Dani Pedrosa, starting from the second slot on the grid here at Aragon, chased Jorge Lorenzo until lap seven before overtaking the Yamaha rider to maintain a commanding lead until the finish. At the end of the 23 lap race, Pedrosa crossed the line a full 6.472 seconds ahead of his rival to win his fourth victory of the season and make it two years in a row at Aragon for Honda. This win trims Lorenzo's lead from 38 points to 33, and shows Pedrosa is firmly back in the running after the bad luck that caused him to retire at San Marino. Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini) did a good job working his way through the field to finish sixth after a 12th place start. Jonathan Rea, in his second race substituting for Casey Stoner, placed seventh. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda), starting in fifth position, had made it up to third place before an unfortunate crash took him out of the running.
First, I have to say that Dani rode pretty much as we expected, so I can't say there was anything unusually good about it. He set the pace that we planned. I didn't expect him to carve out such a big lead, which was very nice, but that was more due to Jorge setting a slower pace than we anticipated. As you say, it was bad weather for us this weekend and all the practice sessions were in the wet. After it turned dry for qualifying and warm up, Dani was doing OK in both wet and dry. A crash at the start of qualifying knocked him off his rhythm, and then later on he couldn't get a clear lap so he ended up second on the grid, but overall not bad. He couldn't get a good time in warm up because of the cold track, and all he could do was check the setup a bit. That's why the speed he showed in the race surprised some people, but for us it went just the way we thought it would.
We got very little dry condition data this race weekend, so yes, we did refer to those tests a bit. Air and track temperatures for the race were quite similar to the morning conditions during our September tests, so that was useful. But Yamaha also took part in those tests, so you can't say it gave us any special advantage. We did a wide variety of tests in September, and I think we'll be seeing significant effects from those results at other circuits as well as Aragon. We introduced a new chassis and engine from Round 10 in the US. Dani came third in that race, but went on to win both Rounds 11 and 12. Obviously, we can't experiment too much with the settings during a race weekend, but I think Dani still felt the new bike was a bit of an improvement over the previous version. But then we had a day of tests after the Czech GP at Brno, and two days at Aragon. Those three days of testing allowed us to try a lot of new settings, and Dani really learned a lot about the new machine. When we decided on the set-up Dani started producing some astonishing times, but actually we set it up with quite a lot of latitude. In other words, we gave Dani a much wider range of action. If he hadn't had all that trouble on the grid at San Marino, followed by the collision that forced him to retire, I reckon Dani would have won that race too. I think we'll be seeing the results of our Aragon tests throughout the races to come.
We tried everything we could think of, even some highly improbable things, but we couldn't reproduce the problem. We deliberately melted the Velcro on the tire warmer and made it stick, we tried forcing tire shavings between disk and pad – nothing produced the effect we saw on the grid. Naturally we gave the tire warmer an extensive going over, but there seemed to be nothing wrong with it. We're still puzzled by what happened.
The Japanese GP at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit is Honda's home GP, so of course this is a race we are really determined to win. Dani took it last year and I hope to get it again this time. With Jorge 33 points ahead, there are only four races left in the championship so it's going to be extremely hard to get past him. Still, in racing you never know until it's over, and we'll be giving it everything right until the end. After 14 races Honda now have eight wins, which gives us a chance at both the Constructors and the Team titles. Casey should be back with us for the Japanese GP, and what I want to see for the last four races is Honda in both first and second place every time, Dani-Casey or Casey-Dani. We haven't issued any team orders to give Dani priority for the championship – of course Casey's return will make it harder for him, but personally I'm hoping for a really exciting three-way fight with Dani finally beating both Casey and Jorge to take the title.
It's very hard for Johnny, competing in MotoGP at the same time as riding in the Superbike Championship. And then we had bad weather at both San Marino and Aragon, meaning he had to race with very little experience of dry conditions. Considering all that, for him to finish each race and keep improving – eighth and now seventh – I rate his performance very highly. Of course he's always thinking about how he mustn't crash and damage Casey's bike, so he can't go 100% either in qualifying or the race. Even so, here at Aragon we saw him experimenting with his traction control and various other things during the race – I was very impressed and I think this is a rider with great potential. I hope he takes the Superbike title next year, and I'd certainly welcome him back to MotoGP whenever there's a chance.
To tell the truth, I was expecting Stefan to be in the front row, and to end up on the podium this time. So it was quite a blow when he had to retire. But looking at the way he rode here, I still believe he is on the way up and that we'll be seeing a front row start and a podium finish for Stefan hopefully sometime in the remaining four races. The next GP, in Japan, is a really important one for Honda and our chances at the championship. I have great hopes, not only for our two Repsol Honda riders, but for all the Honda teams. With the support of all our fans worldwide, we'll be going all out to win.