Spain’s Honda rider Dani Pedrosa won the Czech MotoGP on Sunday, beating world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo in a nerve-wracking final lap.
Pedrosa, who finished the 22 laps on the 5.4-kilometre (3.4-mile) circuit in 42 minutes 51.570 seconds, has narrowed the gap on Lorenzo in the overall standings to only 13 points with six races to go this season.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow on a Yamaha came in third for the first podium finish of his MotoGP career, ahead of Italian teammate Andrea Dovizioso.
With last year’s winner Casey Stoner absent with a fractured ankle, Lorenzo and Pedrosa showed their dominance as they took off and gradually widened the gap on the rest of the pack, leaving Crutchlow more than 12 seconds behind.
Pedrosa took the lead from pole-sitter Lorenzo halfway through the race and held on until the last lap, when Lorenzo took it back.
“It was a difficult last lap because I knew Jorge was very fast in the middle of the corner and I could hear the bike full on me,” said the 26-year-old Pedrosa.
“I knew just a small opening will make him go in and in fact in that left-hander I just opened the door a little more than normal and boom — he was immediately in,” he added.
But Pedrosa reacted immediately, fighting back to earn his third victory this season.
“It was half a lap to go and I was a little more nervous than before but... on almost the last corner I got along with him, he tried to relase the brakes and we were head-to-head into the corner, but I could... win the race,” he said.
Lorenzo said he was sure Pedrosa would never give up on the last lap.
“I was sure that Dani was going to try. I gave a little space to Dani to overtake me. I made a little mistake,” said the Yamaha rider.
“I wanted to pass him in the last corner but it was impossible,” added Lorenzo, the 2010 winner from the Brno circuit about 180 kilometres (113 miles) south-east of the Czech capital Prague.
Crutchlow said he was “very pleased” with what he called “a perfect weekend,” but admitted Pedrosa and Lorenzo were a different class.
“We never had the pace of the two guys, I knew that after a few laps in the race,” he said, adding he focused on making sure “Dovi wasn’t too close” to him.
Lorenzo has 245 points at the top of the overall standings, while Pedrosa is second on 232 — but the leader has things to ponder as the Brno winner has lifted the overall trophy in the five previous seasons.
Stoner remained in third place overall with 186 points despite failing to take part after travelling home to Australia for surgery, admitting that his chances of defending last year’s overall trophy were all but gone.
Having decided to retire at the end of this season, Stoner will be replaced at the Repsol Honda team by Spanish youngster Marc Marquez, who won a thrilling Moto2 race in Brno on Sunday, while Germany’s Jonas Folger took the Moto3 honours.