Peerless Pedrosa performance produces Motegi victory
Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa won his first race of the MotoGP season – and his fiftieth across all classes – in a dramatic Japanese Grand Prix where variable conditions provided a stern test for riders, machines and tires.
The dry conditions which blessed the Motegi Twin Ring circuit for the previous two days were replaced with cold and wet conditions on race day, requiring the use of wet tires for the twenty-four lap contest. After a cautious start from the second row of the grid, Pedrosa held onto fourth place for the opening ten laps before making his move through the field as a dry line started to appear on track. Pedrosa’s ability to manage the variable conditions saw him take the race lead on lap eighteen and he maintained his quick pace right until the chequered flag, taking the win by 8.573 seconds from Valentino Rossi who finished in second place. Rossi finished as runner-up after an enticing battle with his Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate Jorge Lorenzo, the pair trading places a few times throughout the race before a late push in the race saw him finish ahead of Lorenzo who rounded out the rostrum in third place.
Conditions for the race were not only wet, but cold, with the track temperature reaching a peak of just 22°C during the race. The main wet tire specification for the Japanese Grand Prix is the soft compound, but given the demands the Motegi circuit places on braking, the whole grid except two riders – AB Motoracing’s Kousuke Akiyoshi and Forward Racing’s Toni Elias – opted for the alternative specification, hard compound front wet tire due to its better braking stability and durability. For the rear tire, all except two riders – EG 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding and Aspar Racing’s Nicky Hayden who opted for the hard rear wet tire - selected the soft compound rear wet tire for the race.
With three rounds remaining, Rossi’s lead over Lorenzo in the standings swells to eighteen points, while Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez is a further 68 points adrift in third place after finishing fourth today at Motegi.
- Bridgestone Corporation CEO and Representative Board Member, Concurrently Chairman of the Board
“Congratulations to Dani on his victory today and also to Honda for taking a well-deserved win in front of a passionate crowd here at Motegi. This season as a whole has been one of the most exciting in recent years and it is a source of pride for all Bridgestone employees that we’ve been able to support this championship. On behalf of Bridgestone I pledge that we will continue to offer our highest levels of service to the teams and riders for the three remaining rounds this year. Our fourteen years participating in the MotoGP World Championship has been a very valuable chapter in Bridgestone’s motorsport story, providing us with many challenges and successes along the way. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincerest thanks to the manufacturers, teams, Dorna, IRTA and the millions of MotoGP fans across the globe for their support during the fourteen years Bridgestone has participated in the premier class of Motorcycle Grand Prix racing.”
Shinichi Yamashita – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“Today was an exciting end to what was a very successful weekend for Bridgestone, with our slick and wet tires performing very well at our home Grand Prix. After a new qualifying lap record was set yesterday, today the riders experienced highly variable conditions during the race, but our wet tires were able to handle the conditions well and provide consistent performance, even though the track dried significantly over the twenty-four laps of the race. Our tire allocation for this year’s Japanese Grand Prix proved adaptable enough to deal with all the conditions we experienced this weekend, so overall I am very happy with our results here at Motegi.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner
“This race didn’t go as I expected as I couldn’t go fast at the beginning, so I lost out a lot at the start. I tried to stay in fourth place and keep a good rhythm and maybe I conserved my tires better than the other riders. At the end my pace was faster and I was able to win my first race of the year, so I’d like to say thanks to Honda, my team, sponsors, friends and family for their support.”