Sepang : Repsol Honda - Race
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden finished in third and fourth places in today's Malaysian Grand Prix and remain in a strong position at the head of the riders' world championship. Pedrosa defied the pain of injuries sustained
in a crash yesterday to take a heroic third, with Hayden just 1.9s behind.
It had been in doubt whether Pedrosa would take part at all after he struggled in the morning's 20-minute warm-up session. But the 20-year-old Spanish rookie displayed typical determination and actually led into the first corner from his fifth-place grid spot. Despite feeling pain from his left foot, he matched the pace of the leaders for most of the race, finishing just 3.8s behind eventual winner Valentino Rossi. This was Pedrosa's seventh podium of the season and his third in successive races.
"The result is very good. The big decision today was whether or not I would race, and until the last moment I was still in doubt about it. We chose to race and they gave me one injection to take away the pain," said Dani Pedrosa. "Although I felt the stitches pressing under my leathers, the pain on my knee was gone. In the race my left foot hurt, and so did my left knee but in the right knee I felt no pain. I got a good start but I was expecting the leaders to pull away and I also expected the lap times to be a little faster than they were. At the end I was very tired my bike had just the basic set-up because I lost time in practice so I was riding on the limit in the race. In the end I got the result that's the important thing.
"Also I was lucky that the qualifying practice was cancelled to start from fifth on the grid was really, really important for me today. I have to say thank you to all the guys in the Clinica Mobile because they worked very hard for me and made me believe I could race," he added. "They took so much care of me it was a very special job. Also to my team because they encouraged me and helped me to race. Thank you to everybody and I will not forget this day."
Makoto Tanaka, Repsol Honda team manager, commented: "Dani waited to make the decision whether or not to race until the last minute. It was his decision, he had confidence in himself and he gave us an amazing result given his physical condition. Just after the race I said, That was a surprise! to Alberto Puig, Dani's manager, but he said, Not a surprise it was fantastic! He's right, Dani showed his real fighting spirit and his result could be important for the last four races."
Hayden was frustrated to be so close to the front runners without quite being able fight for the podium. The 25-year-old American star recorded his fourth consecutive fourth place finish at Sepang and now holds a 22-point lead in the world championship ahead of his Repsol Honda team-mate.
"It was quite a frustrating day because we didn't have enough speed today. We got a little bit behind on Friday and yesterday's qualifying session was washed out which didn't help, but the bottom line is the guys in front of me were faster today," explained Nicky Hayden. "I felt like I rode my hardest and for that I'm proud, but at this level sometimes that isn't good enough. I've got no excuses the bike, the set-up and the tyres were pretty good, but we couldn't quite go at their speed. It didn't feel great just being off the back that little bit. We'll keep fighting though there's four races to go and some tracks I really like coming up. We're definitely still in it, and we'll keep working hard."
"Nicky worked really hard at Brno and here, but we couldn't get the performance from the bike or the results we wanted. The championship is still ongoing and we have to use today's result to improve the performance for the next race. I'm sure Nicky will show his strength and use this result to give him even more motivation for the next races," concluded Makoto Tanaka.
The MotoGP paddock now flies to Melbourne for next weekend's Australian Grand Prix at the Phillip Island circuit on Sunday September 17.