Italy: Spaniard Dani Pedrosa led from start to finish to claim an impressive win at Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, the first of a series of MotoGP races without reigning world champion Valentino Rossi.
The win helped Honda’s Pedrosa overtake Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, who has been ruled out for upto five months after a crash in Saturday’s practice, in second place in the overall standings after four races.
Jorge Lorenzo still leads the championship on 90 points, 25 more than his compatriot Pedrosa and 29 more than his team mate Rossi, after bringing his Yamaha home second ahead of Italy’s Andrea Dovizioso on a Honda in third.
Rossi’s hopes of winning his eighth premium class crown this year are over after crashing in practice on Saturday and suffering a fracture to his right shin and fibula.
“It would certainly have been a very different race with Valentino Rossi here,” Pedrosa told Mediaset television.
“I started well and then looked after my lead. I’m very happy to have won”.
Pedrosa was simply too fast for the rest of the field after defending his pole-position advantage on the first bend, pulling out of sight to build a lead that went beyond seven seconds at one stage.
Lorenzo regained second place after briefly surrendering it to Dovizioso early on, and he kept a tight grip on it while never looking capable of threatening Pedrosa.
“It was a disappointing race,” said Lorenzo. “I couldn’t keep up the pace I had in practice and I’m sorry about that, but I’m happy with the 20 points (for second place).”
Ducati’s Casey Stoner prevailed over Marco Melandri and Randy de Puniet in an entertaining battle for fourth.
Rossi’s fellow riders and fans showed banners expressing their support for him, with “come back soon Vale” and “the World Championship is worthless without Vale” frequently featured sentiments.
Sunday’s race was the first Italian Grand Prix without Rossi since he moved up to the premier class in 2000.
The rider, who has been mulling a future move into rallying or Formula One, notched a run of seven consecutive wins at Mugello before the sequence was broken by Stoner last year.
Italy’s Andrea Iannone dominated his race in the Moto2 category to give the home crowd a triumph to toast after Saturday’s bad news, with Spanish standings leader Toni Elias coming home fifth.
In the 125cc class, Marc Marquez claimed his first career victory, pipping championship leader Nicolas Terol and Pol Espargaro in an exciting race to head an all-Spanish podium.