Mugello : Honda Repsol - Day 3
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa led the race and recorded the fastest lap on his way to second place at the Grand Prix of Italy at Mugello on Sunday.
The 21-year-old Spaniard, who had been fastest in the dry all weekend, made an excellent
start from eighth on the grid and immediately set about dispensing with the riders in front of him. He decisively took the lead from Loris Capirossi on lap six but was overtaken by eventual winner Valentino Rossi a lap later.
Pedrosa held the gap to the former World Champion to less than a second until the closing stages of the race but a series of slides as he pushed harder prevented Pedrosa from taking the fight to the Italian in the final laps. He finished 3.074s behind Rossi, earning 20 championship points to consolidate his third position in the riders' World Championship.
Nicky Hayden also made a fast start from 13th on the grid – an unusually low position caused by yesterday's rain-disrupted qualifying. The World Champion moved up to ninth after the first corner and duelled with several riders throughout the race. However, limited dry set-up time this weekend meant Hayden didn't have the pace to battle at the front today and the 25-year-old American brought his Repsol Honda home in 10th. Veteran Brazilian Alex Barros climbed the final step on the podium.
Without pause for breath the Repsol Honda Team now dashes to Barcelona, Spain for the Grand Prix of Catalunya which takes place at the Montmelo circuit in one week's time – Sunday June 10.
Dani Pedrosa : “I am very happy to be back on the podium today and this is a good result for me, especially starting from eighth on the grid. My start was very good and I was able to pass many riders. Then in the first corner when I touched the throttle I had a very big slide and they came past again. My performance was really strong from the beginning until the middle of the race and I was able to recover and take the lead. Then I started to have the same issues as in some of the other races this year. I could see that Valentino was getting away slowly but as I tried to speed up I was getting slides from both wheels, so I couldn't push the tyres any harder and I had to close the throttle a little bit and settle for second. Still, this is a useful result for us and we were lucky it stayed dry today. The last race was also strong and now we have some good momentum going into my home race at Barcelona next weekend.”
Nicky Hayden : “You put yourself in a hole when you qualify in 13th and that really didn't help me out much today. It was a tough race. I got a decent start and on the first lap I picked off a few riders, but really I just didn't have the race pace to go with the lead guys. In the last couple of laps I had a pretty good scrap with Vermeulen and Melandri but I was a lot further back than I would have liked. It definitely wasn't a great day for us. Basically I had an issue with the set-up today and the machine just didn't feel planted in a lot of the fast corners here. The balance wasn't right and every time I tried to push harder I was right on the limit and had a few moments. Me and the team are going to be working hard to improve things for the next race in Catalunya.”
Makoto Tanaka - Team Manager : “Dani did a very good job and I don't think he could have done any more because his ride today was right at the maximum, so I'd like to thank him for his efforts. Of course we'd hoped for the win but it was just out of reach today. It was a dry race which was somewhat surprising given the weather over the weekend, and we chose our race tyres based on the dry morning session yesterday. I think we may have chosen a rear that was slightly too soft for Dani which perhaps meant he couldn't fight for the win in the second half of the race. Nicky couldn't find a good rhythm this weekend and I think his position is not a fair reflection of his level, so we must work very hard as a team to improve our package and set-up for him for the next race in Catalunya. It will be Dani's home race so I hope he can put on another great performance there.”