Dani Pedrosa breathed fresh life back into his MotoGP world title challenge with a convincing victory in Indianapolis yesterday.
With runaway series leader Jorge Lorenzo experiencing a rare off-day in third place, Pedrosa clawed back nine precious points to cut the deficit at the top of the standings to 68-points with seven races left.
Pedrosa bided his time superbly in the opening exchanges of a 28-lap race staged in energy-sapping heat and humidity.
He made up one place on the first lap to take fourth and quickly moved into the top three with a clinical move on former Repsol Honda team-mate Nicky Hayden on the second lap.
The 23-year-old made passing team-mate Andrea Dovizioso look easy before he set about hunting down a hard charging Ben Spies on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1.
Spies had managed to eek out a lead of just over a second after he made a blistering start from the first pole position of his career.
But not even Spies could halt Pedrosa’s relentless charge and once the triple world champion moved into the lead on lap seven, a 34th career win was a formality.
Spies tried his utmost to maintain Pedrosa’s pace without any success and a winning margin of 3.575s did little justice to just how dominant Pedrosa had been.
Pedrosa, who crashed out of the lead during last year’s Indianapolis race, said: “It was very, very warm out there and you didn't cool down in the 45 minutes at all. It was hard but I did a good race. I think the rhythm was very good.
"The track was slippery because when the asphalt gets over 50 degrees, the bike always starts to slide a lot. But it is the same thing for everybody. I did not make a perfect start, but I was good on the first small corners to be still in fourth place.
"And then I just tried to overtake. Spies was quite fast and maybe half-a-second or more ahead, and he was pulling away very, very strong.
"But I could pick up my pace and pass him. I just tried to do my rhythm and I was able to escape and do a good pace. I am very happy because my bike was fast in the straight.”
Pedrosa admitted it had been hard to maintain concentration in such gruelling heat, particularly after the drink pack in the back of his leathers malfunctioned.
He said: “By the end it was hard to stay focused because it was very tiring and the tube I ha for the water was not working. I’m tired but very happy because last year I crashed here and I could win the race, but this time I did.
"There were so many crashes because of the bumps and the track temperature. If you just miss one line in one corner, you can be immediately on the ground.
"So it was very important to be focused in every corner and make no mistake with the bumps, especially at the end when the tyres were more damaged.
"When you go over the bumps, the bike is shaking a little bit more and it was more difficult to control. But even that, I was able to stay in the front, not crash this time and finish the race on top.”
Pedrosa has now won more than two races in a MotoGP season for the first time in his career.