“Let's hope for some better luck in Portugal”
The San Marino Grand Prix effectively ended at the second corner for the Repsol Honda Team on Sunday as a crash took down Dani Pedrosa and forced Nicky Hayden off the track and through the gravel.
With damage to his RC212V
Pedrosa had no option but to retire on the spot and though Hayden rejoined the race in 16th place, from that moment on the World Champion was riding for minor positions.
It was a disappointing result for the factory Honda riders after a promising display in qualifying and practice. Hayden had continued his recent run of form and secured a front row starting position. Pedrosa was second quickest in the morning warm-up and looked menacing for the 28-lap race, but it wasn't to be.
From the start Pedrosa made the better get-away and lay fifth through the first right-hand bend. However, into the next tight left-hander Randy de Puniet made a lunge up the inside, lost control and took Pedrosa down. Hayden was slower off the start and was right behind when the incident occurred. The American was forced to take avoiding action and ride through the gravel as the rest of the field streamed ahead.
Hayden then had a relatively lonely race at the 4.180km (2.596-mile) track, passing Kurtis Roberts and Makoto Tamada before finishing in 13th. Despite today's no-score Pedrosa remains in third in the World Championship with the same gap of 18 points to Valentino Rossi in second, who also retired from today's race. Casey Stoner won from Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins.
The Repsol Honda squad will remain at Misano for a day of testing on Monday, before packing the crates in preparation for the trip to Estoril ahead of the Grand Prix of Portugal, which takes place on Sunday September 16.
“What can I say? Another first corner incident. I didn't get a good start and there's really no excuse for it when you're on the front row. I've made such awesome starts lately, but I muffed that one up. I lost a few positions and then the first corner incident pretty much ended our race. I just saw it all happening right beside me and I absolutely had nowhere to go. I thought I was going to have to lay it down before I hit the tyre wall but luckily I stayed on. Then when I got back on track I was so far behind. We'd had a good roll going from Brno and we've proved this year that we're not going to give up. So we'll come back tomorrow and get rolling again with some testing before the next one in Portugal.”
“It's a real shame about this crash because I made a good start and had a chance to get away with the leaders. I was just turning into Turn Two when I was hit on the inside and really that was the first I knew about it. There is always a possibility that this kind of crash can happen in the first few corners of a race, especially at a tight circuit like this.
It's just unfortunate that this is the second time it has happened to me this season because someone hit me in Turkey as well. The only positive thing is that I am not hurt. It's a disappointment, but we must put it behind us and continue to fight for the best championship position we can get. Let's hope for some better luck in Portugal.”
“Well, unfortunately everything finished for us today before it had really begun. It was a racing incident and we were just very unlucky that both our riders were affected badly by it. Nicky didn't get the best start and lost a few positions so that he was sixth or seventh through Turn One. Dani's start was better and he was fourth or fifth when the accident happened. I think there was a good chance for us to fight for a podium today so it's disappointing – now we must just focus on the next race and go for a strong result there.”