Dani Pedrosa always believed that Valentino Rossi would be the man to beat in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, despite qualifying in fourth position.
The reigning MotoGP world champion had openly doubted his chances after lapping 0.7sec slower than team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, but second-on-the-grid Pedrosa wasn't surprised when the Italian took the lead from him on lap 18 of 27.
“I really wanted to win, but I knew it would be very difficult because Valentino was very strong on Friday. I knew he'd be fast in the race - and that's how it turned out,” said Pedrosa, who crossed the finish line 2.7sec behind the Yamaha rider. “I got a good start, got out in front then I just rode my own race and tried to get the best result.”
Despite missing out on a repeat of his 2008 Jerez home victory, Pedrosa couldn't hide his delight at taking two podiums from the first three rounds - despite surgery to his knee and forearm just weeks before the start of the season, which robbed him of valuable development time as well as physical fitness.
“After the problems that we've had it's unbelievable to be on the podium,” he said. “We struggled when we arrived on Friday and having missed so much testing in the winter - and the test here - it's a very good result for us. I'm very happy and surprised. Thanks to my team; we are having a difficult time, but we are pushing hard. Thanks to all the fans as well.”
“Dani squeezed the maximum out of the package, and second place is a very impressive performance, especially considering the difficult preparation for the season he endured,” said team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. “So it's a second good result for him but as a team we have to keep on working hard because many of our rivals are fast and the championship is going to be tight. We must improve our machine if we're to fight at the front.”
Pedrosa, who finished third one week ago at Motegi, has now risen to joint third in the world championship standings, alongside Lorenzo and 24 points from Rossi.
Pedrosa's team-mate Andrea Dovizioso finished eighth, after dropping from fifth to 16th following a mistake on lap eight.
“I'm pretty sure I could have stayed with Lorenzo if I hadn't made the mistake,” said the Italian. “I lost the rear entering turn eight and almost crashed. Fortunately I was able to rejoin the race and started to climb back up from 16th to eighth position. I'm disappointed because we didn't get the best out of the bike today. Dani had a great race and I think he's getting the maximum possible from the package, so I want to say congratulations to him."