Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Motegi:
Dani Pedrosa has taken victory in the MotoGP race at Motegi, riding a controlled race to win by a comfortable margin over Jorge Lorenzo. Pedrosa is slowly closing the gap on Jorge Lorenzo, taking another 5 points out of Lorenzo and reducing the Yamaha man's lead to just 28 points.
Pedrosa did not win the race into Turn 1, however. A brilliant start by Lorenzo and an uncharacteristically slow start by Pedrosa saw the Yamaha man leading into Turn 1, though Pedrosa tried to grab the inside line as they rounded the first two corners. Lorenzo was having none of it, and closed the door on Pedrosa, the two men quickly opening a gap over Ben Spies, who got a fantastic start to shoot up to 3rd.
Spies looked like escaping with the two championship leaders, Lorenzo leading with Pedrosa on his tail. But Spies' challenge would last little more than a lap: as they crossed the line for the first time, Spies got too hot into the first corner, ran straight on and couldn't get the bike stopped. He was into the gravel and out of the race.
A tight duel unfolded over the first 11 laps, with Lorenzo pushing on while Pedrosa stalked him. But on lap 12, Pedrosa decided it was time to make his move. Getting excellent drive out of Turn 4, the Repsol Honda man slid easily past the Yamaha and into the lead. Once past Lorenzo, Pedrosa would not be stopped, ramping up the pace to break Lorenzo and open up a gap. The championship leader could not follow, and Pedrosa went on to take his fourth win in five races, crossing the line with a big margin back to Lorenzo.
Behind Lorenzo, a thrilling battle for the final podium spot was cut short by a technical problem for Cal Crutchlow. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man had held 3rd comfortably for the first half of the race, but Alvaro Bautista was closing rapidly. The Spaniard caught the Englishmen around the halfway mark, and started to challenge for the position. A sign of just how hard the two men were pushing was that both men had huge moments, sliding the front and nearly losing it, feet slipping off the pegs. Bautista got past Crutchlow on lap 20, diving past at the S Curve, but Crutchlow would not give up easily. Two laps later, Crutchlow was back at the same place, but Bautista got the better of Crutchlow again into Turn 10, passing on the way into the corner then slamming the door on the Tech 3 man, forcing him to roll off and lose ground. As Crutchlow chased Bautista down on the last lap, his bike lost power and died, sidelined by what looked like a fuel issue at a notoriously gas-hungry circuit. Bautista went on to take a very well-deserved 3rd, his second podium of the season for the San Carlo Gresini Honda team on the weekend that he extended his contract with the team.
With Crutchlow out, Andrea Dovizioso crossed the line in 4th, mounting a strong fightback after a difficult early part of the race. Casey Stoner took a highly creditable 5th place, losing pace as the race went on and he lost strength trying to ride around the handicap of his injured ankle. He spent the weekend acknowledging that he had return to racing too early, but in his last season, and just two weeks ahead of his home round at Phillip Island, he had no choice. Stefan Bradl took 6th, after a race which was for the most part fairly lonely.
Valentino Rossi crossed the line in 7th, a fairly dismal result after the podium at Misano had created such high hopes. Motegi was a track which they had hoped would suit the Ducati; it was not to be. Nicky Hayden struggled home in 8th, fighting both the Ducati and his still injured right hand, and holding off the challenge of Japanese wildcard Kats Nakasuga on what is essentially the basis for the 2013 factory Yamaha. Nakasuga put in highly creditable performance in front of his home crowd, adding a 9th place to the 6th he scored last year at Valencia, when he replaced Jorge Lorenzo for the final round. Hector Barbera rounded out the top 10, the Pramac Ducati rider showing that the Desmosedici had serious problems at the Motegi circuit.
Pedrosa's victory was impressive, and continues the Spaniard's momentum in the championship. He has now won four of the last five races, with the grid disaster at Misano the only blot on his recent record. He still trails Lorenzo by 28 points, which with three races left is starting to look like an insurmountable deficit unless Lorenzo encounters a serious problem. But Lorenzo will now have to work for his 2012 championship, and will be starting to worry about the start of 2013. The momentum has swung back in Pedrosa's favor.
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||YAMAHA||40'52.384||1 lap|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||IODA-SUTER||42'23.577||1 lap|
|22||Ivan SILVA||BQR||25'59.326||10 laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||26'18.639||10 laps|
|11||Ben SPIES||YAMAHA||1'53.106||23 laps|
|68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||BQR||1'57.956||23 laps|