Lorenzo steps closer to title after Pedrosa crashes out

MOTEGI (Japan): Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo stepped closer to his first MotoGP season title yesterday after second-ranked Dani Pedrosa crashed in practice, forcing him out of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

With Pedrosa out of the Motegi race Spaniard Lorenzo saw his chances to win the season improve considerably, particularly if Pedrosa, who needs an operation, also misses next week’s race in Malaysia, as seems likely.

“Obviously, the best way to win the world title is with all the riders in the best condition and all the races completed,” Lorenzo said after the practice.

“Bad luck for Dani. It’s not good news for the championship,” the Yamaha man added.

Pedrosa, also of Spain, crashed at a V-shaped corner within the first five minutes of practice, after completing only two laps at Motegi.

He limped off his bike, which had fallen on his left leg.

Besides a broken collar bone, Pedrosa also bruised the joint of his left ankle.

With five races remaining, including Motegi, Lorenzo leads the field with 284 MotoGP points, 56 points ahead of Pedrosa and 129 ahead of third-ranked Casey Stoner on a Ducati.

Two consecutive victories or strong finishes would give Lorenzo an unbeatable point gap ahead of Pedrosa, who, until his crash, was the only racer with a chance of overtaking Lorenzo in the race for the season’s title.

It was unclear when Pedrosa could return to racing, a race medical officer said.

“When he crashed he suffered a multiple fracture of the left collar bone, and that requires an operation to have the best chance of returning to racing as soon as possible,” medical director Michele Macchiagodena told MotoGP.com.

“First we need to know when he can be operated on, then we will know when he can race again. We will see him in Australia,” where a race will be held a week after the Malaysian Grand Prix, Macchiagodena said.

Injury-hit reigning champion Valentino Rossi, who clocked the fastest practice time of 1:48.174, said the throttle of Pedrosa’s bike appeared stuck.

“It was a strange crash,” said Rossi who was trailing behind Pedrosa. “He lost control in braking. It was very strange that the throttle stuck. “This (season) is finished,” the Italian star added. “I think Lorenzo does have it.”

Meanwhile, Lorenzo said Pedrosa’s injury had not changed his own strategy for tomorrow’s race in Motegi.

“I don’t race with a calculator,” he said, referring to his point advantage. “I race more or less at the limit. I will race the same always.” — AFP

MotoGP: 1. Valentino Rossi (Ita) Yamaha 1:48.174, 2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ita) Honda 1:48.387, 3. Jorge Lorenzo (Spa) Yamaha 1:48.474, 4. Casey Stoner (Aus) Ducati 1:48.481, 5. Ben Spies (US) Yamaha 1:49.302,

6. Hiroshi Aoyama (Jpn) Honda 1:49.357, 7. Colin Edwards (US) 1:49.377, 8. Hector Barbera (Spa) Ducati 1:49.544, 9. Loris Capirossi (Ita) Suzuki 1:49.568, 10. Marco Simoncelli (Ita) Honda 1:49.581.

Moto2: 1. Julian Simon (Spa) 1:54.203, 2. Toni Elias (Spa) Moriwaki 1:54.327, 3. Alex De Angelis (Smr) Motobi 1:54.456, 4. Scott Redding (Eng) Suter 1:54.458, 5. Yonny Hernandez (Col) BQR-Moto2 1:54.750,

6. Simone Corsi (Ita) Motobi 1:55.051, 7. Yusuke Teshima (Jpn) 1:55.107, 8. Dominique Aegerter (Swi) Suter 1:55.142, 9. Gabor Talmacsi (Hun) Speed Up 1:55.155, 10. Claudio Corti (Ita) Suter 1:55.236.

125cc: 1. Nicolas Terol (Spa) Aprilia 1:59.882, 2. Marc Marquez (Spa) Derbi 2:00.085, 3. Sandro Cortese (Ger) Derbi 2:00.405, 4. Bradley Smith (Bri) Aprila 2:00.438, 5. Pol Espargaro (Spa) Derbi 2:00.612,

6. Efren Vazquez (Spa) Derbi 2:01.007, 7. Tomoyoshi Koyama (Jpn) Aprilia 2:01.166, 8. Alberto Moncayo (Spa) Aprilia 2:01.193, 9. Esteve Rabat (Spa) Aprilia 2:01.611, 10. Adrian Martin (Spa) Aprilia 2:01.882.

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