Spain's Pedrosa wins US Grand Prix
Dani Pedrosa emerged as the unlikely winner as he held off Rossi to claim his first MotoGp victory.
Laguna Seca – The US Grand Prix turned into a one-man show Sunday, and the star was an unlikely winner – Dani Pedrosa of Spain.
Pedrosa led from first lap to last on his Honda for his first MotoGp victory of the year, holding off Italy's Valentino Rossi on a dramatic final lap.
Pedrosa's winning time was 44 minutes, 01.580 seconds for 32 laps on the 3.61-kilometre track.
Rossi, who increased his margin atop the championship standings, was second on his Yamaha, 0.344 seconds behind Pedrosa.
Pole starter Jorge Lorenzo of Spain was third on a Yamaha despite painful shoulder and foot injuries suffered in a qualifying crash on Saturday that nearly knocked him out of the race.
Pedrosa, who now has seven career grand prix wins, had failed to finish two of the previous three races and finished sixth in the other – and has struggled all year with a series of injuries.
"It's been a long, tough year for me. I'm happy to be back and win a race," Pedrosa said.
Pedrosa jumped into the lead on the first lap despite starting fourth on the grid and gradually built his lead to three seconds halfway through the race. He maintained that lead until the final lap, when Rossi nearly overtook him on the final turn.
"Perhaps the only mistake was on the last lap when I was too slow," Pedrosa said. "I thought I had more of an advantage."
Rossi, who earned his 100th career win last weekend at the Dutch MotoGp, was seeking his third straight victory.
"I didn't expect Dani to be so strong today," Rossi said. "I was pushing a lot on the final lap and I saw Dani slow down. I got close, but not close enough."
Australian Casey Stoner was fourth on a Ducati and his teammate, American Nicky Hayden, was fifth.
It was the first MotoGp race this season not won by Rossi, Lorenzo or Stoner, who have dominated the class all year.
Lorenzo, who appeared to struggle in the morning warmup and gingerly got off his bike after 13 laps in that morning session, said he had trouble sleeping Saturday night because of pain. He briefly caught Rossi for second place with four laps to go, but wobbled while making the pass and fell back to third for good.
"I did very close to my best," he said. "I did one of the best races of my career. My physical condition was very poor."
The second-place finish allowed Rossi to increase his lead atop the championship standings as he seeks a ninth world title and seventh in MotoGp. Rossi now has 151 points, followed by Lorenzo on 142, Stoner on 135 and Pedrosa on 92.
Rossi matched a record Sunday with his 158th consecutive grand prix start. Rossi, who has never missed a GP race since moving up to that class in 2000, equalled the record set by Alex Barros in 1992-2003.
The 250cc and 125cc categories had the weekend off.
The withdrawal of Yuki Takahashi from motorcycling's premier class this past week made the Laguna Seca race the first MotoGp without a Japanese rider since 1991.
AFP / Expatica