Danny Webb’s gamble on running full wet Dunlop front and rear tyres backfired as he had to settle for 11th in the Japanese 125GP – despite leading for over half the race.
The Degraaf Aprilia rider gambled on full wets, hoping that damp conditions would remain after heavy rain had battered the Twin Ring Motegi circuit for morning warm-up.
Webb made a brilliant start, his full wets working perfectly with several damp patches still scattered around the track in the early stages.
He surged into the lead on the second lap and by lap nine held a commanding lead of over nine seconds.
But sun and strong winds dried the circuit much quicker than he’d hoped, and it quickly became apparent that he would be in big trouble.
Just three laps later and he surrendered the lead to Julian Simon who was on cut slicks and Webb gradually started to slide out of top six contention.
He did produce a brilliant display of riding though to cling onto a deserved 11th place, despite his tyres overheating and losing grip as the race finished on a bone-dry track.
“It was my decision to run wets, “he told MCN. “I hoped it wouldn’t dry as quick as it did. It was a gamble but one worth taking. If it comes off I’d have won the race, but this time it don’t go my way. I just tried to get as big of a lead as I possibly could and then see if anybody could catch me. I was looking over my shoulder a lot because I couldn’t believe I had such a big gap. But the circuit dried quickly and my rain tyres started to slide a lot and I knew I couldn’t hold on. It was a great experience to lead my first GP and I learned a lot from doing that. I felt really comfortable and didn’t feel any pressure. It’s a bit disappointing to finish eleventh, but this really has been good for my confidence and I can’t wait for Jerez this weekend.”
1 A Iannone, Italh (Aprilia)
2 J Simon, Spain (Aprilia)
3 P Espargaro, Spain (Derbi)
4 S Bradl, Germany (Aprilia)
5 M Marquez, Spain (KTM)
6 S cortese, Germany (Derbi)
7 J Olive, Spain (Derbi)
8 J Folger, Germany (Aprilia)
9 D Aegerter, Switzerland (Derbi)
10 B Smith, GB (Aprilia)
11 D Webb, GB (Aprilia)
12 T Koyama, Japan (Loncin)
13 E Rabat, Spain (Aprilia)
14 L Zanetti, Italy (Aprilia)
15 S Corsi, Italy (Aprilia)