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Dani Pedrosa has taken a further bite out of Jorge Lorenzo’s MotoGP championship lead by winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The Repsol Honda beat the Yamaha as Álvaro Bautista clinched a second podium finish for Gresini Honda.
It was Lorenzo who got away best, yet had to be bold at Turn 1 to hold off Pedrosa. Aspar’s Randy de Puniet crashed on the first lap but rejoined, while Yamaha’s Ben Spies crashed out going into Lap 2. It was a crash-laden early stage as Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernandez also dropped his bike in the gravel, suffering a left top-shoulder-joint dislocation and a contusion to the left foot.
The returning Casey Stoner had made a good start, running fourth behind Cal Crutchlow in third. Yet three laps in, Stoner was taken by Bautista. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was stalking Stoner closely, whilst fending off Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso in seventh. Lorenzo and Pedrosa had pulled out a lead at the front.
With 13 laps remaining, Pedrosa got better drive out of Turn 4 and made his way past Lorenzo on the straight into the lead, looking instantly quicker on the Honda. As Lorenzo tried to keep up, it was Bautista who was slowly closing in on Crutchlow, who did well to save a near fall. Five laps on, de Puniet was forced to retire, as was Hernandez’s team-mate Iván Silva. The same lap also saw Dovizioso make his way past Stoner into fifth.
Six laps from the end, Pedrosa had built up a commanding lead over Lorenzo before Bautista muscled his way past Crutchlow into the final podium spot, with he pair providing a thrilling battle. The Brit fought almost straight back with a move up the inside, yet Bautista retook him in the next turn where the two touched. It was heartbreak for Crutchlow on the last lap as he pulled over out of fuel, whilst looking to fight to the line.
It was ultimately Pedrosa who kept his nerve to take the chequered flag, with Lorenzo and Bautista completing the rostrum. This now cuts Pedrosa’s deficit to Lorenzo to 28 points with three races remaining. Top CRT spot went to de Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaró, whilst Danilo Petrucci had to retire on the last lap.
MotoGP continues at Sepang in Malaysia next weekend
Repsol Honda Team
|1.||D. Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||42:31.569|
|4.||A. Dovizioso||Tech 3||+16.397|
|5.||C. Stoner||Repsol Honda||+20.566|
|6.||S. Bradl||LCR Honda||+24.567|
|Repsol Honda Team|
|19 May||Pedrosa takes second win of the season|
|18 May||Marquez takes second career pole at Le Mans|
|18 May||Marquez fastest in third practice at Le Mans|
|17 May||Pedrosa stays fastest in second practice|
|2012 Japanese MotoGP Grand Prix|
|14 Oct '12||Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Motegi|
|14 Oct '12||Pedrosa wins dramatic Japanese Grand Prix|
|13 Oct '12||Motegi retains MotoGP until 2018|
|13 Oct '12||Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Motegi|
|17 May||Pedrosa tops first practice at Le Mans|
|5 May||Pedrosa sweeps to victory in Jerez|
|20 Apr||Pedrosa beats Márquez in third practice|
|18 Apr||Video: Pedrosa on-board lap at Austin|
|19 May||Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Le Mans|
|19 May||Lorenzo fastest in Le Mans warm-up practice|
|18 May||Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Le Mans|
|17 May||Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Le Mans|
|More Dani Pedrosa photos|