Pedrosa hangs on to third in MotoGP opener after suffering arm problems
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) continued the excellence he’d shown all weekend by leading a Honda onslaught in his first race as a member of the Honda family in the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar under the desert lights of the Losail International Circuit. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) interrupted the Honda parade by finishing a distant second, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) finishing third, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) fourth, and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) a fighting fifth.
Though Stoner was on the pole, it was Pedrosa who got the jump and Lorenzo who was in front by the end of the first lap. But that was the only one he’d lead. Stoner led the next lap, but wasn’t able to get away, with Pedrosa applying constant pressure. The Spaniard made a pass on the sixth lap as the pair put a second on Lorenzo.
The complexion of the race changed dramatically early in the second half as the fuel load went down and the tyres were worn. His confidence growing every lap, Stoner took the lead into turn 12, the first of the triple rights, and went to work. He set the fastest lap of the race on the 13th, a 1:55.366, with Pedrosa now 1.307 secs. back. More ominously, Lorenzo took .6 out of Pedrosa, who was in danger of losing second.
Stoner pounded out the fast laps to the end, winning the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by 3.440s.
Jorge Lorenzo caught and passed Pedrosa, but Pedrosa used the visibly superior power of the Honda RC212V to power by on the front straight. The scenario would unfold again and again, but eventually Pedrosa couldn’t keep the pace because of physical problems with his left arm and had to slow. Still, he finished on the podium.
The MotoGP World Championship now returns to its European roots for the first race on the Continent in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain on the first weekend in April.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 3rd
“I’m disappointed, not for the race I had, but for the physical problems I had again with my left arm. Already in practice I felt something, but I was not sure if it could be that bad, at the end I couldn’t grab the handlebar and in the last seven-eight laps I couldn’t use the clutch at all. I was just holding the arm and I was suffering a lot. The bike was perfect all race, I had the chance to win but I had a very hard time, one of the toughest races of my life. I don’t know what can I do because should be OK after the rest I had this winter. I did the tests and everything was in order. In the winter tests I was a bit weak, but I felt alright, so I don’t know what we have to do. I feel sorry for my team as well, because the bike was very good, fast, perfect also in the corners. I’m proud of how I’ve been riding, I’ve been fighting with Casey (Stoner) in this circuit as nobody else did in the past but at the same time I feel sad because I don’t know what the future will bring. I know we will go to Jerez in two weeks, where the bike will run very well, and I’m very strong and fast, but I don’t know what will happen.”
Source: Honda Racing