Honda's Dani Pedrosa ends four-year home drought with Jerez win
|By Mitchell Adam||Sunday, May 7th 2017, 13:00 GMT|
Dani Pedrosa claimed his first victory of the 2017 MotoGP season, leading Honda team-mate Marc Marquez home in the Spanish Grand Prix.
The Spaniard led from start to finish to win for the first time since last September's race at Misano, while Jorge Lorenzo recorded his maiden podium with Ducati and championship leader Valentino Rossi laboured to a distant 10th.
Pedrosa made the most of starting from pole for the first time in 18 months, getting away cleanly at Jerez and slotting into the lead.
Using the medium-compound rear tyre compared to the harder rubber on the other Hondas of Marquez and Cal Crutchlow on the front row, Pedrosa skipped away to build an early advantage approaching one second.
Johann Zarco again charged in the early stages, passing Rossi on the opening lap and then Maverick Vinales, Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone the next time around to slot into third place.
Zarco threatened Marquez briefly, but could not run with the Hondas at the front.
Pedrosa's lead got up to one-and-a-half seconds and stayed there for the first half of the race, before Marquez chipped several tenths away during the next phase.
With 10 laps to go, the gap was nearly exactly one second, and the pair traded sector times but Pedrosa maintained his pace in the 1m40s bracket.
The gap grew again for a number of laps, before Marquez got it under one second with three laps remaining, when Pedrosa responded again with a lap four tenths quicker.
That signalled the end of the Marquez fight, the reigning world champion backing off and Pedrosa claiming his 30th MotoGP victory by 6.136 seconds.
It continues Pedrosa's streak of winning a race in each season he has raced in the premier class, dating back to 2006.
Zarco and Lorenzo were two of the four riders racing on the medium front tyre, rather than the hard, and the Tech3 Yamaha rookie was reeled in by Lorenzo, who started eighth.
Moves on Vinales and Rossi and Suzuki's Iannone were part of Lorenzo's rise, and the Ducati rider made his way past Zarco down the back straight on lap 12.
Zarco was able to stay with Lorenzo for a while, but the Spaniard ultimately flexed his muscle to claim the final podium position, his first since leaving Yamaha for Ducati.
Vinales faded from the lead riders early, as Andrea Dovizioso followed team-mate Lorenzo in passing both Yamaha riders as part of his move from 14th to fifth in the opening 10 laps.
But Vinales bought back into the battle between Dovizioso and Rossi, and overtook them both in one hit at Turn 5 on lap 13, by which time he was the best part of 10 seconds behind Pedrosa.
Dovizioso got back past Vinales, though, and ensured both Ducatis finished inside the top five at a circuit where it has regularly struggled.
Rossi then fell further back, passed for seventh by Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci for seventh on lap 15, and then Jonas Folger for eighth on lap 21.
There was more pain to come, with Rossi also losing ninth to Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro in the closing laps, as his times ballooned out to the 1m44s and even 1m45s bracket.
The Italian eventually crossed the line 38.682s after Pedrosa, and leaves Jerez with a two-point championship lead over Vinales, with Marquez now just a further two behind.
Six riders crashed out of the race, a run started by Aspar Ducati's Alvaro Bautista and Mark VDS Honda rider Jack Miller tangling at Turn 1 on lap six, prompting a visibly frustrated Miller to push the Spaniard after their bikes came to a rest in the gravel trap.
Separate crashes 10 corners later then accounted for Crutchlow, who had settled into fourth place on his LCR Honda, and KTM's Pol Espargaro.
Iannone also came unstuck at Turn 11, four laps later, having fallen to ninth in the order after his fast start.
RESULTS - 27 LAPS:
|4||Johann Zarco||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||17.601s|
|7||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||24.959s|
|8||Jonas Folger||Tech3 Yamaha||Yamaha||27.721s|
|11||Scott Redding||Pramac Ducati||Ducati||40.979s|
|12||Hector Barbera||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||43.199s|
|13||Loris Baz||Avintia Ducati||Ducati||43.211s|
|15||Karel Abraham||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||51.279s|
|-||Tito Rabat||MVDS Honda||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Cal Crutchlow||LCR Honda||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Jack Miller||MVDS Honda||Honda||Retirement|
|-||Alvaro Bautista||Aspar Ducati||Ducati||Retirement|