Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored a great second-place finish in the rain-hit Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez to move into second place in the World Championship standings after two of this year’s 18 rounds. The race was won by reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) with Nicky Hayden (Ducati) finishing third.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) challenged Hayden for the final podium position during the final lap, crossing the line just four tenths of a second behind the American for his best result since moving to MotoGP last season.
But Honda’s other MotoGP hopes were out of luck this afternoon. Qatar GP winner Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V), who yesterday qualified on pole position here, was taken out by former World Champion Valentino Rossi (Ducati) in the early stages, while Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) crashed out of the lead a few laps later. And Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V), who made a great start to place fourth after the first lap, ran into grip issues.
Rain arrived at Jerez before morning warm-up, with all three Grands Prix getting underway on a wet track. There were a number of crashes in all three races, but conditions were probably at their most treacherous during the MotoGP race. As the laps went by the track started drying out, which caused serious degradation to the rain tyres chosen by all riders. Eight of the 17 riders who started the race slid off during the 27 laps, none of them sustaining injury.
Stoner made a perfect start from pole to lead the first few laps, while Simoncelli was the man on the move, passing both second-placed Lorenzo and then Stoner on lap six. While the lanky Italian quickly established a 2.6 second lead and seemed destined for a maiden MotoGP victory, Stoner and Lorenzo were coming under attack from Rossi, who was in a hurry coming through from 12th on the grid.
In fact Rossi was in too much of a hurry. After taking Lorenzo on lap seven, he dived under Stoner as the pair entered the first turn for the eighth time. Rossi lost the front, his fallen machine skittling Stoner, both bikes and riders sliding into the gravel trap. Rossi managed to regain the track – his engine hadn’t stopped during the accident – but Stoner wasn’t able to restart his engine, which he had stopped as he fell to avoid engine damage.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 2nd
“It’s been a very difficult race. At the start, many riders overtook me and I thought ‘that’s it’. Anyway, I knew there were 27 laps and the situation was difficult for the tyres. I was a little nervous after my bad start, but when I realised that in the first lap I was faster than in the warm-up, I calmed down and started to improve. I took a good pace and had to ride at maximum concentration in order not to not make any mistakes; it was very easy to crash. Some riders started falling down and it was a matter of resisting. I tried to catch Lorenzo when I saw that his gap was about a second, but at ten laps to go the tyres were almost finished; I couldn’t even open the throttle on the straight because the track was very slippery. When Spies crashed, my gap with Nicky was big enough to keep the second place and I crossed the finish line very, very happy. It’s been a tough weekend for the arm injury, today I also had numbness and lack of strength, but to ride in the wet helped me because it’s not as aggressive as in dry conditions. To leave Jerez with a second place finish, after the third place in Qatar, is amazing. We are nine points behind the Championship leader and it’s a good gap to resume the Championship again in Estoril. On Friday we considered whether it was worth racing here or better to pull out thinking about the operation. So this second place is amazing. We’ve been doing great, but now comes the hard time, the surgery. Nobody likes to undergo surgery, but this time I almost wish for it because I want to end the pain and problems and start competing fully fit.”[Source: Honda]