Dovizioso keeping his former teammate Casey Stoner at bay to score his first podium on a Tech 3 Yamaha.
Andrea Dovizioso held off a fierce late challenge from Casey Stoner to record his first podium for Yamaha in the Catalunya MotoGP race. Dovizioso was never outside of the top three after the third lap when he was promoted to third by an early mistake from his factory Yamaha rival Spies.
For the opening half of the race, Dovizioso kept his satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine within striking distance of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa at the front of the field. But a mistake on the brakes for Turn 1 on Lap 14 ended his challenge and dropped him back into the clutches of Stoner and teammate Cal Crutchlow.
The Italian brilliantly fended off Stoner, his former Repsol Honda teammate, to claim third and secure the first podium for the French-based Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad since Colin Edwards was third in a rain-lashed British Grand Prix at Silverstone nearly 12 months ago.
Dovizioso said: “I could feel the sound of Casey’s bike on the last lap and I pushed really hard to try and not make a mistake because Casey was pushing really hard. His lap time was very fast but I knew I had to push at 100% and not make a mistake because I didn’t want to fight to the last corners because the grip was really bad and it is difficult to fight like this. Apart from that I am really happy because my pace was really close to Lorenzo and Pedrosa. I was only slower by one or two-tenths at the start and it might not look big but it was for me because the grip was bad for everybody and you can’t be more aggressive when the grip is like this. I tried to brake hard and one time I tried too much and I missed a lot of meters without the rear on the ground at Turn 1 and made a mistake. That ended my possibility to try and finish with them finished but I just wanted to concentrate on myself because Cal was with Casey and I didn’t want a battle with them.”
Dovizioso said his first rostrum on board a YZR-M1 was reward for all the hard work his Tech 3 Team has put in to help him adapt him from Honda. “To be in a satellite team and fight with them and take only nine seconds after a big mistake is good. I am happy with Yamaha because they give us the support and like I said before the team has real passion and we are working good. We have improved each time on the bike right from the first test. A few tenths is difficult to close to the front but we are close and maybe nobody expected this situation with us being as fast as we are at this point.”
Crutchlow Still Searching for MotoGP Podium
Cal Crutchlow blamed a lack of rear grip as he failed for the third time in 2012 to convert a front row start into a podium finish in the Catalunya MotoGP race. The British rider held fourth place until Lap 7 when reigning world champion Casey Stoner dropped him back to fifth. It was a position he couldn’t recover despite exerting intense pressure on Stoner until the final lap and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider settled for his fourth top five finish of the campaign.
Cal Crutchlow has been competitive at the front of the pack all year, but has yet to earn a podium in 2012.
The 26-year-old said his podium challenge was blunted by a lack of grip and Crutchlow was due to spend Monday’s Catalunya test session working on the set-up of his YZR-M1 to find out why.
“I feel we have get less rear grip than the other Yamaha riders and why I don’t know,” said Crutchlow. “We will assess it but we have definitely got less grip than Andrea (Dovizioso) and it seems like he’s got more than (Jorge) Lorenzo. We had another good and consistent race and when you are following the world champion it is hard not to learn something.”
What Crutchlow had learned was something he probably already knew. His Yamaha YZR-M1 is exceptional on corner entry and straight line braking but no match for the grunt of Honda’s RC213V on corner exit.
The former World Supersport champion added: “The Honda is just so fast. As soon as they get it upright in a straight line I couldn’t get a run at it. I was very good in straight line braking and tipping into the corner but on the exit Casey was better. It was frustrating because I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I’m not looking for excuses but this was only my second race at this track too.”
Another issue Crutchlow says he must address quickly to bolster his hopes of claiming a first premier class podium on home soil at Silverstone later this month is riding in the early laps with a full fuel tank.
He added: “I nearly crashed about five times in the first few laps and why I don’t know. The only race where I have been able to stay with the leaders at the start has been in Jerez and it was dodgy conditions. Where I am losing my time is in the first laps because of the fuel load. In Jerez because the conditions were iffy we weren’t pushing that hard and once the fuel load gets less the bike is great. The front tire comes back to me and I am not locking the front all of the time or tucking it mid-corner and running wide.”
Crutchlow believes he might have been able to battle for the podium if he had been able to pass Stoner much earlier, adding: “I’d have liked to have battled for the podium at the end and I think if I could have passed Casey I could have gone with Andrea. I was strong in some parts of the track and Casey in others, so each time I’d close up, he would be able to pull away and manage the gap. I couldn’t do anything else to get by him but he’s not the World Champion for nothing. He rode brilliantly and I’ve got to be happy to be so close to him on a track I’ve only raced on twice now. I qualified on the front row and finished in the top five, so there are so many positives to take away from this weekend.”