Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) scored his first ever MotoGP podium with a strong second place finish to race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) in the surprising Indianapolis Grand Prix at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The San Marinese took second place on the tenth of 28 laps when Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) suffered a rare race crash out of second place. From there he withstood constant pressure from Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro). It was only in the final ten laps that De Angelis was able to pull away from Hayden to secure his first podium by a comfortable 3.7s.
De Angelis was ecstatic with the result, which comes on the heals of three finishes in the top eight, including a previous best fourth at Donington Park two races earlier. The podium for De Angelis makes it two in a row for the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, which celebrated teammate Toni Elias’s first podium of the season in Brno two weeks ago.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) put in a determined charge to try to take the final podium spot. Dovizioso had started the race mid-pack before his own momentum and the misfortune of others allowed him to climb up the lap charts. The pass for fourth came at the mid-point of the race and the final 14 laps were spent pursuing Hayden. Dovizioso closed to within .289s on the final lap, but couldn’t find a way past.
Elias had less to celebrate today than in Brno. The Spaniard was forced off the track in the first corner by a MotoGP debutante and completed the first lap in 17th place, nearly 14s behind race leader Dani Pedrosa, who was among the unfortunate in Indianapolis. Elias never gave up and fought his way to a ninth place finish, just in front of Dani Pedrosa.
Pedrosa was in the lead on the fourth lap when his front end washed away and he crashed in the penultimate turn on the fourth lap. Undeterred, the gritty Spaniard picked up his Honda RC212V and soldiered on. Cautious on his first laps, and riding with a damaged handlebar and foot peg, Pedrosa gradually sped up and worked his way up to tenth, and six valuable championship points. A seventh place or better in next week’s race in Misano will elevate Pedrosa into third in the championship.
Randy De Puniet (LCR Honda) overcame the pain of his still healing left ankle to finish 12th on the predominantly left-handed track. More troublesome than the ankle was his tyre choice.
The Frenchman chose the harder of the two rear tyre options and knew from the start he didn’t have enough grip on the left side of the tire. He ran wide in turn two with seven laps to run and was passed by two riders was in tenth when a mistake on the 16th lap dropped him to his final finishing position.
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda) was the last of the 14 finishers. The Hungarian rider spent the race continuing to learn yet another new racetrack in his debut season in MotoGP. Though he improved over the course of the weekend, he felt that going any faster would have been imprudent and he struggled to finish 14th.
HONDA MotoGP RIDER QUOTES
Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), second-place finisher, said: “I have to thank the team for the incredible job they have done this weekend – the bike has been fantastic ever since we unpacked it on Friday and we have gone from strength to strength over the course of the weekend. They also gave me a lot of confidence this morning and honestly I think they had more belief that I would be on the podium today than I did! It is a fantastic result, but it is no fluke because we have been in great form over the last five races. It is a long time since I was on the podium back in the 250cc class and I had almost forgotten what a great feeling it was. Now I want to enjoy it and celebrate with another good performance at my home race next weekend.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda), fourth-place finisher, said: “After the warm-up today we made a radical change to the set-up and I have to say that my team has worked really well because, thanks to this modification, my feeling with the machine improved a lot in the race. I could ride faster than during the practice sessions and my rhythm in the race was also consistent. Considering how the weekend had gone up to this point, finishing fourth is quite positive result. We still have to improve though of course. I was close to Nicky and I tried to overtake him several times by taking big risks. It’s a pity to finish fourth because the podium was not impossible. The important thing is that we have taken an important step forward. We are close the podium and we will start again in Misano building on this good base.”.”
Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini), ninth-place finisher, said: “Ninth place is not what we had hoped for before we came here, but I can’t complain because after making a bad start to the weekend we have made continual improvements and we were in good shape for this race. Unfortunately I was pushed onto the grass by Aleix (Espargaro) into the second turn and it ruined my race. He came to apologise at the end of the race and I told him not to worry – it has happened to all of us in the past! It is a shame because I think we could have been on the podium today, or at least in the top five, but to take ninth under the circumstances is still a positive result.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), tenth-place finisher, said: “This result was a real shame but sometimes it happens – it’s racing. We did a great job all through practice and qualifying, I was confident for the race and of course I was hoping to win today. I was pushing very hard at the start of the race and perhaps I pushed too much. There was some cloud cover today and maybe the front tyre was a little cooler than before, but whatever the reason, I made a mistake and lost the front. I’m sorry for the team because they’ve worked really hard for me, and also to the fans who’ve given me great support. I wanted to win in American again but it wasn’t to be. There was some damage to the bike – the handlebar was bent inwards and the footpeg was worn away quite badly, but actually I was able to recover and ride at a fast pace to take some points at the end. Looking on the positive side, we’ve been very fast here and that means we can take a lot of confidence to Misano next weekend.”
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda), 12th-place finisher, said: ““In yesterday’s qualifying I felt better on a hard rear tyre and that was my choice for today’s 28-lap race. But obviously it has been the wrong decision. From the beginning I had not enough grip on the left and I could not open the throttle where I would like. I thought that the grip would have improved after a few laps, but it did not happen and I struggled for the whole race. At seven laps to go I also went wide on turn two and (Toni) Elias and (Chris) Vermeulen were faster than me today. The ankle aches a lot like in Brno but I think that Misano race track will suite me better than Indy.”
Gabor Talmacsi (Scot Honda), 14th-place finisher, said: “Session by session we improved – and this is OK. At the beginning of the race I was in a condition to attack, ad operated a few overtaking, and I enjoyed it. But to do so I had to ride constantly over the limit. In the second part of the race it was a struggle. This is what worries me most: We have to find something big to improve.”