'd lost. I got past Casey when he made a mistake and we raced together for many laps. I was pushing as hard as possible but we had a bit of a front end issue through the race and the front end was closing in the corners - I think many riders were having this problem today though. I was able to hang on until the end of the race though and I'm happy enough with second place after that first lap. We've linked two good results together which was our target and now we must maintain this consistence and fight for the win at the next races."

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 4th
"We have decided to go with the harder tyre and I struggled a bit with rear edge-grip in the beginning. I took a bad start from the front row but immediately push to catch the three riders in the front and after that my race pace was exactly what we were expecting. So I took the fourth position and decided to keep my rhythm till the end, as I could easily control the gap to the other riders. Simoncelli tried to catch me but he made a mistake and crashed out. I knew I could get my best result of the season here and this fourth place is simply fantastic for me and the guys. We now hold fifth place in the world classification as best private team and we keep on working in this direction to place our Honda in the front at every GP of the season."

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 9th
"That was a tough race -- really tough. The temperature was incredible but the heat was the least of my worries and I was struggling most of all with my condition under braking. I could hardly get the bike stopped in the first corner, but my pace was good and I was hopeful of following Spies and Capirossi to the end. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes and I started to feel more and more pain. I was practically riding using only the right side of my body and when the front started to lose grip it was hard for me to hold on. I made one last attempt to pass Hayden at the end but I couldn't hold it on the brakes so it was impossible. "

Kousuke Akiyoshi (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 15th
"The race today was a big thing for me and it was quite difficult as well. I am a test rider and I work in a different way than the MotoGP riders. But the experience was a lot of fun for me. I would like to come back one day."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): 14th
"Today we had a really good race pace and we could have fought with Lorenzo for the win at the end of the race. Unfortunately though, from lap one my rear brake was not really working properly in the last part of the corner entry and this gave me some problems entering corners and mid-corner. I was still able to be fast, but this issue put more weight on the front, it was very difficult to control - I was always at the limit. Then at turn nine of 15th lap I went a little bit over the limit and crashed. It's a pity but I have to take the positives from today - and fighting at the front of the race is where we want to be and we achieved that for a time today. Anyway, I'm happy with my performance, and I'm sorry for the team because we are all working hard. Next time we'll aim to be back up front again."

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): DNF
"I was on course for the result we had hoped for and thought we were capable of. I knew if I could be consistent I could be up near the front and in fact I was setting low 1'44s. I was catching De Puniet but then I let off the brakes a little too early as I entered the corner and the front folded. What a shame! Today we were capable of finishing fourth and that would have given us a massive boost. We have made progress but it would be nice to just have that extra injection of morale. Now we are even more sure that we have taken big steps forward over the past three races but mistakes can happen. It is my first race crash but we didn't want it! "


Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3): 1st
"I am a little bit speechless right now because I expected to be on the podium but this win is like a dream for me. Luckily I got on the front row in qualifying yesterday and that meant I wasn't involved in the big crash at the first corner. I didn't have a very good pace in the early laps while I gained some confidence with the front tyre, but once in my rhythm I could easily catch Luthi and Simon. My bike was working fantastic out of the last corner and it meant I could pass them both on the brakes at the first corner. I tried to follow Iannone but it was very difficult. He was riding very fast and I didn't realise he was penalised for passing me under a yellow flag. My board said P1 even though I was second and for a while it was a little confusing. But when I saw him pull into the pit lane I understood the situation because I'd seen the penalty board and his number but I wasn't sure what was happening. Then it became incredibly hard to maintain concentration because Iannone was a good reference. I settled down though and could win and it was an amazing feeling. I can't thank my team at Tech 3 Racing enough. This team is like a family and everybody works incredibly hard. They have unbelievable passion for racing and for me, and this win feels a lot more special than before because it is with a bike we've all developed."

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki): 2nd
"The whole weekend was hard and brutally hot. With the fresh operation it was not always a nice feeling. We still had a good weekend and could start the race from first row and I finished the race in second place, which was really good. These points are very important for me."

Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter): 3rd
"I haven't seen what happened at the beginning of the race, but I consider myself lucky to not have been involved in the first corner crash. I was very focused on not losing positions from the start, because that is something that has been a problem for the past two races. I was aggressive on the opening laps, knowing that I had to take advantage of a good pace on fresh tyres. I made a couple of mistakes and let Iannone and Takahashi get away, so from then on I stuck on Luthi's back tyre and waited for a last lap move. The end of the race was when I was waiting for him to leave an opening, but he was on it and I was left sliding around on worn tyres. I am very happy to have finished third here in Barcelona, after having made a silly mistake last year to miss out on a win. The next race is at a circuit that I love, so I'm very happy."


Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team): 14th
"The race started quite well, but in the second lap I had problems with the engine. It stopped and I lost time, almost two seconds. At the end I was around 20th position, but I could fight back and I tried to make up the five seconds to the front group. Regarding all the problems with the bike, the race was not bad, unfortunately I lost so much time. I am satisfied with the result though."

-source: honda

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Marco Simoncelli , Toni Elias , Thomas Luthi , Alex de Angelis , Casey Stoner , Kousuke Akiyoshi , Julian Simon , Hiroshi Aoyama , Wataru Yoshikawa , Shoya Tomizawa , Dani Pedrosa , Karel Abraham , Marc Marquez , Andrea Iannone , Simone Corsi , Marcel Schrötter , Yuki Takahashi
Teams CIP , AB Motoracing