Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa closed the MotoGP Championship gap to 33 points with a dominant victory over points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) in the Aragon Grand Prix in Spain. Pedrosa chased early leader Lorenzo until the seventh lap when he eased by. Lorenzo kept him in sight for a few laps until he had a moment when he nearly high-sided.
"I almost crashed there, because I wanted to stay with Dani," Lorenzo said. "Second place is really good for me in the championship."
The margin of victory was 6.472 secs.
Pedrosa's win, a day after his 27th birthday, was his fourth of the season and second in a row for Honda at Aragon; Casey Stoner won here last year.
"I think it's the maximum he can do and he did it," Pedrosa's team manager Alberto Puig said.
As the MotoGP paddock packs up to fly east for the three flyaways, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Lorenzo heads Pedrosa 290 to 257.
The battle for third was fought among three Yamahas; Ben Spies, on the factory bike, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. Spies faded late in the race with both satellite bikes getting by, Dovi on lap 15, Crutchlow three laps later.
The teammates battled hard on the final lap, Crutchlow briefly getting by, with Dovi winning the run to the stripe by .137 sec.
Spies was fifth and by himself, as were the next several riders. San Carlo Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista was sixth, Johnny Rea was seventh, riding Casey Stoner's Repsol Honda, and Valentino Rossi was eighth after an eventful race on the Ducati Marlboro motorcycle.
Rossi ran up a slip road on the first lap when he found himself on the outside of Rea in the Turn 16 left. Rossi recovered to eighth, then ran off the track again, though without losing a spot.
Teammate Nicky Hayden ended a horrible weekend in the medical center. A day after crashing, Hayden fell again. This time it was in Turn 16, where he ran off track and hit an unprotected barrier. He was catapulted over the guardrail and taken to the medical center, where he was conscious. Early reports were that he'd suffered no broken bones, though he was undergoing a more thorough medical check.
Also falling was LCR Honda MotoGP's Stefan Bradl, who crashed out of third soon after passing Spies on the fourth lap.
Cardion AB Motoracing's Karel Abraham (Ducati) was the final prototype in ninth, after breaking away from Power Electronics Aspar ART teammates Aleix Espargaro, tenth, and Randy de Puniet, 11th.
NGM Mobile Forward Racing's Colin Edwards finished 18th, a lap down.
When the lights went out, without the drama of the botched Misano start, Lorenzo led from Pedrosa, Spies was up to third ahead of Crutchlow, then Bradl and Dovi.
Hayden passed Rossi early on lap one to take eighth behind Rea. Rossi fell to the back of the pack when he tried to go around the outside of Rea on the entrance to Turn 16, instead having to take the slip road and dropping to 21st. On the next lap, in the same corner, Hayden crashed, putting the Ducatis out of contention a race after Rossi was on the podium in Misano.
Lorenzo and Pedrosa got away, as expected, putting 2.5 secs. on Spies by the third lap. Bradl took Crutchlow on the third lap with Dovi sixth, those four well clear of Bautista and Rea and in front of the CRT set which was let by teammates de Puniet and Espargaro.
Spies ran wide in the Turn 16 left and Bradl came through. The German was now in position for his first MotoGP podium, but a few turns later he was down, losing the front in the Turn 3 right. It was his second race crash of the year and first since the Dutch TT in late June.
Five laps in and the leaders had five seconds on the remaining three Yamahas, Spies, Crutchlow, and Dovi. Bautista was alone, as was Rea, with de Puniet and Espargaro together with the final prototype of Abraham.
Rossi was making his way through the CRTs on lap six; eighth was the best he could do if the running prototypes stayed upright. Already two hadn't.
Pedrosa went through into the lead in Turn 12 on the seventh lap. A lap later, de Puniet dropped to tenth behind Espargaro and de Abraham. Rossi was on them on lap nine. By the end of lap ten he was in front of all of them and into eighth. Rea was eight seconds ahead, there were 13 laps to go, but they were lapping at roughly the same pace. Rossi was unlikely to advance.
Pedrosa broke away from Lorenzo on the ninth lap, a lap in which Lorenzo had a moment that looked like the beginning of a high-side. Ending the lap Pedrosa had 1.6 secs. with Spies more than five seconds behind and chased by Crutchlow and Dovi, then Dovi and Crutchlow when the Englishman made a small mistake on a corner exit. There was little among them.
Once Rossi cleared the CRTs, de Puniet went back to the front in ninth, Espargaro was tenth, and Abraham 11th. Edwards was down in 16th. Abraham had superior top speed and would eventually head the trio.
Dovizioso passed Spies on the 15th lap as the Yamahas continued to battle for the final podium spot well behind Lorenzo, who was 7.4 secs. up the track. Pedrosa was leading by nearly five seconds. Crutchlow took Spies on the 18th lap after setting his personal best lap.
Spies continued to drop back while the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates continued to battle. Crutchlow pressed his Italian teammate, making a run in Turn 12, but Dovi held him off. The next attack came in Turn 15 where Crutchlow dove through, but Dovi got him back on the exit. They were nearly side by side on the run to the flag, with Dovi just getting the nod in the final battle of the top ten.
Aragon MotoGP Results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha)
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)
5. Ben Spies (Yamaha)
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda)
7. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
8. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)
9. Karel Abraham (Ducati)
10. Aleix Espargaro (ART)
18. Colin Edwards (Suter-BMW)