Stoner and Pedrosa began the race one-two in the starting grid but Pedrosa sprinted his Repsol Honda RC212V to gain an early lead. Stoner slipped back to fourth after being passed by JiR Scot Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards after the first turn.
Pedrosa recorded lap times that were two seconds faster than the rest of the field, stretching his lead to seven seconds before disaster struck. Approaching the first turn in lap six, Pedrosa lost control and slid into the gravel.
“It was a little strange. I had only just touched the brake and I crashed,” says Pedrosa. “It was a real pity because I’d got a great start and was going well. I had a good feeling. The front felt perfect, the rear was sliding just a little, but the general feeling was good considering the track conditions. It is a real pity.”
Pedrosa left the race with a suspected broken finger and an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Stoner had worked his way back up to second before Pedrosa’s misfortune gave him a lead he would not relinquish. The Ducati Marlboro rider says it took a few laps for his Bridgestone tires to warm up.
“We definitely needed a bit more time to get the tires up to temperature and Dani just kept edging away, but then after a few laps I was coming down the main straight and I could see his bike bouncing around in the gravel at turn one. It’s a shame for him but even though he crashed he was still very impressive today,” says Stoner. “From then on it was a case of keeping my concentration but that wasn’t easy because I’ve been a little sick all weekend and I wasn’t feeling at all good during the race. Also, we went with quite a hard rear tire compound and I had quite a few small moments that made me nervous but kept me on my guard.”
Also benefiting from Pedrosa’s crash was Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. Entering the race four points behind Pedrosa for the series lead, Rossi started in the third row after a disappointing qualifying result.
The five-time MotoGP champion worked his way to fifth place when Pedrosa crashed out. Rossi later passed Edwards and Dovizioso to claim second position but was unable to catch Stoner. With his second-place finish, Rossi leapfrogged over Pedrosa to reclaim the series lead.
“For the championship this is very, very important; I made a mistake last week in Assen and today Dani did the same. It’s unlucky but this is racing and now we are back in front and this is a very good feeling,” says Rossi. “Dani is tough and we know he will be back fighting at the front, but sincerely at the moment we need to think about how to catch Casey because he has been very fast now for a few races.”
Rizla Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen finished third, barely edging out JiR Team Scot Honda rider Alex de Angelis, denying the MotoGP rookie his first podium finish.
The wet track claimed a couple more series contenders. Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo continued his recent streak of misfortune, crashing after the third lap. After a good start, Edwards crashed out after losing grip at the seventh corner while fending off Dovizioso.
Ducati Marlboro’s Marco Melandri also failed to finish, crashing out moments after working his way up to seventh from sixteenth. During the race, Melandri’s manager confirmed that Melandri will not ride for Ducati next season. The team and Melandri agreed to end their contract after the 2008 season. The former 250cc champion has begun discussions with Honda Gresini and Kawasaki.
|1.||Valentino Rossi||Fiat Yamaha||187|
|2.||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||171|
|3.||Casey Stoner||Ducati Marlboro||167|
|4.||Jorge Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||114|
|5.||Colin Edwards||Tech 3 Yamaha||98|