Repsol Honda Team rider takes 50th victory of his career in a wet Japanese Grand Prix and equals Angel Nieto with 139 podium finishes.
Sunday at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan was a day to remember for Dani Pedrosa, as he clinched his 50th career victory in a tricky wet race, and equalled Angel Nieto with 139 podium finishes. The Repsol Honda rider grew in strength as the race went on, with an extraordinary second half to the contest that took him from fourth place to the top step of the podium. Marc Marquez, who also had a better second half to the race, finished fourth.
The fifteenth round of the season began with a poor start for the Repsol Honda riders, who were down in fifth –Pedrosa– and sixth –Marquez– during the opening lap.
Despite overtaking Andrea Iannone before the end of Lap 1, after seven laps Pedrosa was fourth and almost 9 seconds behind race leader Jorge Lorenzo. However, as the asphalt dried and the tires degraded, the Repsol Honda man upped his pace and reduced the gap to the front. On the eleventh lap he overtook Andrea Dovizioso, followed by his passing Valentino Rossi on the sixteenth lap. Lap 18 saw his final push, overtaking Lorenzo with six laps to go.
It was a tough race for Marquez, who on the second lap needed two attempts to overtake Iannone. Lap after lap, he lost ground on the top four before increasing his pace in a similar style to his teammate after the midway point. He overcame an 8-second gap to Andrea Dovizioso, reaching him with five laps remaining and passing him the next time around. Fourth position for the reigning World Champion gives him a further 13 points and keeps him third in the World Championship with 197. Pedrosa is fifth with 154.
With little time to savor the triumph, MotoGP action returns next week in Australia, at the Phillip Island circuit.
Dani Pedrosa: "I'm so happy with this win! It has been a long time since my last one and I'm really pleased. It was a fun race, because at first I took things calmly and lost too much time, but the strategy worked out because afterwards I recovered ground gradually. I had a special feeling at that point in the race and I'm happy to take this victory for Honda at their home track, for the team, the sponsors, my friends and family, because it has been a difficult season. It’s not been an easy weekend here in Japan, I’d also like to wish Alex De Angelis all the best and hope he recovers soon."