Dani Pedrosa may have led the first seven laps of Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix, and shown impressive straight-line speed, but the superior braking and cornering of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo meant there was 'no way' he could stick with the Fiat Yamaha riders.
While Rossi and Lorenzo set a best lap time just 0.077sec apart, Pedrosa's best lap was 0.3sec slower than the factory M1s - but 0.3sec faster than next quickest Andrea Dovizioso, his Repsol Honda team-mate.
As a result Pedrosa finished the race ten-seconds behind runner-up Lorenzo and almost 14 seconds ahead of fourth placed Dovizioso.
“A podium finish is a good result for us and I think it fulfilled our potential here this weekend,” said Pedrosa. “I made a good start and pushed to the maximum in the opening laps to stay ahead of the others. I was riding really hard and getting quicker every lap which allowed me to keep in front for quite a long time.”
Rossi overtook Pedrosa on lap 8, Lorenzo on lap 14.
“First Valentino and then Jorge came past though, and they were able to brake harder and get through the corners a little better that me which meant I just couldn't stay with them,” explained the 2009 US GP winner. “Third is OK here and there was no way I could follow the leaders' rhythm so I'm reasonably satisfied.”
Team manager Kazuhiko Yamano agreed that the Honda is not a match for the Yamaha.
“Dani stayed in the lead for a good part of the race and this was really down to his own high performance and skill - we still have some work to do to improve our machine to match the level of our rivals,” he said.
Pedrosa - who was lucky to avoid being burnt when his radiator cap broke in Friday practice, sending boiling hot fluid onto his hand - ran out of fuel on the slowdown lap, illustrating that he had wrung every last drop of performance from his RC212V.
“I was actually quite lucky at the end because I ran out of fuel on the slowing down lap and had to hitch a ride back to the pits with Toni Elias,” said Dani, who is now ahead of the absent Casey Stoner in the standings.
“I've moved into third in the championship, but with Casey not riding here it's not an even situation so I'm not too concerned about that,” he shrugged.