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Pedrosa Chips Away At Lorenzo's Lead With Aragon Victory

Dani Pedrosa took a five-point piece from Jorge Lorenzo’s lead in the MotoGP World Championship on Sept. 30, reducing the gap to 33 points after winning the Grand Prix of Aragon.

The championship math still remains daunting for Pedrosa, who beat Lorenzo to the finish line by 6.472 seconds at MotorLand Aragon. There are only four races remaining, and Lorenzo could finish second to Pedrosa at all of them and still win his second MotoGP World Championship.

Lorenzo has finished second or better on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine in 13 of the 14 races this season.

“I was thinking to try for the win at the beginning of the race, and if that was not possible, then second place was the best possible result for the championship,” Lorenzo said.

Andrea Dovizioso finished third, edging Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Cal Crutchlow by .137 of a second for the final podium position after a spirited duel during most of the race.

Lorenzo started from the pole and established an early lead over Pedrosa and American Ben Spies. But Pedrosa, who suffered a nasty crash in qualifying, never let Lorenzo escape and passed his Spanish rival on Lap 6. Lorenzo tried to stay close for a few laps, but Lorenzo’s increasing tire wear and Pedrosa’s relentless pace on his Repsol Honda proved decisive.

Spies faded in the second half, finally losing third place to Dovizioso on Lap 14 and fourth to Crutchlow on Lap 17 of the 23-lap race before finishing fifth on his Yamaha.

It was a rough day for the other two Americans in the race. Colin Edwards placed 18th on his NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter-BMW, one lap down after his shift lever broke on the final lap. 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden crashed out of the race on Lap 2, flipping off his Ducati at about 40 mph and over a retaining wall. He was shaken but unhurt.

The next MotoGP event is the Grand Prix of Japan on Oct. 14 at Motegi. Two-time World Champion Casey Stoner, injured in a crash during qualifying on Aug. 18 at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, should return to his Repsol Honda at that event.

Stoner’s return could complicate Pedrosa’s task of catching Lorenzo. The next four races are the last of Stoner’s MotoGP career, as he is retiring after this season. So it’s likely Stoner wants to finish with a flourish. Plus he is unbeaten at Phillip Island, site of his home Australian Grand Prix on Oct. 28, since 2007.

PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES

DANI PEDROSA (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “In the race, I remained calm and was able to focus. Jorge (Lorenzo) began very fast in the early laps, but I was able to stay with him. And then after a few laps, I saw I could increase the pace, and I passed him and tried to find my own rhythm. I was concentrating so hard that I almost forgot that it was a race. Then I realized there were only four laps to go! I had a few issues with the clutch into the corners, shifting down, as I did yesterday, but overall the bike was working well.”

JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I was thinking to try for the win at the beginning of the race, and if that was not possible, then second place was the best possible result for the championship. Dani (Pedrosa) had a better pace in the end. I was stronger at the start. Then, little by little, I was a bit slower. The tires were slipping a lot, and I couldn’t follow him. I nearly crashed in one corner and decided then to stay in second place and wait for the end of the race.”

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO (Third, Monster Yamaha Tech 3): “It was a very good race, and I am very happy to be back on the podium. It has been a difficult weekend with the weather, but the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did a fantastic job, and the bike was very strong in the race. It was a very strategic race for me because right from the start I was quite slow in a few corners, so I had to work very hard to stay in front of Ben (Spies) and Cal (Crutchlow). I knew Cal would be pushing very hard at the end of the race because a few times we have battled together like this and I have beaten him, so I knew he would not be giving up without a fight. He tried in the same place on the last two laps, but at that point he couldn't stop the bike, and I had a better exit speed to immediately take the third position back. And I know I am very strong on the brakes, so going to the last corner I was confident I could keep him behind me.”

AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES

BEN SPIES (Fifth, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I struggled a bit with the front tire today at the beginning and then in the middle of the race. I tried to keep Dovi (Andrea Dovizioso) and Cal (Crutchlow) at bay as long as I could. Once they passed me, I tried to hold onto the back of them in case they made a mistake. The bike was working well. We just didn’t have it working as exactly as we needed to stay with them. We did our best. They were just too quick in the end.”

COLIN EDWARDS (18th, NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “Right before we went out, we decided to go with the hard tire, which we hadn’t used all weekend. We used it during the test. We didn’t know what was going to happen, and as it turns out, using the hard tire in the front was the right choice. Got a good start, got out there, and I can’t ask for more, I went faster than during qualifying. I rode hard, and then right at the end, I got (Michele) Pirro and tried to put my head down, but I couldn’t catch the guys in front of me. The shift lever broke, and I decided to finish the last lap to see if we could get some points. Thanks to my team, we worked a lot this weekend. We just got bad luck.”

NICKY HAYDEN (Not classified, Ducati Team): “I spun the tire a lot on the start but was able to get past (Valentino) Rossi and Johnny Rea. The rear brake wasn’t working great from about halfway around the lap, maybe because I overheated it. I was trying to keep the group in front of me in sight, but I pushed the front in the last turn. I was able to pick it up, but I came up on that wall really fast. I thought I might hit it headfirst if I jumped off, so I let go right before impact. I’m sorry to tear up the bike, but I’m thankful for great safety equipment and to be OK.”

POINTS

Riders: Jorge Lorenzo 290, Dani Pedrosa 257, Casey Stoner 186, Andrea Dovizioso 179, Cal Crutchlow 135, Valentino Rossi 128, Alvaro Bautista 128, Stefan Bradl 115, Nicky Hayden 93, Ben Spies 88, Hector Barbera 64, Randy de Puniet 53, Aleix Espargaro 51, Karel Abraham 32, Yonny Hernandez 28, Michele Pirro 25, Colin Edwards 22, James Ellison 19, Jonathan Rea 17, Mattia Pasini 13, Danilo Petrucci 11, Ivan Silva 11, Toni Elias 10, Steve Rapp 2, David Salom 1.

Manufacturers: Honda 312, Yamaha 306, Ducati 152, ART 75, BQR 31, FTR 25, Suter 22, Ioda 9, Ioda-Suter 2, APR 2, BQR-FTR 2.

MotoGP SUPPORT CLASS WINNERS

Moto2: Pol Espargaro, Spain, Pons 40 HP Tuenti Kalex-Honda
Moto3:
Luis Salom, Spain, RW Racing GP Kalex-KTM

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