Japan win keeps Pedrosa in hunt
SWEET PAIN OF CHAMPAGNE: Spain's Dani Pedrosa is sprayed with Champagne by second-placed Jorge Lorenzo of Spain on the podium after winning the 2012 Japanese MotoGP at Motegi. Image: AP
MOTEGI, Japan - Honda's Dani Pedrosa kept his slim MotoGP title hopes alive by beating fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo to win the 2012 Japanese MotoGP for the second year in a row.
A fourth win in the last five races has pulled Pedrosa to within 28 points of the Yamaha rider but, with just three races left, he still needs an error from Lorenzo.
Alvaro Bautista's third place for Honda made it a Spanish sweep of the podium at Motegi's Twin Ring circuit.
SIXTH POLE FOR LORENZO
Lorenzo, World champion in 2010, again failed to capitalise on his sixth pole of the season, leading in the early stages but never able to pull away from a dogged Pedrosa. It was the fifth time in succession that Lorenzo had failed to turn pole into victory; the only time he went on to win the race was at the 2012 season-opener in Qatar.
The Honda rider pounced 13 laps from the finish and stretched his advantage to more than a second within two laps of overtaking Lorenzo.
Pedrosa, who has now won a career-best five wins in a MotoGP season, won in 42min31.569. Not wishing to take any risks, given his comfortable lead in the standings, Lorenzo eased off the throttle to coast home in 42min35.844.
Lorenzo has 310 points to Pedrosa's 282 in the championship; World champion Casey Stoner is on 197.
Bautista's third came after a hair-raising fight with Briton Cal Crutchlow, whose Yamaha ran out of fuel on the final lap to end the battle on a rather anti-climactic note.
Australian Stoner finished a creditable fifth in his return after ankle surgery, although clearly not fully fit and still in some pain he struggled as the race wore on, and seven-times premier class champion Valentino Rossi finished a dejected-looking seventh for Ducati.
TRIUMPH FOR KENT
Spaniard Marc Marquez tore through the field to claim his eighth victory of the Moto2 season, giving him the opportunity to clinch the title in Malaysia next week. The Suter rider's win, in 42min56.171, was all the more remarkable after stalling on the grid and getting away virtually last in the 32-bike field.
Britain's Danny Kent claimed his maiden GP win in a wild finish to the Moto3 race. German Sandro Cortese was on course to claim the title on the last lap but his KTM crashed after he clashed with Alessandro Tonucci, giving team mate Kent victory.
Results from the Motorcycling Grand Prix Japan MotoGP on Sunday
1 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 42min31.569
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 42min35.844
3 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda 42min38.321
4 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Yamaha 42min47.966
5 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 42min52.135
6 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda 42min56.136
7 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati 42min57.641
8 Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Ducati 43min08.293
9 Katsuyuki Nakasuga (Japan) Yamaha 43min08.363
10 Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati 43min42.298
11 Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) Ducati 43min47.227
12 Aleix Espargaro (Spain) Aprilia 43min54.338
13 Colin Edwards (U.S.) Suter 43min56.537
14 James Ellison (Britain) Aprilia 44min00.957
15 Michele Pirro (Italy) Honda 44min06.181
1 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha 310
2 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda 282
3 Casey Stoner (Australia) Honda 197
4 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Yamaha 192
5 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda 144
6 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati 137
7 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha 135
8 Stefan Bradl (Germany) Honda 125
9 Nicky Hayden (U.S.) Ducati 101
10 Ben Spies (U.S.) Yamaha 88
11 Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati 70
12 Aleix Espargaro (Spain) Aprilia 55
13 Randy de Puniet (France) Aprilia 53
14 Karel Abraham (Czech Republic) Ducati 37
15 Yonny Hernandez (Colombia) Kawasaki 28
FIRST WIN FOR YOUNG BRIT
British 18-year-old Danny Kent (KTM) won the Moto3 race at Three Ring Motegi in Japan on Sunday – the first win of his Grand Prix career.
Spaniard Maverick Vinales was second ahead of Italian Alessandro Tonucci, each of them on a Honda.
German KTM rider Sandro Cortese was sixth but extended his championship lead to 255 points, 56 ahead of Vinales, with three races to go in 2012.
1 Danny Kent (GBR/KTM) 40min02.775
2 Maverick Vinales (ESP/FTR Honda) +0.260
3 Alessandro Tonucci (ITA/FTR Honda) +2.352
4 Alex Rins (ESP/Suter Honda) +3.404
5 Zulfahmi Khairuddin (MAS/KTM) +3.645
6 Sandro Cortese (GER/KTM) +13.394
7 Miguel Oliveira (POR/Suter Honda) +15.523
8 Louis Rossi (FRA/FTR Honda) +15.739
9 Efren Vazquez (ESP/FTR Honda) +15.946
10 Romano Fenati (ITA/FTR Honda) +16.129
Moto3 championship points
1 Sandro Cortese (GER/KTM) 255
2 Maverick Vinales (ESP/FTR Honda) 199
3 Luis Salom (ESP/Kalex KTM) 194
4 Romano Fenati (ITA/FTR Honda) 126
5 Alex Rins (ESP/Suter Honda) 119
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Suter 42min56.171
2 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Kalex 42min56.586
3 Esteve Rabat (Spain) Kalex 43min05.755
4 Scott Redding (Britain) Kalex 43min07.240
5 Thomas Luethi (Switzerland) Suter 43min07.766
6 Simone Corsi (Italy) FTR 43min14.554
7 Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) Kalex 43min14.843
8 Johann Zarco (France) Motobi 43min24.397
9 Axel Pons (Spain) Kalex 43min24.622
10 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) Suter 43min24.770
11 Julian Simon (Spain) Suter 43min25.142
12 Anthony West (Australia) Speed up 43min25.780
13 Jordi Torres (Spain) Suter 43min25.986
14 Xavier Simeon (Belgium) Tech 3 43min35.954
15 Mike Di Meglio (France) Kalex 43min36.039
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Suter 283
2 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Kalex 230
3 Andrea Iannone (Italy) Speed up 178
4 Thomas Luethi (Switzerland) Suter 177
5 Scott Redding (Britain) Kalex 144
6 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex 110
7 Bradley Smith (Britain) Tech 3 96
8 Esteve Rabat (Spain) Kalex 93
9 Johann Zarco (France) Motobi 84
10 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) Suter 80
11 Simone Corsi (Italy) FTR 78
12 Claudio Corti (Italy) Kalex 74
13 Alex de Angelis (San Marino) Suter 61
14 Takaaki Nakagami (Japan) Kalex 50
15 Julian Simon (Spain) Suter 47