Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa put paid to his 5-race podium drought with an amazing victory in the San Marino MotoGP last Sunday. But with track temperatures rising, the Misano MotoGP was probably more about tyre-choice strategies. Europe has been rainy this season and wet-to-dry surfaces have prompted the riders and their team managers to devise careful selection of the rubber for their machines in most of the previous races. Misano was different because it remained dry throughout and for most riders choice of soft compound was out of question. Championship leader Marc Marquez selected the standard-construction hard front and ended fourth. Movistar Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who finished second and third respectively; opted for new medium front tyres, while the winner Dani Pedrosa started with the soft front. Many analysts felt that Marquez lost the podium because of his choice of hard-compound tyres, though Marquez himself didn’t agree with them. Missing the podium at Misano cost Marquez 7 points but he still leads Rossi in the championship standings with a comfortable margin of 43 points. With just 5 races remaining this season, all Marquez needs to ensure is a crash-free time and a few podium finishes thrown here and there. In that case, Marquez could still end up on top of the board in the 2016 MotoGP season.
It was a home race for Italian legend Valentino Rossi and like his thousands of passionate fans; he too would have liked to finish on top of the podium. He began pretty well by stealing the lead from pole-winner and his Movistar Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo on the second lap and set the pace for the better part of Misano MotoGP race. But Rossi’s advantage as the top of the pack was reduced by Pedrosa, who produced a series of record laps. Until turn 14, Pedrosa lay at the fourth place behind Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez but once he snatched the lead from teammate Marquez, he zoomed ahead. Three laps later, Pedrosa passed Lorenzo to fall behind Rossi. Within a few more laps, the fast-moving Pedrosa reduced the gap between himself and Rossi from 1 second to 0.4 second and overtook the Italian on lap 22. Thereafter, Pedrosa never relinquished the advantage, despite Rossi doing his best on Pedrosa’s back.
Valentino Rossi never stopped trying after falling behind Pedrosa. But he couldn’t snatch the lead back from Pedrosa because the Spaniard had the pace on Sunday and he kept improving on the gap on Rossi. The Doctor kept dropping behind with every successive lap as the relentless Pedrosa kept generating fantastic race speeds in the finishing laps. At the chequered flag, Pedrosa was 2.8 seconds ahead of Rossi and the home hero had to settle for the second place on the podium. As for Pedrosa, this was his first top-podium finish after Sepang last year. Saturday’s pole winner Jorge Lorenzo took the third place, 4.3 seconds behind Pedrosa, while championship leader Marquez was fourth. With Rossi finishing ahead of him, Marquez lost 7 points in the race but 43 points with 5 races left this season, is still quite comfortable for the championship leader.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Silverstone winner Maverick Vinales was fifth, 4 seconds ahead of sixth-placed Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati while Misano’s wild-card entry Michele Pirro of factory GP16 finished seventh. LCR Honda’s British rider Cal Crutchlow was handed a post-race penalty for exceeding the track limits and he was initially demoted to ninth spot. However, the penalty was overturned later and Crutchlow was reinstated to eighth place, followed by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro on ninth and Alvaro Bautista of Gresini Aprilia on tenth place.
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