Dani Pedrosa ended his longest victory drought in MotoGP in sensational style by defeating both Movistar Yamaha riders at a rain-hit Motegi. The Spaniard chased down Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo as tyre wear took over with Rossi eventually getting the better of his teammate to extend his championship lead.
Wet conditions were thought to have tipped the balance towards Rossi but Lorenzo clearly disagreed, storming into a sizeable early lead in typical fashion. By half distance, the polesitter had opened up a three second advantage over his championship rival but as conditions started to improve, the Bridgestone wet rubber began to fall apart on the drying tarmac.
There was one notable exception with Pedrosa eating into the deficit between himself and the Yamahas, gaining three seconds in as many laps. With eight to go, the no.26 was on terms with the championship leader and scythed past at turn nine, clearly enjoying levels of grip that weren’t available to those ahead of him.
Lorenzo was clearly hitting tyre trouble too with Pedrosa jumping straight across the gap between the two Yamahas but crucially, bring Rossi along with him. As they hit the back straight on lap eighteen, Dani used his superior traction to power past the no.99 but the news didn’t get any better for Jorge as Rossi set his sights on second. With five laps remaining, Lorenzo found no grip as he hit the brakes for turn three, leaving the door wide open for his grateful teammate.
Pedrosa was untroubled from the moment he grabbed the lead, handing Honda a home victory that precious few would have predicted. Rossi held onto second, extending his championship advantage to eighteen points, while third-placed Lorenzo was left to rue his blistering start.
Marc Marquez capitalised on tyre problems for Andrea Dovizioso, beating the Ducati rider to fourth, while Cal Crutchlow won an all-British battle for sixth after overtaking Bradley Smith on the final lap. Yamaha wildcard Katsuyuki Nakasuga finished eighth ahead of top open rider Hector Barbera with Scott Redding completing the top ten after a late surge.
2015 MOTUL GRAND PRIX OF JAPAN – RACE RESULT (24 LAPS)
|1||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||46:50.767|
|2||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+8.573|
|3||99. Jorge Lorenzo||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||+12.127|
|4||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||+27.841|
|5||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||+35.085|
|6||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda||+37.263|
|7||38. Bradley Smith||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+37.667|
|8||21. Katsuyuki Nakasuga||Yamaha||Yamaha Factory Racing Team||+44.654|
|9||8. Hector Barbera||Ducati||Avintia Racing||+48.572|
|10||45. Scott Redding||Honda||Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS||+50.121|
|11||41. Aleix Espargaro||Suzuki||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+1:00.535|
|12||72. Takumi Takahashi||Honda||Team HRC with Nissin||+1:01.211|
|13||69. Nicky Hayden||Honda||Aspar MotoGP Team||+1:11.261|
|14||68. Yonny Hernandez||Ducati||Octo Pramac Racing||+1:13.896|
|15||63. Mike Di Meglio||Ducati||Avintia Racing||+1:15.421|
|16||19. Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+1:20.507|
|17||50. Eugene Laverty||Honda||Aspar MotoGP Team||+1:31.224|
|18||6. Stefan Bradl||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||+1:46.833|
|19||64. Kousuke Akiyoshi||Honda||AB Motoracing||+2:00.072|
|20||24. Toni Elias||Yamaha Forward||Forward Racing||+1 Lap|
|NC||44. Pol Espargaro||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||+2 Laps|
|NC||43. Jack Miller||Honda||LCR Honda||+8 Laps|
|NC||25. Maverick Vinales||Suzuki||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||+11 Laps|
|NC||76. Loris Baz||Yamaha Forward||Forward Racing||+11 Laps|
|NC||29. Andrea Iannone||Ducati||Ducati Team||+14 Laps|
|NC||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||Octo Pramac Racing||+16 Laps|
|NS||15. Alex de Angelis||ART||E-Motion IodaRacing Team||Injured|