Dani Pedrosa scores stunning come-from-behind victory at Misano amid controversy.
Dani Pedrosa didn’t allow a third-row starting position to stop him from winning Sunday’s sweltering San Marino Grand Prix in front of more than 100,000 fans at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. The 30-year-old three-time world champion has won at least one race every year for the past 15 seasons.
Starting from pole position with a record qualifying time of 1:31.868, Jorge Lorenzo led the opening lap but Valentino Rossi took over from there. In fact, the Italian’s move on the reigning world champion sparked controversy that spilled over to the post-race press conference. “He didn’t need to be so aggressive,” Lorenzo said. Rossi emphatically disagreed with Lorenzo’s conclusions.
One of only two riders to race with Michelin’s new soft front slick, Pedrosa knifed through the field at record pace, past points leader Marc Marquez and Movistar Yamaha teammates Lorenzo and Rossi, to officially take command of the race on the 22nd of 28 laps. Pedrosa is the eighth different rider this season to win a MotoGP race.
Michelin’s Nicolas Goubert was pleased with the outcome of the weekend. “Between them, the riders all used the three different front tire choices in today’s race,” he said. “To get the fastest lap and break the race record is very positive, but the durability and consistency in such demanding conditions is a greater reward.”
Fourth on Sunday, Marquez continues to lead the world championship. Rossi is second, now battling a 43-point deficit. Lorenzo remains third, while Pedrosa is a distant fourth. MotoGP has a weekend off before heading to Spain for the Grand Prix of Aragon followed by three back-to-back flyaway races in Japan, Australia, and Malaysia.
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: “I worked very hard today. Starting from eighth, I recovered maybe two positions. In the first laps, I was not super fast. Valentino and Jorge were fighting a bit, but once Valentino was in the front, he completely went away.
“At the beginning, I was fighting with Andrea Dovizioso. He had such a strong bike in the straights that it was difficult to stay with him once we got into the corners. I spent three or four laps there.
Once I was fourth, I was alone for many laps; I wasn’t really losing or recovering. The pace was really strong toward the middle and end of the race. I just kept focused and doing my thing every lap, and little by little, I started to catch them.
“Once I got my rhythm with Marc and Jorge, I knew if I wanted to try to go with Valentino, I couldn’t lose time there. I tried to choose the correct time to pass and keep going toward the front.
I didn’t think about the victory until 10 laps to go. I could see that I was catching for the podium, but at the same time, I didn’t think about the win. A little later, I saw that I could catch Valentino so I tried to keep focused for the last part of the race.
“In the last laps of the race, it is always difficult to be precise. Valentino was braking very strong, so it was difficult to choose where to pass. He was also very strong out of some corners, so it was difficult to pass where I wanted.
“I exited from the corner before very close, so I said, ‘This is the opportunity.’ But he braked very late, so I needed to adjust my braking to pass in this very tight corner. I went a little too deep, but I was able to keep the inside.
“In the last races, there have been many different winners. Today, I am happy it was me because it has been difficult in the last races. All my fans and team support me very much, and it’s super to give to them this victory.”
Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha: “This weekend is always very demanding. You need to organize everything better than in other places because everything becomes difficult. But it is a fantastic feeling that is difficult to explain.
“We made the right tire choice for the race. I tried to overtake Lorenzo to go in front and after I pushed at the maximum. For sure, it was not easy. I had the pace to stay there but not to go away.
“When you are in front, it is always more difficult. Alone, I could do a 1:33.2. That was a very good pace. I could see that I had, more or less, a one-second advantage. I could control this pace. Lap by lap, I was more positive for the end.
“After he arrived with seven laps to go, Pedrosa was faster. I tried to resist, but it was still a long way. I lost a little time when he passed me, and I tried to make another lap behind him at the maximum, but he was too strong.
“Like last year in Aragon, Dani is very strong with me. This is racing. When you try for the victory at the victory at the end, it is not easy. Everybody gives the maximum, and I think that it was a good overtake. Unfortunately, it was not the other way.
“Honda has worked on acceleration. Usually they have better agility to change direction. Also, they are a bit better on braking for entering the corner. Today, their bike was fast and looked smoother in acceleration.
“Forty-three points is still too big with five races to go. Apart from the championship, it is always a great feeling to arrive in front of Marc because he is very strong and very fast. If you are able to beat him in the race, it means you did a great race.
“I am happy about my second half of the season until now. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but I did three podiums. In Austria, I arrived fourth and I took some points. We have to go like this until the end.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha: “I cannot be very happy, but also I cannot be completely disappointed. A podium is a podium, and I did my best today to keep the wheel of Rossi first and then Dani, who was clearly faster than us.
“For me, the hardest option tire was the worst today. Conditions were very hot, and that tire doesn’t turn well in the middle of the corner, especially on the left side. Maybe the soft one could have been an option, but it you don’t try it, you cannot use it for the race.
“In some corners, I couldn’t stop the bike. The bike was working quite well, and the pace was good. Rossi’s pace was quite good. He didn’t make mistakes. I just needed one tenth or one tenth and a half in some laps.
“Today was Dani’s day. He did everything perfectly and he rode unbelievably, even faster than his time in qualifying. He deserves this victory because he fought a lot during this period.
“I tried all of the race to close with Rossi but I couldn’t. Today wasn’t my day. They were faster. You have to accept it and keep working in the areas in which we need to improve.”