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Hondas finish one-three in difficult Spanish Grand Prix

Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa finished first and third, respectively, in the tensely fought Spanish Grand Prix on the partially wet and treacherous Jerez Circuit in southern Spain.

For Stoner, the win was his first at the Andalucian circuit and well-deserved. After a hectic first few laps that saw serial maneuvers, not always gentlemanly, Stoner made his way to the front on a track littered with patches of wet tarmac. Once there, he was joined by Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, the winner of the past two races in Jerez, who was eager to make it three in a row.

Lorenzo closed the gap by half a second on the 18th of 27 laps when Stoner made a mistake, running wide as a result of a return of his arm pump issues, and the battle was truly joined. But on the final lap, Stoner went to the whip and pulled out his first victory of the season, and 41st grand prix win of his career, by a deceptive .947s.

Pedrosa had led early in the race, then fell back before mounting a charge. Fifth on the sixth lap, he jumped two places to third on lap seven and was never off the podium. But it was also never easy. To keep alive his record of never finishing off the podium in the MotoGP class in Jerez, Pedrosa had to hold off the advances of Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow, who was never far from the Spaniard’s shadow.

But just as Stoner had done to win the race, Pedrosa never relented in his quest to take third and significantly cut the gap to Lorenzo in second. Had the race been a few more laps the order could have changed, but Pedrosa was happy to give Honda a one-three finish.

Stoner now sits second in the championship to Lorenzo by four points, 41 to 45. Pedrosa is a close third with 36.

Casey Stoner, Honda: Race winner
“We didn't get a great start so I tried to stay out of trouble. There were people outbraking each other, touching and it was important just to keep out of the way! Then I managed to gain a lot of positions in a short space of time and reached the front. I didn't try to pull a gap, as I knew Jorge (Lorenzo) and Dani (Pedrosa) were very fast, but I just wanted to stay in front with them and pull away from the others. Then I saw that Jorge and I had slightly better pace and we could make a gap. I was focusing on where I wanted to go as there were a lot of wet patches and it was easy to make a mistake. We managed the race for the conditions of the circuit and as they improved I pushed a little more. The bike as a whole felt much better than in qualifying. I did get some arm pump again, but thankfully not to the extent I had it in Qatar. Considering the weekend in general, and how fast Dani and Jorge are at this track, to win here is something very special for me.”

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha: 2nd
“Today I knew it would be a very important decision on the grid to choose the right front tyre. Finally we chose the soft one, unfortunately we were wrong and had a lot of problems during the race, I wasn’t as confident as in practice. Without good feelings to finish second is not so bad, we are still leading the Championship and have good motivation for Estoril.”

Dani Pedrosa, Honda: 3rd
“It's been a strange race for me. On the grid I thought it might not be a completely dry race so I was very cautious at the beginning, also after we saw so many crashes in the first laps of Moto3 and Moto2. So I started well but I was passed and then I lost too much time with (Andrea) Dovizioso and (Nicky) Hayden. When I managed to overtake them and take the third position, Casey and Jorge were already too far in front, four seconds ahead. So I put my head down and started increasing my pace, but at the same time it was difficult to keep the concentration because (Cal) Crutchlow was on a hard front tyre and he was pushing me a lot, braking harder in the last laps. In general, I feel happy with my performance on a really tricky weekend. A second and a third position finish is not the best, but it's a good start to the season.”

Valentino Rossi, Ducati: 9th
“The positive thing from today’s race is that I think it might help us to do a bit better in the coming events, starting next week in Portugal. Today we used a setup that’s new for us, and it gave some positive signs. First we tried some solutions to give me a feeling similar to what I’ve had in the past, but it doesn’t work. Today’s setting was very similar to what Nicky has used for a while, though not exactly the same. I must get used to riding the bike a bit differently than I’m used to, and today that caused me to lose some ground in the early laps because I was basically starting blind. I wasn’t going bad once I found my rhythm, in the sense that I was matching the times of those who were fighting for sixth place, and I was able to push until the end, doing a 1:41.0 on the penultimate lap. This helps me to be a little more optimistic as I look ahead to the next races because if I’m able to ride a bit better, it could be a place for us to start from. In fact, we’ll use this setting when we start on Friday. Naturally, we’ll have to keep working, be more effective in qualifying so that we can start further forward, and improve acceleration and a number of other things, which we’ve already discussed at Ducati as we try, together, to improve the GP12.”

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