A brilliant third place from 13th on the grid sees Dani dive into world ti­tle con­tention

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - SI­MON PAT­TER­SON MO­TOGP REPORTER si­mon.pat­ter­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­

Dani Pe­drosa is right in the fight for the 2017 Mo­togp world ti­tle after a stun­ning ride in Sun­day’s French Grand Prix.

Pe­drosa piled through the field from 13th on the grid to take a brilliant third place. The re­sult leaves him sec­ond in the ti­tle race be­hind race win­ner and new se­ries leader, Mav­er­ick Viñales.

Back­ing up his vic­tory last time out in Jerez with the Le Mans podium, the Rep­sol Honda rider has found his form much ear­lier in the sea­son than usual, mean­ing that for the first time since 2012 he looks to be a le­git­i­mate ti­tle con­tender.

Yet the re­sult didn’t come eas­ily for Pe­drosa, who ad­mit­ted after the race that Satur­day was a par­tic­u­larly sleep­less night for him when faced with the prospect of cut­ting his way through Le Mans’ tight open­ing cor­ners.

“It was a very hard sit­u­a­tion be­fore the start of the race. I spent all night think­ing ‘how can I make it through the first chi­cane?’ When you’re so far back in the pack it’s so easy to touch some­one or have some­one touch you and to make a mis­take early on.

“After that chi­cane the race stretches out so much, and it’s hard to make up the ground. I knew that I had good pace, and that gave me con­fi­dence, but at the same time I knew I had to get through and every­thing was fo­cused on that.”

But after a strong and in­ci­dent-free start, the 31-year-old Spa­niard stunned dur­ing the mid­dle sec­tion of the race, charg­ing through to take first An­drea Dovizioso and then Cal Crutchlow with a re­ally ag­gres­sive move.

“The pass with Cal was on the limit. I saw the open­ing when he made a lit­tle mis­take and I went for it through the in­side of the cor­ner. But lean­ing on the right side of the bike meant I couldn’t see him when he closed the door on me! He was just re­cov­er­ing his line when we touched, but we were for­tu­nate that nei­ther of us crashed.”

Pe­drosa ad­mit­ted that it was nice to be re­warded for so much hard work with a podium fin­ish after ti­tle ri­vals Marc Mar­quez and Valentino Rossi crashed out.

“It was a nice gift at the end from Valentino! It’s a nice gift to be given after start­ing so far back on the fifth row and after mak­ing it through the chi­cane on lap one – that alone was a big relief!

“It’s nice to come away from France with a good posit ion in the cham­pi­onship. My feel­ing with the bike is im­prov­ing lit­tle by lit­tle as well, so we just need to con­tinue on this path now.”

‘ The pass on Cal was on the limit. We were lucky nei­ther of us crashed’ DANI PE­DROSA

Pe­drosa was thrilled with his third place

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