Chinese GP: Repsol Honda race report

Repsol rider Dani Pedrosa ran another superb race at the China Grand Prix, fourth test for points in the 2008 World Motorcycling Championship. Pedrosa, who arrived in China sharing the lead of the general classification with fellow countryman ...

Repsol rider Dani Pedrosa ran another superb race at the China Grand Prix, fourth test for points in the 2008 World Motorcycling Championship. Pedrosa, who arrived in China sharing the lead of the general classification with fellow countryman Lorenzo, left the Shanghai track today with an advantage of 7 points, after he took his fourth consecutive podium in the top category.

Today's second position almost tasted of victory, bearing in mind that the day kicked off under intense rain, and where the 125cc and 250cc races were disputed under the downpour.

Though Dani is not an expert at riding under wet conditions, today, during the warm-up, Pedrosa showed an impressive improvement on the wet surface of the Shanghai Circuit, running the third fastest time this morning. The Repsol Honda Team rider was ready to face today's race under the rain with hopes of taking the victory. Fortunately, he did not need to demonstrate his abilities under these conditions as halfway through the 250cc race, the rain stopped and the track dried out in time for the MotoGP race.

The race started with Edwards in the lead, Stoner in second position, Rossi third, and Pedrosa fourth, though by the end of the first lap, the Repsol Honda Team rider took control of the race after overtaking Stoner and Edwards, taking a solitary lead. After managing an advantage of a second over his rivals, Rossi detached himself from the pack he was leading and went after the Spaniard. The rest of the race was a duel between Pedrosa and Rossi. The Italian took first position before the race was halfway through, and held his place until the end of the race. Pedrosa stayed behind the Italian's wheel almost until the end of the race, but 6 laps from the end he decided to make do with the 20 points awarded to the second classified, and reduced his pace in order to preserve the engine of his bike when he realised it was revving too high due to the wind blowing from behind at some points of the circuit.

Nicky Hayden, who started off from the fourth row of the starting grid after yesterday's tenth fastest lap time, took off at lightning speed and by the end of the first lap was already in sixth position. The American looked set to catch up with the leading pack, but after a few more laps he started to slow down his pace, while a number of rivals overtook him. The setup of his bike was not the ideal today, and the Repsol Honda Team rider finished in sixth position after recovering a few positions during the race.

In the 250cc category, what could have been a good race for Julian Simon ended up in zero points in his chart. A fault in the engine of his KTM FRR 250 prevented the Repsol rider from giving a good performance. Simon got off to a good start and maintained his fourth position on the starting grid during the first few bends, finishing his first lap in third place. Running the first laps in the leading pack alongside Bautista, Kallio, Simoncelli and Barbera, his engine collapsed during the fifth lap and the Repsol KTM rider was forced to head for boxes, desolate. A special mention for the double victory of the two KTM riders with technical support from Repsol, Mika Kallio and Hiroshi Aoyama. The Finnish rider won the race and the Japanese rider completed a fine weekend for KTM by taking the second step on the podium.

In the 125cc category, an important day for young Marc Marquez, who in the second Grand Prix of his life, at only 15 years of age, has become a member of the club of the youngest riders to have scored points in a World Motorcycling Championship. Today Marquez ran a superb race under the intense rain pouring down on the Chinese track. Warned by his team of the possible falls and of the many errors of his rivals under these conditions, the young Repsol KTM Team 125cc rider chose not to take too many risks and waited to see how things developed. Finally, and after a duel with teammate Esteve Rabat, Marquez finished in a well-deserved twelfth position, taking his first four points in the World Motorcycling Championship. Teammate Esteve Rabat, in a weekend he will want to forget, also won some valuable points -5-, after finishing in eleventh position. Rabat tried to recover positions throughout the race, but the limitations of his bike forced him to take many risks, with the result that he skidded off the track on a couple of occasions. A final eleventh position Rabat and twelfth place for Marquez in this fourth Grand Prix of the 2008 season.


Dani Pedrosa >> finished 2nd, World Championship leader

"I'm very happy with today's result. We had been expecting a wet race, so to get second today is fantastic and it's 20 good points for the championship. I started a bit cautious during the early laps because I didn't know what the track conditions were like, but then Valentino and I began to set an extremely fast pace. Lap by lap our rhythm got faster.

I had the advantage through the middle section of the track, he had the advantage through the first and last sections. My Michelin tyres were working really well and we were riding at lap record pace all through the race. The wind was very strong today, so my engine was over-revving, which is why I decided to ride a little more conservatively in the final laps to secure second place and the world championship lead."

Nicky Hayden >> finished 6th, 8th in World Championship

"We knew starting tenth was never going to be easy. I crashed my number one bike in qualifying, then this morning I rode the other bike, so I started the race with the bike I'd crashed but it was fine. I got a really good start and a good first corner too, but I just couldn't go with the lead group today.

We had a huge tailwind on the back straightaway, so I was running out of gear. It made it so hard to get it stopped for the corner at the end of the straight, so a lot of guys were running wide. Mid-race I had a few problems, felt a few drops of rain, and my corner speed in the long corners wasn't so good. Towards the end I changed a few little things with my lines and the traction control settings. I started to move forward and at the end I was going pretty good. There was a lot of good battling going on but it would've been better to have been battling for a better position. I didn't give up, kept pushing and picked off a few guys near the end."


Julian Simon >> withdrawn

"I think that this weekend we did a very good job and managed to find some very good adjustments. I'm grateful to the team and the mechanics for their help, they've supported me at all times and thanks to them I enjoyed the first laps of the race. We broke the engine, these things happen during races.

Now we have to concentrate on France and learn as much as we can from what happened here, which was quite a lot. The weekend didn't end well, but we have all the good work we did during those first few laps. It's a shame. As for me, the problem in my arm has also been solved, so I think that by the time we reach France it will be OK. And we'll continue to work on trying to get a good result as soon as possible."


Esteve Rabat >> 11th at 41.139 secs.

"We've had a lot of problems with the bike throughout the weekend, and it broke down quite often. The truth is that it's not as fast as we hoped. But it's what we've got, we have to fight with it, try to get ahead, and we'll see if KTM can help us out a bit more. The race was very complicated.

I got off to a bad start, way back, though I did very well during the first lap. But at the end of the long straightaway I made a mistake, and it happened again during the second lap. I recovered positions, and I made yet another mistake. Near the end, Aegerter fell right in front of me -I almost ran over him-, and I had to ride off the track. Let's hope we do better in the next race. I finally managed an eleventh position, it's five points, which are very welcome."

Marc Marquez >> 12th at 43.677 secs.

"This was my second race and I managed to win points, so to tell the truth it was a complete success for me. I know very few riders have managed that, though now what we have to do is concentrate on the next race and continue improving. The race was quite difficult due to the rain.

The team asked me not to make any mistakes, to just try and finish the race, as the rest of the riders were sure to make mistakes. In the end that was my tactic, and it worked well for me. I've seen how aggressive a World Championship can be, as I was struggling to maintain my position and was brushed by a couple of riders. But I know that's what the World Championship is about, and I need to be more aggressive. I gained a lot of experience today and learned a lot."

-credit: repsol

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Julian Simon , Mika Kallio , Hiroshi Aoyama , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez
Teams Repsol Honda Team