Valentino Rossi led the championship by twenty three points going into this race, but the rain his fans were hoping for wouldn't come.
Jorge Lorenzo got his usual good start, with Andrea Iannone and Marc Marquez behind and Valentino Rossi in sixth behind Pol Espargaro and Dani Pedrosa.
On the second lap, Lorenzo and Marquez started building a small gap from Iannone but Marquez crashed out with a low side that ended his weekend. Marquez, with shades of Basil Fawlty, chastised his Honda before trying to pick it up. Visibly angry with his bike, he gave up and returned to the pits.
Lorenzo, given a gap, was able to run his own race and build his lead to over two seconds ahead of Dani Pedrosa on lap four, Pedrosa having passed Iannone on the previous lap. Later that lap, Rossi passed Iannone and locked onto Pedrosa's rear wheel.
The race then settled into a rhythm, with Lorenzo three seconds ahead of Pedrosa and Rossi who built a small gap from a lonely Iannone. Iannone's lead over Andrea Dovizioso, battling with Alex Espagaro, Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow, kept increasing by a couple of tenths of a second a lap.
Very little changed for ten laps until, five laps from the end, Valentino Rossi decided it was time to make a move on Dani Pedrosa. Rossi had been within a few tenths of Pedrosa all race and could match his pace every lap. A quick attempted pass to throw Pedrosa off his game and Rossi expected to watch his opponent crumble under the challenge, but Pedrosa was;t flustered, repeating immediately and thwarting all of the Italian's subsequent probings, leading at the end of the long back straight and swooping round turns sixteen and seventeen.
Four laps to go, Rossi lurched into turn one, taking second briefly until Pedrosa switched back on the inside line of the right-handed turn two. The crowd woke up. Rossi tried again a few turns later only to, once again, have Pedrosa immediately strike back.
Three laps to go, the gap to Lorenzo ahead still at just over three seconds, Rossi kept making passes that wouldn't stick, while Pedrosa fought harder than he's been seen to fight before, immediately striking back.
Two laps to go, Rossi passed at turn one again, Pedrosa passed back at turn two again. More passes, more parries and ripostes.
Last lap, the same fight continued, both riders fighting tooth and claw, Pedrosa closes every opportunity, and there were no passes left.
Until turn fourteen.
Valentino Rossi carried impossible speed into turn fourteen, making a pass that nobody could have expected, but Dani Pedrosa just kept his calm and held his line, inside Rossi into turn fifteen and onto the kilometre long back straight. Pedrosa knew that Rossi was very good on the brakes into turn sixteen, but his yamaha didn't have the drive to close up enough to attempt a pass.
Dani Pedrosa held off Valentino Rossi with the best solid racing he's shown in his MotoGP career, a performance that still only netted him second place behind a flag-to-flag dominant Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo returned to Park Fermé making a shark's fin with his hand on top of his helmet having sliced nine points from Rossi's lead, closing the gap to fourteen points, having convincingly led the race from start to finish, but it was Dani Pedrosa's performance that will be remembered.
|17||76||Loris BAZ||Yamaha Forward||+51.997|
|20||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||Ducati||+59.607|
|21||24||Toni ELIAS||Yamaha Forward||+1'15.237|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||Honda||12 Laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||Ducati||14 Laps|
|15||Alex DE ANGELIS||ART||18 Laps|
|93||Marc MARQUEZ||Honda||22 Laps|