News 17 Aug 2009

MotoGP: Pedrosa and Elias podium for Honda at Brno GP


Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) scored a solid second-place finish at Brno this afternoon, the Spaniard joined in the top three by compatriot Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) who visited the podium for the first time this season.

The two RC212V riders had very different races, Pedrosa alone for most of the 22 laps, Elias fighting all the way to beat British GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Suzuki). For the second race in a row, there were three Hondas in the top four. The 11th round of the 2009 series was won by Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) whose team-mate Jorge Lorenzo slid off while just ahead of the reigning World Champion.

Pedrosa made his customary stunning start, roaring past Rossi into the first turn but conceding first place two corners later. When Lorenzo too came past three laps later Pedrosa gradually slipped back to run his own race in third. Then five laps from the chequered flag Lorenzo fell, shortly after taking the lead from Rossi, putting Pedrosa back into second place. Pedrosa was happy that he finished the race in good physical shape – only recently has he been able to undertake his full training regime following injuries sustained earlier in the year.

Pedrosa and team-mate Dovizioso test at Brno tomorrow, along with the rest of the MotoGP pack, and they know the one-day session will be crucial to help them improve their pace for the final six races of 2009. The factory RC212V certainly has brilliant top-end performance, Pedrosa heading the top-speed charts this weekend at 302.6km/h.

Lorenzo’s crash added an extra surge of excitement to the entertaining contest between Elias, Dovizioso and Capirossi who were now fighting for the final slot on the podium. Dovizioso tried everything he could to get past Elias and he did get ahead for a lap in the closing stages, then surviving a major slide that had his left foot off the footpeg. The following lap Elias slipped past the Italian once again and held his advantage to the flag.

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) spent the first half of the race battling for sixth place with Colin Edwards (Yamaha), Nicky Hayden (Ducati) and Mika Kallio (Ducati, subbing for the absent Casey Stoner), but things got complicated for the San Marino rider when a butterfly flew inside his helmet, causing him vision problems and losing him several places. De Angelis crossed the line in eighth place after Kallio and Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) collided and crashed on the last corner of the race.

Tenth place went to Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), the Frenchman riding a hero’s race just one week after breaking his left ankle in a motocross fall. De Puniet’s ankle is fixed with six screws and when he’s not on his bike he’s using crutches to get about. His race was the toughest of his career and remarkable too – 11th on the first lap, he was in the thick of the pack chasing seventh place until the injury really took its toll. Unable to put the kind of pressure through his left footpeg to steer his RC212V as he normally would, de Puniet had to use more upper body strength to get through the corners.

Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) enjoyed a busy first few laps, overtaking several rivals, but his pace dropped when he began to run short of rear grip. Talma and his crew will focus on this issue during tomorrow’s tests.


Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), second-place finisher, said: “At the start of the race I pushed really hard to stay with the leaders and for the first few laps I was with them. Then they kept getting faster on every lap and, though I was pushing to the maximum, I couldn’t maintain that sort of pace today. So for the rest of the race I just had to concentrate on not making a mistake because there was a big gap in front of me and also behind me. Second place is a good result for me and the team, though obviously we would have wanted to be closer to front-running pace. It’s great to finish a race on the podium and feel in good physical condition after the problems I had in the first part of the season – especially because it was very hot out there today and this is a demanding track. We have a test tomorrow and it is going to be really important for us to work on the areas we still have to improve so that we can challenge for wins again.”

Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), third-place finisher, said: “This is a fantastic result for me. The team have done a great job all weekend – from the first session on Friday right up to the end of qualifying yesterday we have been improving the bike and we were able to put ourselves in the position to capitalise on Jorge’s crash. It was like a present to me because we never expected to be able to break up the top three riders today – they have been at a different level all weekend – but we know anything can happen in racing. Everybody knows my future is unclear at the moment but I hope this sends out the right message. I am a rider who finishes on the podium year in year out and I will keep pushing to show my worth at Indianapolis. I know my team will back me up because they have worked so hard for me so far and I want to thank them for that. We want to keep this going until the end of the season.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), fourth-place finisher, said: “I was riding really hard out there and I had a tough battle for third place in the last few laps. From the start I tried to stay with Dani and the leaders but it wasn’t possible.
The gap to Elias was always small and my pace was very similar to his which made it very difficult to overtake him. I tried really hard in the middle of the race without any success and then in the last few laps the grip dropped off a little and to overtake Toni I had to take some risks. I really wanted that podium finish so I was pushing very hard, and also I had Capirossi behind who was putting a lot of pressure on too.
Fourth is not a bad result but I can’t say that I’m satisfied with the result today. Still, there is a day of testing tomorrow and this will give us a chance to make improvements to our machine package and prepare for the next races.”

Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), eighth-place finisher, said: “I set a target of a top eight today so I am satisfied to achieve that but it could have been so much better. I was comfortable running with Edwards, Hayden and the others until I suddenly got a butterfly trapped in my helmet. It was flapping around in front of my eyes and I couldn’t see a thing! When it finally settled down I was able to focus again but my chance had gone. At the moment I’m not feeling too well and I have some pain in my back so I am heading straight to the Clinica Mobile but I’m sure I’ll be fine for the next race, where I hope we can continue to show our potential.”

Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), tenth-place finisher, said: “It’s a like a miracle! Fourteen days ago I was in hospital having surgery and now I am seventh in the championship! This has been the hardest race of my life and I want to thank the doctor who made the surgery in my left ankle, the Clinical Mobile Staff and my squad. Honestly, I think nobody could do better than this with six screws in the ankle. At the end of the race I could not breathe anymore and was not able to come back to the garage but I battled with my injury throughout the weekend and we all deserve this unbelievable result. Obviously I won’t stay for the test tomorrow as I will proceed with my rehabilitation programme in readiness for the Indy GP.”

Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), 13th-place finisher, said: “The first laps were not bad – I was able to overtake three riders and I enjoyed a good fight. But when the bike began to slide I decided to keep the best possible rhythm to the end. It is still the same problem: we do not possess good rear grip, so that keeping the line out of the corners is not easy. I’m certain we can find a solution – we all are working hard to get that target.”