Dani Pedrosa concluded his most successful MotoGP season by winning Sunday's Valencia finale - from a pit lane start!
While newly crowned double world champion Jorge Lorenzo
was one of the few to correctly chose slicks tyres for the wet but drying track, Pedrosa at least spotted his mistake on the warm-up lap.
Instead of lining up in pole positron, the 2012 title runner-up dived into pit lane and switched to his 'dry bike'. Three other riders made the same decision, but it meant they were forced to start the race from the end of pit lane, after the field had passed.
Just 20th out of 22 riders by the end of lap one, Pedrosa had reached third place by lap five - getting ever faster as the remaining wet tyre riders pulled into the pits.
The race then stabilised with Lorenzo and Pedrosa first and second, and the #26 looked poised to strike for the lead... until he ran wide and lost several seconds to the Yamaha rider.
But Lorenzo made a bigger mistake just before the halfway stage, highsiding as he tried to lap James Ellison. Pedrosa then rode to his seventh victory of the year - the most of any rider - by a massive 37s from Yamaha replacement rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga.
“After Marquez's race, I thought I should do something similar!” smiled Pedrosa, referring to the Moto2 champion's last to first ride. “But seriously, I'm really happy with this win, it was very difficult at the start to make the decision with tyres.
“I saw Jorge on slicks on the grid and I was pretty sure with my decision, but standing there the track was drying up very quickly and before the start I didn't know if it would be better to forget about the pole and start from the pits or go out on wets and stop after 4 or 5 laps.
“In the last corner of the sighting lap, the instinct told me to get in immediately. I started from the pit lane and I managed to be fast from the beginning, I caught Jorge and then I made a mistake and lost three seconds again, but one lap later he also made a mistake and crashed out.
“It was the mistake I was waiting for from him all year! But maybe with the title pressure off it is easier to make mistakes. Anyway it's too late now and I'm pleased to win.
“It was tough to maintain concentration with such conditions and a big advantage, so I planned the second half of the race like a practice session, taking the corners, the lines, lap by lap. It's a great end of the season and I'd like to thank all the Repsol Honda Team!"
Retiring team-mate Casey Stoner
completed the podium in third. "I think Marc Marquez had the ride of the day until Dani started from the pits and won!" said Stoner.
Pedrosa and new team-mate Marquez will start their 2013 preparations during testing at Valencia on Tuesday.