Rossi surprised Pedrosa eased off

Valentino Rossi said he could not believe how close Dani Pedrosa came to throwing away victory at Laguna Seca

Rossi surprised Pedrosa eased off

Pedrosa had enjoyed a three-second lead over Rossi and his Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in the middle of the race, but eased off so much in the closing stages that Rossi was able to close to within 0.3s and try a last corner pass.

"Dani is crazy to slow down like that on the last lap," Rossi told Italia1. "Perhaps when he'll review the footage he'll get a bit scared, because Lorenzo and I were coming up really quick because Jorge was very fast and I was trying not to let him catch me.

"We did three of four very quick laps at the end. Dani slowed down but in the last turn I could almost go for it. Unfortunately I was just a bit too far off, and it was a bit too risky trying to get by, maybe we'd both end up wide."

Despite coming so close to victory, Rossi said he was content with second place as his main title rivals Lorenzo and Casey Stoner were both behind him.

"It's okay as it is, it's an important second place for the championship table, because we've won points over Lorenzo and Stoner," he said.

"However we weren't 100 per cent okay today. Unfortunately I was quicker this morning, while this afternoon I struggled more: we made some mistake with the set-up. In the end with less fuel on board I was able to do some quick laps, but in my opinion we could have done better.

"We were coming from two races where we worked 100 per cent with the team and the bike was perfect. This is always a difficult track, so a second place is okay and these 20 points are good for the championship."

Pedrosa remains too far behind to feature in the current three-way title battle, but could become a thorn in the championship contenders' sides if Honda can maintain its Laguna Seca pace.

Rossi said he was not yet sure if a Pedrosa resurgence would help or hinder him.

"It's so difficult to predict these things," he said. "It could help me at times and make me lose points at other times.

"The only thing we must do is to always try to work well as we've done these last races, in order to be competitive on Sunday and stay ahead of everyone else."

The Laguna result puts Rossi nine points ahead of Lorenzo in the standings, and 16 clear of Stoner, with Pedrosa a further 43 points adrift in fourth.

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