World MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo was denied a victorious season finale on home soil when he crashed out while leading an incident-packed Valencia Grand Prix on Sunday to hand victory to fellow-Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.
Yamaha rider Lorenzo, who clinched his second world title two weeks ago at Phillip Island, lost control of his machine with around 17 laps remaining and catapulted off the track to leave Honda’s Pedrosa with a comfortable lead over Briton Cal Crutchlow in third.
Lorenzo was able to walk away from the accident and did not appear to have sustained any injuries.
Crutchlow crashed with seven laps left and Pedrosa cruised to victory, almost 40 seconds ahead of Japanese Yamaha rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga in second.
Pedrosa’s Honda teammate Casey Stoner, in the Australian double world champion’s final race before retiring, pipped Yamaha’s Alvaro Bautista to third a further 23 seconds back.
In a chaotic start to the 18th and final race of the season, several riders including Pedrosa had to change to bikes with slick tires after they realized on the warm-up lap that the track was quickly drying out after a damp morning.
Lorenzo already had his slick tires and raced into an early lead before Pedrosa, who had started from the pit lane after the tire change, climbed more than 15 positions in only seven laps and hauled him in.
“It was quite exciting at the start as some riders had slicks and others had wet tires,” Pedrosa said in an interview with Spanish television.
“When we did the warm-up lap I realized I needed the slicks,” he said. “I have never started from the pit lane before and I was full of doubts.”
“I made a mistake when I was right behind Jorge and then he made one himself. It’s fantastic to win the last race,” he said.
The Honda mechanics paid tribute to Stoner as he crossed the line and hung out a sign reading “Going fishing” for the 27-year-old, a possible hint of how he may fill some of his time after falling out of love with the sport.