Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa reduced the gap to Jorge Lorenzo in the championship standings to less than 50 points with victory in today's restarted eni Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at Sachsenring.
The original race was red flagged on lap nine when a crash for Randy de Puniet at turn four brought down both Álvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaró, neither of whom could avoid the Frenchman’s bike as it burst into flames in the middle of the track. The top five order at that stage was Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, Andrea Dovizioso and Rossi, which is how they lined up on the grid for the restart after the race had been red flagged.
Espargaró and Bautista were not allowed to start the shortened 21-lap race as both failed to return to pit lane with their bikes within the allowed five-minute window after the showing of the red flag. De Puniet was physically unable to retake the grid, having sustained fractures in his left tibia and fibula in the incident.
Espargaró was later diagnosed with a cracked C6 vertebra.
After a 25-minute interval the new shortened race got underway, with Mika Kallio sliding out at turn one in an unfortunate end to his weekend. As he had done in the original race Pedrosa got his nose in front on the first lap, but Lorenzo quickly assumed the race lead – that would change again however.
The top order was much the same as it had been before the red flag, with Lorenzo holding off Pedrosa, Stoner in third, and Rossi and Dovizioso battling for fourth. The reigning World Champion was in front of his Italian compatriot before too long, and the Repsol Honda man was caught by the chasing pack shortly after.
The battle between Lorenzo and Pedrosa was developing into a thriller with the two Spaniards swapping the lead as they constantly looked for ways through on one another. Pedrosa was at his best as he set a new circuit lap record on lap 10 and then again on lap 12, assuming the race lead and breaking his own record from the previous year and consistently riding in the low 1’22”s bracket.
There was a good scrap going on for fifth between Marco Simoncelli, Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden, with the latter two going through on the rookie when he had a bit of an out of the saddle moment on the drop down to turn 12.
Rossi was defying his precarious physical condition to engage in a great contest with Stoner for third, the two side by side with only a few laps to go and taking their duel to the bitter end.
Pedrosa crossed the line in first position, 3.355s clear of championship leader Lorenzo thanks to a faultless ride.
"I'm very happy because we are back winning races and it's a great feeling," said Pedrosa. "Today's win was even better than Mugello, because I was battling with Lorenzo and finally beat him, so this is even more important. This weekend has ended perfectly."
"I don't think I rode as well in the second part of the race as I did in the first," explained Lorenzo. "Dani was very strong and I was on the limit trying to stay ahead. When he passed me I tried to stay with him, but he was much faster than me today."
Stoner managed to edge Rossi for third with a final corner move that handed the Italian fourth on his return from injury, a highly impressive result.
"Valentino was taking big chunks of time out of me and, once he went past, I didn't think I'd be able to follow," admitted Stoner. "I tried really hard to stay in there and had a good battle with a lot of nice passes. We touched at the bottom of the hill, but it was a good, clean fight and I'm pleased to come away with a podium."
"I thought it was maybe possible to make fourth or fifth place, but I thought it would be very difficult. I certainly didn't expect this," declared Rossi. "I felt some pain from my leg and my shoulder, but the battle with Casey was so much fun I didn't really think about it. Unfortunately though, he got the better of me on the last corner. This is a fantastic result though after missing four races."
Dovizioso finished fifth, with Simoncelli achieving his best premier class result to date in sixth. American duo Hayden and Ben Spies were seventh and eighth respectively, with Héctor Barberá and Marco Melandri completing the top ten.
The final two riders to complete the race in 11th and 12th were Loris Capirossi and stand-in rider Alex de Angelis. Colin Edwards had crashed out on lap seven of the original race.
Lorenzo now has 185 points at the top of the standings, with Pedrosa second on 138 and Dovizioso third on 102. Stoner moves into fourth, 19 points off Dovizioso.