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Pedrosa wins dramatic Japanese MotoGP
2 October 2011
Dani Pedrosa has taken Honda's first home Japanese Grand Prix victory since 2004, at the same Motegi circuit where his title hopes came to a painful end with a broken collarbone last season.
The incident-packed grand prix contained three ride-through penalties, five accidents, a rare mistake while leading by Casey Stoner - and a Suzuki in third for part of the race!
Valentino Rossi was first to exit, when contact with Jorge Lorenzo at turn two caused the Ducati rider to crash - and forced Lorenzo's Yamaha team-mate Ben Spies into the gravel.
Meanwhile, title leader and pole sitter Casey Stoner had settled into an early lead ahead of Repsol Honda team-mates Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, with Dovizioso passing Pedrosa on lap 3 of 24.
The Italian - winless since 2009 - then took the lead when Stoner got a tank-slapper heading down the back straight on lap 5, the shaking having moved his brake pads away from the disc, causing Stoner to run through the gravel at the following turn.
Just moments later Dovizioso received the news that he had a ride-through penalty for jumping the start - with Marco Simoncelli (5th) and Cal Crutchlow (15th after running wide while 9th) committing the same offence.
The trio pulled into the pits on the following lap, promoting Pedrosa into the race lead from Lorenzo - which Pedrosa built to 7.3sec by the finish - with Alvaro Bautista in third place for Suzuki, just ahead of Nicky Hayden's Ducati.
Suzuki, without a podium since 2008 and yet to confirm their 2012 plans, held the rostrum position until the recovering Stoner re-passed Bautista at the halfway point.
But Bautista would leave Motegi pointless after crashing out soon after, while Toni Elias also saw a season-best result end in the gravel when the fast-starting Spaniard dropped his LCR Honda from sixth place on lap 18.
With Hayden having dropped to twelfth after a detour through the gravel, the closing stages saw Dovizioso and Simoncelli - who had rejoined in ninth and eleventh after their penalties - fighting for fourth place.
Gresini rider Simoncelli got the better of the yet-to-sign Dovizioso at the end of the 22nd lap, while Ben Spies - battling food poisoning this weekend - recovered from a distant last all the way to sixth place, just ahead of Hayden.
Another American, Colin Edwards, claimed eighth for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, with home hero Hiroshi Aoyama ninth for Gresini and Randy de Puniet tenth for Pramac Ducati.
Crutchlow finished eleventh, with Honda wild-cards Kousuke Akiyoshi and Shinichi Ito the last of the finishers in twelfth and 13th.
Australian Damian Cudlin, making his MotoGP debut as a replacement for the injured Loris Capirossi at Pramac Ducati, crashed out of 14th - while just behind Akiyoshi - on lap 15. An unfortunate end to an otherwise impressive weekend.
Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera was the only rider not to walk away from an accident, the Spaniard being carried off on a stretcher after his lap 2 incident.
MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) withdrew from the race due to concentration problems caused by the head impact he suffered at Aragon on September 18.
Stoner will start his home Australian Grand Prix, at Phillip Island on October 16, with a 40-point lead over Lorenzo, with 75 points remaining.
Japanese Grand Prix:
10. de Puniet
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