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GP Week : Issue 169
T he day after his 27th birthday, Dani Pedrosa showed just what the championship lost when he was knocked down at Misano. The Spaniard and his Repsol Honda are on a roll, a relationship consummated with success. In short, he was unbeatable. But if nobody else could forget the circumstances that took the heat out of his title chances, he insisted he had: “The past is the past. I don’t want to live there,” he said. He’d endured a couple of weeks of questions about the affair, plus the distraction of a home race, then a crash early in qualifying after rain had spoiled all three free practices, plus the birthday: “I think I had four or five different cakes,” he said. It was a relief to be able to go racing, to concentrate on riding and enjoying it: “It felt strange. I was so focused I almost forgot it was a race. With four laps to go I realised, and I was able to slow down a bit.” Jorge Lorenzo had put the factory Yamaha on pole, and took off at lightning pace: “I pushed so hard to go away from the others, to save second place,” he explained. Why not first place? Because he knew the Honda had a better pace. Dani shadowed him, then on the seventh lap slipped past at a slow corner on the fine Aragon circuit. Soon after wards Lorenzo almost crashed. From then, he settled for second. He hasn’t finished lower than second all year. Unlike the smaller classes, the race was spread out – partly because of early crashes. Hot conditions after cold and rain in practice meant all but a couple of CRT riders chose the extra-hard front, without having any experience on it. The first off was Valentino Rossi (Marlboro Ducati), but that wasn’t a tyre issue. He was behind part- timer Jonathan Rea (Repsol Honda) and caught out by his early braking at the end of the long straight. They almost collided, Rossi ran on, and though he didn’t fall he was out of the picture. On lap two team-mate Nicky Hayden did crash at the same spot. He lost the front, saved the crash, only to run on across the gravel at massive speed, hitting the barrier and getting flipped right over it most worryingly. Fortunately, although taken to hospital for checks, he escaped injury. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) had finished the first lap fifth behind Ben Spies (Yamaha) and third front-row starter Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha). By lap four he was ahead of both of them ... then he too lost the front and crashed. As Dani drew steadily away from Lorenzo – he won eventually by almost 6.5 seconds – Crutchlow chased Spies, and the two were soon joined by Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha). This made the best battle of the race; Spies eventually dropping to the back and losing touch with six laps to go. As so often before, the two team-mates fought inch for inch all the way. Dovi had taken third on lap 15; Crutchlow passed him twice on the last two laps, only to be passed straight back each time. It was Dovi’s greater experience, thought the Englishman, that gave him the final edge – Dovi was only four tenths ahead over the line. Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda) had a lonely ride to sixth; Rea also alone and a couple of seconds behind. Rossi came back through to eighth, pleased at least that the latest chassis changes meant he was again able to hold his pace to the end of the race. Karel Abraham (AB Cardion Ducati) eventually outpaced the top CRT battlers Aleix Espargaro and Power Electronics ART team-mate Randy de Puniet, who lost his place only on the final lap. Lorenzo’s points lead shrank to a still comfortable 33 points, with four races to go. Pedrosa is on 257. The absent Stoner is under threat from Dovizioso, with 179 points to the Australian’s 186; Crutchlow has 135. 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> ARAGON