In thrilling Grand Prix of Catalunya
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa took third place in Sunday's Grand Prix of Catalunya, finishing a thrilling race just 0.321s behind the winner.
Pedrosa made an excellent start from third on the grid and led the first lap, to the
delight of the 112,600 fans packing the grandstands at his home circuit. The 21-year-old was passed by Casey Stoner at the end of lap one and remained right on the Australian's tail until Valentino Rossi slipped by on lap 11 of the 25-lap race.
There then ensued a riveting three-way dual for the lead, the front riders exchanging fastest laps as they pulled away from the field. Though Pedrosa tried everything to overcome the leaders right until the final bend, he couldn't find a way past. The home hero brought his RC212V home fractionally behind Stoner and second-place man Rossi to record his fourth podium finish of the season and the 12th podium of his MotoGP career.
His team-mate Nicky Hayden had been fifth quickest in this morning's 20-minute warm-up session and the fastest runner on Michelin tyres, continuing the steady progress the 25-year-old had made throughout the weekend. The World Champion made a good start in the race and was eighth through the first corners, but a vibration from the rear wheel forced Hayden to drop his pace as his corner entry speed became compromised. A frustrated Hayden guided his Repsol Honda to an 11th place finish at the 4.727km (2.937-mile) Montmelo circuit.
The MotoGP paddock now heads north from Barcelona to Donington Park for the Grand Prix of Great Britain which takes place on Sunday June 24.
“Third is OK and I finished right with the leaders so I'm happy for that.
It was difficult to keep up with Casey and Valentino, especially in the middle of the race, but with 10 laps remaining I was able to get close again. I was actually enjoying watching them because they weren't overtaking each other in typical places and that's why I wanted to get in there too! However, in one part of the track I was losing a lot and I needed the other part of the track to recover, so all the time I was right there with them, but I couldn't fight with them. I just had to wait until the last laps and hope I could find something but I wasn't quite close enough. I want to say thank you to all the crowd who came this weekend because they gave me a lot of support and created a great atmosphere. I've had some good results in recent races and the performance is steadily getting better so I hope to keep improving for the next races.”
“I felt pretty good going into the race and through this weekend I'd been getting faster and faster in every session and going up a few places. I got a decent start in the race and I was looking to get a better result here because my pace in the warm-up was reasonable too. The race was a tough one though. Somewhere along the way the rear tyre became unbalanced and started to vibrate and chatter really badly – especially in the last five or ten laps I could hardly ride it. After that I just started losing positions and it wasn't a fun race because it was hard to tip into any of the corners. We didn't need that problem today so we'll just have to look into why it happened and move on to the next race at Donington.”
Makoto Tanaka – Repsol Honda Team Manager
“Dani did his absolute best today in every corner and on every straight and I'd like to say thank you to him for his performance. We're a little disappointed with the result because it's his home race and he was so close to the win but could not achieve it. We must work hard to improve the package immediately so that this is possible next time. It was an exciting race at the front and I'm sure the spectators are satisfied, even though Dani was not the winner. Nicky unfortunately had some vibration coming from the back of his machine which meant he couldn't maintain his pace in the race. This is a pity because I think he was capable of a much better place today. It's Donington Park next and as always our target will be to win.”