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Dani Pedrosa took his first race win of 2012 at the Sachsenring after a dramatic last-lap showdown with works Honda team leader Casey Stoner that ended badly for the World champion.
Pedrosa got the best of a confused start to lead Stoner and the factory Yamahas of Ben Spies and Jorge Lorenzo into Turn. The early stages were cut and thrust with the leading group tightly bunched, as Stoner made the most of better grip to pass his team mate and take the lead.
Meanwhile Cal Crutchlow was battling it out with Yamaha Tech 3 tram mate Andrea Dovizioso, and works Ducati rider was trying to hold off Honda privateer Stefan Bradl, who was keen to make a good showing in front of his home crowd.
On lap five, however, Spies ran wide, letting Lorenzo through into third, and the former World champion promptly set off after the two leading Hondas.
That left Spies with the satellite Yamahas breathing down his neck, while Ducati team leader Valentino Rossi and Ducati privateer Hector Barbera moved up to join Hayden and Bradl in another four-way dice.
Two laps later both Dovizioso and Crutchlow dived past Spies, who seemed to be slowing, as Stoner and Pedrosa moved away at the front.
By half-distance, however, Spies was back in the groove, moving up behind Crutchlow and Dovizioso for an epic three-way Yamaha battle, while Pedrosa and Stoner disputed the lead in a Honda versus Honda dust-up - there are no team orders in MotoGP - with Lorenzo safe if lonely in third.
Pedrosa made his big move on lap 19, outbraking Stoner into Turn 1. Stoner immediately tried to strike back but overdid it and was lucky to survive a huge wobble. Typical of the man, that didn't slow him down as he continued to chase his team mate for all he was worth, rather than settle for a safe second and the championship lead.
With seven laps remaining the three-way Yamaha tussle for fourth was getting even fiercer as Crutchlow tried to get by past Dovizioso – until he outbraked himself into Turn 1 and ran into the gravel. He managed to keep the shiny side up and rejoined in eighth behind Honda privateer Alvaro Bautista, leaving Spies and Dovizioso to dispute fourth.
Pedrosa and Stoner were elbow to elbow at near lap-record pace in the final showdown until Stoner crashed just a few corners from the flag, gifting Pedrosa an emphatic 15-second win from Lorenzo and Dovizioso, who took the last podium spot from his team mate by less than a quarter of a second.
Bradl just held off a late charge from Rossi to finish fifth, and even then it was the nine-times World Champion's best dry result so far this season.
Had Stoner finished second he would now be leading the championship on 160 points, with Lorenzo on 156 and Pedrosa on 146. As it is he is third on 140, behind Lorenzo's 160 and Pedrosa's 146.
Marc Márquez (Suter) got the hole shot at the start of the 600cc race, leading Kalex rider Mika Kallio and Julián Simón (Suter) into Turn 1 - but seconds later Kallio's team mate Scott Redding banged fairings with Toni Elias' Suter and went down hard, allowing, Márquez and Kallio to pull out a small gap from the peloton as Simon, Speed Up rider Andrea Iannone, and Tech 3 team mates Bradley Smith and Xavier Siméon jostled for position.
Iannone broke away on lap four and soon caught up to the leading pair, blitzing Kallio and setting off in pursuit of Marquez, while Simón had dropped off the pace a littler and Dominique Aegerter (Suter) and veteran Alex de Angelis charged up the field to stake their claim and Pol Espargaró (Kalex), who'd started 17th after a disastrous qualifying session, worked his way up to eighth.
Two laps later Elías crashed out, while Iannone kept up the pressure on Márquez. Espargaró did very well to save a near-disaster, although it cost him a couple of places – and then Iannone outbraked Marquez on lap nine, only to have the Suter rider strike back immediately to retake the lead.
A lap later Iannone tried too hard into Turn 1 and down he went, although he was able to keep the bike running and rejoin in 26th. De Angelis outfoxed Kallio into Turn12 on lap 15, but the Finn got the better drive out of the corner and re-took second.
Espargaró made a near-identical move on Corsi to take before both of them blitzed Smith, relegating him to sixth. A few laps later De Angelis had another go and made it stick that time, as Espargaró started to hunt down the leading three.
Former 125cc World champion Tom Lüthi, who did not have a good start, put on a mid-race charge, passing Smith for sixth, but it was Kallio who had the crowd on their feet as he passed De Angelis into Turn 1, two laps before the end to take second. De Angelis tried to retake him in the final corner but ran wide, giving the Finn the better drive out of the bend and a half-second.
It was Márquez' fourth win of the season, but the first podium for both Kallio and De Angelis. Márquez now leads the championship by 43 points from Espargaró, who finished fourth.
After threatening all afternoon, the skies opened just before the start of the Moto3 race, making conditions unpredictable at best as the track surface changed throughout the race.
FTR Honda rider Adrian Martin got the hole shot ahead of Jack Miller (Honda) and KTM rider Danny Kent, as Louis Rossi (FTR Honda) made his way through the field to come up behind Miller and Martín, who had swapped positions at the front.
On lap three Rossi pushed into second, ahead of a four-way scrap between Kalex KTM rider Luis Salom., his South African team mate Brad Binder, Jonas Folger on a Ioda and Jakub Kornfeil (FTR Honda).
On lap 10 Salom made a mistake running into Turn 1, letting Martín through into third and Binder into fourth – and then Martín put a bold move on Rossi to move up to second – but the rain had stopped and the sun was coming out, creating a dry line in some places that would quickly shred their special wet-weather tyres.
On lap 14 Salom passed Rossi in Turn 1 to take second, while Miller’s team mate Alexis Masbou, running on intermediate tyres, carved his way through the pack on the drying line. Then Salom passed Miller to go into the lead as the riders learned to cope with the changing conditions.
On lap 17 Masbou took the lead with Cortese up into second, ahead of Miller and Martin, until Martin crashed out three laps later. Six laps from home Binder's KTM-engined Kalex began to lose power, until it simply rattled to a stop in Turn 11.
The final laps saw Masbou, Cortese and Salom in the lead as Rossi, running fifth, went out mechanical problems. In the end it was local hero Cortese who held his nerve to become the first German to win at the newly-rebuilt Sachsenring and retake the lead in the championship, with Masbou taking his first Grand Prix podium and Salom completing the top three.
The result puts Cortese at the top of the championship standings, 18 points ahead of FTR Honda rider Maverick Viñales, who finished in 17th.
The next MotoGP will be run at Mugello in Italy on 15 July.
RESULTS – MOTOGP
1 Dani Pedrosa (Spain) Honda – 41min28.396
2 Jorge Lorenzo (Spain) Yamaha +14.996sec
3 Andrea Dovizioso (Italy) Yamaha +20.669
4 Ben Spies (US) Yamaha +20.740
5 Stefan Bradl (Germany) +27.893
6 Valentino Rossi (Italy) Ducati +28.080
7 Alvaro Bautista (Spain) Honda +28.246
8 Cal Crutchlow (Britain) Yamaha +28.447
9 Hector Barbera (Spain) Ducati +29.053
10 Nicky Hayden (US) Ducati +29.226
11 Randy de Puniet (France) ART +53.176
12 Colin Edwards (US) Suter +58.204
13 Aleix Espargaro (Spain) ART +1min04.654
14 Yonny Hernandez (Colombia) BQR +1min13.543
15 James Ellison (Britain) ART +1min30.318
16 Franco Battaini (Italy) Ducati +1 lap
17 Danilo Petrucci (Italy) Ioda +1 lap
18 Ivan Silva (Spain) BQR +1 lap
1 Marc Marquez (Spain) Suter – 41min32.467
2 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex +2.093sec
3 Mika Kallio (Finland) Kalex +2.567
4 Pol Espargaro (Spain) Kalex +5.990
5 Thomas Luthi (Switzerland) Suter +6.139
6 Simone Corsi (Italy) FTR +11.051
7 Bradley Smith (Britain) Tech 3 +11.409
8 Xavier Simeon (Belgium) Tech 3 +14.808
9 Claudio Corti (Italy) Kalex +20.769
10 Dominique Aegerter (Switzerland) Suter +25.141
1 Sandro Cortese (Germany) KTM – 45min36.868
2 Alexis Masbou (France) Honda +0.635sec
3 Luis Salom (Spain) Kalex KTM +3.998
4 Jack Miller (Australia) Honda +4.051
5 Efren Vazquez (Spain) FTR Honda +12.119
6 Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Malaysia) KTM +25.174
7 Hector Faubel (Spain) Kalex KTM +25.499
8 Luca Gruenwald (Germany) Honda +26.087
9 Arthus Sissis (Australia) KTM +29.675
10 Jakub Kornfeil (Czech Republic) FTR Honda +29.801