Czech GP: Honda race report

Pedrosa Scores Strong Second-Place Finish at Brno Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) rode a determined race to finish second in the Czech Grand Prix, his best efforts not quite enough to allow him to battle for the lead with race winner and...

Pedrosa Scores Strong Second-Place Finish at Brno

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) rode a determined race to finish second in the Czech Grand Prix, his best efforts not quite enough to allow him to battle for the lead with race winner and World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha).

It was a tough day for Honda's other MotoGP riders, with Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) looking capable of recording a strong result until he slid off during the early stages. The Italian set the fourth fastest lap of the race, suggesting he might have been able to fight for a podium finish. Dovizioso's exit made Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) Honda's next best rider in eighth place, just ahead of the heroic Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V), racing just one month after breaking his left leg.

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had been going great guns, looking on course for a top eight finish until he ran into grip issues and slipped back to 11th. Alex de Angelis (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V), substituting for the injured Hiroshi Aoyama, finished 13th after being nudged off the track during the early stages.

Among the huge crowd watching today's racing at Brno was Honda Motor Company President and CEO Takanobu Ito who was making his first visit to a MotoGP event since last year's Japanese Grand Prix.

Pedrosa got the holeshot from pole position, storming into the lead as the pack funnelled into the sweeping first corner, typical of the wide-open turns that dominate the epic Brno circuit. But Lorenzo grabbed the lead at the next corner and although Pedrosa did everything in his power to counter attack, he could never quite get close enough to try a move on his compatriot. On lap seven Pedrosa set the fastest lap of the race so far to close right up on the leader, but by half distance Lorenzo had stretched the gap to 1.2 seconds and Pedrosa knew he would have to settle for second, especially considering the fact that he had tumbled out of the lead at Laguna Seca three weeks ago. The 20 points he scored today strengthens his second place in the World Championship, albeit 77 points behind Lorenzo.

Dovizioso was running fifth after the first lap and pushing hard to ensure he didn't lose contact with the leaders. Like many riders he was dealing with some front end issues -- exacerbated by the windy conditions and some morning rainfall -- and lost the front at turn nine on lap five, shortly after having moved into fourth place ahead of Casey Stoner (Ducati). Dovizioso and his RC212 ended up in the middle of the track, with riders passing on either side, but he was unharmed in the fall.

Melandri had an interesting race after a tough two days of practice. The former 250 World Champion completed the first lap in 11th, then spent much of the 22 laps involved in a thrilling contest for ninth place, which then became a contest for eighth once the group had caught Simoncelli. At one point the group consisted of five riders, Melandri setting impressive lap times in the late stages to fight his way to the front to finish eighth just ahead of Hector Barbera (Ducati), de Puniet and Simoncelli.

De Puniet had painkilling injections before the race, to ease the pain of his broken left tibia, which was pinned following his tumble at the German GP on July 18. Despite significant discomfort, the ultra-brave Frenchman played a major part in the busy skirmish won by Melandri. Twelfth at the end of the first lap, de Puniet got as high as ninth in the closing stages but lacked strength in the closing stages and finally lost out to Barbera.

Like many riders, Simoncelli had hoped to evaluate final set-up changes during morning warm-up, but the session was run on a wet track, leaving him going into the race with a few questions unanswered. As the race went on the hard-riding rookie began to struggle with grip and slipped from eighth to 11th.

De Angelis would have scored a stronger finish if he hadn't been forced onto the grass by a rival. The San Marino rider fought back after that incident, only to run off the track once again which put him at the back of the field.

All teams stay at Brno tonight to take part in tomorrow's official one-day test, which will allow riders to test solutions for the remainder of the season and try out ideas for 2011. Aoyama will take part in the tests, making his return to riding after breaking a vertebra in a British GP warm-up crash. The Japanese ace hopes to prove that he is strong enough to race at the upcoming Indianapolis GP on August 27/28/29.

Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki) rode to a determined win in the Moto2 race to extend his lead in the inaugural Honda-powered Moto2 World Championship. The Spaniard started relatively slowly, running in the leading pack for the first half the race, then he started hunting down leader Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up). Iannone ended up third behind Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3) who came through strongly in the final stages.

Elias's fourth win also gave the Gresini team its 100th podium result, which he celebrated on the podium by wearing a commemorative T-shirt. The former 125, 250 and MotoGP race winner had to work hard yesterday after being disqualified from Friday's opening practice session for testing at Misano during the summer break. Testing is not allowed during the break.

Pole position man Shoya Tomizawa (Technomag-CIP, Suter) led the first few laps but the Japanese couldn't maintain his pace and got shuttled all the way back to tenth at the flag. During the early laps Elias also found himself going backwards, to seventh place on lap four. But then he gathered himself for his challenge and steadily moved through the pack. By the time he took second place at half-distance, Iannone already had a one second lead, but just as he did in Germany last month, Elias steadily chipped away. He took the lead on lap 13, but Iannone fought back while Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans S.T.R, Suter) also joined the battle.

Elias stole a small advantage while Rolfo getting the better of Iannone, only for Rolfo to suffer engine problems which stopped him on lap 15. After that it was Elias all the way, Iannone dropping back into the clutches of Takahashi, whose bike worked better on worn tyres. Elias now leads Iannone by 55 points with eight races remaining.

Silverstone winner Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing, Suter) won a tight four-way battle for fourth place, the Frenchman just getting the better of Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team, Suter), Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up) and Alex Debon (Aeroport de Castello-Ajo, FTR), who had led briefly during the first few laps. That quartet was covered by less than a second.

Simone Corsi (Jir Moto2, Motobi), who also led a lap during the early stages, finished eighth, comfortably ahead of Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing, Suter) and Tomizawa who crossed the line separated by 0.016 seconds. Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Moriwaki Moto2, Moriwaki) finished 11th, his team still trying to get on top of some electronics issues.

The 125 race -- first of the day -- started on a partially wet track following earlier rainfall. Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team) scored more World Championship points with a 13th place finish. The race was won by Nicolas Terol (Aprilia).


Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 2nd
"It's good to be back on the podium after the crash at the last race at Laguna Seca so I'm happy about this. My start was good and I was in first place through the first corner but in the first left-hander I was a little bit too concerned about my tyre temperature and braked too early, which allowed Ben and Jorge to get past. When I was in second place behind Jorge again I was trying as hard as possible to stay close, which I could do for a few laps, but for some reason I wasn't quite able to go as fast as yesterday -- I had quite a lot of wheelspin and was struggling to get good drive out of the corners. I tried to adjust my riding to improve this but Jorge was gradually able to open the gap. So today wasn't the best result for us, but still the podium is ok and we can build on this result. After the test tomorrow we go to Indianapolis and I was strong there last year -- despite the mistake in the race -- so I'm confident we can be competitive again at the next race."

Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 8th
"After a weekend to forget we had a decent race. The last part of it was good although the start wasn't so positive for me. We struggled a lot on fresh tyres and I couldn't match the pace of the group in front of me, so I lost a lot of ground there. Then as the fuel load lightened and the tyres came up to temperature it worked more in my favour. It was less difficult to ride the bike and I felt more comfortable. I'm still not completely happy though because I'm still having a lot of problems with the electronics and that makes it difficult for me to overtake. We need to work a lot and with more help from Honda I'm sure we can take a step forward tomorrow."

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V): 10th
"This is simply great! I could not expect such a positive weekend. Just four weeks after my injury I was back on my bike and could fight for the top ten. I want to thank the doctors, my family and my friends and of course the team because they helped me to get this incredible result. I could also fight for the eighth position but I lost some tenths behind Melandri but in this condition it was pretty hard to overtake the others. Then I passed Melandri and started to be faster and together with Barbera we caught Simoncelli. At seven laps to go they both passed me as I was completely exhausted. I really dug deep in my reserves to finish this race and I am very happy about my performance. Now I will have two weeks to complete my recovery and hopefully we can obtain another positive result in Indianapolis."

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V): 11th
"I'm not satisfied with the race today. We made some changes to the bike compared to yesterday but we weren't able to test them out in the warm-up this morning because of the damp track. I felt pretty good at the start of the race but then as the laps went by I lost consistency. The front closed on me a few times and I had to back off. I still thought I could lap in the mid 1m 59s but in the second half of the race the bike got worse and I couldn't get the power down in fourth, fifth and sixth gear so the group behind were able to catch and pass me as if I was on a bike from a different category. Now we need to work out what happened. Obviously I'm disappointed because ten laps into the race I thought I was good for eighth place."

Alex de Angelis (Interwetten Honda MotoGP RC212V): 13th
"The race started quite well, I was fast and I could stay with the group. Then Espargaro pushed me aside and I had to go wide and finished on the grass. I lost some positions. It was hard to fight back, but I could manage it. Then the bike started shaking really hard and I rode onto the grass again. I lost the connection and had to ride alone and I could not catch up again. I am really sorry for this result, as I know it could have been much better today. The direction the team changed the bike in is the right direction, but unfortunately I could not show it with a better result."

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V): DNF
"I recovered a couple of positions at the start and in the first few laps I didn't want to lose contact with the riders in front so I was really pushing as hard as possible. Already in a few corners I had some warnings from the front and then it went in turn nine. It's a pity -- I made a mistake and it cost me dear because the 1m 58.0s pace that the lead bunch were running was a one that I could also have maintained today. During the whole weekend we've been at the limit with the front end and today the strong wind made it worse. We needed a good result here so it's disappointing. When I was in the middle of the track is was pretty scary because the riders behind were going either side of me, so actually I was lucky that the consequences weren't worse. We have a test tomorrow and then we'll have try to bounce back well in Indianapolis."


Toni Elias (Gresini Racing Moto2, Moriwaki): winner
"Missing first practice affected me a little bit, but the bike was okay for the race. At the beginning the problem was me. I knew I had the rhythm to do 2m 4s lap times all race, so maybe I was too relaxed. In the first laps I lost several places and it looked like I had no answer to my rivals. When Iannone passed me I found some motivation and I was able to pass several riders, then catch Iannone. We fought for two laps, then I took an advantage and I was able to pull away. The fact that Takahashi finished second is good for the championship."

Yuki Takahashi (Tech 3 Racing, Tech 3): 2nd
"Our bike works very well at this track, so we will see if we can reproduce this performance at other tracks. We knew before the race that our bike would get better as the race went on. During the early laps with full grip it was not so easy, but once the tyre grip had gone down a bit I was able to start pushing really hard."

Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up, Speed Up): 3rd
"I got a bad start, so I had to work very hard to get through the pack. Once I got to the front I was ahead of Debon, so I hoped he would keep the other riders at bay for a while. But Toni and Yuki came charging through and there was nothing I could do about their speed. The main thing is that we have to sit down and work out how to get the tyres to work all the way to the end of the race. My congratulations to Toni and Yuki who have obviously been working too hard; thanks also to my team for their great work."


Marcel Schrotter (Interwetten Honda 125 Team): 13th
"All in all I am quite satisfied and I was able to gain some points. At the beginning it went very well and I had a great feeling with the bike. I was able to catch up some places. Unfortunately I had to brake because of a crash in front of me and after that I had to fight to close the gap. Then I could stay with the group, but the riders behind me came closer and closer and I could not ride with them anymore. I am quite fast in the corners, but on the straight I have no chance. At the end I started sliding around a lot and I was lucky that I didn't crash. Apart from that it was a good race."

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Randy de Puniet , Marco Melandri , Hector Barbera , Gabor Talmacsi , Andrea Dovizioso , Marco Simoncelli , Roberto Rolfo , Toni Elias , Alex Debon , Thomas Luthi , Alex de Angelis , Casey Stoner , Stefan Bradl , Hiroshi Aoyama , Shoya Tomizawa , Jules Cluzel , Dani Pedrosa , Andrea Iannone , Simone Corsi , Marcel Schrötter , Nicolas Terol , Yuki Takahashi
Teams Forward Racing , CIP