Casey Stoner has closed to within 20 points of new MotoGP World Championship leader Valentino Rossi
after taking his third victory in a row, and fourth of the season, during Sunday's wet German Grand Prix at Sachsenring.
Dani Pedrosa, who won the dry 2007 German GP by a massive 13.166secs, defied his wet weather weakness label by charging past pole sitter Stoner into turn one, then rocketing to a massive 7.4secs lead by the end of lap five of 30!
But Pedrosa's incredible pace proved too fast for the conditions and when the Spaniard hit the brakes for turn one, the front wheel of his Repsol Honda slid abruptly away and he spiralled down the road and into his first retirement of the season.
The mistake marked Pedrosa's first DNF of the year, handed Stoner a 1.5secs race lead over Andrea Dovizioso
and ultimately cost Dani the 2008 world championship lead.
Rossi, who qualified just seventh on the grid, made a cautious start but was up to fourth by the time of Pedrosa's accident. The Fiat Yamaha star then overtook fellow M1 rider Colin Edwards
for third on lap eight and passed rookie Dovizioso for second soon after.
The Italian's swift progression suggested he could threaten Stoner, but the Australian responded to Rossi's attack - initially consolidating his lead at three seconds, then pulling over five seconds clear before backing off to a 3.7secs victory margin by the end of a textbook wet weather ride.
Reigning world champion Stoner came into the event 29 points behind Pedrosa and 25 points from Rossi, but heads to next weekend's US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca - the last race before the MotoGP summer break - just four points from Pedrosa and 20 points from Rossi.
Completing the podium alongside a 'satisfied' Rossi and a sick-looking Stoner was Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen.
The Australian wet weather ace lined-up just 14th on the 17 rider grid, but had passed Edwards for third as early as lap ten. The former WSS champion came under sustained attack from rookie Alex de Angelis
during the closing stages, but held on to Suzuki's first podium of the season by just 0.122secs. Fourth for de Angelis at least signalled his joint best MotoGP result to date.
The 2007 German Grand Prix was the only event at which Bridgestone struggled badly against Michelin last year, but the Japanese tyre manufacturer more than made up for it in the 2008 edition - sweeping the top four places.