Fifth place may not seem like much to shout about, especially after finishing second and first in the previous two MotoGP races, but Dani Pedrosa was pleased with his Phillip Island race performance around one of his less-favoured circuits.
Like his fellow Honda men, Pedrosa struggled with grip issues, at the final turn in particular, as his light body mass struggles to apply weight on the rear of his machine when compared to his rivals.
Pedrosa felt his issues around the final left were costing him in the region of 0.2-3s a lap and robbed him of vital drive on the main straight, causing him to lose the tow to the leading quartet.
“The race was hard because during all the weekend I had a massive problem in the last turn," explained the three-time world champion. "I could never really go fast out of the last turn, always a lot of spinning and movement when I try to open the throttle. But I did start good, I was aggressive in the first laps and I was there, but unfortunately I couldn't fix the problem in the last turn, and everybody out of the last turn already was next to me in the straight. I was losing so much speed, and two, three tenths there.
“They always passed me on the straight because of my low exit speed. So once there [Cal] Crutchlow and [Valentino] Rossi passed me, then with Crutchlow I tried to pass him back, because I knew that there would be the cut from the second group.
“On the next lap he passed me again at the same point, and unfortunately I was not able to fix it, so I got cut from the front group, and once I was back in the lead on the second group, I was much more or less the laps of the front group.
“So overall, it was a good race for me here, because despite that the result doesn't show, it's a very hard track for me, and I always struggle a lot a lot. I'm just looking forward now to Malaysia, a track I know. We did a good wintertime there, so let's try to do a better result there and a better weekend.”
Current rules require tyres to be fitted with a minimum pressure for safety reasons, something that Pedrosa feel was to his detriment even though he finished just 6.8 seconds off race winner and team-mate Marc Marquez.
“Yes, we had to be in a minimum pressure. Also, we couldn't reduce the pressure to make the tire work, so with my light weight, I was struggling more than the rest. But we couldn't work a lot on this because it is like that.”
As he held off a determined challenge from Crutchlow and an advancing Maverick Viñales, Pedrosa was hanging onto Rossi's slipstream until the seventh lap. 90 seconds later, however, and the Italian had decisively edged clear.
Quizzed on whether he was surprised that Crutchlow – a man who hasn't featured so close to the front in the second half of the season – and Viñales were applying pressure so close to the front, Pedrosa felt the fact everyone was spinning leveled the playing field.
“In this track, the pace you can see Valentino, [Andrea] Iannone, Jorge, [Lorenzo] Marc, Crutchlow, Viñales, and in practice some other riders were doing more or less the same lap time, because the track doesn't demand a lot of the bike. But with the same tire also and everybody having a lot of spinning, you cannot apply very much the difference on the track. So the group was more packed than usual.”