Andrea Dovizioso took his second podium finish of the season today as the Grand Prix of France went right down to the wire again for the Respol Honda Team riders. In an almost exact reversal of last year's result, this time it was Dovizioso who ...
Andrea Dovizioso took his second podium finish of the season today as the Grand Prix of France went right down to the wire again for the Respol Honda Team riders. In an almost exact reversal of last year's result, this time it was Dovizioso who hunted down his team-mate Dani Pedrosa, making a pass on the very last lap after relentlessly closing on the Spaniard. Pedrosa was fast in the initial stages and kept pace with the leaders for the first part of the race before eventually finishing fifth, losing two places on the final lap.
From seventh on the grid, Dovizioso made a good start and was sixth on the first lap. That became fifth when Casey Stoner fell on lap three and Dovizioso passed Nicky Hayden on the same lap to slot in behind Pedrosa. The gap to his team-mate opened up to two seconds at one stage, but then Dovizioso began to match the leaders' lap times and closed back in on the front bunch. In the second half of the race, today's winner, Jorge Lorenzo, stretched away from second placed man Valentino Rossi and it was down to the Repsol Hondas to once again provide a fantastic duel in the closing laps at Le Mans. With four laps to go Dovizioso was right on Pedrosa's tail and searching for a way past. Finally he took his chance on the last lap and slipped by into the first chicane, going on to cross the line to record his fourth podium of his MotoGP career.
In the early stages, Pedrosa looked on course to fight for a win in his 150th Grand Prix today. He tracked the leaders for the first half of the race, staying within half a second of Rossi at the head of the field and exchanging fastest laps with the front pair. On lap ten he set what was at that point the fastest lap of the race, but then slowly began to lose touch with the leaders and fell back into the clutches of his hard-charging team-mate. Pedrosa put up as much resistance as possible, but was was powerless to resist as Dovizioso and then Nicky Hayden passed him on the final lap.
The result means that Dovizioso takes third in the World Championship standings ahead of Pedrosa in fourth. In two week's time the MotoGP World Championship moves to Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix, where Dovizioso will enjoy the boost of riding at his home race.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 3rd -- World Championship position 3rd 42 points
"I'm so happy to have made the podium here. It was very important because I wanted to confirm that the result in Qatar was not a one-off. We have improved a lot during the winter, so this is another important step forward. I wanted a good result for the team, to thank them and also because of last year when Dani came from 10 seconds behind to overtake me on the very last lap. Also, I'm very pleased to be going to Mugello third in the championship. It was a tough race. At the beginning I took a lot of risks to recover from starting on the third row. I made up some places and then I was able to match the leaders' pace in the early stages. Once I caught Dani it was hard to get past and I knew Nicky was very close behind so I had to find a way by. Dani has really good acceleration so it was difficult to make the overtake. I waited for four laps, worked out my strategy and I made my move on the last lap at the corner I'd planned. This is a good start to the season, we worked a lot during the winter and Honda keeps working hard. We are close to the leaders - though still not close enough because our target is to fight for wins. We'll go to Mugello with a lot of confidence as this a special race for me."
DANI PEDROSA -- 5th -- World Championship position 4th 40 points
"Well of course I'm not satisfied to have finished in this way because we were able to stay near the leaders for the first part of the race and then dropped back. Losing two places on the final lap is not a good feeling. My start was ok and I could stay near the front in the first laps but later in the race I was making a lot of mistakes trying to maintain my pace. I had a bit of a rear brake issue which meant I couldn't get the bike into the turns as I wanted and I was fighting the bike a bit. Andrea rode well and pushed very hard at the end, so congratulations to him on the podium finish. It's an important part of the season coming up with many races in a short time, so we must work hard and do better in Mugello."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Andrea rode a really strong race, and to go from seventh on the grid to the podium is a great result so congratulations to him. The final few laps were very close and were certainly exciting in the Repsol Honda pit. For Dani the race started well and he was able to keep up a good pace, but he was struggling to get the machine turned and he couldn't battle with the leaders at the end as we'd hoped he might. Now we go into a very busy part of the season and we will continue to push very hard so that we can challenge our rivals again at Mugello."