2011 Motegi MotoGP: Rider Race Talk

2011 MotoGP

In all but two rounds in the 2011 MotoGP Championship, two Honda RC212Vs finished on the podium.

This trend continued Sunday at Twin Ring Motegi MotoGP, when there were two Repsol Honda prototypes on the podium – race-winner Dani Pedrosa and third-place finisher Casey Stoner.

Sandwiched between the Repsol boys was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. But that wasn’t all for Honda…the fourth and fifth positions were also held by Honda: Repsol’s Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth, followed by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli.

With his third-place finish, the Australian Stoner enters his home race at Phillip Island OCt. 16 with a 40-point lead over reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo. If Stoner finishes 10 points ahead of Lorenzo at Phillip Island MotoGP, he’ll clinch the 2011 title three rounds earlier.

Following is what the riders were saying following Motegi MotoGP:

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m super happy with this victory, for the team that has been working so well, for HRC because this is the first win in Motegi with the Repsol Honda Team and for myself because it is the first time I’ve won here in MotoGP after doing so in 125cc and 250cc.

“The race was strange at the beginning with Stoner and Dovi really fast on the first few laps, they pulled away and then Casey (Stoner) had some problem and Andrea (Dovizioso) had a ride through due to his jump start. I was alone in front with Lorenzo very close, but I tried to put my head down and push every lap to pull away.

“I’m really happy because at this track I’ve had a mix of good and bad results and some bad injuries, so come back one year later and win in MotoGP is fantastic.”

Andrea Dovizioso
(Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I cannot believe it. I have never had a false start in my career and it happened today, in a race where I felt that I could fight for the win! I don’t know why the bike moved a little before the green light but I realized it immediately and expected the ride through.

“In the first laps I had a good feeling and I was pushing hard because I knew I was the only rider up there with soft tires, in my opinion this was the right choice today and I was catching Casey [Stoner].

“Then Casey went wide and I found myself leading the race, but unfortunately it didn’t last long. When I rejoined the race after the ride through I pushed hard but it’s not the same as when you are fighting for the victory. In the last five laps the rear tyre started to drop off and I was no longer able to be fast in the middle of the corner.

“Meanwhile, Simoncelli had recovered and was behind me, I did all I could to defend my position but I wasn’t able to. I’m really disappointed as I’m sure today I could have fought for the win, we can see the final gap to Dani [Pedrosa] is similar to the time it took to do the ride through.

“I’m sorry for the team, we did a great job and I felt competitive. It’s also a shame for the Championship points, anyway I look forward to Phillip Island because once again I showed to be fast.”

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “The whole weekend had gone so well for us and even the start of the race we got a great start and everything felt good in the first laps and I was able to pull a small advantage. Andrea [Dovizioso] was riding very well on the soft tyre compound and we knew ours would work well towards the end of the race, so the pace we had at that stage I was very comfortable with.

“As I came out of the back straight I got a wobble on the bike, we hit the big bump and as the front came down it practically shook the bars out of my hands, I was lucky to hold on. I went for the brakes and there was nothing there so I had to pump them up a couple of times, when I pumped it the second time if flicked me up over the front and I was lucky to stay on the bike.

“Thankfully I avoided hitting the wall at the end of the gravel trap but this pretty much ended our race. It’s really disappointing as we had the bike to win here today, but in the end I guess I should be thankful that we were able to climb back up to a podium spot after other peoples misfortunes and mistakes on track.

“I’m looking forward to going to Phillip Island now and to see what we an achieve there, I’ve got a Championship lead to protect but I also want to win races which is why I’m disappointed here today.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “I didn’t expect such a strange race, Casey going wide and Dovi having a ride through. I thought it was possible to fight with Dani but he came better and better, I think he was inspired today and at a very high level of riding. He decided the victory and I couldn’t follow him.

“To win now is almost impossible, just maybe some small possibilities! A big thank you to my team who worked so hard this weekend to make a very competitive bike and thank you to all the Japanese fans who came out to support us.”

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “It was a bitter sweet race for sure, we had a great start and the bike was feeling really good. I was in a perfect position coming out of turn three, right behind Dovi when I was hit from the back. I lost one hand off the handlebar and didn’t have much control going into the gravel trap.

“I tried to slow the bike as much as I could before tipping over. When I got back on track I knew there were a couple of slower guys out there so we could probably get some points. I got my head down and pushed and thought a top ten was possible. The groups kept coming back to me and the lap times were good so we got a good result considering.

“It’s unfortunate because I really think if we had clear track and started well we could have been in 46s all race long and battled for the podium. That’s racing, it sucks but there you go. I’m not going to blame anybody it’s just a shame, we’ll move on.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “Our bike was pretty good this weekend. Even though I was only eighth fastest this morning, I was pretty consistent, and this weekend is really the first time I’ve been kind of competitive here. On the start, everybody flinched, and I almost got baited into jumping.

“Then I got touched by Vale on the exit of Turn 1 and went off the track and lost a lot of time. We were all racing, and it was normal for the first lap. I got into a pretty good rhythm, and when Casey came past me, I wanted to try to follow him past Bautista, but I came in way too hot and went off the track. It’s a shame, because with everybody making mistakes, I had a chance to get us a good result.

“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry to Ducati and everybody, because they worked so hard. Phillip Island is a track I like, so hopefully there we can do a decent race there.”

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP11.1 MotoGP) says: “It’s really a shame to be out of the race after two corners, especially after the progress that we made this weekend, and with the knowledge that we’d worked on the bike well. I was fourth in the morning warm-up, and it would have been possible to have a pace in the high 1:46 range.

“I also think our choice of tires for the race-hard on the back and soft on the front-was correct. When you also consider the troubles that Stoner, Simoncelli and Dovizioso had, we could have fought for the podium, which would have been really nice for us. We were a little unlucky. Unfortunately, Lorenzo went onto the grass slightly in Turn 1, and in the next turn he moved suddenly to get his trajectory right.

“He didn’t see me because I was slightly behind. When he touched me, it pushed me into Spies, who touched my front brake lever. It was normal racing contact, but I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyway, we did a good job this weekend, and we were more competitive than usual. It’s a challenging time for us, but we hope we’re on the right path.”

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini MotoGP) says: “I made a stupid mistake on the start line. The red light was slow to go out and out of the corner of my eye I saw Dovizioso move and let the clutch out just a tiny bit but enough to be given a ride-through penalty. You can’t afford to make this kind of error.

“I am angry with myself and kicking myself especially after the race I put together following the penalty. Today could have been a great day for us, the podium was there for the taking and maybe even more than that. I had great fun on the last few laps with Dovizioso though – yet another battle between us – and I am happy to have beaten him. It was great!”

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “It was a difficult race. Unfortunately I didn’t have the grip to push as I wanted. Yesterday was much better and I am struggling to explain why it didn’t happen today.

“It is very strange but the change in track temperature definitely didn’t help because I am struggling for confidence in the front as it is. We will make up for it in the next race.”

Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “What a race that was and I’m struggling to remember everything that happened because it seemed like each time I went round a corner somebody else was in the gravel! There was so much chaos it was just about surviving.

“Right away I knew Cal had jumped the start and then Valentino and Ben were in the gravel. Casey was then off track, so I just got my head down and once the hard rear tyre got heated up and working good, I put in some decent times around the halfway stage. It took me too long to get by Aoyama though and it is tough to sit behind somebody for such a long time without being able to pass.

“His style is basically to stop in the middle of the corner and fire it out using the power of the Honda, so he’d get a jump of a few meters with the advantage he had in acceleration. Honestly speaking, my pace wasn’t there all weekend, so to get eighth is a positive result and we can move on and try be much faster at Phillip Island, which is a great track.”

Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “Where do you start after a race like that? I knew I’d jumped the start because directly in front of me was Simoncelli and I just let the clutch out when I saw him move. After that I just wanted to push to pick up as many places as I could before I needed to come in for the pitlane ride through.

“I was pushing to pass Elias but he braked really sharply at Turn 3 and I nearly ran into the back of him. That put me in the gravel, so if you take off the time I lost in that incident and the time I lost with the penalty, I’m sure I could have been in the top seven. After all the drama I just wanted to finish and get as many points as I could for Yamaha and for Tech 3 in such an important race.

“This is the fourth race in succession now that I’ve finished and I’m gaining a lot of experience. I haven’t felt my best physically this weekend and I didn’t know the track either, so to bag a few more points is a positive outcome and now I’m really excited about the last three races. I know Phillip Island, Sepang and Valencia, so hopefully I can have a really strong finish to the season.”

Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSVR MotoGP) says: “This was for sure not the result we expected today! I chose the softer rear tire for the race because the conditions today were colder than yesterday and because for the first laps I needed to be as fast as possible.

“I didn’t get a good start because some riders jump-started and I was a bit confused by them and when the red light went off I was little bit late. There was a crash on the second corner and I then found myself in a good position. A few laps later some riders entered the pits because they did a jump start and I was then in third, but I knew it was not my real position! When Casey went past me and I saw what the distance was between me and Andrea – who was the next rider – and how many laps were left, I tried to follow Casey and keep the gap to Andrea.

“Near the last corner I lost the front and crashed and that was the end of the race for me. We worked very hard this weekend and improved in all the sessions, and in the race we were in a good position. Today the luck was just not with us!”

Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I’m not very happy, today we had the potential to enter the top eight. I was behind Aoyama, Elias and other riders, but when I saw the ride through sign I thought I would be there too. I looked at the sign at every lap when it was exposed and once I tried to see well all the numbers to look for mine, so I’ve slowed down a bit in the straight but I used the brakes too late and made a mistake in the upcoming turn loosing contact with the group.

“I tried to recover but the bike did not react as I wanted. A pity because if the bike at Aragon was very good, but in the first turn I was forced to go off track to avoid a rider who had fallen, here I just did not have the right feeling. We hope to find it back in Australia to gain a better position.”

Damian Cudlin (Pramac Racing Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I made a good start, I felt good and thought I could overtake in the first lap both Colin and Randy, but I didn’t want to create accidents that would not be something very smart as a rookie. As time went on I got more and more feeling with the bike and managed to achieve and maintain the pace with Akiyoshi.

“I was planning to stay with him until the end, then try to overtake him in the last few laps, but in a tight left corner I braked too late and lost the front finding my self off track. I am very sorry for how it ended this weekend, before today I had fallen only once in the other categories that I have raced this year, and to conclude this experience like this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

“I hope to have similar opportunities in the near future to be able to improve. However, I thank the Pramac Racing Team that has allowed me to live this wonderful experience.”

Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “Well… first I am very disappointed because we could fight for the 7th position taking the best result so far. The adjustments we made this morning after the warm up session made the bike more stable and even today I took a very good start from the back of the pack.

“I was faster than qualifying and front tire feeling was a lot better: with this pace I could have obtained a brilliant result for me and the guys but in turn five, which is a very hard braking point, I hit a bump and I lost the front crashing down. Anyway I would like to thanks the guys for their efforts and I am looking forward to racing in Phillip Island.”

Akiyoshi (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I am very happy about my performance today. Maybe I could have started a bit better but my pace was consistent till the end. I hope that Japanese fans enjoyed this racing weekend and want to thank the Team for their good job.”

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).