Round Four: From the first Le Mans practice session on Friday morning right through Saturday afternoon qualifying Casey Stoner was racking up the fastest times, and on Sunday he completely dominated a race in which he led from pole to finish to take his second win of the season. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso showed his ability to hang in there, following Casey across the line for a Repsol Honda one-two victory. Battling for second position mid-race, Repsol's Dani Pedrosa crashed after a brush with Marco Simoncelli's San Carlo Honda. The penalty for this incident knocked Simoncelli back to a fifth place finish. HRC Team Principal Shuhei Nakamoto gives his insights into a race that held both triumph and disaster for the Honda teams.
The Honda bikes had been doing so magnificently all week that it really looked as if we might get a one-two-three finish. Unfortunately, as it turned out, that prize slipped through our fingers. But Casey turned in a superb, consistent performance, pulling away in mid-race and holding onto a clear lead to the finish, his second win of the season. It was clear from the practice sessions that Casey's average times were different.
The result was great, of course. But he only came second because of the incident that got rid of the two riders in front of him, so it's not as tremendous an achievement as it might have been.
Andrea is a very skilled rider, and we have always had great hopes for him. In Saturday's qualifying he was riding at an extremely high level and that's why, even though he came second, his 14-second gap behind Casey left me somewhat disappointed. Of course we're all pleased with this result, but for Andrea as well as the rest of the team, this was not a completely satisfactory race.
That's right. He's going back to Barcelona on Monday to be checked by the doctors. If it's a simple break, he probably won't need surgery but if it's a compound fracture then I guess they will have to operate and put a plate in. Either way, he should be able to ride in the next round at Catalunya. Dani is a very determined rider with an extraordinary competitive spirit, and he is more set on being in the next race than anyone. Thankfully, we now have a two-week gap before the next round, but it's going to be tough after that, with the British Grand Prix following straight on from Catalunya.
I thought he rode very well indeed. If he'd been able to keep it up to the end of the race, I'm sure he would have taken second place. Marco continues to grow and develop his skills. Throughout the course of the week, we got the bike set up well, and the whole team was working together very effectively. And then we had this accident. It really was a great pity that the race turned out the way it did.
Our aim is always to try to win every race, and we'll be giving it our best shot next time too. That's really all I can say.
Braking stability will always be an issue. We still have a lot of work to do, and improving it will continue to be a major focus going forward.
In our world you have to fight each race as it comes, and never give up till the end. We're always searching for the slightest edge that will help us win, and each close race teaches us something and helps us to improve the bikes a little. Frankly, I don't see that we have any advantage. We certainly can't afford to just cruise and rely on our riders to keep winning. We have to keep making the bikes do better, so the riders can push their performance even further. We'll certainly be going all out to win in Catalunya, so be sure to watch.