Pedrosa Sets New Lap Record On Way To Third Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) established a new Estoril lap record during a typically determined ride to third place in the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Spaniard was Honda's top performer in the race,...
Pedrosa Sets New Lap Record On Way To Third
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) established a new Estoril lap record during a typically determined ride to third place in the Portuguese Grand Prix. The Spaniard was Honda's top performer in the race, while Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) provided the best entertainment as they battled for sixth place all the way to the chequered flag. Elias won the duel by just 0.014 seconds.
Pedrosa stormed into the lead from fourth on the grid but then found himself unable to match the pace of winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and runner-up Casey Stoner (Ducati), the Australian making an impressive return from illness. But once Pedrosa was settled into third place he ran a consistently fast race, securing a new lap record on lap 11 of 28. Today's result was his eighth podium of the year so far. He goes into the final three races of 2009 holding third place in the points chase, just three points ahead of Stoner.
Elias, who won the 2006 MotoGP race at Estoril, enjoyed a frantic ride through the pack from the fifth row of the grid. The Spaniard struggled during yesterday's qualifying session, ending up 13th quickest. Down in 12th after the first lap of the race, he made impressive forward progress and passed Dovizioso in the final few laps.
Dovizioso fought back in fine style, drafting Elias towards the finish line, but missed out by a fraction of a second. Dovi fought well in the race, coming through from ninth on the first lap. This was only the Italian's second race using Ohlins suspension, so he still has plenty to learn about finding the best settings for this new kit.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) had high expectations of another good result after setting an impressive pace in qualifying. But the Frenchman suffered some cruel luck immediately after the start -- he caught his right foot in the fairing of his RCV and the boot unzipped. De Puniet had to slow down to close the zip and that put him in last position. After that he fought back as best he could to cross the line in 11th.
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) finished the race in 14th position. Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) was challenging for a top-ten result when he was forced out of the race with a suspected electrical problem.
There were plenty of crashes (but no injuries) in the 250 race, the first event of the day. Riders suspected the heavy mist that cloaked Estoril this morning left some moisture in the tarmac, which caused eight riders to fall.
World Championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) couldn't do better than fourth, his RS250RW not giving him the feeling he expected. But most importantly his points advantage increased today after his prime title rival Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia) crashed out. With just three races remaining Aoyama leads Bautista by 26 points. Today's winner Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) sits just two points behind Bautista.
Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda PTT-SAG) rode to a brilliant sixth-place result, his best finish of the year and just one position shy of equalling his career best. The Thai rider spent much of the race locked in battle with Jules Cluzel (Aprilia) but struggled to attack in the final stages as the track temperature increased and caused him a few grip issues.
Shuhei Aoyama (Racing Team Germany Honda) made an impressive return to 250 GPs today, finishing 12th after just three practice sessions on his RS250. Hiroshi Aoyama's brother has joined Racing Team Germany with just four races of the year remaining after the squad split with Bastien Chesaux. Aoyama's full-time 250 career ended in 2007, though he did make a one-off return at this year's Japanese GP, finishing sixth.
Valentin Debise (Team CIP Honda) equalled his best GP result in 13th. Team-mate Shoya Tomizawa (Team CIP Honda) slid off while chasing a top-ten finish.
Raffaele De Rosa (Scot Honda) looked set for his first 250 GP podium, the young Italian charging through from sixth on the grid to second place, only to tumble on lap six.
Hector Faubel (Valencia CF-Honda SAG) made a great start from the third row of the grid and was fighting his way forward when he tangled with Alex Debon (Aprilia) and crashed.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd. "I made a very good start today and held the lead until the third corner where I ran a little wide and Jorge came by. He was pushing really hard in the first few laps and even though I was too, I couldn't match his rhythm as he opened up a gap. When Casey came past I tried to stay with him and was able to put some pressure on and maintain a good pace. I had a moment though where the bike was snaking as I braked, I ran wide and I nearly crashed -- that cost me some time and opened up the gap to Casey. So I'm reasonably happy with a podium and it definitely it will now be an interesting fight for third place in the championship with Casey. He is the reference in Australia and so the next race is going to be hard fought -- I'm looking forward to it. I definitely want to win at least one of the three races left and maybe the next one is the most important."
Toni Elias, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 6th. "I made a mistake yesterday in qualifying and had to start from 13th, and even though I didn't get off the line as well as I would have liked I soon got into my rhythm and was able to produce a good fightback. The hardest part was getting past Hayden and Dovizioso but I was able to make a move on Andrea four laps from the end and I am delighted to have held on to sixth place, which is a position we deserve. We finished ahead of one of the factory team bikes and that is important. Today we moved up into the championship top ten. In two weeks time we go to a circuit where we know it will be tough for us but where we hope to get the points that will help us towards our objective of seventh in the championship. Of course I owe a big thank you to all the guys in my team who have done a fantastic job once again."
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 7th. "It was a really close finish on the line and I just missed out on sixth place -- which isn't the result we wanted, obviously. I started from the third row and was ninth in the early laps before getting past Capirossi, Elias and Hayden which took me up to sixth. I was able to hold the gap to Elias behind me but then I lost time on one lap and he came past. I closed again and it was really close on the last lap -- I thought I had a chance of taking the place out of the last corner but it didn't happen. We've had a few issues finding good grip and finding the best settings this weekend which has made it quite difficult to get the best out of the machine. I'm disappointed today but we have plenty of potential to move forward and we'll continue to improve our understanding with the new suspension for the next races."
Randy de Puniet, LCR Honda: 11th. "I am speechless! We could easily have finished in the top eight today but bad luck picked on me. I caught my right foot in the fairing at the very first corner which unzipped the boot. I couldn't ride with boot open, so I tried to close it for a couple of laps, losing valuable positions. Then I pushed hard to overtake Vermeulen but I had a big highside moment which knocked my injured left ankle against the fairing. The last four laps were a bit painful. This result is not what we expected considering the good rhythm we had during practice and qualifying."
Gabor Talmacsi, Scot Honda: 14th. "We are working hard but during practice, qualifying and the race we always had the same lap times. I am not getting the feeling I would like from the bike. For five or six laps I can stay with the others, but then I struggle. And when I lose contact with the others, my lap times drop. We must find a way to prepare a bike that gives me a better feeling."
Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Honda Gresini: DNF. "It is a tough day for us because it's always frustrating to be forced out of a race by a bike problem but we know these things can happen, and for us it was the first time this season. It is disappointing that it happened in the race and not in practice because it would have given us a warning -- it was clearly an electrical problem though. This week the Honda engineers will run all the tests they need to do and they'll tell us exactly what the problem is and I'm sure it won't happen again. Obviously I'm disappointed because this was an important race for me and I really wanted to challenge for the top ten in the championship. Either way I'm confident because I love the next two tracks coming up and I'll be giving it my all again."
Hiroshi Aoyama, Scot Honda: 4th. "Since the first moments of the race the feeling I got from the bike was different from what I got during practice and warm-up. I cannot give a clear reason for this, but the bike was moving and shaking. The last thing I wanted was to crash, so I settled for a safe pace. So, I cannot say I'm satisfied with the race but nevertheless we got very important points and I'm absolutely conscious of that. Phillip Island, where next race is scheduled, is one of my favourite tracks, so I will try again."
Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: 6th. "I made a bad start but I made up for that by overtaking a few riders in the first few corners. After that I worked hard to move forward and that's what I did. I had a chance of fifth place but about eight laps from the end the ground temperature got warmer and my tyres were past their best. Because of that I made a mistake and lost Cluzel. I'm happy enough with sixth."
Shuhei Aoyama, Racing Team Germany Honda: 12th. "At the start I went from 15th position to eighth. After that I tried to catch up the group in front of me but it became more and more difficult; my tyres started sliding a bit, so it was difficult to keep the lap times. When Debon passed me I tried to follow him but I couldn't. Most of all I wanted to finish the race. I'm happy with this result after only three sessions on the bike. Next time we need to work on the engine settings and find better tyres. Again I want to say thanks to everyone for this opportunity."
Valentin Debise, Team CIP Honda: 13th. "I got a good start but got boxed in through the first turn, which lost me a few places. After that I managed to pass a few guys and then I won a few more positions with other riders crashing. Today I equalled my best GP finish, so I am quite happy about that."
Raffaele De Rosa, Scot Honda: DNF. "Until the crash, I enjoyed the race. I was able to find my way towards the leaders without disturbing the guys who are competing for the championship. Every pass was clear and safe. I was fast and able to keep the pace of the leader. I cannot understand precisely the reason of the crash: in that corner the bike behaved in a way totally different from other laps. I don't want to say that it was pure misfortune: there is always a rider on the bike, after all. Anyway, I proved all weekend that I can fight with the best people. I'll try again in the next race."
Hector Faubel, Valencia CF-Honda SAG: DNF. "It's a pity to spend all weekend preparing the bike for a good race and then to crash out, but racing can be like that. I started very well, overtaking four riders, so I was seventh from the first corner. After that I was following some other riders perfectly and I was even catching Aoyama. But when I was fighting with Debon he collided with me and I crashed. I'm sad because this race was a good chance to climb another place in the world championship classification."
Shoya Tomizawa, Team CIP Honda: DNF. "Most of the people who were crashing were losing the front, so I was trying to be careful. The bike was working well, but suddenly it threw me off when I got on the gas."