Pedrosa finds few challengers in 2nd Indy GP win
Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo turned the Indianapolis Grand Prix into a two-man Spanish show Sunday.
Turns out, it wasn't that close.
Pedrosa, the fastest rider all weekend, took the lead for good on the fourth of 28 laps and pulled away from Lorenzo and everyone else for a record-setting 10.823-second victory to become the first MotoGP rider to win Indy twice.
"It was a good weekend," Pedrosa said after his second win of the season. "I think the bike was working well. We were spinning all of practice, but we had a good feeling. So today for the race I was confident."
For Pedrosa, it was a picture-perfect trip to Indy.
The two-time MotoGP runner-up posted the fastest speed in Friday's practice, set a new track record in the speed trap, became Indy's first two-time pole winner with another record-setting performance Saturday and closed it out with yet another record showing Sunday.
He joins the list of Indy's multiple winners, a list that includes prominent racing names such as A.J. Foyt, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Schumacher.
And he made it look easy.
Pedrosa fended off an early challenge from Ben Spies when the American dropped out on lap seven with a blown engine.
The only other challenge came from Lorenzo in the middle of the race - until Lorenzo got caught up in traffic and started having trouble with his rear tire. Lorenzo lost more than six full seconds over the final nine laps because of the tire problem.
The only other obstacle Pedrosa faced was self-induced.
"In the middle of the race, I made a mistake in turn two," he said. "When I shifted again to first, the bike had a good kick on me and yeah, I almost lost control, but I kept the bike on the track. I lost one second on that lap."
One second that didn't mean a thing Sunday.
Italy's Andrea Dovizioso finished third, more than 17 seconds behind Pedrosa, and reigning world champion Casey Stoner was fourth despite competing with multiple chip fractures and four torn ligaments in his right ankle following a hard crash during Saturday's qualifying round.
The victory allowed Pedrosa to trim Lorenzo's points lead from 23 to 18, and coupled with Stoner's finish gave Repsol Honda a 102-point lead over Yamaha Factory - which employs Lorenzo and Spies - in the team standings.
Lorenzo knew he was fortunate to be even that close.
"Sometimes being second is better than a victory, so today was like that," the 2010 world champ and Indy winner said. "I started the race very confident. I was passed by Ben and Andrea (at the start), and after that I could follow Ben and Dani for a little while. But from the middle of the race it was impossible to keep the same pace."
All Pedrosa had to do was make sure nobody got too close and avoid the kind of trouble that became too prevalent during the weekend.
Race officials lost one of their most popular drivers, Kentucky's Nicky Hayden, on Saturday when doctors declared him unfit to ride because of a concussion and two broken bones in his right hand. He was injured when he flew off the No. 69 bike, hit his head hard on the asphalt and wound up skidding across the track unconscious before finally stopping in the grass.
Hayden isn't sure whether he'll race next week, either.
The status of Spies and Stoner weren't clear till Sunday morning.
Spies slid off his bike Saturday and later complained of a sore shoulder that he said might be torn ligaments.
Stoner's injuries kept him in the hospital until about midnight. He wasn't cleared to drive until midmorning Sunday and rode with a protective boot covering his injured right ankle.
The injuries didn't slow down Spies or Stoner.
Spies put up the fastest lap in Sunday morning's practice and started the afternoon race with a nifty inside move to jump from fourth to second in the first turn and another inside move to get past Pedrosa for the lead in the second turn.
It looked as if Spies was the only one who could challenge Pedrosa - until his bike started smoking.
"It was disappointing but the first goal for me was to make it safe for all the other riders," Spies said. "In the way the engine blew, there was a lot of smoke. I was trying to get out of the way of everybody else. At that point, I wasn't even frustrated, I was in disbelief that that much bad luck could happen that way."
Stoner's race was even more impressive, given the injuries.
He started sixth, dropped to seventh and moved up as high as third until Dovizioso passed him with four laps to go. At the time, they still trailed Pedrosa by nearly 19 seconds.
Stoner did not talk after the race, which was relatively clean by this weekend's standards.
Italy's Mattia Pasini and Britain's Cal Crutchlow both crashed early. They were not injured.
Three other drivers - France's Randy de Puniet and Italians Michele Pirro and Danilo Patrice all retired before the midway point of the race - and nobody could contest Pedrosa's dominance.
"Toward the end was more easy, I think because Jorge with his soft tires, he had more problems," Pedrosa said. "So I could keep more easily my pace and the other bike was working well. You never know before these races but today, we had a good race."