Andrea Dovizioso will be the sole Repsol Honda rider in the MotoGP class at Motegi after his teammate, Dani Pedrosa, suffered a major crash during practice.
A jammed throttle caused a crash that ended Dani Pedrosa’s hopes of winning the 2010 MotoGP world title in Japan today. The Spaniard was violently thrown from his factory Honda RC212V machine in the early stages of this afternoon’s opening practice session at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. The 25-year-old suffered a badly broken left collarbone and is preparing to fly out of Tokyo this evening to undergo an operation in Barcelona, scheduled to take place Saturday. The crash killed off Pedrosa’s hopes of claiming a dramatic first MotoGP world crown. A run of four successive podium finishes had seen Pedrosa cut Jorge Lorenzo’s advantage to 56-points. But the title race is likely to be over next weekend in Sepang with Pedrosa’s absence handing the title to Fiat Yamaha rival, Lorenzo. Honda’s statement issued a short time ago at the Twin Ring Motegi confirmed a technical failure had caused Pedrosa’s accident on his third lap of practice. When he started to brake for Turn 9, his throttle remained open and catapulted him at high speed into the gravel trap.
“Obviously this has been a really bad day for us,” said Pedrosa. “It was a strange crash in only my second full lap, in a slow section of the track. I tried to stop the bike as usual but I knew something was wrong and couldn’t avoid going down. After the crash I knew immediately that I was injured because it was very painful. I had a big impact in my left
Jorge Lorenzo has a 56-point advantage over Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and is almost certainly going to win the 2010 championship.
ankle and also my collarbone was broken as I hit the track – so obviously it feels very unlucky because recently we have had really good results. I’ve been very healthy through the pre-season and through the year and we had been working a lot to get to and stay at the maximum level. Another injury to contend with is really not what I needed – I don’t feel as though I deserve it. Anyway, once the doctors had checked everything here, we decided it was best to go back to Spain for the operation. I hope it goes as well as possible and that I can return to racing soon.”
Repsol Honda teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, who finished the session in second-place, witnessed Pedrosa’s heavy tumble and said: “I’m really sorry for Dani. It’s always very bad for a rider when there are injuries. I was behind him and it was a bad crash. He fell quite hard and stayed under the bike when he slid. I hope he can recover soon.”
Jorge Lorenzo could win in his first MotoGP world championship crown in Malaysia next weekend. The 23-year-old was already in a commanding position with a 56-point lead over Spanish rival, Dani Pedrosa, before disaster struck the Repsol Honda rider. The injury killed off Pedrosa’s hopes of exerting more pressure on Lorenzo, who is now likely to clinch his maiden premier class crown at the Sepang circuit next weekend. The double world 250GP champion will need to clear 75-points of Pedrosa heading to the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island later this month. But with Pedrosa flying back to Europe today for surgery on his smashed collarbone, Lorenzo is nearly a certainty to win the title.
Speaking at the Twin Ring Motegi today when he learned the extent of the damage to Pedrosa’s shoulder, Lorenzo said: “Well, obviously the best way to win the world title is with all the riders in the best condition and all the riders competing. But races are like that and everybody gets injured sometimes. I got injured in 2008 and Valentino this year and now, bad luck is for Dani. It is not good news for the championship, but obviously for us, for the championship and for the points, it’s good.”
Contrary to what Valentino Rossi expected at Motegi, hard braking sections were not too stressful on his shoulder since they were in line.
Lorenzo denied he would now change his approach in the final five races having no threat to his title hopes.
He was only fourth at the previous race at the Motorland Aragon circuit to miss the podium for the first time in 2010.
“Being honest,” said Lorenzo. “I was quite happy and I was happy with the result in Aragon. I raced quite aggressive and the best way I could ride. But we had so many problems and the only position we could get was fourth. I don’t race with a calculator or something like that. I race, more or less, always at the limit and now I will race the same.”
Valentino Rossi admitted he got a ‘big surprise’ after he topped the timesheets in first practice for this weekend’s Japanese MotoGP race. The Italian had feared a gruelling weekend with the hard braking points at the Twin Ring Motegi putting extra stress on the damaged right shoulder that has troubled him since April. But the 31-year-old looked in little difficulty this afternoon after he powered his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine to the top of the timesheets. A best lap of 1.48.174 in the dying seconds moved him ahead of compatriot Andrea Dovizioso by 0.213s, and Rossi said: “Today is a big surprise for me. I didn’t expect to be so fast at this track. I expected to suffer a lot more with the shoulder. Here we have hard braking but you stop the bike in a straight line. I don’t suffer too much when I stop the bike like this. I suffer too much when I have to brake on the edge. The
American Ben Spies suffered a low-speed tumble while evaluating a soft option front tire at the Motegi circuit.
shoulder is quite good and I can stay in front. It is a little bit like Formula One now in MotoGP. Sometimes your bike can use the tires properly and you’re fast like today. But sometimes like in Aragon you can’t use them and you’re in big trouble. Sometimes you are good and sometimes bad, but it depends on the track.”
Rossi was also pleasantly surprised by the performance of Yamaha’s upgraded factory YZR-M1 motor. He’d first tried it at the Brno test in August and he hadn’t expected top end performance to have been so significant.
“I’m happy because Yamaha worked well and the engine is faster, especially in fourth, fifth and sixth gear,” said Rossi. “The difference is bigger here than when we checked in Brno. Brno is a wide track and very fast so it looked like there was not so much difference. But it looks not so bad. More than acceleration it is better in fourth, fifth and sixth – it pushes better at the top.”
Ben Spies showcased his talent in impressive fashion again today at the Twin Ring Motegi, the American ending his first session at the Japanese venue with the fifth-quickest time. The 26-year-old didn’t let a slow speed crash on his Monster Yamaha YZR-M1 machine ruin his Twin Ring Motegi debut as he finished with a best time of 1.49.302. That put him 0.055s ahead of home favorite Hiroshi Aoyama, and the 2009 World Superbike champion said: “To be in the top-five having never seen this track before is really good. This track isn’t super technical and it doesn’t really help us much with all the stop and go sections which hurt us a little bit on speed. It was a little tricky learning the track because the conditions don’t seem to be what everybody is used to. So it was even trickier for me trying to build up trust in some corners. I had the soft front tire in at the start of the session and I wasn’t too keen on it. I came in for the hard tire but the team wanted me to do one more stint on the soft and on the second lap of that run I got in deep at Turn 3. I had to let off the brake to gather it back up but I was trying to keep the bike on the track because I didn’t want to get into the gravel with all the rain we’d had yesterday. As soon as I got to the edge of the track I lost the front. I was going really slow, but I landed really hard on my left elbow on the curb. It’s not too painful and shouldn’t be a problem for me on the bike. It kind of proved that I didn’t like the soft front tire, but the hard one felt good on the spare bike and the rest of the session went pretty smooth.”