A good result for the Repsol Honda rider
Repsol Honda star Dani Pedrosa became the youngest ever rider to achieve 50 Grand Prix podiums as he took third place in Saturday's Grand Prix of Qatar.
The 21-year-old Spaniard made a fast start from fifth on the grid and
in the first laps Pedrosa battled with the front runners, overtaking pole-man Valentino Rossi multiple times for second, only for Rossi to regain the place. As the race progressed Pedrosa couldn't hold on to the front two and chose to control the gap to John Hopkins behind him.
By crossing the line in third, the Repsol Honda rider took his ninth MotoGP podium in only his second season in the premier class. Added to his 17 podiums in the 125cc class and 24 podiums in 250s, Pedrosa notched up 50 Grand Prix podiums at the tender age of 21 years and 162 days. The previous holder of this record was Valentino Rossi, who was 22 years and 93 days old when he took his 50th GP podium at the French GP in 2001.
In the first MotoGP race of the 2007 season today Nicky Hayden moved up from ninth on the grid to finish in eighth place, having battled hard throughout the 22-lap race at the 5.380km (3.343 miles) Losail circuit. Though he lacked some confidence in the feel from the front of his RC212V, the new World Champion recorded his fastest lap of the race on the last lap as he valiantly chased down Chris Vermeulen in seventh place.
Hayden crossed the line just 0.141s behind the Australian to score eight World Championship points. Australian Casey Stoner scored his first Grand Prix victory today, with Valentino Rossi finishing second.
The Repsol Honda Team now looks forward to the Grand Prix of Spain in Jerez and round two of the MotoGP World Championship, which takes place on Sunday March 25.
Position: 8th - Best lap: 1m 57.468s World Championship position 8th 8pts
I tried to learn as much as I could in the race. I really felt like I rode my hardest and had some good dices with a few of the guys I just about caught Vermeulen on the last lap and I got faster as the race went on. My last two laps were my fastest laps of the race and that's the positive thing. It's been a tough weekend but I'm not going to whine and make a bunch of excuses. I qualified ninth and finished eight and, compared to the top boys, we've just been off the pace for the whole weekend. The biggest problem is confidence in the front and getting the bike to steer how I want it to. I want to say thanks to the team because those guys have been working hard. We'll stay here to test tomorrow and try to figure out some improvements, and hopefully be a lot closer when we get to the next race at Jerez.
Position: 3rd - Best lap: 1m 56.951s World Championship position 3rd 16pts
I'm happy with the result today and to start the season with a third place is pretty useful. We had a fair few problems this weekend, so to finish on the podium is good for us. I made a great start which I was happy with because my practice starts this weekend weren't as good as this. In the race I was trying to ride at the maximum and then I made a mistake in the last corner and lost the slipstream to the riders in front. Anyway I was not able to follow them in the corners because I was having some wheelspin and I lost my rhythm a little. The bike was sliding quite a lot and it was difficult to stay ahead of John Hopkins at the end because he was pushing hard. It was a good fight. This season is going to be a tough competition between the bikes, tyres and the riders and it should be very interesting. The next race is very important and Jerez is a great track, so I hope we can move on from the good result today and do great job there.
Makoto Tanaka Repsol Honda Team Manager
Dani was reasonably happy with third today and he did well to get on the podium, however we are not satisfied with the results this weekend and we must work hard in many ways to make improvements. Nicky also fought hard to finish in eight place at the end of the race and earn some points, but of course this isn't where he wants to be and he's not satisfied with the result. The championship is long though and we will be concentrating on making the improvements we need to move forward. The next race is at Jerez and the Team will be working very hard to get the results we want there.