Dani Pedrosa put his recent problems with Honda’s new factory RC212V contender behind him to come tantalisngly close to a shock victory in front of over 122,000 home fans in Jerez yesterday.
Starting from pole position, it was no surprise to see the triple world champion grab the holeshot with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden leading the chasing pack.
What was a surprise though was Pedrosa’s ability to stay at the front of the field until the final lap when he succumbed to a brilliant late attack from compatriot and bitter rival Jorge Lorenzo.
Pedrosa had defended superbly in the closing stages to keep a determined Lorenzo behind him. But once Lorenzo pounced at the Curva Dry Sack on the final lap, Pedrosa couldn’t retaliate and had a fight on his hands to prevent Italian Rossi from relegating him back to third.
Pedrosa, who led Lorenzo by nearly four seconds after 11 laps, said: “I pushed myself to the limit and tried not to make any mistakes. I was surprised to be leading for the whole race.
"I was nervous at the start because I knew that to maintain a front-running rhythm was going to be very difficult for us. I knew Rossi wasn’t far behind me and then I just kept pushing and pushing.
"With ten laps to go I could see plus 3, plus 2.5, plus 2 and plus 1.5s and I thought Jorge was coming through so fast. I pushed hard but he was 0.5s faster and I said to myself this is going to be tight. I just pushed myself to the limit and I tried everything but he was too fast.”
As their battle intensified, Lorenzo and Pedrosa touched at the final corner on the penultimate lap when Lorenzo tried an audacious move on the outside.
Pedrosa said: “I was riding defensively and not attacking. I tried to block the inside and I saw him on the outside. I thought I was too early on the brake but always when you’re on the inside you don’t feel like you can turn. We touched but fortunately it was okay and it was fun.”
Pedrosa had been a distant seventh place in the season’s opening race in Qatar as he continued to struggle with handling issues on the new RC212V. A new stiffer chassis was rolled out by HRC in Spain and while an improvement; Pedrosa said it still wasn’t the complete fix to all of his problems.
And he couldn’t hide his disappointment having come so close to securing a famous win.
He said: “It is disappointing to be second after leading the whole race but for half-a-lap. But I still have so much movement on the bike but to finish second is a great result. We need some more stability and some more grip.”