Dani Pedrosa delivered an astonishing performance this afternoon in the Catalan sunshine, taking pole position for the second time this year.
Pedrosa started the day by setting the second-fastest time in the FP3 session before going on to top the standings in both FP4 and qualifying. He was the only rider able to crack the 1’44” barrier, setting a 1’43.870 time that earned him his 30th pole in MotoGP and the 48th of his career.
Pedrosa said: “I’m very happy because taking pole is always very difficult, and doing it in front of your home fans is just amazing. Last year we struggled a lot in qualifying, while this season we’ve already earned two poles, so I wish to thank my team for the good work. We’ve worked really hard on this aspect, and we’re getting better and better.
“The conditions were quite difficult today, especially for the tyres as it was very hot and the grip wasn’t the best. We tried to manage the situation as well as possible, working a lot on the setup to improve tyre life. The tyres will be the key to the race tomorrow; it’d be great to have the same feeling from today, but we’ll wait and see. We’ll just remain focused and be prepared to do our best.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa became the eighth different MotoGP winner in eight races today, taking a stunning victory at Misano, his 29th in MotoGP and the 52nd in his career, as well as the 120th for Honda since the start of the MotoGP era in 2002.
Pedrosa’s choice of a soft-front and medium-rear Michelin tyre combination proved to be the best one for today’s conditions and for his riding style, as it allowed him to charge through the field at an incredibly fast pace and to set a new track record of 1’32.979 on his way to the victory.
Starting eighth on the grid, he was sixth at the end of the first lap and progressively improved his speed over the course of 22 laps, overtaking Dovizioso, Viñales, Marquez, Lorenzo and finally Rossi in a series of bullish moves before crossing the line 2.8 seconds ahead of the Italian to became the fourth Honda rider to win a race this year.
Pedrosa said: “It was a great race, and it has been a long time since I’ve had these feelings. Even I was surprised by the performance I put in today because I hadn’t expected to go so fast; we were fantastic.
“The key was the pace; I was able to fight my way through, especially in the final part, and being consistent allowed me to catch the riders at the front. It’s very nice for me to take a victory again, after all the effort made by those who have been with me in this challenging season so far: my family, my team and my fans. It has been very difficult, so I’m very happy for all of them. Today I enjoyed myself, although I was a little worried about the choice of front tyre because I hadn’t used it in hot conditions. In the end we were focused and everything went very well; it was an opportunity we had to take advantage of, and I think we achieved a great victory.”
Scott Redding’s French MotoGP race ended in disappointment after an early crash thwarted his quest for a fourth points scoring finish of the campaign.
In the hottest conditions of the weekend at the historic Bugatti Circuit, the Briton was charging confidently towards the top 10 when he lost control of his RC213V Honda machine at the famous La Chapelle right-hander on the fourth lap.
Redding’s Honda RC213V was too badly damaged for him to rejoin the 28-lap battle that unfolded in front of a huge crowd of close to 94,000 fans.
Redding said: ““The start of the race was difficult because it was hard to find front grip. I thought it was getting better, so decided to try and pick up my pace. But then I closed the front at turn six. It was an early end to the race and I am very disappointed. We keep trying to find a solution to some of my problems but we haven’t quite got there just yet. I am looking forward to Mugello. It is a track I really like and I am sure we can bounce back strongly.”
The Marc VDS squad now moves to the spectacular Mugello track in Italy confident of solving some of the front-end confidence issues that have hampered the 22-year-old in recent races.
Today’s GP of France was a tough race for the Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who was returning to racing after a six-week absence following surgery in a bid to save his career.
Pedrosa had been suffering from chronic arm pump and qualified in a creditable eight position for today’s race, and got a good start, moving up one place to seventh as the 28 lap race got underway. Unfortunately, he then lost the front in turn three on the second lap, but was able to pick the bike up and rejoin the race – albeit in last place.
He then circulated at a decent pace, continuing to ride in order to test his physical ability after his surgery six weeks ago. He worked his way through the field, posting consistent lap times and caught and past Marco Melandri on the Aprilia before snatching 16th place from Alex de Angelis on the final lap. It was a relief for him to finish the race without too much discomfort and he can now rest ahead of the Italian GP in two weeks time.
The Spaniard said: “It was a shame to crash so early in the race; I don’t understand much about the crash, because I just lost the front end. I tried to restart the engine and get back in the race, even though the handlebars were bent, because I wanted to try completing an entire race. It was a positive test for me, although there is still room for improvement, but fitness-wise things are a little better. Hopefully we can improve even more over the coming weeks.”
After a three race absence, this weekend Dani Pedrosa will return to race alongside Marc Marquez for the Repsol Honda Team in Le Mans.
Pedrosa received surgery to his right arm to alleviate discomfort from chronic arm pump and as a result missed the races in the Americas, Argentina and Spain, but returns in Le Mans for round five of the 2015 World Championship.
Pedrosa said: “I’ve been doing a lot of therapy in the past few weeks since the operation and I am improving step by step. I’m beginning to feel stronger and looking forward to getting back on the bike – after all, this is the best way to check the feeling after all the rehabilitation work. It will be good to get back to my team and catch up with them all after this time and of course to see all the fans in Le Mans, so let’s hope the weather is kind to us again like in 2014.”
The Le Mans Bugatti circuit is very stop-and-go, with plenty of slow turns where braking and acceleration performance are crucial. Riders and their engineers concentrate on honing their machines’ stability during braking, as well as improving rear-end traction for the numerous hairpin exits. The 4.18km circuit features the same start-finish straight as the Le Mans 24hr event and a blindingly fast right-hander leading to the famous Dunlop chicane. Following this quick start to the lap, the stop-start character becomes evident, with a slow right-hander leading on to the main straight. It is one of nine right hand turns, and four lefts.
Pedrosa has always gone well at Le Mans and will be hoping for a fairytale return – he has finished on the podium seven times including an emphatic win in atrocious conditions during the MotoGP race in 2013 and three victories in the lower classes (2003 in 125cc, 2004 and 2005 in 250cc).
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez returned to his magnificent best as he dominated the field at the Red Bull GP of The Americas.
Marquez, who secured pole with a truly sensational lap, dropped back briefly from the start to second place behind Dovizioso but quickly found his rhythm and blasted to the front.
With Rossi and Iannone fighting with Dovizioso, Marquez never looked back and led from the front for the remainder of the race – taking his 20th victory in the MotoGP class.
There win means Marquez has won on all six occasions that he has raced in the MotoGP class in the USA, and Honda celebrated their 11th consecutive win on American soil. The last non-Honda MotoGP winner in the USA was Jorge Lorenzo, at Laguna Seca in 2010.
Marquez said: “I am very happy with this victory. After yesterday, things looked positive for us, but the only doubt was about the weather. In the end, it turned out stranger than it had seemed. When I saw that it was going to be a dry race, I started out very focused – because I knew it was important to try to win today. However, right from the first lap I saw that the track was not like it had been before the rain of last night. There was less grip and it was harder to ride comfortably. I decided to keep calm in the early laps to try to understand the situation well, and when I started to find a feeling similar to practice, I decided to push the pace a bit. That was when I was able to open up a gap.”
The MotoGP circus now heads straight to Argentina for the third round of 2015.
Heavy rain plagued the start of the Red Bull GP of The Americas, with many riders getting the chance to get acclimatised to their bikes wet weather set-up, although the track finally dried out allowing the field to work on dry setup.
The track continued to improve as the FP2 session progressed and it was reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, who finished on top. His time of 2’04.835 recorded on his final lap of ten, placed him 0.327 seconds ahead of satellite Honda rider Cal Crutchlow in the combined times. Marquez’s teammate, Hiroshi Aoyama, finished the day in 16th with his time of 2’07.268 (lap 12/12). Aoyama – standing in for injured Dani Pedrosa – was grateful to have some dry track time to assist his learning experience aboard the Honda RC213V.
Marquez said: “Today was a positive day and in general it went fairly well. In the morning we rode in wet conditions, which was important because it is possible that Sunday’s race will be under the same circumstances and we were able to discard a few things. In the second session we were able to ride in the dry and, although we only put in five fast laps, the feeling was good and we could draw a few conclusions. Let’s hope that tomorrow the weather is dry and we can continue trying out some modifications to the bike to improve further –although the important thing is that our initial feeling is positive.”
Stand-in team-mate was less optimistic. He said: “Unfortunately this morning’s session was in wet conditions which wasn’t the easiest start for me in learning how to ride this bike. We adjusted the bike a little and by the end I had more confidence. This afternoon it was slightly damp still but we rode on the slicks so I could get some experience in drier conditions. We didn’t really change too much on the bike, I just needed to put in some laps as I’m still missing a good feeling on the bike.”
Tomorrow’s FP3 session is scheduled to begin at 09h55 local time.
Marc VDS Honda rider Scott Redding produced a solid performance during the season opener in Qatar to pilot his RC213V to 13th place.
Redding had gambled late on and hoped big set-up changes would improve his bike’s front-end feeling, but he was unable to close the gap to the frontrunners and missed out on his target of a top 10 finish.
Redding said: “It was a tough race and certainly not where I expected to be finishing. The target was to finish inside the top 10, so I can’t be happy to be 13th. We are making steps in the right direction but not enough to bring us closer to our target.
“Turning is the biggest issue and we need to focus on that because I should be finishing much higher up on the package I am riding. We’ve collected a lot of data and I finished in the points, but it is clear there is plenty of room to improve.”
Team boss Michael Bartholemy was more upbeat. He said: “We can take plenty of positives from a difficult weekend here in Qatar. We are still learning how to find the best set-up for Scott with the Honda and while we are making small progress, we need to improve a lot to be more competitive.
“He scored points but clearly there is a big margin to improve because we need to be fighting close with the other satellite factory bikes. This is a completely new project and we just need time to show our true potential.”
Dani Pedrosa is to stop racing in an attempt to cure the chronic arm pump which plagued his ride during Sunday’s season opener in Qatar.
The Repsol Honda star had qualified second on the grid but dropped to sixth under the floodlights during the race, and afterwards issued a statement explaining that he had been suffering with chronic arm pump for a year and that surgery to solve the loss of feeling and strength in his right forearm has not worked.
He said: “Tonight’s race didn’t go to plan and unfortunately, I had serious problems with my right forearm which isn’t good news for me. I worked very hard over the winter in order to find a solution, because I was suffering in every race last season.
“Every doctor recommended that I not undergo another operation and I have tried to look for alternatives, but by the looks of things nothing is working positively for it. Now I have to assess my options and see what I can do. It is probably the most difficult moment of my career. I will do my best to find a solution but in this moment it is difficult to imagine what it could be.”
The concern for Pedrosa is that a further operation may actually make the problem worse, but it’s clear from the statement that his immediate racing career is in doubt. The news has led to intense speculation as to which rider could step in and ride Pedrosa’s RC213V, with many tipping double world champion Casey Stoner to fill in at Austin.
The 29-year-old has been a factory Honda MotoGP rider since 2006, winning 26 grands prix and finishing runner-up in the world championship three times. His last race win came at Brno last August.