BERLIN, (Reuters) – Spaniard Dani Pedrosa denied compatriot Jorge Lorenzo a fourth win in a row at the German MotoGP yesterday while world champion Valentino Rossi narrowly missed a podium finish on his return from a broken leg.
Honda rider Pedrosa, second in the standings, finished 3.355 seconds ahead of Yamaha’s championship leader Lorenzo, who had started on pole but had to settle for second place in a re-started race following a crash on lap nine at the Sachsenring.
Rossi, returning just six weeks after he broke his leg, finished fourth after being edged out by Australian Casey Stoner at the last corner for the final podium place.
With eight races completed and 10 rounds of the championship to go, Lorenzo leads with 185 points. He has won five races and finished no worse than second all season.
Pedrosa has 138 and Italian Andrea Dovizioso is third with 102 points.
“He (Pedrosa) had more pace than me and it was impossible for me to follow him,” Lorenzo told BBC TV. “I’m quite satisfied… quite happy with second place which is very positive for the championship.”
Lorenzo led until the race was red-flagged when Frenchman Randy de Puniet crashed at turn four, his bike bursting into flames in the middle of the track, and brought down Spaniards Aleix Espargaro and Alvaro Bautista.
De Puniet, who had also crashed heavily in qualifying, suffered a broken left leg according to the championship website (www.motogp.com).
Espargaro, who was not among just 13 riders taking the re-start, was later diagnosed with a cracked vertebra.
After a 25-minute delay for the track to be cleaned up, Pedrosa re-grouped after the re-start to claim a lead he never relinquished while Rossi fought side by side with Stoner for third place.
“Valentino was taking big chunks of time out of me and, once he went past, I didn’t think I’d be able to follow,” said Stoner.
“I tried really hard to stay in there and had a good battle with a lot of nice passes. We touched at the bottom of the hill, but it was a good, clean fight and I’m pleased to come away with a podium.”
Rossi was also satisfied with his early comeback after being told in June he could be out for up to five months, and said the battle with Stoner had made him forget the pain from his leg and shoulder.
“I didn’t expect this. I thought it was maybe possible to make fourth or fifth place but I thought it would be very difficult,” said the Italian.
“In the end I was fourth but I had a great battle with Casey and I was so close to the podium, so this is a fantastic result after missing four races.
“I need some more kilometres to really recover the feeling and feel completely okay with the bike again, but I think I did a great job and this was a very good comeback, better than we could wish for.”
Spanish riders won all three categories with Toni Elias taking his third Moto2 win of the season to extend his overall lead to 42 points over Switzerland’s Thomas Luthi.
In the 125cc class, 17-year-old Marc Marquez’s dominance continued with his fifth win in a row for a 26-point lead in the championship.