Dani Pedrosa was able to take the lead ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and earn his ninth premier class win at Mugello.
Just a few weeks after being written off as a MotoGP title no-hoper, Dani Pedrosa stormed to a commanding victory in the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello yesterday. Pedrosa produced one of his trademark wins, blasting off the line before opening up an unassailable lead with a series of quality fast laps in the early stages. It was a masterful performance from Pedrosa who never came under any serious threat with Spanish rival Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso unable to match his impressive speed.
This win was Pedrosa’s ninth premier class win and his first at the spectacular Mugello circuit, and it moved him firmly back into contention for the championship.
Pedrosa, who was narrowly defeated by Lorenzo last month in the Spanish GP at Jerez, now trails his fierce rival by 25-points and was understandably jubilant with his success. Pedrosa had a torrid winter testing campaign on board Honda’s new factory RC212V, which seemed incapable of mounting a genuine threat to Yamaha’s dominant YZR-M1.
“It’s a great feeling,” commented Pedrosa. “This winter it was very hard with so many problems with the bike. To be at the top again is great for me. I had a great feeling with the bike, especially at the beginning of the race. I just pushed as hard as I could and I did some good lap times and I’m delighted.”
Pedrosa said he pushed at a furious pace in the first half of the race to avoid a repeat of his agonizing late defeat in Jerez. He’d led for the entire race only to be passed by Lorenzo halfway around the final lap.
After suffering a bitter defeat in Jerez by Lorenzo, Pedrosa created a lead which couldn’t be toppled in the end at the Mugello circuit.
He added: “At the start of the season we had a bike that wasn’t even going straight. So now to be winning is a great feeling. I’d like to keep on going because after this race we have to get some momentum going.”
Pedrosa also said Honda still had plenty of work to do, adding that the RC212V is still difficult to find a base set-up that works well on all tracks.
He said: “It is clear for us that we have a lot of work to do on Friday when we get to a new track. It is going to be hard for my team and for me and also for Andrea in the new tracks, but we hope that with work we can get there.”
As a sidenote Pedrosa said he had been surprised that the expected onslaught from Lorenzo never actually materialized.
“I expected to have more of a fight with Jorge but in the first laps he couldn’t find the grip. But he’s always consistent and that’s what makes him dangerous.”
In the wake of Pedrosa’s victory, Jorge Lorenzo admitted he was well beaten by his bitter Spanish rival Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo was a comfortable pre-race favorite having impressed throughout the weekend on Bridgestone’s race rubber.
But he was powerless to prevent Pedrosa from romping to a trademark runaway victory.
Lorenzo though comfortably dealt with an early challenge from Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda teammate Andrea Dovizioso to maintain his 100 percent podium record in 2010.
Donning a yellow VR46 T-shirt as a tribute to injured factory Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi, Lorenzo said: “I can only say that Dani’s race was perfect. Riding in 39.5 is an amazing pace it was hard to beat him. But with my pace the only thing I could do is finish second. Sometimes I can’t ride the same on Sunday as I do on Saturday and we have to solve this problem. But anyway if we can finish second in bad conditions it is always a good result.”
Lorenzo has only dropped ten-points in the opening four races of the season, but saw his series lead cut to 25-points by a rampant Pedrosa who led from start-to-finish in a somewhat dull 23-lap clash.
Afterwards Lorenzo pleaded with Yamaha to find more power for its in-line four-cylinder YZR-M1 machine.
“For sure to have 90 points out of 100 is a lot so we must try and improve my riding style and Yamaha has to improve the power a bit of the bike.”
The 23-year-old also paid tribute to Rossi, who watched the race from his hospital bed in Florence as he starts his long recovery from a broken right leg suffered in Saturday’s practice session.
“It was very strange today without Valentino,” said Lorenzo. “I am so glad the fans honored him so well. I wanted to win to dedicate the victory to him but that wasn’t possible so all I can do is say ‘get well soon!'”
Casey Stoner said he was satisfied with his fourth-place finish at Mugello, but not with his overall standing in the championship.
Casey Stoner declared himself satisfied with a distant fourth-place finish as his 2010 MotoGP title challenge failed to gather serious momentum in Mugello. Stoner was never in contention for a first podium finish of the season and by the end of a race that saw him win a close battle with Honda duo Marco Melandri and Randy de Puniet, he was a massive 25 seconds away from the victory.
Using a set of 2009 spec Ohlins front forks to try and boost his fragile confidence with the front-end of his factory Ducati, Stoner said: “I’m satisfied with the outcome and don’t think I had the pace to run with the front guys. I used the softer option tire and thought at least I could run with the guys at the front and then maybe go a little backwards at the end of the race, But I couldn’t generate any grip and I was just doing nothing. I’m a little disappointed not to have at least pulled away from the guys behind me but I was a good rabbit for them and they had something to chase down.”
Stoner had gambled with the softer tire in a bid to make a fast start to the 23-lap race but he denied that he’s been surprised the tire hasn’t given him more of an advantage in the opening exchanges.
“We had a fairly decent set-up in the warm-up,” remarked Stoner, “and we changed it for the race but it felt like I was still pushing too hard and it just didn’t work with the rear. The front of the bike improved but we lost a bit of grip with the rear. That was disappointing because the only thing we struggled with was the grip in the race.”
The 2009 forks at least restored some of Stoner’s confidence and he said he felt much more comfortable than the previous race in Le Mans when he crashed out of rostrum contention in the early stages.
“In Le mans everything was fine until the race and I think Nicky (Hayden) found the troubles I’ve been having and Mika (Kallio) the same. They both lost the front. It was the same with Nicky here at a corner where you are not pushing hard. He was probably off the brakes when it went. We are not changing too much. I’m pretty happy with the way the bike is feeling but I just need to get confidence more grip.”
Stoner surrendered more crucial ground in the title race with his latest result, leaving him 66-points behind Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo with only four of 18 races completed.
“Two crashes in three races where we should have done very well hasn’t helped. It is almost an impossible amount of catching up to do and now with Valentino (Rossi) out, even if I was able to win races there is one less person to get in between the top four or five guys. If it’s just Dani and Jorge it’s a pretty small gap race-by-race if you can win. It is making things complicated.”
Pedrosa’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso could not fight back tears after he claimed an emotional maiden home MotoGP podium in Mugello yesterday. The Repsol Honda rider held third for the opening two laps before he brilliantly passed series leader Jorge Lorenzo on the brakes at the first corner on Lap 3. Lorenzo needed just three more laps to pull off the same move, and despite his best efforts Dovizioso was unable to get close enough to the Spaniard to try and secure second spot. Dovizioso though has now scored three podium finishes in the opening four races and admitted that the occasion had got the better of him on podium.
“On the podium I cried a lot,” remarked Dovizioso, “because it was a nice and new emotion for me. The podium in MotoGP in Mugello is unbelievable. I always had to watch it on the TV in the garage! I am happy because this is the third podium and it is so important for the championship. We need to study and see how we can do better because we are always close to the fastest rider but never able to fight for the victory. We’re missing the last step and want to make it this year as soon as possible. I wanted to finish the race fighting with Lorenzo because I think it could have been a good battle on the last lap, but I couldn’t catch him. I’d like to say congratulations to Dani on the win because he had an incredible pace, and this is an extra motivation for us to take that extra step forward so we can fight for the win”.
Marco Melandri also admitted he shocked himself after the Italian claimed his best result in MotoGP for over a year. Starting from a lowly 14th on the grid, the former World 250GP Champion made a lightning start to make up seven places on the opening lap.
He moved by Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies on the third lap and then took fifth from fellow American Nicky Hayden on Lap 5 before he got locked in a thrilling dice with former factory Ducati teammate Casey Stoner and French rider Randy de Puniet.
Melandri did get to the front of the battle on laps eight and nine before he came under a fresh attack from Stoner’s GP10 machine. He regained fourth on Lap 13 before de Puniet took over for a brief stint on Lap 16. Melandri seized on a mistake at the final corner on the penultimate lap by de Puniet but was unable to fend off Stoner’s late challenge to finish in a creditable fifth.
Riding his RC212V machine now with Showa suspension and a chassis and swingarm made stiffer by his own Gresini crew to aid handling, Melandri said: “I was confident from the start that I could make a good race, but not such a strong one as that. In qualifying it was very difficult, and I was only 14th fastest. But I had a very good start. This time I was more confident with the tire on the first few laps and I overtook several riders. I took Casey, but by then Dani (Pedrosa) was on another planet. On the last lap Casey and I passed each other three or four times, and I tried to pass him in the final braking but I made a small mistake and went on the inside curb and closed the throttle. Our problem has been mainly a lack of stability at the front. We’ve also been struggling with the engine character, which is very aggressive. For my riding style it’s difficult because I like a smooth engine.”
Randy de Puniet recalled that an early mistake against Stoner and Melandri is what cost him a fourth-place finish at Mugello.
Randy de Puniet meanwhile reckons an early and late mistake cost him the chance of a fourth-place finish in yesterday’s Italian MotoGP race. The French rider lost out in a titanic battle with 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner and home favorite Marco Melandri and had to settle for sixth position in the 23-lap encounter.
But the LCR Honda rider was left to contemplate what might have been after he paid for a terrible start off the second row of the grid. The former factory Kawasaki rider plummeted from sixth to 12th at one stage on the opening lap before a series of impressive overtakes to end the lap in eighth. He moved into sixth-place on Lap 7 and then engaged in a battle with Stoner and Melandri for the rest of the race.
It looked like de Puniet would pull off a morale-boosting fourth as he led the pair coming into the start/finish straight to commence the final lap. But de Puniet suffered a big tank-slapper on the exit and let Stoner and Melandri through. He was unable to retaliate, but he equaled his best result of the season and remains the leading satellite team rider in the overall standings.
“I lost my chance to get fourth place after the first lap,” de Puniet said, “because I was only 12th after T3. I passed four riders and got to eighth but I’d lost the group with (Andrea) Dovizioso and (Jorge) Lorenzo. I know I could have followed them for five or six laps even if I’d not been able to go with them for the whole race. I pushed a lot to catch the group and we had a great battle. I couldn’t get away seven laps from the end when I was at the front and I just decided to wait until the last two laps. I was actually leading at the last corner on the penultimate corner but I had a big slide on the rear coming into the straight. It was impossible for me to keep the throttle fully open on the straight because the bike had a massive headshake and Melandri and Stoner passed me. I tried to pass them back but I couldn’t. I think fourth was possible if I hadn’t lost three or four seconds easily on the first lap.”
On another note Nicky Hayden refused to blame an on-going front-end issue for Ducati’s new GP10 contender after his promising start to 2010 came to an abrupt end in Mugello. Hayden got a shocking start from the second row of the grid and lost two places on the opening lap before he moved back into fifth on Lap 3 when he passed the fast-starting Ben Spies.
Nicky Hayden (#69) says that he accepts the blame for his poor performance at Mugello where he DNF’d.
Marco Melandri dropped Hayden back to sixth a lap later though, and while trying to mount an immediate counter attack he crashed out, losing the front of his GP10 in front of a massive gathering of Ducati fans.
But the 2006 World Champion took responsibility for the crash. Ducati has been plagued by a host of front-end crashes so far in 2010 and Aussie teammate Casey Stoner even switched back to a set of 2009 Ohlins front forks for the Italian MotoGP race.
“I’m not going to blame the front-end for that at all. I’ll hold my hands up and say it was totally my fault. I screwed the start up and got beat up into Turn 1 but I was able to make a couple of passes and thought I could fight for it. My rhythm wasn’t that good and I was just trying to make up too much time into that downhill corner. It was a rider error and it’s a bummer because it’s the team’s home race and they’ve all worked really hard. All I can say is I am sorry – that one was on me. I’m completely okay so that’s the good thing but it still hurts.”