Dani Pedrosa: “”This is a perfect result for me and it was a fantastic race for me and for the Repsol Honda team. They have been working really hard and it was a great result for both riders – so I’m really happy for the team.”
Pedrosa took the holeshot from his pole starting position but ran wide, allowing American’s Colin Edwards and John Hopkins to move into first and second place, while he dropped back to fifth. The next half of the race was led by Edwards with Hopper in tow while the rest of the field inched closer and closer. On lap ten, Pedrosa made the pass for the lead with teammate Hayden in tow. The Repsol riders would battled hard for the win, setting new fast lap times every time they crossed the finish line.
In the end Pedrosa would not be denied as he became second youngest rider in MotoGP history two win a race at 20 years and 227 days old.
“Once in the lead I was always looking at the pit board and seeing zero point something,” explained Pedrosa. “I was trying to maintain the gap but it was not easy because Nicky was pushing more and more and the tires were losing a little grip. Winning is always very special but the level in MotoGP is higher, so this is very special for me.”
Yet another runner-up finish extends Nicky Hayden’s podium streak to eight. Hayden was riding his ass off in the hopes of picking up career win number two but he’ll have to wait until the next round for another shot at it.
“I tried to go a little bit faster every lap and put some heat on Dani, but that dude just wouldn’t crack,” said Hayden “So I definitely give Dani credit because he rode a really strong race. I felt good when I kept going a little bit faster, but it just wasn’t enough and when I got close to him I didn’t want to do anything silly. Congratulations to the team, and not just my guys but all the guys involved in Repsol Honda, they deserve it.”
It was an excellent show of force for the American’s in China as Colin Edwards joined Hayden on the podium in third, his best finish of the season. After setting the pace early on Edwards looked like he was going to be in contention for the win but once the Honda’s got past him, there was little he and his Yamaha M1 could do about it.
“I got a really good start and just decided to go as fast as I could over the opening laps,” reports Edwards. “I was close to losing control on a couple of occasions but I decided that I’d rather crash out of the lead today than miss my chance of finishing on the podium, which meant I just couldn’t back off. I had some chatter and I could only push the bike so hard; if I went any faster than 2’00.7 then the chatter forced me to slow down, so I didn’t have much choice but to hang in there! The freight train came past with Dani and Nicky but I couldn’t hang on to the back, they were both just too fast.”
Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins finished fourth after running in the front along with Edwards during the early going. Like Edwards, Hopkins had nothing to counter the Repsol effort but a fourth place finish is a huge boost to the entire Rizla Suzuki MotoGP effort who have had little to be excited about the past couple seasons.
“I have got to give a big thanks to my whole crew, they worked fantastically all weekend and without them I wouldn’t be anywhere – they’re a lot of the reason why I am here at Suzuki,” explained Hopkins. “The Bridgestone tires worked awesome today, I reckon I had a bit more edge-grip than Colin and they were still working well at the end of the race. I am really happy and I just also want to say it’s my Mum’s birthday, so Happy Birthday to her and Happy American Mother’s Day to her as well – I hope she was pleased with the finish!”
The obstacles continue to mount for defending champion Valentino Rossi. After being forced into the pits with a chunked tire the Camel Yamaha rider returned to the pits a lap later reporting that the issue was still there. He would DNF.
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
2. Nicky Hayden (Honda)
3. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
4. John Hopkins (Suzuki)
5. Casey Stoner (Honda)
6. Makoto Tamada (Honda)
7. Marco Melandri (Honda)
8. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
9. Sete Gibernau (Ducati)
10. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki)
11. Toni Elias (Honda)
12. Randy De Puniet (Kawasaki)
13. Kenny Roberts (Team KR)
14. Carlos Checa (Yamaha)
15. Alex Hofmann (Ducati)