Late tyre call key to Dani Pedrosa's Motegi MotoGP win for Honda

Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says a late tyre switch at Motegi paved the way for his charge to a first MotoGP victory in 14 months

Late tyre call key to Dani Pedrosa's Motegi MotoGP win for Honda

The Spaniard qualified sixth in dry conditions, but won a Japanese Grand Prix that started on a wet track and finished with a dry line.

Having settled into fourth place, Pedrosa marched past Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso and Yamaha pair Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo during the second half of the race.

It came as those ahead - Lorenzo in particular - suffered with degrading front tyres, while Pedrosa rode cautiously early, having swapped from the hard compound to a brand new soft rear tyre on the grid.

"I was a bit worried at the beginning of the race," he admitted.

"I was on the grid and everybody was on the soft rear so I was considering with my mechanic whether to stay or change.

"In the end I decided if I had to fight, it's better to have the same tools.

"When I started my sighting lap, the feeling was not very good and I was wondering to change back to a hard.

"I took a lot of care at the beginning because I couldn't really push, and I knew that towards the end it was going to be important with so many second and third gear corners.

"My laptime was not too bad, but [the Yamahas] were super fast.

"I lost so much time that I couldn't believe I was going to recover all of that gap."

Pedrosa's charge and the Yamaha riders' struggles coincided with the circuit drying, but even then he did not expect it to lead to his 50th grand prix victory, and first in MotoGP since the 2014 Czech GP.

"I stayed on my laptime but they started to drop," he said.

"I was recovering little by little, and when I passed Dovizioso, I thought, 'OK, a podium is good, but it's hard to think I can catch Jorge', because at many places I couldn't even see him.

"But suddenly, one lap to another, they were coming closer. I was keeping my laptime and I just tried to stay calm and do my thing, do some different lines on the track to get the wet parts.

"Towards the end, when I was in front, it was a good last six laps, because it's been a long time between wins."

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