Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa stormed to victory in the U.S. Grand Prix today, leading from start to finish and banishing to history his injury-ravaged start to the season. It was the 23-year-old Spaniard's 30th Grand Prix win of his career in all...
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa stormed to victory in the U.S. Grand Prix today, leading from start to finish and banishing to history his injury-ravaged start to the season. It was the 23-year-old Spaniard's 30th Grand Prix win of his career in all classes (7 in MotoGP, 15 in 250cc, 8 in 125cc) and his first since his victory at the 2008 Grand Prix of Catalunya over a year ago.
From fourth on the grid, Pedrosa made yet another demon start, powering his RC212V around the outside of the front row riders and into an early lead. It was a scenario that has been seen several times this season, but this time Pedrosa had the speed to stretch away at the front and soon opened up a gap over Casey Stoner. During the first half of the race the Spaniard relentlessly upped the pace, on lap 15 setting a time of 1m 21.928s which was the fastest lap of the race and improved on his best qualifying lap from yesterday.
By the race's half-way point he was 3.5 seconds clear and from then on Pedrosa controlled the gap to his pursuers. Although Valentino Rossi closed him down in the final few laps as Pedrosa eased up, he crossed the line for an emotional victory. The performance was all the more remarkable considering the physical nature of this track and the fact that Pedrosa has been unable to train properly for nearly a year.
For Andrea Dovizioso, Pedrosa' team-mate, the race started in promising fashion, the Italian was riding strongly in fourth place and looked capable of staying with the lead bunch. But he suffered an unfortunate incident when he clipped the poles separating the pit lane exit from the fast Turn 1 and bent his clutch lever. From this moment on his machine control was hindered and, although he managed to keep pace with the leaders, he fell at the uphill left-hand Turn 5 on lap 7 and was forced to retire from the race, luckily unhurt. It was a shame for the 23-year-old from Forli who had displayed consistent pace all weekend on only his second visit to Laguna Seca after finishing fourth here last year.
The MotoGP paddock now travels back to Europe for the Grand Prix of Germany at the Sachsenring, which takes place in two weeks' time.
DANI PEDROSA -- 1st -- World Championship position: 4th, 92 points
"This is a fantastic win for us and it's a great feeling after such a long time without a victory. The start to the season has been really difficult and actually it's been tough since Sachsenring last year because I've had a lot of injuries and I haven't been able to ride at 100 per cent for a long time, or train properly. But my team and Honda never gave up and I'd like to thank everyone who's been working really hard to help me get back to this position. I'd also like to thank the doctors who have treated me because there have been quite a few of them! I got a good start, I was able to get into a good rhythm straight away and my pace was a little better than in practice. Perhaps my only mistake here was to slow down too much on the last lap because I didn't realize how close Valentino was. Anyway, it was a great race, a great day and it's a great feeling. Now I just want to focus on each race and get the best results possible. There's a long way to go in the championship but there's also a big gap to the leaders so I'm just going to take it one race at a time."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- DNF -- World Championship position: 6th, 69 points
"We were in good shape, I'd got into a fast rhythm and I'm sure we could have had good result today, so I'm very disappointed. Unfortunately I made a mistake and I have spoiled this opportunity. During the first laps, I was behind Valentino, I wanted to overtake him and I was very close at the end of the straight. It's a blind point and I was so close that I didn't see the plastic poles that separate the track from the pit lane. I hit a few of them and in the impact the clutch lever bent, and from that moment on I couldn't control the engine braking. It was my mistake as my line was too far to the left but after that it was tough to ride and change gear properly. Nevertheless, I tried to stay up with the leaders. Then I lost the front and crashed after having had a couple of warnings. I'm really disappointed because we are getting closer to front-running pace at every race and here we could have done well. Still, I believe in myself, in the machine and in my team, and I really hope to get a good result soon."
KAZUHIKO YAMANO - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"Dani did a fantastic job today. It has been 382 days since Honda last won a MotoGP race, and this result shows that the factory Repsol Honda Team can still be a force to be reckoned with. Dani has had a very difficult start to 2009, with injury interfering with the winter testing programme and then with more bad luck and injuries in the early races. But now we can put that behind us and use this victory to move forward. Though Andrea is obviously disappointed with today, he was also strong this weekend and I'm sure the results will come for him soon. Far from relaxing now, the Repsol Honda Team is going to work even harder to repeat this kind of success. There is still a gap to some of our rivals and there are many strong riders in MotoGP, but Honda will never give up and I'm determined that today is just the start."