Pedrosa fourth in Czech GP
Repsol Honda riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa took third and fourth places in front of record crowds at the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic on Sunday.
With 141,632 fans lining the spectacular Brno circuit the factory Honda pairing
extracted the best from the latest improvements to their RC212V machines during the 22-lap race, with Hayden recording his third podium finish in four races and Pedrosa closing the gap to Valentino Rossi in the World Championship.
From second on the grid – his highest qualifying position of the 2007 season so far – Hayden was squeezed back to fourth into the first corner as Casey Stoner took the lead from pole position, followed by Pedrosa in second and John Hopkins in third.
A hard-charging Hayden overtook his team-mate on lap two and set off in pursuit of John Hopkins who had managed to get past Pedrosa on the opening lap. For a while it looked like the World Champion might be able to challenge the leaders as he rode his RC212V to the maximum, but it soon became clear that the 26-year-old American couldn't quite match the pace of the front pair and Hayden settled for his third podium finish of the season to continue his recent run of form.
Pedrosa made a fast start from third on the grid and took second position into the first corner. Though the 21-year-old Spaniard looked threatening, in the initial laps he wasn't able to generate enough heat in his tyres and was passed first by Hopkins, then Hayden and Capirossi, which put him in fifth place at the end of lap four.
By this stage the three-time world champion's tyre temperature had increased which allowed him to up the pace and he retook Capirossi for fourth place. He then held the gap to Hayden to the chequered flag and, with his fourth place finish, reduced the deficit to Valentino Rossi in the World Championship to 18 points.
The Repsol Honda Team remains at the 5.403km (3.
357-mile) Brno circuit for two days of testing during which time they will continue to analyse the RC212V's improved chassis and engine developments, and carry out tyre testing in conjunction with Michelin.
“Well I'm pretty happy with the podium and I feel like we've done a decent job this weekend. Yesterday afternoon we made quite a big change with the front forks and I liked the results a lot. When I got into third position on lap two of the race I was thinking ‘now you've got to get on his back wheel' and for about three corners it was looking pretty good. But then I got onto the straight, looked up and realised that really I was just dreaming. So I just kept my rhythm and I really feel like I got the best out of the bike, myself and the tyres today – I don't feel like I left much on the table. So thanks to my team because those guys did a good job. Hopefully we can keep this form going and get a little bit stronger from now on. I'd also like to dedicate this podium to Cedric Laprael, the parts guy in the Repsol Honda Team, who isn't here this weekend because he had a parachuting accident during the summer break. Get well Cedric. The team's going to stay for a couple of days testing with some new parts from Honda and a lot of Michelin tyres so we can to try and bridge the gap to these front guys.”
“Fourth position is the maximum we could achieve today and at least I've closed the gap a little to second in the championship which is somewhat positive. Still, I'm frustrated after the race today because I didn't feel like we could use all the potential of our package. For the first few laps I couldn't get enough heat into the rear tyre which meant I wasn't able to maintain my position and I was passed by a few riders. Then after four or five laps I could feel more heat in the tyre but by this time the leaders had gone, and Nicky too. I pushed as hard as I could for the whole race but the lap times just weren't there and my pace was slowing steadily. I'm frustrated because we haven't made the improvements in the package I was hoping for. We must work hard during the test over the next two days. Obviously, to fight for the title is very difficult, but I'm not going to give up this season. We have to try to keep the third place in the championship and at the same time try to go forward into second.”
“Both the Repsol Honda riders gave their maximum performance today and I'd like to thank them very much for that. They were the top riders on Michelin tyres and gave their best in the race. Nicky especially put in a very good performance and made good use of the latest engine and chassis developments to score his third podium of the year. I hope that he can continue his good form and return to the top step soon. We hoped for higher ground temperatures today which would have favoured our tyres more. As it was the grip for both riders was dropping away as the race went on, and at the beginning Dani wasn't able to get maximum grip either. Our rivals were very strong again today so we must work hard in the testing days and continue to make improvements for the upcoming races.”