SEPANG, Malaysia — In a dramatic race hit by torrential rain and a raft of crashes at the Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix in Sepang, it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who put in a wet-weather master class to take the win ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner.
In a race that was declared wet from the start, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Lorenzo got the holeshot ahead of Pedrosa. Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi got a good start from 11th to move into fourth within the first lap.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who had a bad start, was carving his way through the pack and soon got past Rossi into fourth to chase down Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner in third.
Lorenzo, having opted for the softer option wet rear tire, had a small margin over Pedrosa with 18 laps to go, who had the harder rear tire. All Yamahas on the grid as well as Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham had opted for the soft-rear, hard-front combination, with all others running with hards — front and rear. A lap later however and Pedrosa was breathing down Lorenzo’s neck having closed the gap to a fraction of a second.
Further afield Stoner was leading a group, about five seconds off the leading duo, with Dovizioso, Rossi, LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, Ducati Team’s Nicky Hayden, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow. With 12 laps remaining, Pedrosa was continuing to stick to Lorenzo’s rear wheel as the pair looked locked in a stalemate out on track.
Further back on the same lap, Yamaha’s Bes Spies suffered a heavy crash out of 10th place, putting a premature end to his race. He was taken to the medical center to check on a shoulder injury.
Rossi also dropped from behind Dovizioso back into ninth, as his teammate Hayden fought his way up to fifth. A lap further on and it was drama for Dovizioso as he also slid out of the race, which continued to be pummelled with rain. It was in the final turn of this lap that Pedrosa made a move stick on Lorenzo to take the lead just over the halfway point and the Repsol rider instantly looked more comfortable in front pulling a small gap. In the meantime, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards retired with a mechanical option.
As the grid headed into lap nine there were further crashes in the final turn as Crutchlow slid off, followed almost instantly in the same place by Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet. It was a crash strewn lap, with Bradl also losing the front of his satellite Honda, and Avintia Blusens’ Iván Silva also crashing out.
Back on track Rossi looked in his element as he squeezed past Bautista into fifth. Things were also getting interesting at the front as Lorenzo was being not only dropped off by Pedrosa, but also being closed down by Stoner at a very quick rate.
The rain was coming down heavily with 15 laps left, and Lorenzo suffered a very scary moment, where he saved a near crash just seconds before the Red Flag was shown due to safety concerns.
After much deliberating as to whether a restart would be possible, conditions deteriorated, and the win was awarded to Pedrosa, with Lorenzo and Stoner completing the rostrum.
This now puts Pedrosa within 23-points, less than one race win, of title rival Lorenzo, with 50 points still up for grabs in the final two races.
Hayden recorded a fantastic fourth, ahead of Rossi, Bautista, Barberá, De Puniet’s teammate Espargaró, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Abraham.