Dani Pedrosa put on a wet-weather master class to capture a rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday and keep the pressure on MotoGP championship leader Jorge Lorenzo after notching a fifth victory in six races.
The Spanish Honda rider was clear of the field after 13 of the scheduled 20 laps at a rain-swept Sepang International Circuit when the race was red-flagged because of dangerous conditions.
Pole-sitter Lorenzo held on to second place on his Yamaha as conditions deteriorated with world champion Casey Stoner crossing the line in third place on another Honda.
With torrential rain continuing to lash the circuit, the race could not be re-started, giving Pedrosa his first victory in Malaysia as the Spaniard continued his audacious late-season title push.
The win enabled Pedrosa (307) to cut fellow Spaniard Lorenzo’s (330) lead in the championship standings to 23 points with two more races remaining and a maximum of 50 points available.
Pedrosa started behind Lorenzo in what was declared a wet race but was soon breathing down the 2010 world champion’s neck as the pair pulled clear of the pack.
The 27-year-old snatched the lead just past the scheduled halfway point and never looked like being challenged by Lorenzo as several riders behind the leaders crashed out on the slippery surface.
Lorenzo was lucky to survive a heavy wobble seconds before the race was red-flagged as his bike threatened to lose control at the hairpin before the home straight.
Australia’s Stoner recorded his first podium finish since returning from an ankle surgery in August while Ducati’s Nicky Hayden finished fourth, ahead of team mate Valentino Rossi.