Pedrosa scores shock first win of MotoGP season in Japan


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.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.