Italy’s Valentino Rossi crashed to the sidelines with a broken leg and Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was beaten to the chequered flag by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in a drama-filled MotoGP event at Mugello, in Italy, at the weekend.
Honda came into the Italian GP weekend facing the prospect of Yamaha matching their record of 55 MotoGP race victories, since 2002, and seeing title leaders Rossi and Lorenzo pull further away at the head of the standings.
Instead it became Pedrosa’s and Honda’s first win of the season – and rising past Rossi to second in the world championship – as the previously unpredictable RCVs filled four of the top six places.
Pedrosa’s victory from pole was emphatic, and has laid the foundations for his first full-on MotoGP title attack since joining the premier-class in 2006.
Never headed in the race, Pedrosa’s advantage over Lorenzo exceeded eight seconds at one stage and his fastest lap – a new record – was a massive 0.762 quicker than the next best rider (team-mate Andrea Dovizioso).
Title leader Lorenzo’s best lap was 0.887sec slower than the #26.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win again and I’m so happy for myself and the Repsol Honda Team,” said Pedrosa.
“We’ve been working really hard and we had some problems through the winter and in the first races, so I’m really delighted with this victory, especially after leading at Jerez for so long but not quite making it.
“It looks like we are back near where we need to be and the team deserves the victory.
“I had a great feeling on the bike today, especially at the beginning section of the race and I could open up a gap. To be honest I didn’t see who was behind me, I just looked for the gap on my pit board and tried to ride consistently.
“It’s important that we are competitive now because we have one weekend off and then three races in a row. The next race is at Silverstone which is a legendary track so I hope that we can match this kind of performance there – and also that this part of England has better weather!
“I want to thank the fans here for pushing for Valentino because he’s having a hard time and everyone in the paddock wishes him well.”
With Rossi out, Pedrosa – like Lorenzo – has his best chance yet of being a MotoGP world champion and Mugello marked the first time this year that Pedrosa has taken points away from Lorenzo.
The gap between them is now a sizeable 25 points – exactly one race win – but with 14 races and 350 points still to be decided, Pedrosa and Honda have plenty of time to reel in Lorenzo.
“My congratulations go to Dani on this victory because he was in a different class today and it was impossible for anyone to stay with him,” said team manager Toshiyuki Yamaji. “His pace was very impressive and he controlled the race totally.”
Yamaha had won every race prior to Mugello, courtesy of Rossi (1) and Lorenzo (2), while the double Repsol Honda podium was the first since Pedrosa (1st) and Nicky Hayden (3rd) at the 2007 Germany Grand Prix.
Dovizioso, third on Sunday, has now dropped to fourth in the championship, but is only three points from Rossi (who looks to be sidelined for months) and seven points from Pedrosa.
Honda hasn’t won the MotoGP title since Nicky Hayden in 2006.
Meanwhile, on the medical front, Rossi is still in hospital.
Following Saturday’s surgery, when a metal pin was inserted into Valentino Rossi’s right tibia fracture, the MotoGP world champion underwent a small follow-up procedure to close the wound today.
Race results from the Italian MotoGP, round four of the 2010 world championship.
1. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 42m 28.066s
2. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Fiat Yamaha Team 42m 32.080s
3. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 42m 34.262s
4. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 42m 53.789s
5. Marco Melandri ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 42m 53.801s
6. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 42m 54.031s
7. Ben Spies USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 42m 56.872s
8. Aleix Espargaro ESP Pramac Racing 43m 8.238s
9. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 43m 9.460s
10. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 43m 10.173s
11. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP 43m 11.161s
12. Hector Barbera ESP Paginas Amarillas Aspar 43m 11.429s
13. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 43m 42.459s
14. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 43m 52.455s
Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing
Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team
1 Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha Team 90
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 65
3 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 61
4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 58
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 39
6 Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 36
7 Marco Melandri San Carlo Honda Gresini 32
8 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 24
9 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 23
10 Ben Spies Monster Yamaha Tech3 20
11 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech3 19
= Hector Barbera Aspar Racing Team 19
13 Hiroshi Aoyama Interwetten Honda MotoGP 18
14 Alex Espargaro Pramac Racing Team 16
15 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 13
16 Mika Kallio Pramac Racing Team 12
17 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 8