Pedrosa Wins Honda’s Home Race

Henny Ray Abrams | October 2, 2011


 Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had an uneventful ride to victory in the very eventful Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit. Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was second and Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner recovered from an early off-track excursion to finish a distant third.The excitement began three turns into the race when Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi ping-ponged between the factory Yamahas of Lorenzo and teammate Ben Spies. Rossi got the worst of it, hitting the deck and sliding into the gravel. Spies went to the edge of the gravel trap before tipping over and re-starting dead last. Lorenzo made it through relatively unscathed.

Rossi blamed Lorenzo, though Lorenzo said he felt he’d been told he was hit by Rossi.”When Jorge brake, move very quick on the outside for take his line for the corner, and he touch me and he break my fairing and he put me against Spies, that was very outside,” Rossi said. “So Lorenzo go like this and Spies go like this, and I was in the center. I was in the wrong place, you know.”Asked what happened, Lorenzo said, “I don’t know. I asked to the mechanics: “Which rider took me to the rear wheel? Because I feel like a big movement and almost crash and they say was Valentino, but I don’t know why, no, what happened. I must see the replay.”Stoner was in the lead at this point with Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso second, but that wouldn’t last. Dovi, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow were all assessed ridethrough penalties for jumping the start.Dovi would inherit the lead when Stoner ran off the track at the end of the track’s longest straightaway. Stoner had hit a bump at the crest of the straight, sending him into a tankslapper. The violent shaking knocked the brake pads back, so when he went to brake for the first gear turn 11 left, he had no brakes. Pumping them brought some stopping power, but not enough to keep him on the track. The former dirt tracker went through the gravel, finishing the lap a distant seventh and with no hope of winning.All three riders served their penalties on the sixth lap, at which point Pedrosa went into the lead from Lorenzo. The two had five seconds on third placed Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) and it would continue to grow. After runner-up finishes to Stoner in the last three races, Pedrosa sped to his third win of the year, and first in the premier class at Motegi, with a 7.299 secs. margin of victory.”Yeah, obviously when you win it’s a great feeling and in the last races I was always second, so finally to get the win is a great feeling,” he said. “Also because here I had mixed feelings. I had good races from the beginning and also I had some injuries and crashes.” Last year Pedrosa broke his left collarbone at Motegi when the throttle on his RC212V stuck during Friday practice.Lorenzo took four points from Stoner’s championship lead, which now stands at 40 with three races remaining. But he admitted it would take something “strange” to happen for Stoner not to win the title.Lorenzo didn’t know who had hit him, just that he’d been hit. And that he was able to stay up and not lose too much time. He was hopeful of sticking to Stoner, but once Pedrosa was in the lead there was little hope of catching him.”So I push at the limit all the race not to, well, to recover some gap. That was impossible,” he said. “So looking at all the weekend, all the problems we had for the weekend, second position is good.’Stoner was disappointed to finish third. He felt he had the pace to win, which would have sent him to Phillip Island with a much better chance of clinching the world championship on home soil. he’d taken third from Bautista on the 12th lap. Two laps later the Spaniard crashed out of what would have been his best MotoGP finish.”Could’ve been worse, but not a lot worse,” he said, adding, “I’m disappointed today because in some ways we’re lucky we still ended up on the podium, but I feel we should’ve been fighting for that win and it’s a disappointing day today.”Simoncelli and Dovi carried their battle to the penultimate lap when Simoncelli made an inside pass of his longtime rival in the turn 11 left to take fourth. Dovi pressed for the final lap, but to no avail.Spies saw nothing but clear track when he rejoined the race, but eventually he could see riders ahead and kept picking them off. That he landed in sixth on a weekend which began with him violently ill with food poisoning and possibly not making his flight from Dallas wasn’t too bad.”We put together a good race and with how the weekend’s going I’m super-happy that we were able to put together a good race,” he said.Spies was the first of three Americans in a row. Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was seventh after he, too, ran off the track, offering no excuses for his mistake. Hayden said he made a “silly mistake going into turn one” on the 12th of 24 laps. “Stoner came past and when he went past Bautista. I wanted to try to just follow him through, and was off in the dirt. Turn one is a corner where you really sweep round; you can’t go wide. You go on the dirt, you know.”Hayden fell back to tenth place, then picked off riders one at a time. He got Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards on the 18th lap and battled Spies until lap 23, when Spies took control of the spot.Edwards was eighth with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama eighth.MotoGP Results:1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

3. Casey Stoner (Honda)

4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

6. Ben Spies (Yamaha)

7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

8. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

9. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

10. Randy de Puniet (Ducati)


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.