Sunday's Japanese MotoGP at Motegi ended with the first ever all-Spanish podium in the premier-class.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa
won the race by four seconds from Yamaha's title leader Jorge Lorenzo, with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista completing the rostrum after a close fight with Cal Crutchlow ended with the Tech 3 rider running out of fuel on the final lap.
“It's unbelievable how things change no?” said Lorenzo of the all-Spanish podium.
“When Alex Criville
had the first race victory in 500cc [in 1992] it seemed almost impossible for Spanish riders to win races and now we can win quite regularly.
“It is a big day for Spain and I hope we will see more in the future.”
For Pedrosa, the podium had a more personal connection.
“For me, it's not so much about the nationality, it's more about the fact that when I was 8, 9, 10 years old I was riding with Alvaro in the Spanish minibike championship,” he explained.
“I have pictures of us racing together. It just feels like the world is so small, because today we are up here together.”
Bautista was celebrating only his second ever MotoGP podium - and just one day after being re-signed by the Gresini team for 2013.
“I am happy to be one of the three Spanish guys on the podium!” smiled Bautista.
“But, as Dani said, this podium started many years ago with minibikes and the Spanish Championships. I think Spain did a good job to help us and this is the result.”
Either Lorenzo or Pedrosa will lift Spain's third 500cc/MotoGP title at the end of this season, following previous crowns for Criville (1999) and Lorenzo (2010).
Lorenzo holds a 28-point lead over Pedrosa with three rounds and 75 points still to be decided.