Respol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso took his first career MotoGP win at the British Grand Prix, while satellite riders Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) also scored their first podium finishes of the 2009 MotoGP Championship at Donington Park on Sunday.
Respol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso hung on to his first MotoGP career win at the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
The specter of rain colored the race from start to finish. Before the race started the Ducati Marlboro team made a huge gamble by placing both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden on wet tires when most of the other riders were on slicks or some combination of harder dry-weather tires. It became clear that the choice was not the right one as the full-slick riders quickly took to the front, with Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias taking the lead from Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo after Lap 1, followed by the other Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi in third. The Respol Honda duo of Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa proceeded in fourth and fifth.
Lorenzo recouped the front but soon lost it to Dovizioso a lap later as the two Factory Honda riders made their way forward through the Fogarty esses. The young Italian couldn’t hold the position however, and Lorenzo and Pedrosa moved forward one position to claim first and second. Meanwhile, Rossi had overtaken Elias at McLeans to reclaim fourth.
Dovi and Rossi than dropped Pedrosa to fourth through the Melbourne hairpin, with the Championship points leader overtaking Dovi on the following left-hand corner at Goddards.
The spotty rain showers were causing water to collect along the white lines on the edges of the track. The following lap Elias crashed out of fifth as he hit the white line coming into McLeans. Then Lorenzo crashed out of the race as his front tire slipped on the edge coming into Goddards corner. This left Rossi and Dovizioso running in front with Pedrosa two seconds back in third. Though rain was collecting in some places it was not enough to warrant wet tires, meaning Stoner and Hayden were running nearly a minute behind the front-runners.
LCR Honda's De Puniet overtook Respol Honda's Pedrosa for third despite the Spaniard having the newer Factory engine.
Pedrosa then relinquished third to Randy de Puniet, but the two Honda riders would swap the position throughout the 11th and 12th laps of the race. However, De Puniet proved he could outpace the Spaniard on the faster portion of the track.
Rossi and Dovi then lapped the two Ducati Marlboro riders as Dovi continued to pressure Rossi up front. With 11 laps to go the two Italians had a ten second advantage on third-placed De Puniet. Then the unthinkable happened. Rossi went down at the Fogarty esses and handed the lead over to the 23-year-old Honda rider. Rossi rejoined the fray in 11th.
Pedrosa was left as the best placed rider among the championship contenders in third. However, the Spaniard was losing traction fast on his slicks and unwilling to forfeit time to change bikes. Colin Edwards and Honda Gresini’s Alex de Angelis were the first to take advantage of the slowing Pedrosa to slip-stream into third and fourth. Edwards teammate James Toseland and the recovering Rossi also dispatched the Factory Honda rider in the next few laps.
Rossi passed James Toseland on the last lap to claim fifth after dropping to 11th after his crash on Lap 11.
De Puniet and Edwards closed Dovizioso's gap to 1.4 seconds with three laps to go. The American got the better of De Puniet coming into the hairpin, but the Frenchman retaliated on the subsequent turn at Goddards on the penultimate lap.
The front three were all racing for their first season podium and career MotoGP win. In the end, Dovizioso was able to hold onto first by over a second, but Edwards slipped past De Puniet on the final turn at Goddards to take second for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. They were followed over the line by De Angelis in fourth, while Rossi got the better of Toseland on the final lap to take fifth. Meanwhile, Dani Pedrosa had dropped all the way to ninth behind Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri and Pramac Racing’s Nicolo Canepa.
The two ill-fated Ducati Marlboro riders finished a lap back from the finishers in 14th and 15th place.
MotoGP Donington Park Results
Honda riders Dovi (left
) and De Puniet (right
) each take their first podium of the 2009 MotoGP season at the British GP.
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda), 30 Laps
2. Colin Edwards (Yamaha), +1.360
3. Randy de Puniet (Honda), +1.600
4. Alex de Angelis (Honda), +8.958
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), +21.622
6. James Toseland (Yamaha), +22.465
7. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki), +35.284
8. Nicolo Canepa (Ducati), +38.769
9. Dani Pedrosa (Honda), +42.112
10. Mika Kallio (Ducati), +45.845
11. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki), +53.190
12. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda), +1’12.315
13. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki), +1’20.398
14. Casey Stoner (Ducati), +1 lap
15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati), +1 lap
DNF. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
DNF. Toni Elias (Honda)
British Grand Prix, Post-Race Rider Quotes
Andrea Dovizioso - Repsol Honda – 1st
“It’s a fantastic feeling to win my first MotoGP race because this is the top series in the world with the best riders and so to win is a fantastic emotion. I’m very pleased with my performance today as the conditions were so difficult. It was like three different races – riding hard at the start when it was nearly dry, following Valentino as it got wetter, and then judging the pace once I was in front. I rode well in every section and managed the very tricky situation, so it’s really satisfying. This is also important for my confidence after the last three races. In the first three laps I took a lot of risks to maintain my position with the leaders because the tires need two or three laps to get up to temperature. Once I was following Valentino it was quite easy because it’s not so difficult to follow someone in these conditions since the leader has to judge where it’s wet and where it’s dry. But when he fell it was clear from his crash that the tires were very cold and this was scary because now I had to set the pace. Colin and Randy closed the gap quickly in the last five laps and at this point I was being careful and wasn’t pushing to the limit, but in the final two laps I pushed as hard as I could and they weren’t able to get close enough to try and pass. I’m so happy with this win, and we’ll use it to move forward. The important thing is to fight with the best riders in normal dry conditions, so me and the team will work really hard to repeat this victory in the dry.”
Colin Edwards – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 2nd
“That was a pretty intense 48 minutes but at the start there was no way I thought I was going to be on the podium. I'm not sure what happened at the start but I just had guys coming by everywhere. I was using a front tire I'd not used all weekend and it took me a while to get a feel for it. Once I got some momentum going and I started to understand how the front tire was feeling I started pushing my way through. But with about seven or eight laps to go I started having some big moments because it was hard to know where it was raining and where it wasn't. And all the time you're trying to figure out where there's grip and where there isn't. It was easy to mistake and the left side of the rear tire was pretty cold and that just helped make it even more mentally draining because you need to concentrate so hard. I could see I was catching Randy really quick and we got into a good battle. He was faster than me in some parts and I was better in others but luckily I passed him on the last lap and made it stick. By that time though Andrea was too far ahead to think about pushing on for that first win, but second is a great way to finish at Donington. I've got to say a big thanks to my guys at Tech 3 because they always give me great support. Yamaha and Bridgestone too were just awesome today, so I'm really happy.”
Randy de Puniet - LCR Honda - 3rd
“It’s like a dream for me and the team! It was a very stressful race and I was very nervous on the grid as the conditions were pretty bad. I took a good start on slick tires and was very aggressive in the first laps. I got into sixth place but the gap on the front riders was too wide and I thought to keep my pace without taking any risks. Elias crashed in front of me and Pedrosa did not seem very confident on his machine. When he started to lose time I took my chance to pass him and we battled for several laps. I could overtake him because my machine was working well and I suddenly realized that I was holding third position. After Rossi’s crash I took second place and tried to remain focused because the surface was very slippery. Then Edwards came up quickly, giving me the chance to reduce the gap on Dovizioso, but it was too late and too dangerous, so I kept my position and we battled for the second place until the last corner. I am so happy for this result and want to thank everybody especially Lucio. We are sharing an amazing moment together!”
Alex De Angelis - San Carlo Honda Gresini - 4th
“I am absolutely delighted. That was one of the most difficult races in my whole career because when you’re on a bike with so much power in those conditions, on a circuit like Donington, which everybody knows is particularly slippery, it’s tough! The hardest thing was finding a compromise between attacking for a good position and defending it by staying upright. I could see I had a good pace and I was closing the gap to the guys in front of me but the most important thing was to finish and get a good result. I think that shows how much I have matured because it is the kind of mistake I made last year. I hope that is a good sign for the future and I think it proves the way myself and my chief mechanic have kept working and kept trying to improve without losing faith.”
Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha - 5th
“Once Jorge had crashed I was riding to win, as is always my style. In hindsight maybe I should have let Dovizioso pass me for a while but it was difficult to judge in such strange conditions. Riding in the rain with slick tires is always a risk and it was quite slippery, the turns on the left were all wet which made the left side of the tire cold and that’s why I crashed. Luckily it was a slow fall and my bike wasn’t hurt much. In fact, my bike was ‘bravissima’ today, both before and after the crash! After that we made a great recovery, I chose to remain with slick tires despite the rain and the result was eleven points, which are like gold dust for us because we have extended the lead despite what happened here and we’re going on holiday with a good advantage over our rivals. Finally I want to say well done to Dovi but especially to Colin, who rode like a devil today!”
James Toseland - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 6th
“I don't know where to start after a race like that. It was so difficult for the entire race to gauge how much rain was falling and where it was falling and it took incredible concentration. I got my head down and was fifth on the first lap but just after halfway I was back in tenth because I was struggling for temperature in the left side of the tire. I was wondering whether to pull in or not and change for the rain tires at one point but I carried on and kept my lap times as consistent as I could because it was so easy to make a mistake. With some of the other guys stopping to switch bikes, I made up a few places and was fifth for the final few laps and thinking I was going to get my best ever MotoGP result. That would have been amazing to do that in front of my home crowd, who were absolutely magnificent with their support today. But at the end Valentino (Rossi) came through so strong on the last lap. He passed me at The Esses but I managed to dive back under him, but he was phenomenal on the brakes at the Melbourne Loop. I wasn't going to try and do anything that might take us both out but it's another sixth place and it definitely makes amends for the big disappointment of last year. Congratulations to Colin too because he rode a great race and deserved a podium.”
Niccolò Canepa – Pramac Racing– 8th
“Today has finally gone well. It has been a particular race because the track has remained humid from the first to the last lap. At one point it was very complicated to remain on the bike. The riders with more experience than me in this championship have a small advantage on the dry, but with this condition maybe a bit of madness and sensibility on the bike is needed. Also on the dry track I am improving race after race reducing my distance from the best riders. This result makes me go on vacation a bit more serene and ready to start with even more enthusiasm in Brno.”
Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda – 9th
“First I have to congratulate Andrea on his win because he rode a great race from beginning to end in very difficult conditions. For me, the result today is obviously disappointing because I have been fast all weekend and I couldn’t keep that up during the race. At the beginning I was feeling good on the Bridgestone slicks and was able to judge my pace well according to the conditions. As the rain came, however, I couldn’t maintain the temperature in the tires and when this happens the grip really goes away and I wasn’t able to control the bike as I wanted. On the grid I was sure my tire choice was correct, but with 10 laps to go I thought that maybe I should go into the pits and change to wets, but it wasn’t worth losing 20 seconds for the bike change because the lap times of the riders on the wet tires were the same as the times on slicks. It was a frustrating race in strange conditions, but we’ll still have confidence going into the next race in Brno because we’ve been making progress recently and I’m feeling strong on the bike.”
Mika Kallio - Pramac Racing - 10th
“I am not very happy because we expected a lot more from this race. With the dry track we were fighting for sixth position but when it started to rain I thought it would have been better to change bike. After only a couple of laps rain has basically stopped and I couldn’t improve my prior lap times on slick tires. In these conditions is never easy to make the right decision also because you don’t have much time to think about it. Tuesday I will have surgery to close the cut at the injured finger and after a few days of vacation I will be back at the top for Brno race.”
Loris Capirossi – Rizla Suzuki – 11th
"Today was a big gamble on many things with the way the weather was behaving. We started with slicks but just couldn't get enough heat in the tires, especially in the left-hand-side. I was in group battling for sixth place and when it started to rain heavily I thought it was a good time to come in and change to the wet bike and try to take advantage. Then it stopped raining and within two laps I had destroyed the tire. It is sometimes so difficult to guess what the weather will do at Donington and really it was unfortunate because in those kinds of conditions we need some luck, but we just didn't get any today."
Gabor Talmacsi - Scot Honda - 12th
“I’m really happy. I’m happy because of the race, for the result we got and because we chose the best strategy. At the beginning, I was not sure about what tires to ask for: the weather was changing second by second. We decided for slicks and that was the right choice. A key point in the race was when I decided to stay out and not to come into the pits to change bikes, in spite of the increasing rain. I calculated that it would not gain time, so I decided to continue on rain tires, and this too was a good move.”
Chris Vermeulen – Rizla Suzuki – 13th
"It was very tough out there today and the conditions seemed to change on every corner, making it very hard to keep heat and grip in the tires. Everything was difficult and then I had a big slide and went off the track, causing me to lose a lot of time. Towards the end of the race it started to rain harder and it was difficult to ride out there. I came in and changed my bike thinking it would rain heavier, but it stopped and it proved to be the wrong decision. It was a difficult Grand Prix for all concerned so congratulations to everyone that stayed up because it was hard work out there."
Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro Team - 14th
"Everybody knows I’ve been struggling for the last few races in the dry so I was praying for the rain to come today. Every single lap we were out there it threatened to pour down and we were very close to having the perfect situation. Unfortunately, even though it got heavier, it didn’t come soon enough and our tires were destroyed so it ended up being the wrong decision. For us, in our current situation, I still think it was a risk worth taking because it could have worked out fantastically but obviously we’re disappointed it didn’t. I’m sorry for the team because they’ve done a great job to give me a bike capable of winning races at every circuit we’ve been to lately, even though for one reason or another I haven’t been able to get the best out of it. I’m looking forward to a break now and hopefully we come back a little bit stronger at Brno."
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Marlboro Team - 15th
“We took a big gamble, it backfired and it’s frustrating because we made a big change to the bike for warm-up this morning and I had a great feeling with it in the wet. The track was damp for the sighting lap and it was spitting with rain on the grid and since my pace on slicks hasn’t been great all weekend we took a big gamble. I had nothing to lose so we rolled the dice. The odds were against me but it was so close to paying off. It rained throughout the race but the track was so warm the moisture wasn’t accumulating on the ground and unfortunately that spelt disaster for us. I take full responsibility for the decision. We agreed on it together with the team but it was my shout, I thought ‘let’s try and be a hero here!’ The tire was pretty much destroyed after seven or eight laps but there was no point coming in to pit and it came apart five laps from the end. To be honest it’s amazing how it held together for that long! I don’t want to say it was a mistake; it was just a gamble that didn’t pay off and we’ll learn from it.”
Toni Elias - San Carlo Honda Gresini – DNF
“The crash was a real shame because I felt we were capable of a good result today. I’m really disappointed for everybody in the team. I got a great start and my pace was really strong, but unfortunately my rear wheel ran slightly onto the white line and it was so slippery that I crashed. It was nice to at least run at the front for a while and even lead the race, and when I was behind Rossi I was comfortably able to follow his pace. That’s what makes me so convinced I could have kept it up to the end. I don’t want to think about the negatives or what might have been because the good news today was that we ran with the front guys and we know we can do it. That gives a great confidence boost for the future.”
Jorge Lorenzo – Fiat Yamaha - DNF
“I got a good start and the first few laps went well, I was feeling quite comfortable in the lead. Unfortunately on the final corner of the ninth lap I made a small mistake, got my line wrong and touched the white line and there was nothing I could do; it was very slippery. I was okay and wanted to carry on but my bike was too badly damaged. Of course I’m sad and disappointed but this is racing and these feelings don’t help, you just have to learn from a mistake like this and look forwards. Valentino was lucky that he could continue after his crash, but it wasn’t our day. I am going to enjoy the break now despite this and take the chance to do plenty of training so we can come back at full strength in Brno.”