Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) rode to a determined third-place finish in today's German GP, finishing the 30 lap race just 2.8 seconds behind race winner and series leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Along the way the Spaniard set a new lap record, ...
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) rode to a determined third-place finish in today's German GP, finishing the 30 lap race just 2.8 seconds behind race winner and series leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha). Along the way the Spaniard set a new lap record, bettering his own record established during his runaway victory here in 2007.
Satellite Honda team riders Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) gave team owner and former 125 World Champion Fausto Gresini something to celebrate by finishing in fifth and sixth positions, the Italian squad's best day of the year so far.
Two weeks after his brilliant US GP victory, Pedrosa was in the leading group throughout the race which took place on a dry track under threatening clouds after drizzle had forced the 250 race to be stopped and restarted. The Spaniard rode his record lap in the final stages as he chased down Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who finished second, just 0.099 seconds down. Pedrosa may have had a better shot at winning if he hadn't had a few front-end scares in the early stages which forced him to ease his pace during the middle of the race.
De Angelis rode a strong but mostly lonely race for his best result of the year following a storming ride to fifth in yesterday's rain-lashed qualifier. The San Marino rider got away well, making contact with Casey Stoner (Ducati) at the busy first corner, and went with the leading group in the early stages. As the race wore on he lost contact with the first four but nevertheless maintained his impressive pace all the way to the chequered flag.
Elias had a very different race. A crash during yesterday's rain-lashed qualifying session left the Spaniard last on the grid, so he had to fight with all his might to make rapid forward progress during the early laps. Elias went from 14th to eighth in the space of 11 laps and made his last pass of the race on Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) with four laps remaining. It was an impressive ride in difficult circumstances.
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) netted his first premier-class World Championship score in only his fourth MotoGP ride, taking the final point in 15th place.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) withdrew from the race with five laps to go due to an electrical issue. The Italian ran strongly in the early stages, charging through from a fourth-row start to take fourth place from Lorenzo. But then he gradually began to lose positions as he lost front-tyre performance.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) walked away from a high-speed crash on the very first lap. The Frenchman, who had qualified a promising sixth fastest, lost the rear as he tipped into the 210km/h turn 11, the first right-hander after a long sequence of left-handers.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) scored a hard-fought fourth-place finish in the 250 race after a long battle with title rival Alvaro Bautista and several other Aprilia riders. The race -- red flagged on the first lap due to rain and restarted over a shorter 19-lap distance -- was won by reigning World Champion Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) who overcame early leader Alex Debon (Aprilia).
Seventh after one lap, Aoyama spent much of the race battling for third place, frequently swapping places with Bautista in entertaining style. He fought well but finally Bautista beat him to the finish line by 0.866 seconds. Nevertheless the fourth-place result maintains Aoyama's place at the top of the points chart, ten points ahead of Bautista.
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) had his best race since May's French GP, the Spaniard in the thick of the action for much of the 19 lap contest despite running wet-weather settings which his crew had dialled in because they expected the restart to be run on a wet track. In the mid-stages Faubel was as high as fourth, but he slipped back a few places as set-up issues got to him.
250 rookie Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) maintained his impressive run of top-ten finishes with a ninth place today (he's finished outside the top ten just once so far this year). The Italian ran short of front grip and spent much of the race alone.
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) had also expected rain for the restart. When conditions turned out to be dry his team didn't quite have enough time to fully revert his bike to dry settings. The GP rookie rode a strong race in spite of this to finish 13th, his first points since the Spanish GP.
It was a great day for Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda). The 17-year-old scored his first World Championship point at the track where he made his GP debut this time last year. Chesaux brought his RS250 home in 15th place.
Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) had a tough day. The French youngster ran a hard front tyre and fell on the very first lap, damaging his machine. He was able to get the bike back to the paddock for repairs and swapped to rain tyres. When he arrived on the grid to find the track drying out, he had no time to change back to slicks, so he started the race on rain tyres and pitted to fit slicks after one lap. That lost him several laps but he continued to the finish, learning plenty along the way.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) was out of luck. Impressively fast in morning warm-up the Thai rider had expected a good afternoon, but he fell victim to the Sachsenring's tricky first corner, just moments after the first start. Wilairot landed heavily after his highside fall and was unable to take the restart due to a painful back injury.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), third finisher, said: "I'm pleased to be on the podium, and finishing this close to the leaders proves that our win at the last race wasn't by chance. I made a very good start and in the first few laps I was comfortable behind Valentino. On about lap six or seven though I had a big moment in the last corner and almost crashed, so after that I slowed down a little and dropped back to fourth. With a slightly slower pace I felt the feedback coming back and towards the end of the race I was able to push hard again. I got past Casey and tried to catch the leaders but by this time I was a bit too far behind. Third place is a good result, but we were ready to fight for the win at this circuit so it looks like we still have a little bit of work to do. The team is in good shape though and we're making progress all the time, so I'm confident we can continue to challenge for better results and preferably for wins. Donington is next and I'm looking forward to it. Let's hope we can have an even better race there."
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), fifth finisher, said: "After showing my pace in the wet during qualifying yesterday I knew I could go fast in the dry as well and that proved to be the case. Obviously this is a circuit I like a lot but I was also fast in practice at Laguna Seca -- unfortunately we had a technical problem there and I wasn't able to back it up with a good result. This time it was nice to carry my form through to Sunday and to stay close to the guys at the front for the first time this season. I really enjoyed attacking and passing (Andrea) Dovizioso, it was a great feeling. This is the result we have been looking for -- we have made some important technical progress and I think that at Donington, a circuit I like with its fast corners, I can produce a similar result."
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), sixth finisher, said: "To be honest I was expecting a battle just to finish in the top ten today but it ended up being much better than I could have imagined! It was a tough race and physically I still wasn't feeling very strong but I managed to get into my rhythm and start passing riders. Once I caught up with Marco I found it difficult to get past him and my stomach pains started. I thought, 'please no, not now!' I fought through the pain and over the last few laps we had a great battle, which I was able to win. I want to thank the team because they've been doing a great job and we are starting to see the fruit of our hard work. If we hadn't started from the back of the grid the result today could have been much better so that is something for us to think about for Donington, where we can go in high spirits."
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), 15th finisher, said: "I got my first point in MotoGP today and I'm happy about that. It is something that will stay in my record. Nevertheless, we want to progress more. Maybe I overrode today because I had some problems with the front tyre and from a certain moment on I could not keep in contact with my group. So I tried to find a good rhythm and go as fast as I could. But I'm confident: we all have the same target: to fight for good positions. We have simply to work hard."
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), DNF, said: "We needed a strong result here and at the start of the race I was able to ride at a really good pace. I made a quick start from the fourth row and got past six riders on the first lap -- then I was able to get past Lorenzo for fourth on the third lap. On that lap I did a 1m 22.7s but then, during the fourth lap, the front folded at turn eight and I ran wide. Within a few laps after this the performance from the front had dropped dramatically. It meant I couldn't lean the bike or brake as normal so it was very difficult to control the bike. From then on my target was to finish the race but with five laps to go I had an electrical issue with the machine and I had to pull in. Obviously I'm really disappointed with the result because I was feeling fast here and I had a very good feeling from the bike. We really had the potential for a good result, which is what we need at this moment. Still, now we'll go to Donington next weekend and aim for the level of result we're capable of."
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), DNF, said: "I am very disappointed because I took a good start and was in third position behind Pedrosa. After that I made a mistake in the fast right corner because I opened the throttle too early and suffered a big highside. Anyway, I feel lucky as I escaped injury from the crash but a DNF is bad for me and the team, especially for the championship. Today we could have finished in the top five because we had the speed to make an amazing race. However, I am still tenth overall and we will start again from zero at Donington on Friday."
HONDA 250cc RIDER QUOTES
Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda), fourth finisher, said: "This was a really critical race: two starts, the choice of tyres between the two, many crashes, so keeping concentration was quite difficult. In the beginning and during the middle part of the race I was able to catch up and to get a good position. Bautista tried several times to pass me. I was able to resist until the last kilometres -- he was faster than me, and I tried to defend. About one thing I'm certain: if this had been a full-distance race the story would have been different."
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG), fifth finisher, said: "It was a really good race. The bike worked really well, so I could follow the front riders. We took a lot of risks after the race was stopped because of the rain. We set up the bike for rain, with wet suspension settings, but unfortunately after two laps the track was dry. I had to take a lot of risks to stay in a good position and I nearly crashed with two laps to go, so I preferred to ease my pace and finish. I'm very happy because now I'm close to the top riders in the points and I will continue working hard to move further up the ladder."
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda), ninth finisher, said: "Mixed feelings: happy and not so happy at the same time. I had some critical moments in the beginning of the race. Anyway, starting 18th and finishing ninth is not that bad. The bike was okay in spite of the fact that the weather did not grant us much time to work on the dry set-up. In the race the front tyre degraded very quickly."
Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda), 13th finisher, said: "After the rain came and they red flagged the race we came back to our base in the paddock. It was raining on the awning, so we fitted wets and changed the bike to a wet set-up. Then we took the bike to the grid, and it was completely dry! So we refitted slicks and started changing the set-up, but we didn't have enough time to complete the rear settings. I was a little nervous because I knew I really needed to finish this race. I ran off the track one time and lost maybe ten seconds, but I managed to recover a few places. It's great to get a few more points."
Bastien Chesaux (Racing Team Germany Honda), 15th finisher, said: "It's a great feeling to get my first World Championship point, especially at my team's home race. I got good starts both times, and it was an incredible race for me. I had a good pace and the bike was really great, so I could go with Tomizawa for a while."
Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda), 20th finisher, said: "I crashed on the first lap of the first start, so it was difficult for us to get the bike repaired for the restart. My mechanics did everything they could, fixing the bike, fitting rain tyres and so on. Then we got to the grid and it was dry, but there was no time to change tyres, so I started on wets and came into the pits to change to slicks. After that it was a bit like a test or a practice session."
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG), DNF, said: "I had very bad luck. I made a really good start, catching the riders in front but in the first corner I don't know exactly what happened but I fell down. That was my race finished because I had a heavy impact to my back that hurts a lot. I'm sad because this morning I did a really good warm-up, I was second, and I had a good feeling with the bike. I was thinking this race could be really good for me but finally it wasn't."