Spaniard Pedrosa wins first MotoGP title

Spanish whiz Dani Pedrosa became the second-youngest winner in the history of motor cycling’s premier class with victory in the Shanghai Grand Prix on Sunday.

Pedrosa (20) started in pole and pushed his Honda through the 22 laps of the 5,28km Shanghai International Circuit in 44 minutes 07,734 seconds.

Honda teammate and championship leader Nicky Hayden of the United States finished second just over 1,5 seconds behind, with American Colin Edwards on a Yamaha well back in third position.

It was another day of misery for seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who started the day languishing in fifth position in the championship standings and was forced to pull out of the race towards the end with bike problems.

Rossi has been plagued with mechanical problems to his Yamaha M1 all season, and his failure to finish left him languishing sixth in the world standings after the first four races.

But the day belonged to Pedrosa, who is enjoying a brilliant debut MotoGP season after winning back-to-back titles in the 250cc class in 2004 and 2005.

Pedrosa, who turns 21 in September, became the second-youngest winner in the premier class, after American Freddie Spencer, who won the Belgium Grand Prix in 1982 aged 20 years and 196 days.

”I want to congratulate everybody who brought me here,” a humble Pedrosa told reporters afterwards.

”I was very focused on the job today [Sunday], but I want to thank my team because they did a really good job.”

Hayden’s second position gave him his eighth consecutive podium finish, a bitter-sweet result that kept him atop the championship leaderboard but still left him without a win since July last year in the US.

”I’m not thrilled. I want to win. I love to win,” Hayden said, but nevertheless said he was happy to still be the championship leader going into the hectic European schedule that begins in Le Mans next week.

Hayden now has 72 points in the championship standings, with Italian veteran Loris Capirossi, who finished eighth in Shanghai, holding onto second spot with 59 points.

Pedrosa’s victory lifted him to third in the world standings with 57 points, while Rossi falling to sixth on 42 points — 30 behind Hayden.

In the 250cc class on Sunday, Spanish teenager Hector Barbera on an Aprilia pipped championship leader Andrea Dovizioso from Italy for his first victory in the class.

Japan’s Hiroshi Aoyama, on a KTM, finished more than three seconds behind in third.

Finland’s Mika Kallio, on a KTM, earlier won his first 125cc race of the season, edging out Italy’s Mattia Pasini and championship leader Alvaro Bautista of Spain. ‒ AFP



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