Dani Pedrosa slipped and slid his way to his second victory of the season at the Le Mans MotoGP, taking a six-point lead in the Championship
Race four of the season was a thriller from the moment the lights went out as the wet conditions put a stop to two or three riders slipping away from the chasing pack.
Instead almost from the very start a group of six riders fought for a podium position while two, Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, traded blows at the very front until the Honda rider finally broke the Ducati’s challenge.
Report: With the rain coming down, the Le Mans MotoGP was declared a ‘wet race’ with all the riders starting on the Bridgestone wets. Pole-sitter Marc Marquez was bogged down off the line, dropping to ninth while Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo led into the first corner ahead of Pedrosa.
Dovizioso had the early pace-setter in the rain etching out an advantage over Lorenzo, who was being hunted down by Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi, known his skill in the rain, made his way up to fourth ahead of Stefano Bradl while Marquez, up to eight, struggled to keep his Honda on the track.
Pedrosa overtook Lorenzo on lap three as the rain stopped falling and quickly set his sights on Dovizioso, dragging his fellow Spaniard with him.
Within two laps the Honda rider had negated Dovizioso’s 1.4s advantage but was unable to find a way through with his first attempt at Garage Vert resulting in the Ducati fighting back at the very next corner. Moments later, though, Pedrosa made it stick down the main straight.
Their battle soon ignited with the duo trading blows and passing moves, each more daring that the other in the tricky conditions with Pedrosa coming out tops.
Meanwhile, over a two lap period five riders passed Lorenzio as Rossi, Cal Crutchlow, Nicky Hayden, Bradl and Marquez all dived by the Spaniard who was struggling on the wet track.
Back at the front, Dovizioso was not letting Pedrosa get away and took the lead off the Honda rider who came back at him two corners later while Crutchlow, racing with a small fracture to his shin, made it stick against Rossi to work his way up to third.
Bradl gave up his fight when with 10 to go he crashed on a drying circuit. Moments later Rossi joined him in the gravel as the nine-time Champ succumbed to the pressure from Hayden. Both riders rejoined in 11th and 12th places respectively.
As the laps counted down Pedrosa broke Dovizioso’s charge to build up a lead of over five seconds with five to go while his team-mate Marquez continued his fightback, taking fourth off Hayden. The rookie was five seconds behind the battle for the podium and closing in at a second per lap, prompting Crutchlow’s team to tell him to pass - now. He did.
With two to go Marquez had caught the back of Dovizioso and made short work of the Italian to take the final podium position in his first wet race in MotoGP.
There was no catching the leading two, though, and Pedrosa raced to his second win of the season, almost six seconds ahead of Crutchlow who secured his best-ever result in MotoGP. Marquez was third.
Dovizioso eventually finished fourth, missing out on his first podium for Ducati, while his team-mate Nicky Hayden was fifth ahead of Alvaro Bautista.
Lorenzo brought his Yamaha home in seventh place with Rossi 12th.