Pedrosa takes lead and holds it


Pedrosa (2) leads charge with Hayden (69) and Edwards (5)

The second Moto GP race of the season was immensely entertaining, even if it was won by the personality-challenged Dani Pedrosa.

I mean, you just win a race in front of your home crowd (about 140,000 of them), the king of your country has personally congratulated you (even if he did make you shake hands with the guy you hate most in the world, fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo), and at the press conference you look and act like your dog just died?

Give the guy credit, though — he made a great start, came out of the first corner in the lead despite nearly losing it on the exit, and then just motored off into the distance, eventually bringing his Repsol Honda home ahead of the factory Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Lorenzo.

Rossi and his crew looked and acted as though they’d just won the world championship instead of merely getting Rossi’s 100th podium position, but they no doubt felt their decision to swap to Bridgestone tires was vindicated (although nobody else on the Japanese rubber was up front). The usual fastest Bridgestone guy, Ducati ace Casey Stoner, had a bad day defending his 2007 title as he ran off the track once under braking, dropping to nearly dead-last, then ran off again when he looked like he might make it back up to fifth.


Pedrosa, unsmiling but victorious

He had a little help with the second one, however, as he had just passed both Shinya Nakano and Chris Vermeulen, then Nakano seemed to get off his brakes early and swerve in front of Stoner, who had to run off the track to miss him. He ended up a philosophical if annoyed 11th; "it’s only one race …"

There was a great race behind the top four, ending with Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) just ahead of James Toseland (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda), with the three of them scrambling and banging on the last corner of the last lap; it’s a miracle they all made it to the line.

Toseland was particularly impressive; desperately ill with a bad throat and chest infection, he still rode like a madman, making some impossible-looking passes. When he gets the "new" Yamaha engine it’ll be even more fun to watch him; don’t be surprised if he wins one this year.

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