Pedrosa wins rain-halted Sepang race


Dani Pedrosa closed to within 23 points of Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP championship fight after taking a commanding victory in a rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix.

The majority of the race followed a similar pattern to Motegi and Aragon before it, with Jorge Lorenzo leading from pole but unable to shake Pedrosa, and then powerless to respond once the Honda rider made his move.

That process played out over the opening nine laps, with Pedrosa staying within half a second of Lorenzo before slipping ahead at Turn 15.

A resurgent Casey Stoner, and the advent of a fresh downpour, upset the sequence, however. As Pedrosa eased away Lorenzo's grip on second became increasingly precarious.

Unhappy with the conditions, the championship leader gestured several times to marshals, while all time being hounded by Stoner.

A five-second gap was whittled down to 1.9s within two laps, before the pressure told when Lorenzo flirted with disaster with a massive moment at Turn 15.

To his relief the red flags flew almost immediately after as the rain set in and the visibility decreased.

After a long delay while organisers weighed up a restart - an option that was eventually abandoned due to the terrible conditions – Lorenzo was eventually confirmed in second, limiting the damage of Pedrosa's win.

It is, however, the sixth consecutive occasion he has started on pole and come home runner-up.

Stoner ended the race in third, swarming over the back of Lorenzo.

The Australian had initially been at the head of a large battle for the final step on the podium, but as the weather worsened and others fell his pace improved and he eased away.

Ducati ended fourth and fifth courtesy of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi.

The Italian had run fourth early on, but dropped back to ninth and had to fight his way back up the order.

His task was made easier by a litany of crashes. Ben Spies on the second Yamaha was one of the earliest, suffering a heavy high-side through Turns 7 and 8 on lap eight.

Andrea Dovizioso crashed one lap later while running fourth and chasing Stoner, while his Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow also exited when he lost the front under braking at Turn 15.

Aspar's Randy de Puniet followed suit moments later, his bike flipping into the gravel even as Crutchlow began to trudge off.

Dovizioso was at least able to return and was 13th when the race was halted.

Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and Pramac Ducati's Hector Barbera rounded out the top seven, ahead of CRT riders Aleix Espargaro, James Ellison and the second satellite Ducati of Karel Abraham.

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