Dani Pedrosa might not have won an elusive first MotoGP world title in 2012, but the Spaniard did at least take the honour of winning the most races after he took a seventh win in Valencia yesterday.
A decision to switch from wet to slick tyres at the end of the warm-up lap, which meant he had to start the 30-lap season finale from pit lane, proved to be an inspired choice from the Repsol Honda rider, who eventually took the chequered flag by over 37 seconds.
Pedrosa inherited the lead when newly crowned world champion Jorge Lorenzo suffered a spectacular crash on lap 14 while he was closing in fast on British rider James Ellison at Turn 10.
At that stage he was already comfortably clear of Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha’s test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga, who was performing wonders as replacement for injured Ben Spies.
Pedrosa, who finished just 18-points behind compatriot Lorenzo in the final rankings after winning six of the last eight races, said: “It was a tricky moment at the start.
"When I came to the grid initially the track was 50-50 and I thought maybe the first laps are better with the rain tyres and then after five laps we could change and we could have an advantage on the slicks.
"When we went out for the warm-up lap though Jorge was in front on slicks and I could immediately see he was fast. All the places that were wet on the sighting lap were then dry with a narrow line.
"But it was possible and I was thinking at the last corner, should I start on wet tyres from pole or come in for slicks? My instinct was just ‘boom’ so I came in and changed the bike.
"I started slowly to clean the tyres a bit but immediately I felt good. It was really difficult to pass all the CRTS because they were all in a group and the line was only wide enough for one rider.
"I tried not to lose too much time and get a free way. I started pushing and immediately I could see Jorge up front and I imagined he was leading or maybe second. I pushed and I could get a little closer and then he had some traffic and I could get behind him.”
Pedrosa’s victory bid almost came unstuck when he survived a big moment at Turn 10 on the lap before Lorenzo suffered a vicious high-side in the same spot.
He said: “I went into neutral and ran off the track. I lost more than four seconds but he got some more traffic and then he crashed.
"After that the race was long with 15 laps to go but at that time they showed me for the first time the advantage I had and it was something like 26 seconds but it was really difficult to the end to keep concentration. I just planned like practice and just rode corner by corner.”
Pedrosa said it was ironic that the mistake he had been waiting for Lorenzo to make had only come once the title race had been decided at the previous round in Australia.
It was Lorenzo’s first mistake of the season and in the 16 races he finished he didn’t finish lower than second.
Pedrosa, who enjoyed his best ever season in MotoGP in 2012, added: “This was the mistake I was waiting for from him but sometimes when the title is there that pressure gives you focus and you don’t make mistakes.
"Maybe now with the title gone the pressure was off and sometimes you can make a mistake. It is too late now but I am pleased with the wins.”
For more coverage from the final MotoGP round of 2012, see the November 14 issue of Motor Cycle News.