Just as team-mate Toni Elias
had done at Brno, Alex de Angelis
made a mockery of Gresini Honda's decision to axe him for 2010 - by charging to his first ever MotoGP podium in Sunday's Indianapolis Grand Prix.
Never lower than fifth all weekend, the Sammarinese broke factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa's domination by leading morning warm-up, then benefitted from race mistakes by both Pedrosa and world champion Valentino Rossi
to sit second by lap 10 of 28.
Setting the fourth fastest lap, the top satellite rider pulled comfortably clear of 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden
(Ducati) to confirm the runner-up spot behind Jorge Lorenzo
in his 30th MotoGP start.
“It is a fantastic result and a long time since I was on the podium back in the 250cc class. I had almost forgotten what a great feeling it was,” said Alex. “The team 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 was a very, very hard at the beginning of the season because we had some problems on the bike,” he reflected. “But the team has worked it out and in the last five races I have been competitive - better and better in every grand prix.
“My bike is different from Elias' bike because Elias' has a factory bike - or similar to a factory bike - and mine is not. The difference between this grand prix and the other grands prix was that the balance of the bike was much better here. I hope we have figured something out which will help for the rest of the season.”
Unfortunately, the progress and podium might have come too late for de Angelis, who put his chances at staying in MotoGP at just 10 percent earlier in the weekend.
“Now I have this podium, but I don't have a bike for next season,” confirmed de Angelis, now the leading satellite Honda rider with seventh in the world championship standings. “I am working hard to stay in MotoGP, but it's not easy because there are not so many bikes, which means I have to look at other championships as well. I cannot say more at the moment.”
de Angelis and Elias will be replaced by Marco Melandri
and Marco Simoncelli next season. After tangling with rookie Aleix Espargaro at turn one, Elias was ninth on Sunday.