While the FIA World Endurance Championship was busy in Fuji, it wasn’t the only key motor race going on in the American overnight hours in Japan.
An important MotoGP round has taken place at Motegi, and Spaniard Dani Pedrosa has scored a shock victory for Repsol Honda after starting sixth, winning over the MoviStar Yamaha teammates and title contenders, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
It’s Pedrosa’s 50th win in his career (27th in MotoGP, 15 250cc, 8 125cc) and fifth in his career at Honda’s backyard, the Twin Ring Motegi.
Pedrosa scored his first win of the season and passed both Rossi, then Lorenzo, in the waning stages of the 24-lap race. Lorenzo and Rossi had started 1-2, with Lorenzo dominating the opening stanza of the race.
After Pedrosa closed the gap down from two seconds back of Lorenzo, who had checked out from pole in the opening 17 laps of the race, he lost pace with apparent front tire issues. Pedrosa made it past with just six laps to go.
A lap later, with Lorenzo continuing to fade, Rossi made it past for second at Turn 3 after Lorenzo ran wide – which was crucial for championship implications.
Rossi came into the weekend with a 14-point lead over Lorenzo. When Lorenzo was leading with Pedrosa second and Rossi third, the gap had been cut down to five points.
But as the result came clearer, Rossi was able to extend the gap up four points from 14 to 18 over Lorenzo by the checkered flag, with three rounds remaining in the 2015 season.
Lorenzo was denied a shot at his third straight Motegi win, although he did bank his fifth consecutive podium at the race.
Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the top five, with Marquez making a late pass of Dovizoso for the fourth position.