Jorge Lorenzo took a giant step towards claiming a second MotoGP world title in Misano after main rival Dani Pedrosa’s championship hopes suffered a huge blow.
Lorenzo cruised to a priceless sixth victory of the season to move 38-points clear of luckless Pedrosa, who had an afternoon on the Adriatic Coast where everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong.
Chaos and confusion after an aborted first start saw Pedrosa eventually relegated from pole position to the back of the grid after his mechanics were working to free a locked front wheel outside of the allotted time.
Desperate to limit the damage to keep his title hopes alive, Pedrosa had powered his factory Honda RC213V to the brink of the top 10 by the sixth corner when disaster struck in the form of Hector Barbera’s Pramac Ducati.
Pedrosa’s RC213V was hit from behind by Barbera and the outcome was his first DNF of the best season of his MotoGP career.
As he tried to take in the dramatic events that put a huge dent in his bid to become MotoGP world champion for the first time, Pedrosa was critical of Race Direction for its handling of the restart and Barbera for his moment of madness.
He said: “It was total chaos and many things happened at the same time. It all began with the restart because the procedure was not at all clear. Nobody knew if it was one minute, three minutes, warmers on or off…
"We were also getting different information about the number of laps, 26, 27… Then suddenly we were told it was one minute to the start of the race, with no board signage, nothing.
"The mechanics were rushing to prepare and when they tried to take off the warmers my front wheel was somehow locked, they tried to unlock it but they weren't able to and due to the one minute warning - where they are not allowed to touch the bike anymore - they put me to the back of the grid.
"I tried to remain focused, not make any mistake on the first lap, make clear moves to overtake riders and I was eighth or ninth by the sixth corner when Barbera hit me from behind, and that was it.
"I'm very upset because even it's easy to say now, I think I could have had a chance to win this race, even starting from the last place on the grid. Now the championship is obviously more uphill for me.”
The luck certainly swung back in favour of compatriot Lorenzo, but he had admitted fortune had been on his side.
The 2010 world champion though has his own experience of being knocked out of contention on the first lap this season when Alvaro Bautista wiped him at the opening corner in Assen back in late June.
The factory Yamaha rider said: “We have been lucky. The bad luck we had in Holland happened to Dani because without this problem of the lights he would not crash and he would fight for the victory with me.
"If Hector didn’t push him out then maybe he could catch me because my pace was not so good and I don’t know why. I had problems with the front and on the third lap I almost crashed. I closed the front and finally I have been lucky that the bike stayed up.”
With a 38-point advantage and only five races remaining, Lorenzo is firmly in the driving seat though he said he would be taking nothing for granted.
He added: “Things can happen and change very easily. Sometimes it doesn’t depend on you or whether you make a mistake. Sometimes it can be down to somebody else who can touch you and take you out of the race or you can break an engine.
"We must try to take the minimum risks in the next races but also go fast because we can’t be out of the podium.”
For nine pages of news and reaction to a dramatic Misano race, see the September 19 issue of MCN.