Dani Pedrosa has won a dramatic final MotoGP of the season, holding on for victory at Valencia.
In what was a race mixed by a rain shower prior to the start, the Repsol Honda driver led home first time podium finisher Katsuyuki Nakasuga and retiring MotoGP great Casey Stoner.
The race was declared wet before the start, despite a dry line having formed. Only Yamaha’s world champion Jorge Lorenzo, his team-mate Nakasuga, and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl chose the softer option slick tyres. All others started on the hard wets. However, in a twist unseen this season, Pedrosa, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista decided to start from pit-lane after their sighting lap, with all of them switching to a bike with slick tyres.
At the start, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró led the early exchanges, becoming the first CRT bike to lead a Grand Prix. Within three laps, however, Lorenzo was in front and looked to have nailed the strategy.
But the track quickly dried and many riders that started on wets came into the pits to switch bikes (to slicks), the first of which being Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner, Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá and Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso.
The race looked like it would settle down from that point, but it only got more interesting, with riders falling off their bikes left, right and centre.
Hayden, Iván Silva, Roberto Rolfo crashed out of contention, while Bradl saw a potential podium slid into the gravel trap early.
The biggest news of the race, though, was a huge crash for Lorenzo, who highsided off his Yamaha as he was passing back markers. He was lucky to walk away from the crash.
This left Pedrosa in the lead, who also had his work cut out getting past the slower riders. Once through, it was a (slippery) Sunday ride to victory for the pole-sitter.
Second place would have gone to pit-lane starter Crutchlow but was caught out by the conditions and fell off his Yamaha.
Wildcard Nakasuga inherited second place, securing the first podium finish of 2012 for a Japanese rider.
Bautista was third after Crutchlow’s exit, although Stoner caught and passed him on the penultimate lap.
Race result, Valencia
|1||25||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||149.0||48’23.819|
|2||20||21||Katsuyuki NAKASUGA||JPN||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||147.0||+37.661|
|3||16||1||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||145.9||+1’00.633|
|4||13||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||145.8||+1’02.811|
|5||11||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||144.6||+1’26.608|
|6||10||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||144.5||+1’30.423|
|7||9||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||144.4||+1’31.789|
|8||8||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda-Suter||143.5||1 Lap|
|9||7||77||James ELLISON||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||143.1||1 Lap|
|10||6||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||142.9||1 Lap|
|11||5||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||141.1||1 Lap|
|12||4||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||138.3||2 Laps|
|13||3||73||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Avintia Blusens||BQR||136.7||2 Laps|
|14||2||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||132.6||3 Laps|
|35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||146.7||8 Laps|
|71||Claudio CORTI||ITA||Avintia Blusens||Inmotec||130.0||13 Laps|
|8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||134.5||14 Laps|
|99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||146.6||17 Laps|
|6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||141.8||21 Laps|
|84||Roberto ROLFO||ITA||Speed Master||ART||128.3||24 Laps|
|22||Ivan SILVA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR||126.9||28 Laps|
|69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||126.9||28 Laps|
Final championship table
|13||Randy DE PUNIET||62|