Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a masterful victory in today?s Valencia grand finale, winning an incident-packed race that started on partially damp and very unforgiving track. The Spanish hero was joined on the podium by third-placed Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V), riding his last race before retirement.
Morning rain had left the slow-drying track still wet in places, despite the earlier Moto2 and Moto3 races, so there were plenty of deliberation about tyre choice before the start. Some riders chose slicks, others rain tyres. Pedrosa was one of several riders who started the warm-up lap on rain tyres, then decided to change, rushing into the pits and swapping to their slick-equipped spare bikes. According to the rules, Pedrosa started the race from pit lane, after the main pack, his RC213V fishtailing as he launched, its slick tyres struggling for grip on still-soaking pit road.
Pedrosa took care in the first few laps, working hard to get heat into his tyres and stay on the narrow dry line. At the end of lap one he was 20th, but by lap three he was up to 11th and the fastest man on the track, making good progress over rivals who had started on rain tyres.
However, Pedrosa was not the only man on slicks. Recently crowned World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and a few others had started the race on slicks from the grid and it was not long before Lorenzo was in the lead. Pedrosa moved into second just before one-quarter distance and then began to whittle away his compatriot?s advantage. He had got the gap down to just one tenth of a second when he found a false neutral and ran off the track at turn ten which put him four seconds behind. The very next lap Lorenzo crashed at the same right-hander that had nearly claimed Pedrosa.
The vast majority of the eight crashes during the race round this anti-clockwise circuit where in right-handers, the riders struggling to get enough heat into the right side of their tyres.
When Lorenzo tumbled, Pedrosa inherited a 22 second lead over Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow (who later crashed) and from then on his main challenges were maintaining concentration and staying on the narrow dry line. At the finish he was a gaping 37.6 seconds ahead of Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Yamaha), substituting for the injured Ben Spies. This was his seventh win of the year ? a MotoGP record for the 27-year-old.
Stoner was one of the majority who started the race on rain tyres, the 2011 World Champion soon deciding he needed slicks and pitting at the end of lap four to change to his ?dry? bike. Next time around he was 16th and 31 seconds outside of a podium finish. His advance from that position was impressively determined as he passed other riders and made up a few more places as others fell by the wayside. He moved into third with two laps to go, giving him the opportunity to mark the end of his glittering career with a podium finish.
Nine years ago Stoner won his first GP victory ? in the 125 class ? here at Valencia. Today the Australian hangs up his leathers as one of the sport?s all time greats, with two MotoGP World Championships and 45 Grand Prix wins across all three classes.
The final victim of Stoner?s career was Bautista who nonetheless had good reason to be happy with his fourth-place finish. Like Pedrosa, Bautista also changed his mind about tyres during the warm-up lap, swapping bikes in pit lane and starting from there. He worked his way through from 19th on the first lap, riding well in the unforgiving conditions.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: race winner
?After Marquez's race, I thought I should do something similar! But seriously, I'm really happy with this win. It was very difficult at the start to make the decision with tyres. I saw Jorge on slicks on the grid and I was pretty sure with my decision, but standing there the track was drying up very quickly and before the start I didn't know if it would be better to forget about the pole and start from the pits or go out on wets and stop after four or five laps. In the last corner of the sighting lap, the instinct told me to get in immediately. I started from the pit lane and I managed to be fast from the beginning. I caught Jorge and then I made a mistake and lost three seconds again, but one lap later he also made a mistake and crashed out. From this point another race began for me. It was tough to maintain concentration with such conditions and a big advantage, so I planned the second half of the race like a practice session, taking the corners, the lines, lap by lap. It's a great end of the season and I'd like to thank all the Repsol Honda Team!?
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 3rd
?Considering everything that happened today, we're very happy with a podium. My motivation wasn't particularly high as I haven't wanted to push in the wet and haven't felt comfortable on the bike. I just didn't want to take any risks of crashing and damaging my ankle again so I was very cautious and this isn't how I like to ride. Even with the choice of going with the wets, not the slick tyres at the beginning of the race, I took the easy option, which really isn't me. When I saw the slicks had a big advantage, we came in and changed bikes and went back out and pushed as hard as we could, without taking unnecessary risks. In the end we were able to chase down Alvaro and take the last spot on the podium in our last race. My team are like my second family, we've been through a lot of ups and downs together and it's going to be difficult not to see them every week. I'm sorry for them and for everyone who has supported me for so long but this is the way it is and it's time to say goodbye. Thank you to all the people who have supported us over the years and all our sponsors, and to everyone in the Repsol Honda Team.?
Repsol Honda Press Release
You can give your opinion on our Facebook page here
Get the latest update on our Twitter page here