The 2012 MotoGP world championship took another dramatic twist in Misano this afternoon, with Jorge Lorenzo claiming a priceless victory after main rival Dani Pedrosa crashed out of a dramatic race.
Everything that could go wrong for Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa did as his hopes of winning a maiden MotoGP title suffered a crushing blow.
After an aborted start when Karel Abraham stalled his Cardion AB Ducati, chaos ensued as a front tyre warmer got stuck in the wheel of Pedrosa’s factory Honda RC213V.
Pedrosa did finally start the warm-up lap but after an infringement in the start procedure he was forced to start from the back of the grid, with the race cut to 27-laps.
Pedrosa, who had won three of the previous four races to move to within 13-points of Lorenzo, made a typically fast start but his race was over on the first lap when his back wheel was clipped by Hector Barbera’s Pramac Ducati.
Pedrosa, who had qualified on pole position, was unable to re-join the race and with Lorenzo romping to a dominant start to finish success, the factory Yamaha rider now holds a commanding 38-point lead in the title hunt with just five races remaining.
The drama of Pedrosa’s early exit almost distracted fans from a stunning start from Valentino Rossi, who surged through from sixth to second position.
Rossi brilliantly held off a hard charging Stefan Bradl in the early stages to claim only his third podium finish on board a factory Ducati in front of an ecstatic home crowd of just over 45,000 fans.
It was his best dry result in a torrid two-year spell at Ducati and the 33-year-old dedicated his podium to late friend Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in a tragic accident at last October’s Sepang race in Malaysia.
It was a hard fought and emotional third place for Spaniard Alvaro Bautista. Racing in the Gresini Honda squad’s home race, with tributes for Simoncelli all around the Misano circuit that was renamed in his honour for 2012, Bautista snatched a last gasp third from Andrea Dovizioso.
Dovizioso nudged ahead at the final corner but was unable to hold a line on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 and Bautista took the final podium position by just 0.003s after a photo finish. It was his first MotoGP podium and he too dedicated it to the late Simoncelli and his Gresini squad.
British rider Cal Crutchlow’s hopes of a second successive podium were ended after only five laps when the 26-year-old crashed unhurt at the first corner on lap five while he was chasing Dovizioso.
A bent handlebar prevented Crutchlow, who had starte from the front row of the grid, from re-joining the race while Jonathan Rea had an encouraging MotoGP debut.
Replacing injured Aussie Casey Stoner, Rea finished in eighth place on the factory RC213V.