Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa rode to a fantastic victory in the Grand Prix of Valencia today and in doing so took a surprise second place in the riders World Championship. The 22-year-old from Barcelona converted pole position into the win and also...
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa rode to a fantastic victory in the Grand Prix of Valencia today and in doing so took a surprise second place in the riders World Championship. The 22-year-old from Barcelona converted pole position into the win and also set the fastest lap of the race to become the first rider to claim victory in all three Grand Prix classes at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. The 25 points Pedrosa earned today were enough to overturn the 24-point championship deficit he held to Valentino Rossi coming into the final race of the season and Pedrosa took second in the world standings by just one point. Rossi retired from today's race.
Despite leading for 25 of the 30 laps and crossing the line 5.447s ahead of Casey Stoner, this was far from an easy win for Pedrosa. From pole position the Spaniard slipped to third behind Stoner and Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden, who made an excellent getaway from third on the grid. Pedrosa passed Hayden into turn two and began his pursuit of Stoner, closing in on the Australian before making his decisive move at the beginning of lap six. Riding on the absolute limit, Pedrosa set the fastest lap of the race -- a new lap record of 1m 32.748s -- as he gradually stretched a two second gap to Stoner. Only in the final two laps did the pressure ease as Stoner settled for second and a delighted Pedrosa took the chequered flag in front of 132,500 delirious home fans.
Hayden put up a valiant fight today. The 2006 World Champion was second from the start and held third place for the first three laps as he extracted the maximum performance from his RC212V. It was always an uphill struggle for the 26-year-old American who had battled grip issues for the entire weekend. Hayden duelled with Marco Melandri for two thirds of the race but in the final ten laps he couldn't maintain the pace and slipped to eighth at the finish. Despite this Hayden climbed one place in the World Championship today to finish in eighth overall.
With the 18-race 2007 season over, preparations for 2008 begin immediately with the Repsol Honda Team remaining at Valencia for two days of testing, beginning on Tuesday.
Position: 1st -- Fastest lap: 1m 32.748s -- World Championship position 2nd -- 242 pts
Front tyre: 16.0" Hard Michelin slick Rear tyre: 16.5" Medium Michelin slick
"I'm very happy with this result. I really wanted to win this race very much and so actually achieving it feels fantastic. The race was very tough and I had to push at the maximum from start to finish. In the early laps I was struggling a little with grip from the front tyre but then in the second half of the race the grip was very good. The pace today was really fast and Casey was chasing hard so there was no moment to relax or back off. Towards the end of the race I was sliding in some of the left-handers but I was still able to push hard. I must say thanks to the team because they have worked very hard for me this weekend and all year and the bike was perfect today. Also I must thank Michelin too because the tyres were very good today. I didn't know until I arrived in parc ferme that I had second in the world championship and this was a nice surprise. I didn't expect this because there was only a very, very slim chance of taking second coming into this weekend. After quite a difficult season second place is better than third and gives the Repsol Honda Team some reward for sticking with it and never giving up this year. It will give us even more motivation for winter testing because we must now take another step forward so that we can arrive at the first race of 2008 with the best possible package. I think the crowd has enjoyed this weekend and I'm very proud to have given my fans a great result at my home circuit -- it's a great feeling!"
Position: 8th - Fastest lap: 1m 33.435s -- World Championship position 8th -- 127 pts
Front tyre: 16.0" Medium Michelin slick Rear tyre: 16.5" Medium Michelin slick
"Well, we knew all weekend that we were on the back foot and the race proved it. We made a lot of changes for warm-up this morning and the package felt a bit better, but still we didn't have the pace we needed for the race. I got a pretty good start but there were a few places on the lap where I was too weak and this made it quite a difficult race for me. I got past Melandri and held on to fourth for as long as I could but then to lose four places in the last five or six laps was tough to take. Still, the season's in the books and we'll start over with testing on Tuesday -- it's been a tough year so now we'll go back to work. Thanks to the team for all their hard work this year -- everybody at Honda, Michelin, my mechanics and everyone who's been behind me this year. We're going to keep working hard so we can do a lot better in 2008."
Makoto Tanaka -- Repsol Honda Team Manager
"Congratulations to Dani and thank you very much for this fantastic performance at his home Grand Prix. It was a very successful weekend for him and this result at the final race of the season was very important to give us extra motivation for next year. A big thank you must also go to Michelin because they have worked very hard to give us winning tyres this weekend. This was a difficult race for Nicky and we knew from Friday that he was in for a tough weekend. Still, he fought very hard in the race and never gave up. I know the whole Repsol Honda Team will be working very hard for next year."