Pedrosa wins aborted Malaysian GP
Dani Pedrosa claimed his sixth MotoGP win of the season, taking a further five points off Jorge Lorenzo's lead in a rain-shortened Malaysian MotoGP.
After two thrilling races in the junior ranks it was the turn of the big boys in the MotoGP class to brave the wet Sepang circuit in front of the 77 000-strong crowd.
With the Championship on the line and the rain letting up a bit, Lorenzo started from pole position, getting off to a flying start as he led the field through Turn One ahead of Pedrosa, Casey Stoner, Stefan Bradl and Valentino Rossi.
Lorenzo immediately attempted to open it up at the front while Pedrosa did all he could in the treacherous conditions to stay on the Yamaha rider's rear wheel. Such is the supremacy of these two riders that by lap four they had dropped reigning World Champion Stoner by four seconds.
The Aussie, who is struggling while his broken ankle recovers, led the fight for the final podium position which involved Andrea Dovizioso – who dropped from third on the grid to ninth by the end of the first corner – Rossi, Bradl, Alvaro Bautista and Nicky Hayden. The six riders were separated by just two seconds.
This tussle proved to be the early highlight of the grand prix as despite the conditions – the rain again falling and the plumes of spray being kicked up the bikes – the positions kept changing behind Stoner and Dovizioso, allowing Cal Cruchlow to join the action, making it a big old fight for third.
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On lap nine the race lost its first rider as Ben Spies crashed heavily at Turn Seven with his Yamaha's momentum throwing him over the bike. The American was seen clutching his shoulder while down on the gravel.
Back at the front as the rain came down harder, Lorenzo continued to hold a two-tenths advantage over Pedrosa while Stoner still led the third-placed battle with Hayden up to fourth as Dovizioso joined the list of crashers as he went down pushing too hard. He did rejoin but down in 18th place.
One lap later Pedrosa made his move into the final corner before powering away from Lorenzo down the main straight to lead at the halfway point.
Crutchlow became the second Yamaha Tech 3 rider to crash with Randy de Puniet almost collecting him in the gravel as the Brit walked away from his bike. Stefan Bradl then added his name to the list, making it three in just one lap!
With seven laps to go just 13 riders remained in the race as Ivan Silva also lost it in the wet with Pedrosa leading by 3.7s over Lorenzo who was being caught hand over fist by Stoner.
The Championship leader was clearly not happy and was waving for the race to be stopped with a massive moment and near crash from the Yamaha rider finally forcing race control's hand and the red flagged was waved.
However, as two-thirds of the race had not yet been reached, instead of taking to the winners' circle, the trio headed to their respective garages to await news of whether there would be a re-start.
But with the rain continuing, evening fast approaching and lightning flashing through the sky, the race was eventually called with Pedrosa declared the winner, meaning he closed the gap to Lorenzo in the Championship to 23 points with two races remaining. Stoner secured his first podium since returning from injury.
Hayden finished in fourth place ahead of Rossi, Bautista and Hector Barbera while Aspar rider Aleix Espargaro won the CRT battle with a fantastic eighth-placed finish, beating Paul Bird's James Ellison.
1 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 29'29.049
2 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing +3.774
3 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team +7.144
4 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team +10.518
5 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team +16.759
6 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini +17.276
7 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team +50.282
8 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar +51.585
9 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport +56.676
10 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing +57.622
11 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project +1'02.805
12 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini +1'02.891
13 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +1'28.989
Roberto ROLFO ITA Speed Master 0 Lap
Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP 2 Laps
Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 3 Laps
Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar 3 Laps
Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusen 3 Laps
Colin EDWARDS USA NGM Mobile Forward Racing 3 Laps
Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing 5 Laps