If the MotoGP world title continues to elude Dani Pedrosa at the end of 2013, the Spaniard might well look back on yesterday’s Assen race as a game changing moment.
With main title rival Jorge Lorenzo well short of 100% fitness after he broke his left collarbone in a high-speed practice crash on Thursday, the 26-lap race was a golden opportunity for Pedrosa to build on his narrow seven-point advantage.
Lorenzo’s heroics to finish in an astounding fifth position and Pedrosa’s puzzling lack of front and rear grip meant the Repsol Honda rider’s lead was only increased by two-points heading to the Sachsenring in Germany.
Pedrosa looked to cash in on Lorenzo’s injury misery when he led for the opening five laps. But once passed by hard charging Valentino Rossi, his RC213V was hit by a chronic lack of grip.
He eventually dropped out of the podium hunt on lap 21 when British rider Cal Crutchlow seized third and he said: “All weekend I didn't have a good feeling with the tyres and bike and it was a struggle to find a setting.
"I was only able to ride a good level in the first few laps when the tyres gave me some grip but the rest of the race the bike was hard to manage. Both the front and rear had absolutely no grip.
"I don't want to use this as an excuse and when Rossi passed me I tried to get a tow but lap-by-lap the bike was getting worse. I lost all my strong points and at the end I was just cruising. I had no performance to defend my podium position.
"Unfortunately I couldn't take a good chance here with the situation and this was another race where I couldn't get any grip and I don't know why. Clearly the Yamaha was working much better than the Honda in this track but sometimes this happens."
Asked whether the solution to his grip woes needed to come from new parts from HRC, Pedrosa said: “We need some steps to have better grip and this is our target, especially when they (Bridgestone) bring the hard shoulder tyres to counter overheating.
"Normally the Honda spins more than Yamaha, but with this tyre we have even more disadvantage and when the tyre spins a lot the bike is difficult to manage."