Results Catalan Grand Prix, Barcelona, Spain

2007-06-10 12:35
Fighting third keeps Dani Pedrosa in championship hunt

An intense MotoGP race fought out over 25-laps of Montmelo went to Casey Stoner (Ducati) who held off a fierce challenge from Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) who finished second with valiant local idol Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) a close third.

A crowd of 112,000 race fans witnessed one of the best battles in recent premier class history as the three main contenders for World Championship honours pulled clear of the field to contest a three-way dice for what may prove to be one of the more significant races of what is already a tense season.

With the track at a heady 43 degrees and ambient
temperature nudging 31 degrees, the lights went
out and Dani made it to turn one at the head of
the field. The first lap passed without any of
the multiple crash drama that marred last year's
race and it was Stoner who led across the line
for lap two having edged past Dani.

The Aussie Ducati man held an advantage of just
0.2 seconds as Dani harried Stoner with Rossi in
pursuit, the Yamaha rider in turn pursued by John
Hopkins (Suzuki) and Toni Elias (Gresini Honda
RC212V). Stoner and Pedrosa had pulled clear of
Rossi by half a second as lap six began - and it
was soon clear that these four were setting a pace no others could match.

Hopkins set the fastest lap of the race on lap
eight at 1m 43.252s and by mid-race distance just
1.4 second covered the top four of Stoner, Rossi,
who had found a way past Dani, and Hopkins, who
would eventually find the going just too hot to handle in the closing laps.

Elias, who had been running in sixth place,
dropped out of the race on lap 16 with a machine
problem as Stoner headed Rossi by just by 0.2
seconds with Pedrosa shadowing their every move
from third place. Hopkins was by now losing
ground and this race would now rise to a frantic
intensity as the three leading contenders in the
World Championship fought it out around this challenging 4.727km track.

Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki), in fifth, was 9.3
seconds behind Hopkins in fourth as all eyes were
fixed on the all-out war for the podium
positions. On the penultimate lap Stoner led into
turn one and held it for the lap although all
three riders were clearly prepared to ride right
on the edge to grab maximum points.

Stoner had showed his ability to ride under
significant pressure in Turkey when pressed by
Rossi, and he again failed to wilt under a last
lap onslaught from the Italian. Dani lurked
behind them in prime position to pounce should a
mistake hamper one or both of his rivals, but he
had to settle for third at the flag, just 0.321 seconds behind the winner.

Pedrosa said: "Third is OK and I finished right
with the leaders so I'm happy for that. It was
difficult to keep up with Casey and Valentino,
especially in the middle of the race, but with 10
laps remaining I was able to get close again. I
was actually enjoying watching them because they
weren't overtaking each other in typical places
and that's why I wanted to get in there too!
However, in one part of the track I was losing a
lot and I needed the other part of the track to
recover, so all the time I was right there with
them, but I couldn't fight with them."

Marco Melandri (Gresini Honda RC212V) finished
ninth and said: "We're going through a rough
patch. The team is giving their best, working
hard, but the results just aren't coming. The
bike doesn't give me any confidence and I can't
ride it how I want. I'm really disappointed.
We've struggled with the front-end all weekend and after a few laps I lost
confidence in it. We'll have to make some drastic changes."

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) was 11th. The
reigning World Champion said: "The race was a
tough one. Somewhere along the way it looks like
the rear tyre became unbalanced and started to
vibrate and chatter really badly - especially in
the last five or ten laps, I could hardly ride
it. After that I just started losing positions
and it wasn't a fun race because it was hard to
tip it into any of the corners. We didn't need
that problem today so we'll just have to look
into why it happened and move on to the next one at Donington."

A dejected Elias, who failed to finish, said:
"I'm really disappointed because I was having a
good race. I got a good start and it looked like
fifth place was a real possibility until the
engine packed up on the 14th lap. I don't know
exactly what it was. These things happen in
racing but I'm really disappointed because this
was my home race in front of all my fans."

Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) came
home in 15th place and said: "It was a very
frustrating and difficult race for me. I said
yesterday that I had a good feeling in hot
conditions but we just didn't have that today for
some reason. When I pushed hard the bike would
run wide in the corners. I'm looking forward to
tomorrow and having more time out on the track so
we'll be working hard again to make more improvements."

"I'd never seen them race like that at this
level," said Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR212V), who
finished 16th "It would be better if we were
racing further up the field instead of where we
are at the moment. It's apparent that the motor
doesn't accelerate, but then we have no grip. I
think we're learning, but it's going to take six
weeks to build something different."

Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V) split the Roberts
brothers as 17th finisher. He said: "This is a
difficult moment for me, I cannot remember when I
had a worse feeling in a race and this is not the
result I wanted. Everyone in the LCR team has
worked very hard over the weekend but we could
just not find the balance or feeling that gave me
any confidence to push. It is not fun to race
like this but now we must look forward and hope the situation can improve."

"I was just hung out to dry," said Kurtis Roberts
(Roberts KR212V) in 18th. "Just sliding the thing
everywhere. I knew I was catching Checa, but
Kenny, when he passed me, I thought I screwed up.
I didn't even realize he was towing me along that
good. But it was fun. When you watch Little
Kenny, he's Mister No Mistake and I made a lot of mistakes."

The World Championship points table looks like
this after seven of 18 rounds. Stoner has 140
points after four wins, Rossi is on 126, Dani
lies third on 98 and Marco Melandri has 75 points in fourth.

The 23-lap 250cc race was the preserve of Jorge
Lorenzo (Aprilia). Alex de Angelis (Aprilia) was
second and Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Honda RS250RW)
third. It was Thomas Luthi (Aprilia) who hit turn
one in the lead from the lights but the pace was
such that the Swiss rookie could not live the men
who established the race rhythm.

Lorenzo, de Angelis and Dovizioso took control by
mid-race distance and as the closing laps drew on
Lorenzo held second-placed de Angelis at bay by
2.2 seconds with Dovi 1.2 seconds adrift of the Italian Aprilia man in third.

Lorenzo took the flag to record five wins from
seven races so far this year and extend his World
Championship lead Lorenzo has 153 points with
Dovizioso in second place on 117 points. Alex de
Angelis has 115 points in third with Alvaro Bautista on 100 fourth overall.

Dovizioso said, "On one hand I must be happy
because the race pace I ran was fantastic - very,
very fast. On the other hand I must say the level
at the front this year is so high. I gave 100%
but also the competition is at the same high
level so it's hard racing. My team and I did a
fantastic job this weekend we cannot give
anymore. The bike handles really well and helps
me a lot but we have to work hard to find a little more power."

Julian Simon (Repsol Honda RS250RW) finished
tenth and his team-mate Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol
Honda RS250RW) managed 11th. "It's been a very
complicated weekend," said Simon. "To be honest,
the race did not go very well. I made a good
start and I had the chance to be in the front
during the first few laps but I lacked a lot of
engine power. It's not a good result but at least I got some points."

Tommy Koyama (KTM) recorded his first ever win in
the 125cc class in a tight four-rider dice for
the podium positions. Gabor Talmacsi (Aprilia)
was second and the Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher (KTM) was third.

Hector Faubel (Aprilia) led into turn one with
Sergio Gadea (Aprilia) in close attendance before
Talmacsi shoehorned himself into second. As the
luckless Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) fell on lap two,
Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) held sixth
place as an eight-rider group began to leave the field in its wake.

By the halfway stage of this 22-lap race, just
1.1 seconds covered the eight-rider breakaway,
and Smith soon began to drop off the leading
seven before Lukas Pesek (Derbi) and Faubel
tangled and fell. This left Gadea, Randy
Krummenacher (KTM), Koyama and Talmacsi heading the field in that order.

This would then be a four-way fight to the flag.
On the final lap Gadea led into turn one as
Talmacsi leap-frogged Gadea for third. Koyama
burst through for the lead as his team-mate
Krummenacher took third from Gadea and Talmacsi
then managed second at the flag. Smith finished
sixth. Esteve Rabat (Repsol Honda RS125R) finished 12th.

Bradley Smith said: "I pushed really hard from
the first lap to stay with the front group. I
passed Pasini in the first corner through the
outside and then Koyama through the inside. I had
made a really good start, looking forward to make
a good race. It was much better than in Mugello
during the first few laps and that's something to
be happy about. It's been a shame because every
time we got to the straight and I was in front of
the group, they would pass me and I would fall
back again. So it's been very difficult for me to
overtake them, because I lost a lot of time on
the straights. I tried really hard to outbrake
them but I made a mistake. I'm looking forward to
the next three races, and I hope we'll be able to make the bike be faster."

Smith's team-mate Tito Rabat said: "I made a very
good start but there were lots of us together
right after that and I fell back. The bike worked
well, not so the chassis. I lost a lot in the
fast corners and the rear end gave me trouble
when I opened the throttle. I did all I could,
but my hand hurt a lot when braking. In any case
I want to thank the team for helping me."

Talmacsi heads the World Championship points
table with 115, Hector Faubel lies second with 102, Pesek is third on 94.

ends


HONDA RIDERS QUOTES


MotoGP.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 3rd."Third is OK and
I finished right with the leaders so I'm happy
for that. It was difficult to keep up with Casey
and Valentino, especially in the middle of the
race, but with 10 laps remaining I was able to
get close again. I was actually enjoying watching
them because they weren't overtaking each other
in typical places and that's why I wanted to get
in there too! However, in one part of the track I
was losing a lot and I needed the other part of
the track to recover, so all the time I was right
there with them, but I couldn't fight with them.
I just had to wait until the last laps and hope I
could find something but I wasn't quite close
enough. I want to say thank you to all the crowd
who came this weekend because they gave me a lot
of support and created a great atmosphere. I've
had some good results in recent races and the
performance is steadily getting better so I hope
keep improving for the next races."

Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda: 9th."We're going
through a rough patch. The team are giving their
best, working hard, but the results just aren't
coming. The bike doesn't give me any confidence
and I can't ride it how I want. I'm really
disappointed. We've struggled with the front end
all weekend and after a few laps I lost
confidence in it - it was skipping around and it
was really hard to ride. We'll have to make some drastic changes."

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 11th. "Through this
weekend I'd been moving up and getting faster and
faster in every session and going up a few
places. I got a decent start in the race and I
was looking to get a decent result here because
my pace in the warm-up was reasonable too. The
race was a tough one though. Somewhere along the
way it looks like the rear tyre turned on the rim
and unbalanced it, which meant it started to
vibrate and chatter really badly - especially in
the last five or ten laps I could hardly ride it.
After that I just started losing positions and it
wasn't a fun race because it was hard to tip it
into any of the corners. We didn't need that
problem today so we'll just have to look into why
it happened and move on to the next one at Donington."

Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda: 15th."It was
a very frustrating and difficult race for me. I
said yesterday that I had a good feeling in hot
conditions but we just didn't have that today for
some reason. When I pushed hard the bike would
run wide in the corners. I'm looking forward to
tomorrow and having more time out on the track so
we will be working hard again to make more
improvements. This is important as we still have
a further two races to come this month."

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR212V: 16th."Kurtis did
really good. He was much quicker than I was in
the beginning of the race and I was squaring off
all the corners and I couldn't get any grip to
stay with them guys. And then my bike...the power
started coming around, the grip level started
getting closer front and rear. Just was trying
everything I could to get up with him. Once I got
within a second, from then on I was just trying
to pass him, if he made a mistake at all. And he
didn't make a mistake, didn't get off line. He
was braking hard, going through the corner the
same speed as me, but accelerating smoother,
because I was trying to get a jump on him, so I
would just spin. And I finally was able to get a
draft off him down the front straight. And then I
concentrated on Carlos (Checa) ahead and then he
had something go wrong with his tire or bike."

Carlos Checa, LCR Honda: 17th."This is a
difficult moment for me, I cannot remember when I
had a worse feeling in a race and this is not the
result I wanted. Everyone in the LCR team has
worked very hard over the weekend but we could
just not find the balance or feeling that gave me
any confidence to push. It is not fun to race
like this but now we must look forward and hope the situation can improve."

Kurtis Roberts, KR212V: 18th."Yeah, it was the
first time I've ever been in front of Kenny. That
probably screwed me up more than anything,
because I thought I heard him back there. But
what really screwed me up halfway through the
race, just for like a lap-I thought he was right
behind me the whole race-and it was plus 1.6
seconds. Because I'd see his lap times and I
wasn't paying that much attention to the lap
board at first. And I would see he'd have a
faster one than me. I figured he'd be right
behind me. And then he kind of caught me off
guard. And trying to catch (Carlos) Checa, I
started rushing everything a bit. I just didn't
have any grip from the start. I was just hung out
to dry, just sliding the thing everywhere. I knew
I was catching Checa, but Kenny, when he passed
me, I thought I screwed up. I didn't even realize
he was towing me along that good. But it was fun.
When you watch Little Kenny, he's Mister No
Mistake and I make a lot of mistakes."

Kenny Roberts - Team Principal."I'd never seen
them race like that at this level, of course, but
it would be better if we were racing further up
the field instead of where we are at the
moment. It's apparent that the motor doesn't
accelerate, but then we have no grip. I think
that we are learning, but it's going to take six
weeks to build something different. We just have
not been anywhere all year, because it doesn't
work, it just doesn't work. When they turn it on,
it just doesn't go. Of course the motor isn't the
best. But it's still not as bad as what we're
riding. The tires I think are actually a little
more of a problem than the motor, because we
can't seem to get grip. So either the chassis's
not getting grip or the motor's not getting grip,
but we don't know which one that is."

Toni Elias, Gresini Honda: dnf - technical
problem."I'm really disappointed because I was
having a good race. I got a good start and it
looked like 5th place was a real possibility
until the engine packed up on the 14th lap. I
don't know exactly what it was. These things
happen in racing but I'm really disappointed
because this was my home race in front of all my fans."


250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Kopron Scot Honda: 3rd."On one
hand I must be happy because the race pace I ran
was fantastic, very, very fast. On the other hand
I must say the level at the front this year is so
high. I gave 100% but also the competition is at
the same high level so it's hard racing. My team
and I did a fantastic job this weekend we cannot
give anymore. The bike handles really well and
helps me a lot but we have to work hard to find a little more power."

Julian Simon, Repsol Honda: 10th."It's been a
very complicated weekend. To be honest, the race
did not go very well. I made a more or less good
start and I had the chance to be in the front
during the first few laps. I tried but I lacked a
lot of engine power. The truth is that the bike
wasn't fast enough and I just wasn't able to
reach the front group. I joined Barberá, Bautista
and Aoyama during a few laps. I fought hard to
stay at their tyres but then I had a muscle
problem in my arm. It didn't get completely well
and I lost contact with the group. I was finally
caught by Simoncelli and finished tenth. It's not
a good result but at least I got some points. As
regards Donington, we'll have to gather this fury
for having finished tenth and to try to do it the best possible."

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 11th."I managed to
start better than in the previous race and I was
able to follow the leading riders in the early
stages. But that was just during a few laps
because then I had trouble controlling the front
end. The feelings were good this morning because
we had found a good configuration in the
different practices. However, during the race, I
think that it was due to the heat, it was much
more difficult and I wasn't able to follow the
leading group. I had no problems with the brakes
but I was close to loosing control during the
corners. I'm very sorry for the sponsors and for the team's work."

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT-SAG: 17th."It
was a very special day for me, as there were
people from my country supporting me, including
people from A.P. Honda and the media. We knew it
would be a tough race because of the high
temperatures and we knew this track wouldn't be
easy for us. Obviously I would have liked to
score points, but I couldn't. However the
experience we gained this weekend will prove useful in the near future."

Eugene Laverty, LCR Honda: 19th."I made up five
positions on the first lap and was hoping to stay
in the group with Jules Cluzel who finished 13th.
But on hot days we seem to have a chassis problem
that affects rear grip and my rear tyre was
spinning up a lot, it felt like the track was
wet. And the engine was cutting out just after
the start, so things could have been much better for me."

Yukio Takahashi, Kopron Scot Honda: dnf - crash.
"On the last lap of the race I was in 12th place
behind Shuhei (Aoyama). I tried to pass him on
the inside but there was not enough room so I
switched to the outside but used too much rear
brake and slid to the right side on to the gravel
and crashed. Pity because I was running
consistently good times considering my body condition."


125cc.

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 6th."I pushed really
hard from the first lap to stay with the front
group. I passed Pasini in the first corner
through the outside and then Koyama through the
inside. I had made a really good start, looking
forward to make a good race. It was much better
than in Mugello during the first few laps and
that's something to be happy about. It's been a
shame because every time we got to the straight
and I was in front of the group, they would pass
me and I would fall back again. So it's been very
difficult for me to overtake them, because I lost
a lot of time on the straights. I tried really
hard to outbrake them but I made a mistake. I was
just pushing too hard, trying to recover too much
and when I lost the slipstream it was just
impossible to stay in the group. I managed to
catch them in twisty sections but as soon as we
got on the straight off they went again. I'm
happy because this sixth position is the best
result of the season. I have to be happy for it
and because I gave my very very best. I'm looking
forward to the next three races, and I hope we'll
be able to make the bike be faster."

Tito Rabat, Repsol Honda: 12th."I made a very
good start but there were lots of us together
right after that and I fell back. The motorbike
has worked well, not so the chassis. I lost a lot
in the fast corners and the rear end made trouble
when I opened the throttle. I did all I could,
but my hand hurt a lot when braking. There's
nothing more I could do because it really hurt a
lot. It's been a whole bunch of things that did
not allow us to do any better. In any case I want
to thank the team for helping me."

Alexis Masbou, FFM Honda: 16th."I¹m so angry not
to collect at least one point for my team
after the difficult week-end I just put them
through! My Honda was working well, the tyre
choice was good. For sure we made the bike setup
in the warm-up and was lapping 1¹53s, whilst I
was in 1¹52 during the race, which means the
chassis setup wasn¹t ideal. I didn¹t catch a good pace at first
but nevertheless gave it all I had, especially in
the closing stages despite tyre wear under the
scorching heat. I tried all I could to pass Swiss
rider Dominique Aegerter, but things just didn¹t
work out! And yet I felt better mentally today."
"I¹m going to give it a good break before the
next Grand Prix, first isolate myself for two
days, try to forget everything and start my
physical and mental training again to have the
right approach for the British Grand Prix. I need
to fight my way back and work for the future. I¹m
happy to race in Donington next, I like the track
which has plenty of acceleration and
braking ­ and I¹m quite good at braking!"

Mike Di Meglio, Kopron Scot Honda: 19th."I am
very disappointed with my race today. We had a
lot of detonation after just four- five laps and
I just could not run with the fast group after
that. It is very strange because we ran the same
settings as in qualifying and the engine
temperature was the same, it's a mystery we will
have to take a good look at the data to see what happened."

Danny Webb, Molenaar Honda: 26th. "I got a so -
so start and was in a group with Terol, Muresan,
Hugo (Van den Berg) and a wild card rider. There
were a couple of crashes in font of us on the
first couple of laps so we wee held up a little.
The engine was a little down on power today but I
managed to cut 7/10ths of a second off my
qualifying time so that was a positive. I
couldn't get out of the group and we had a good
race. The wild card rider crashed out leaving the
four of us. Finishing 26th is not a good result
but I finished the race and learned a few things."

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: dnf - crash "I got
my usual super start and passed a few riders but
Ranseder did not he was trying too hard to catch
up and hit me sending me off the track and out of
the race. There is nothing else to say - I didn't
even get to complete one lap!"

Dino Lombardi, Kopron Scot Honda: dns - due to
injuries sustained in qualifying. Lombardi broke his left ankle..



Source: Honda Pro Image

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story

Headlines