Pedrosa wins dramatic Grand Prix of Japan
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) crossed the line first to take victory at a dramatic Grand Prix of Japan, where only two of the top seven riders did not either run off track or incur a ride through penalty in an eventful Round 15 race in which Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) completed the podium.
The 24-lap contest began with pole man Stoner launching into turn one ahead of the field, while team mate Andrea Dovizioso jumped the start from the front row, with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) both also incurring ride through penalties for the same mistake.
Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi crashed out on the first lap, colliding with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies and forcing the American off track which dropped Spies down the order. Meanwhile Stoner appeared set to take another victory, leading clear and free until running off the track on lap five. Shortly thereafter Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) crashed out, while Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) ran off track after lapping in fourth position.
Lorenzo had some catching up to do, and made his way through the field to cross the line second, while Stoner climbed back to third. Simoncelli and Dovizioso took their ride through penalties and then engaged in a battle to the finish for fourth with the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider coming out on top in front of Dovizioso in fifth.
Three Americans followed next, with Spies sixth in front of Hayden and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) avoided any drama to finish ninth in his home race with Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) in tenth. Crutchlow was 11th despite a run-off in addition to his ride through penalty.
That left Kousuke Akiyoshi to take 12th, as his fellow LCR Honda rider Toni Elías crashed out after lapping in sixth position. Shinichi Itoh (Honda Racing Team) was the final rider to finish the race in 13th. Damian Cudlin, riding as a replacement this weekend for the injured Loris Capirossi on the Pramac Racing team, crashed out towards the end of the race, and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) also went down while running in fourth position.
Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) did not participate in the race after taking the decision not to ride. The Czech rider was still feeling the after-effects of a light head concussion sustained in a crash in the opening lap of the Aragón race.
Stoner’s lead at the top of the Championship over Lorenzo now stands at 40 points with three rounds of the 2011 season remaining.
Front row starter Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) took the hole shot at the start of the Moto2 race and eventually took his third win of the season, after contesting for the lead throughout the race with pole starter Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) who finished second.
Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), who led the Championship at the start of the race but now trails Márquez in the standings by a single point having placed fourth in the race, briefly entered the challenge but dropped off the front and finally crossed the line behind Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) who completed the podium.
Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) took fifth ahead of Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2), with Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing) crossing the line 5.5s behind De Angelis to take seventh. Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP) was eighth with Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing) rounding out the top ten finishers.
Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar), Raffaele De Rosa (NGM Forward Racing) and Ricky Cardús (QMMF Racing Team) had early crashes, as did Axel Pons (Pons HP 40). Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) had a fall but did return to the track, finishing his home GP in 30th position.
Avant-AirAsia-Ajo rider Johann Zarco took a long awaited first victory with a clear win in the 125cc race, ahead of Championship leader Nico Terol and Héctor Faubel (both Bankia Aspar).
Zarco started from pole but rival Terol blasted off the start into the lead, taking team-mate Faubel with him along with a determined Zarco. The three broke from the pack, opening up a five-second gap with Faubel dropping back halfway through the race.
Zarco made his move on Terol on lap 14, with the Spaniard attempting to take back the lead but running too deep on the brakes and allowing Zarco to cross the line over five seconds ahead of Terol in second and Faubel a further 13 seconds back in third.
A remarkable recovery was made by Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing), who started the race from the back of the grid after breaking a chain on the warm up lap. The 16 year-old took fourth place ahead of a pack battling for the position, with Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) following in fifth, Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) a close sixth, Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) and Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) in seventh and eighth. Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) had been a contender in that fight for fourth until retiring from the race with a mechanical issue.
Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) crossed the line two seconds ahead of Alessandro Tonucci (Team Italia FMI) to take ninth, while Jakub Kornfeil (Ongetta-Centro Seta) and Marcel Schrötter (Mahindra Racing) followed in eleventh and twelfth.
Josep Rodríguez (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) and Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) collided in the early part of the race, crashing but both rejoining the race. Rodriguez entered the box with mechanical issues while Salom finished in 23rd position.