Dramatic Grand Prix Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso produced a fantastic display of never-say-die riding today, leading the Italian Grand Prix for seven laps and coming within 0.053s of a podium finish. The 23-year-old fought ferociously for...
Dramatic Grand Prix
Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso produced a fantastic display of never-say-die riding today, leading the Italian Grand Prix for seven laps and coming within 0.053s of a podium finish. The 23-year-old fought ferociously for every one of the 23-laps at Mugello in a race that, like Le Mans two weeks ago, was held in marginal conditions that were neither fully wet nor fully dry. At the chequered flag, Dovizioso was just 2.129s behind the winner and followed Valentino Rossi across the line by the tiniest of margins.
With the entire grid starting on wet Bridgestone tyres, this was another race which saw the riders coming in before mid-distance to swap to bikes fitted with slick rubber. Dovizioso made the best of his wets, running in second place in the early stages, dropping back to third before taking the lead for the first time on lap four. He'd slipped to third place again by the time he came in to change bikes on lap nine but quickly scythed into the lead once his dry Bridgestones were up to temperature. As the track dried he slipped back to fifth, but then entered a three-way Italian duel for third place with Loris Capirossi and Rossi - Dovizioso taking a valiant fourth at the finish.
It was a dramatic race in a very different way for Dani Pedrosa, who was riding in considerable discomfort from the hip injury he picked up yesterday. The tough Spaniard made his now-trademark ballistic getaway and led into the first corner from eighth on the grid, but in the treacherous conditions, and with pain from his leg, he inevitably slid back through the field. Then on lap 13, the luckless Pedrosa fell at the Savelli corner and was stretchered from the gravel trap. There was some consolation for Pedrosa as scans at the circuit medical centre indicated that he had not suffered any further damage - a finding that will be confirmed when Pedrosa flies home to Barcelona tomorrow.
Dovizioso's 13 points today have moved him to within a single point of Pedrosa in the World Championship standings, the Repsol Honda pair lying in fourth and fifth places. Today's race was won by Casey Stoner, with Jorge Lorenzo in second.
The next race - the Grand Prix of Catalunya - takes place at Barcelona in two week's time and, despite today's setback, Pedrosa will hope to be fit to race in front of his home crowd.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 4th -- World Championship Position: 5th - 56 points
"The sensation of leading the race in front of my home crowd was incredible and I think overall we had a good race today - I'm satisfied. I fought like hell to take third and we were so close - only 53 thousandths from the podium! I think our race strategy was good, we changed the bike at the right moment and I pushed as hard as possible to maintain my position. With three laps to go I tried to keep in contact with the others and when Rossi overtook me, I managed to stay with him. Then I tried to slipstream him out of the last corner but I couldn't make it. Anyway, all in all it was an exciting race and a positive result. We are getting closer, but still not close enough to win. We need to keep on working because we are still not as competitive as the fastest riders, especially in dry conditions. I want to say thanks to the team because they did a great job today, and we'll use this result to give us an extra boost of motivation."
DANI PEDROSA -- DNF -- World Championship Position: 4th - 57 points
"What can I say? It's obviously been a pretty bad weekend for us and the crash in the race just about summed it all up. After the problem with my right leg yesterday I had a pain-killing injection this morning for the warm-up and it allowed me to ride the bike, but to be honest there was still a lot of pain and I couldn't ride at full speed. The rain didn't help either because all the practice sessions were dry so the wet settings were a bit of a gamble. Anyway, I want to thank Doctor Costa and his assistants for all their help that allowed me to be on the grid today. I had another injection before the race but the conditions were very hard to read and it was difficult for me to gain confidence or find a rhythm - also the bike change wasn't easy for me because of my leg. On the dry bike I didn't really have time to get used to the settings and track conditions because I lost the rear on my third lap out and crashed. It's quite hard to find anything very positive to say right now, but I'm glad that I didn't do any more damage when I crashed - that's something. I want to check again with my doctors when I get home and then have a bit of rest - I feel really tired now. Despite this setback we'll keep working. It's my home Grand Prix next and I just hope I can go there and be in contention."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"This was another race run in very tricky conditions and Andrea did really well to come through it and finish so close to the podium. It was good to see a Repsol Honda leading the race for several laps and this is where we want to be consistently. When it dried out Andrea didn't quite have the pace to fight for the win, but he put in a great effort and a podium would have been a good reward. For Dani it was obviously a very difficult race and even without his fall he was going to struggle today. It's fortunate that he didn't pick up any more injuries, so we just hope he can be in the best possible condition for Catalunya. Our package is improving steadily but the job is not done yet and we must continue to get it to a point where our riders can battle right at the front."