Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa took another chunk out of Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP championship lead today by coming home in second place at the first ever Grand Prix of Aragon. With Pedrosa collecting 20 points for second and Lorenzo's fourth place earning 13, the gap in the title standings
has now reduced to 56 points with five races remaining. Andrea Dovizioso had a frustrating end to a competitive race on the other Repsol Honda RC212V after an enthralling battle for fifth place with Ben Spies ended in the gravel trap for Dovizioso on the very last lap.
Making his 160th Grand Prix start, Pedrosa retained third place on the short dash to turn one, but a rear-end slide on the exit cost him two positions as the MotoGP field threaded its way around Aragon's 5.078km (3.155-mile) lap for the first time. The 24-year-old Spaniard wasted no time in recovering however, using the impressive power of the RC212V to make three identical passes on Aragon's long back straight on each of the opening three laps, overtaking Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden then Jorge Lorenzo.
Now in second place with a 1.5s gap to Casey Stoner in front, Pedrosa began to close in on the Australian, reducing the lead to 0.9s at the end of lap ten and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. Diminishing rear grip for Pedrosa however meant that this was as close as he got and, with his rear wheel beginning to spin up, he decided that second was his position for the day and he eased the pace - allowing Stoner to win by 5.148s at the chequered flag.
Dovizioso made a good start and moved up from eighth on the grid to sixth through the first corners of the race before slipping behind Marco Simoncelli on lap one. After dueling with Simoncelli for a few laps for sixth, Dovizioso got past and pulled away, slowly reeling in Ben Spies in fifth and closing to within striking distance by lap 16 of the 23. At the end of lap 22 Dovizioso was in front, only for Spies to retake the position and take the fight to the last lap.
It was going through turns 12 and 13 where Dovizioso was unfortunate to finally come unstuck, highsiding as he flicked from left to right through the chicane after Spies had run wide into the corner. It was a costly fall in terms of championship positions because Dovizioso's no-score means both Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, who finished sixth, have moved ahead of him in the points table. However, having displayed race pace worthy of the podium today, Dovizioso remains determined to bounce back with a strong result at the next race in Japan in two week's time.
With five races remaining, the points difference from Pedrosa to Lorenzo in the championship is still a considerable one, but Pedrosa has achieved his goal of continuing to close the gap, and that will once again be the target when the championship resumes at Motegi on 3 October.
DANI PEDROSA -- 2nd -- World Championship Position: 2nd 228 points
"I'm pretty happy with second place today even though of course I wanted to win in front of the Spanish fans. In the first corner I had a slide which lost me a couple of places and then over the next few laps I had to make up some positions before getting behind Casey. By this point he was quite a way in front and our pace was similar at this stage so I tried really hard to catch him and managed to close the gap. But then I started to have some rear-wheel slides and it wasn't possible for me stay with him so I thought: 'Ok, this is my place today.' Our bike here was struggling more with tyre wear than some of the others, but anyway, second place is not bad and the championship is still alive, even though it will be very difficult to catch Lorenzo. I'd like to say thanks to my team who are working really hard, and I want to maintain this momentum because recently we have been fast at every race. I'm looking forward to Honda's home event at Motegi."
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO -- DNF -- World Championship Position: 5th 139 points
"Of course I'm really disappointed things ended in this way because my pace in the middle of the race was very good and the battle with Spies was exciting. The crash happened between turns 12 and 13. Spies went in too deep and I tried to overtake him on the inside. That meant I was carrying a little bit more speed through the change of direction and as I flicked from left to right I highsided. I'm really disappointed because we have lost third position in the championship, which is still our target even though scoring zero points today makes this more difficult. Early in the race I made some mistakes and lost contact with the front group, but actually our pace in the middle of the race was very fast. During the battle with Spies we overtook each other three or four times in the last laps and it was fun, but the crash spoiled the day. However, we'll come back fighting at Motegi because we've proved we have the pace to be strong."