Dani Pedrosa was relieved to end Honda’s worst losing streak for 27 years after the Spaniard claimed a shock start-to-finish victory in Laguna Seca.
The 23-year-old was relieved to end his own injury torment with his first victory in 13 months, and he was mightily relieved not to have blown his chances of notching only his seventh premier class success.
Starting the last lap with a 1.573s lead over Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, Pedrosa slowed drastically in the closing stages and almost gifted the Italian an unexpected victory in front of just over 46,000 fans in California.
It was a win that should have been much more comfortable for Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa, who streaked away from the start and who held a commanding 3.244s lead with just nine laps remaining.
His late lapse in concentration almost proved costly, but Pedrosa was able to soak up his first win since Catalunya 2008 – 382 days ago.
Speaking after ending Honda’s worst losing run since 1982, Pedrosa said: “It’s been a long and tough year for me. Since last year here when I couldn’t race, it’s been everything bad and no results, so I’m happy to be back and win a race, but especially happy for my team. All this time I was injured I couldn’t ride well but they still kept on pushing, kept on working very hard at the maximum level, as if I could win races. So they also needed this win. Honda has a long time history of winning, so that’s good for them also. And I like also to say thanks to all the doctors I passed through this year. It’s been tough, but finally a great race, a great day and a great feeling.”
Even Pedrosa seemed shocked at his unexpected Laguna success, which denied Yamaha its third straight 1-2 finish for the third successive race.
Pedrosa added: “Yes, I was surprised, but I was doing a better rhythm than in practice, so this I think allows me to breakaway. Perhaps the only mistake was on the last lap when I was too slow. I thought I had more advantage, but finally Rossi came in really strong after me. Fortunately it was only the last corner, so I feel I could win the race. Now I just want to focus on each race and get the best results possible. There’s a long way to go in the championship but there’s also a big gap to the leaders so I’m just going to take it one race at a time.”