Dovizioso On Podium
Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso climbed onto the third step of the podium in Qatar tonight after a gripping first race of the 2010 season. The Italian battled courageously for the entire 22-lap encounter, working his way up from seventh on lap one to
momentarily take the lead at the start of lap seventeen as his RC212V powered past eventual winner Valentino Rossi. It was nail-biting cut and thrust for the duration tonight as the 24-year-old exchanged pass after pass with his rivals, and Dovizioso was rewarded with his third podium finish in MotoGP, and his first since his win at Donington Park in July last year.
At the start of the race it was the Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa that dazzled under the Losail floodlights as the Spaniard produced a phenomenal start to rocket from seventh on the grid to first place into the first corner. The 24-year-old three-time World Champion held the position for the first part of the lap before being passed by Rossi. But Pedrosa fought back and retook the lead going into lap two - this time chased by Casey Stoner who passed Pedrosa a lap later before falling from the lead and out of the race. Despite his impressive early race pace, Pedrosa wasn't able to maintain it for long as a few handling issues saw him slip back through the field - although he battled to the end and brought his Repsol Honda home in seventh to gain nine World Championship points.
For Dovizioso it was an especially positive day because he had held a strong second place for much of the race and he crossed the line just 1.8s behind the winner. In a tantalizing finish the Italian was only 11 thousands of a second ahead of fourth place man Nicky Hayden, with whom Dovizioso had battled for almost the entire race. The pair exited the final corner side by side, but the power of the Honda RC212V saw Dovizioso edge half a bike length ahead as they took the chequered flag.
The Repsol Honda Team now packs the flight cases and ships them eastward in preparation for Honda's home race - the Grand Prix of Japan which takes place at the Twin Ring Motegi on 25 April.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- 3rd -- World Championship points: 16
"I'm really happy about this podium - it's a great satisfaction. It was so important to begin the season with a good result and I hope this is just the start. Today's podium is the result of the hard work done by Honda, the technicians, the team and myself during the winter. I have to thank Honda, Repsol and all the sponsors for having believed in me also when the results were not coming. In fact, today I really believed I could get second position and it was a pity that I couldn't keep it until the very end. My start was not so good but the first five laps were crucial for me to recover positions and glue myself behind Valentino. My Honda was very fast on the straight and I could use this advantage to compensate for our weaker points on the track. I can say that I lost my race in Turn 10. We struggled in T3 for the whole weekend but tonight I understood that we lost so much in the long left hand turn - Turn 10. When Valentino overtook me I tried to re-pass him, but he overtook me again and then I didn't have the possibility to get back by. I did a masterpiece in the last corner of the last lap where I overtook Nicky on the inside and then I used all the power of the RC212V to get to the line first. Tonight I raced with my heart, and this result is a good motivation for myself and everyone in the Repsol Honda Team."
DANI PEDROSA -- 7th -- World Championship points: 9
"I made a good start and was able to stay at or near the front of the race for the first few laps. It really wasn't easy though and we had a few handling issues with the machine that meant unfortunately it was impossible for me to maintain that pace. I fought as hard as I could to hold off the other riders but in the end there was no way I could keep them behind. On the one hand it's encouraging that we could achieve this early pace because the winter testing has not been easy, but on the other it proves we still have a lot of work to do to get the machine the way I need so that I can be at the front at the end rather than the start of the race. This isn't the ideal start to the season and I'd hoped to be able to fight for a podium here, but it's a long season and we'll stay focused and work as hard as possible to improve things. Congratulations to Andrea on the podium. We'll come back fighting at Motegi - it's a circuit I like and I hope to get a much better result there."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"This was an exciting first round of the season and both Repsol Honda riders figured at the front of the race which is encouraging for us. Andrea put in a great ride tonight and battled very hard all the way through the race so I'd like to congratulate him on a well-deserved podium. He was very close to the winner and this bodes well for him, the team and for the performance of the RC212V. Dani also fought very hard and never gave up even though he had some handling problems and couldn't maintain the early pace which saw him leading at the start. We still have work to do with our machine and set-up and the Repsol Honda Team will be redoubling our efforts ahead of our home race in Japan in two weeks' time.