MotoGP: Pedrosa keeps title race alive with enthralling victory in Motegi
Sun, 14 October 2012, AirAsia Grand Prix Of Japan-In an enthralling MotoGP™ race at the AirAsia Grand Prix of Japan in Motegi it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who closed the gap in the title fight further with a strong win ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Álvaro Bautista.
It was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo who got away best, yet had to be bold in turn one to hold off Pedrosa. Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet crashed on the first lap but re-joined, while Yamaha’s Ben Spies crashed out going into lap two, citing afterwards that he suffered a brake failure. 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.
Dani Pedrosa – “It was a hard race because the pace was very fast from the beginning. I tried to understand the bike, as yesterday we had a lot of chatter so I didn’t know how it would be today. In the beginning it wasn’t too bad but then it got a little worse during the race. I managed it as best I could and I stayed with Jorge [Lorenzo], I was able to get a better line out of the corner and pass him and then I put in some good laps and controlled the gap. Jorge tried to stay with me, but then decided to settle for the second place. We did what we needed to do and it’s just a pity that there is no one else who can stay with us because every race I win, he’s been second. But anyway, it’s a great feeling to win races and we are doing it now. Thanks to Honda and the whole team, I’m really happy to win again here in Motegi!”
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner had made a good start running fourth behind Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow in third. Yet three laps in Stoner was taken by San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista. LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl was stalking Stoner closely, whilst fending off Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso in seventh.
With 17 laps remaining Lorenzo and Pedrosa had pulled out a lead at the front with Crutchlow running a lonely third. Stoner was desperately looking for a way past Bautista, yet the Spaniard was battling hard to keep the Australian at bay. Meanwhile Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi was in eighth struggling to keep up with Dovizioso’s pace in front. It was then two laps later that Dovizioso forced his way past Bradl, who was suffering with arm-pump, to hunt down Stoner in fifth.
Jorge Lorenzo -“I was completely at the maximum trying to stay with Dani but today we had such different performance on the straights and he was also riding really well. I tried to stay with him but it was impossible, maybe next time it will be different. For sure the Championship is closer now, but we are still very competitive and have the chance to win.”
With 13 laps remaining Pedrosa got better drive out of turn four 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 teammate Iván Silva. The same lap also saw Dovizioso make his way past Stoner into fifth.
With six laps left Pedrosa had built up a commanding lead over Lorenzo, whilst as a lap later Bautista muscled his way past Crutchlow into the final podium spot, and the pair provided a thrilling battle on track. The Brit fought almost straight back with a move up the inside, yet Bautista retook him in the next turn where the two touched. And it was heartbreak for Crutchlow on the last lap as he pulled over having run 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, making it the second ever premier-class podium for the San Carlo rider. This now cuts Pedrosa’s deficit to Lorenzo to 28 points with three races remaining. The first non-podium finisher in fourth was Dovizioso followed by Stoner, Bradl, Rossi, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Yamaha YSP Racing Team’s wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá. Top CRT spot went to De Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaró, whilst Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci had to retire on the last lap.
Cal Cruchlow – “All I can do after the way the race finished is take the positives from this weekend and there are a lot. This isn’t a good track for me and I was struggling on Friday, yet I managed to get on the front row of the grid again and for the whole race I was fighting for the podium. The improvements we made from Friday were massive and I am proud of the job that my crew and myself did this weekend. But there is no denying that I am disappointed as well because I was confident I could have passed Alvaro on the last lap. It wouldn’t have been easy because he was riding very well and it was a very enjoyable battle with him. I had a lot of fun and I’m sure he did too and it is just unfortunate that we couldn’t take the fight right to the very end. Even fourth would have been good for my hopes of finishing fifth in the Championship but I lost a lot of points today. We knew fuel consumption was going to be critical. I was very fast and for almost the whole race I was on my own with no slipstream, so I used more fuel. I’ve proven again though that I can fight with the best in the world and now I’m looking forward to Sepang. I had two good tests there earlier this year and I’m excited to go back and try to battle for the top three again.”
Casey Stoner – “I’m a little disappointed to be honest. We slowly improved over the weekend and got the bike to a point we were pretty happy with in warm up. At the start of the race I felt had the pace to stay with Dani [Pedrosa] and Jorge [Lorenzo] and the bike was feeling pretty good. Then as the race progressed my body started to suffer and ache in ways I didn’t expect. We had the pace to run a lot higher and be on the podium but unfortunately I couldn’t manage it physically today. A big thanks to my team, they gave me a fantastic bike today but I couldn’t do anymore in my condition.”