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August 27, 2012  |   By Paul Kelly

Pedrosa Edges Lorenzo, Pulls Closer To Points Lead In Brno Thriller

If the final lap of the Czech Republic Grand Prix is a mirror of the championship battle, then MotoGP should brace for a wild ride down the stretch.

Dani Pedrosa edged championship rival Jorge Lorenzo by .178 of a second to prevail in a scintillating last-lap duel Aug. 26 at Automotodrom Brno. Pedrosa trimmed Lorenzo’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship to just 13 points with six races remaining

The victory was the third of the season for Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa, who also won the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Today was one of my best races in MotoGP ever,” Pedrosa said. “To win with a big gap is always nice, but to have a battle like today with Jorge (Lorenzo), it’s sometimes more rewarding.”

Spaniards Pedrosa and Lorenzo rarely were separated by more than a second during the 22-lap race. Lorenzo led from pole at the start on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine, with Pedrosa stalking in tight pursuit and looking for weaknesses in Lorenzo.

Pedrosa passed Lorenzo for the lead for the first time with 10 laps remaining. Then Lorenzo sat on Pedrosa’s tailpipes for nine laps, looking for spots to make a decisive move.

The race exploded into a fight on the final lap, with Pedrosa and Lorenzo exchanging the lead four times. With two corners remaining, Lorenzo passed Pedrosa on the outside of a long left-hand turn, setting up to keep the lead on the final corner of the track, a right-hander.

But Lorenzo ran slightly wide on the penultimate corner, letting Pedrosa pull ahead on the outside of the final corner and power down the final straightaway for victory.

“When Dani was pushing a lot, I took a lot of risks to stay with him and finally I had to try to pass him,” Lorenzo said. “The victory was so close I had to try. This time Dani was cleverer than me and braver, so congratulations to him. Next time maybe it will be different.”

Cal Crutchlow finished third to earn his first career MotoGP podium finish on the Tech 3 Yamaha just a day after he signed a one-year contract with the team for 2013 Andrea Dovizioso finished fourth on his Tech 3 Yamaha, with Stefan Bradl fifth on the LCR Honda.

American Ben Spies’ horrible run of misfortune continued at this event. Spies started fourth on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine, but his clutch slipped at the start and he dropped to 14th. Then Spies crashed out of the race on Lap 8 while trying to race back toward the front.

Fellow Texan Colin Edwards finished 13th on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW after the team made improvements to the bike’s electronics. It was the third consecutive 13th-place finish for Edwards, who rides a production-based Claiming Rule Teams machine.

American Nicky Hayden didn’t compete at this event on his Ducati due to a broken hand and concussion suffered during qualifying for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at IMS. Hayden is expected to return at the next MotoGP World Championship race, the Grand Prix of San Marino on Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Misano, Italy.


DANI PEDROSA (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “Today was one of my best races in MotoGP ever. To win with a big gap is always nice, but to have a battle like today with Jorge (Lorenzo), it's sometimes more rewarding. It was a difficult last lap because I knew that Jorge was very fast in the middle of the corner, and I could hear the bike right on me, and I knew that just the smallest gap would allow him to pass. In fact, in that left corner I opened the door just a little more than normal and ‘boom,’ he was there, I could see his bike in my face! With just half a lap to go, I was a little more nervous than before, but I knew I had some strong points coming to the end of the lap. I tried to get the best drive out of the hill, and then in the last corner I was beside him. When I released the brakes, we were side by side in the corner, and I was able to take my line and win the race. It was amazing, and I'm really happy with this victory, for all my team and also for my father because it is his birthday.”

JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I really enjoyed that race. Mainly in the last laps, Dani (Pedrosa) and I tried everything for the win. We are so close in the championship that every point is important. It was a very strategic race. In some parts of it, I was slowing down to relax a bit and get some air, and I think Dani was a little later on, as well, staying calm and preparing for the last laps. When Dani was pushing a lot, I took a lot of risks to stay with him and finally I had to try to pass him. The victory was so close I had to try. This time Dani was cleverer than me and braver, so congratulations to him. Next time maybe it will be different.”

CAL CRUTCHLOW (Third, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Racing): “It feels fantastic to finally score my first podium in MotoGP. This has been the perfect weekend for me because I signed a new contract with the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and then scored my best-ever qualifying result yesterday. So to cap it all off with a podium is a great feeling, and hopefully I've already gone a little way to repaying the faith Tech 3, Yamaha and Monster have shown in me. It wasn't an easy race because I was on my own for most of it, and it was a real test of concentration. The pleasing aspect is my pace was really consistent throughout, but it had to be because I knew Andrea (Dovizioso) was behind. I basically raced my pit board so I knew where he was, but I knew he was going to be hard to beat when you look at how well he has been riding lately. I felt comfortable holding the gap to him, but I couldn't afford to make a mistake because I knew he'd be ready to pounce. It felt great when I came across the line and saw my crew celebrating because they have given me unbelievable support. I feel the pressure is off a little bit now, so hopefully today's podium is the first of many. To end a 12-year drought for a British rider to get on a MotoGP podium is also a great feeling. It seems a long time since Jeremy McWilliams did it, so I hope the British fans don't have to wait that long for the next one.”


COLIN EDWARDS (13th, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “It wasn’t a bad day. We came in 13th. Compared to the pace we have made this weekend, we managed to find something that works in terms of electronics setting that we had been looking for all weekend. And during the first couple of laps, I was trying to understand what we had in terms of the change in the electronics and felt it out. It was good. Then I put my head down and went for it. Then once I passed (Michele) Pirro, I simply lost feeling because of the vibration, and it didn’t allow me to push harder. I finished 13th, but this is the best the bike has felt so far.”

BEN SPIES (Not classified, Yamaha Factory Racing): “The crash today was no other fault than myself. I was trying to get back into a rhythm and catch the group in front of me because I could see they were coming back, and I had a good lap times for coming through. I’m really disappointed, not just for me but for the team, as they’ve done an excellent job this weekend. We’ve showed speed and motivation all weekend, which is hard to do after Laguna and Indy. The race was really over for me before Turn 1 because the clutch overheated off the line. It was no one’s fault. We checked the data, and my practice starts are identical to my race starts. We checked the clutch, and there is nothing wrong with it. It just overheated and took over two laps to cool down enough to give it 100 percent, by which time the race was over. I still tried to get the best out of it I could and just made a small mistake.”


Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 245, Dani Pedrosa 232, Casey Stoner 186, Andrea Dovizioso 150, Cal Crutchlow 122, Stefan Bradl 105, Alvaro Bautista 102, Valentino Rossi 100, Nicky Hayden 84, Ben Spies 66, Hector Barbera 60, Aleix Espargaro 45, Randy de Puniet 41, Karel Abraham 25, Yonny Hernandez 21, Michele Pirro 18, Colin Edwards 17, James Ellison 14, Mattia Pasini 13, Ivan Silva 11, Toni Elias 10, Danilo Petrucci 9, Steve Rapp 2.
Manufacturers: Honda 271, Yamaha 261, Ducati 124, ART 62, BQR 24, FTR 18, Suter 17, Ioda 9, APR 2, BQR-FTR 2.


Moto2: Marc Marquez, Spain, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol Suter-Honda
Moto3: Jonas Folger, Germany, Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 Kalex-KTM