Dani Pedrosa battled from behind to beat championship leader Jorge Lorenzo at the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday, stepping up his bid to overtake his fellow Spaniard for his first MotoGP title.
The Honda rider passed pole-sitter and Yamaha ace Lorenzo on the 12th lap of the 24-lap race and never looked back to win in 42 minutes, 31.569 seconds at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit under cloudy skies.
Lorenzo followed home 4.275 seconds later, with another Spanish rider, Alvaro Bautista, third on a Honda 2.477 seconds farther back.
With four wins in the last five races, Pedrosa closed his gap with Lorenzo to 28 points from 33, with three races remaining in the season.
The Grand Prix tour will stop in Malaysia and Australia in the next two weeks with its finale set for Valencia, Spain, on Nov. 11.
“It was a hard race because from the beginning the pace was very fast,” Pedrosa said. “At the beginning, I tried to understand the bike because yesterday it had some chatter [vibration after braking].”
“There was one moment I could get right with a right-hand corner so I could pass him and finally I tried to pull some good laps,” he said.
“I suffered quite a lot of chattering during the race but I could manage,” he said.
Pedrosa also beat Lorenzo into second spot at Motegi last year.
“I am very happy to win again here for myself and my team,” he said.
Lorenzo said he had tried and failed to open a gap in the race.
“Dani came and he was accelerating and there was much difference on the straights. I tried my maximum, but I couldn’t follow him,” he said.
Lorenzo starting from his sixth pole position of the season, was first around the bend with Pedrosa trailing in his slipstream.
Pedrosa overtook Lorenzo on the 12th lap after narrowing a gap which had stretched to nearly 0.4 seconds at one point.
The 27-year-old extended his lead beyond two seconds with three laps to go.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow on a Honda kept his third position while Honda’s defending MotoGP champion Casey Stoner stayed behind Bautista in fifth spot.
It was Australian Stoner’s first race after missing the last three races following an ankle injury sustained at the Indianapolis GP in August.