x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dani Pedrosa battles through the pain barrier to win Portuguese MotoGP

The Spaniard recovers from a shoulder operation less than a month ago to win the third MotoGP race of the season from Jorge Lorenzo.

Dani Pedrosa leads Jorge Lorenzo in the final stages of the Portguese MotoGP.
Dani Pedrosa leads Jorge Lorenzo in the final stages of the Portguese MotoGP.

ESTORIL, PORTUGAL // Dani Pedrosa battled through the pain barrier to win the Portuguese MotoGP — less than a month after a shoulder operation.

Honda's Spanish star swept past the world champion and pole-setter Jorge Lorenzo with three laps to go to claim his first win at Estoril and his first grand prix win of the season.

It was a remarkable performance considering his date with the surgeon's knife in Barcelona on April 6 after finishing second in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Pedrosa required an operation after suffering multiple fractures to his left shoulder in a crash in testing for the Japanese Grand Prix last October.

"It was very difficult for me after the surgery — to be here is incredible," he told the BBC after stunning Lorenzo who was firm favourite to win for the fourth consecutive year in Portugal.

"It was an amazing race. At the end I didn't want to be second again, I tried and it happened.

"I'm very thankful for the doctors to get me ready - I'm in a lot of pain now."

Lorenzo retained his lead in the world championship on 65 points, but Pedrosa is now only four points adrift on 61.

Lorenzo, who had led the race until Pedrosa overtook him as if he was standing still, paid tribute to the winner.

"I certainly didn't let him pass!" he smiled. "He was faster — I was pushing, it was tiring for me as he had to follow me — but he had a better race and deserved the win. At least we've picked up some points, that's important for the championship."

Pedrosa had started on the front row in third place and tracked Lorenzo before making his winning move.

After taking the lead he posted two fastest laps before crossing the line over three seconds clear of Lorenzo, with another Honda rider, the Australian Casey Stoner, 7.658 secs back in third.

There was then a 16-second gap back to the Italian Andrea Dovizioso, who pipped the multiple champion Valentino Rossi for fourth.

Marco Simoncelli, who had a verbal spat with Lorenzo over riding styles yesterday, only made it as far as turn four on the opening lap.

The Italian, sharing the front row with Lorenzo and Pedrosa, was thrown from his Yamaha, somersaulting through the air before sliding off into the safety gravel.

Officials were quick to rush to the scene but he walked back to the pits unaided.

Ducati's Spanish rider Hector Barbera crashed at the next corner, with his Czech teammate Karel Abraham's race ending on lap two.

Lorenzo's fellow Yamaha rider Ben Spies, who crashed on the sighting lap here last year, came to grief on lap 14.

Earlier Germany's Stefan Bradl won the Moto2 race, the Kalex rider coming in clear of Spain's Julian Simon, on a Suter, and Japan's Yuki Takahashi, riding a Moriwaki.

Bradl was adding this third leg of the season to his win in the opening race in Qatar.

After an exciting battle in the closing laps the pole setter held off Simon by 0.147 secs with a gap of over six seconds back to Takahashi.

Bradl leads the overall standings on 61 points from Suter's Andrea Iannone (48 points), who held the race lead five laps from the finish, only for the Italian to crash on the next lap, eventually trailing in 13th.

Takahashi was making the podium less than a week after the death of his brother and fellow racer Koki in a road accident.