Motegi : Repsol Honda - Race
Yesterday's timed practice did not forecast an easy race for the riders of the Repsol Honda Team in MotoGP, and after covering the 24 laps on the Japanese track of Motegi, Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa have finished a difficult weekend in average
Nicky Hayden finished fifth and team mate Pedrosa seventh. Today's race has had little surprises: Loris Capirossi took the lead, setting a high pace and escaping from the pack with Melandri and Rossi. Nicky Hayden had to watch his bike wheeling at the start, what made him loose several positions, thus being ninth after the first lap. Dani Pedrosa, who did not make a good start either getting off the track in the fourth corner of the first lap, was thirteenth after the first lap.
Ahead of Pedrosa, Hayden was riding on eighth position trying to stick to Nakano, Gibernau, Checa and Stoner, although the latter went off the race after a crash. Once he had overtaken Elias, the North American rider of the Repsol Honda Team tried to catch Nakano while he was sixth but although he did not manage to do it, the Japanese Kawasaki rider crashed during the last lap, trying to pass Gibernau. The crash befitted Hayden, who crossed the finish line fifth.
His biggest rival in the fight for the title is now Italian rider Valentino Rossi, who finished second, so that the advantage of the Repsol rider in the overall standings has now been reduced to 12 points, with 50 points still at stake. Dani Pedrosa, improved during the race and finished seventh after being thirteenth in the first lap and overtaking Tamada, Roberts and Edwards, in addition to being benefited by the crashes of Stoner, De Puniet and Nakano. Winner of the race was Loris Capirossi.
The positive side of this weekend for the Repsol Honda Team was the teams' title and the manufacturer's title won by Honda.
With two races left for the end of the 2006 season, the Repsol Honda Team has already an advantage of 110 points over the second qualified team, thanks to the good performances both riders on the 15 races held this year.
Nicky Hayden: "Well that's another 5th place which isn't great obviously. Lap one was pretty wild and luckily in the first couple of corners I made up a lot of positions because my start was a bit of a disaster – that was the worst part of the race for me. Luckily that first lap turned out as good as it did because otherwise the result could have been much worse. I actually got hit by another rider on the first lap and bent the clutch lever up which didn't help. I tried to come through the pack but it's hard – you're coming past fast guys and in this class it's really tough. Towards the end I started closing, closing, closing on Nakano and Gibernau and then I made a little mistake in Turn 5 and they picked up the pace too. Actually my bike worked pretty well today, and the Michelins did too. My rhythm wasn't bad - I was much faster than I was able to go here last year – and I guess that's one positive thing to come out of today. And luckily we've got a couple of days here to test to see if we can sort it out."
Dani Pedrosa: "My race was didn't go well at the beginning. In the first left hander Elias made a mistake, I was just behind and I couldn't avoid him so I went off the track. Everybody passed me and I was near the back of the field which made it really difficult and I was making mistakes trying to pass people. After that the leading group had gained a big lead, and anyway I was not as fast as them today. But I tried to recover as much as possible and I finished seventh, which is not such a good result for me this season. My race pace was quite good but the problem was that we didn't manage to get this pace early in the practice sessions this weekend. I'm happy to have won the Rookie of the Year though because I got it in the 125cc and 250cc classes, so it's nice to get it also in MotoGP."
Press Release Repsol