JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - Honda’s Dani Pedrosa led from start to finish to win his home Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday while Italian great Valentino Rossi clung on to the overall MotoGP lead after finishing a distant 10th for Yamaha.
The victory, a one-two for the works Honda team who had reigning champion Marc Marquez finish 6.136 seconds behind, was Pedrosa’s first on Spanish soil since the 31-year-old won at Jerez in 2013.
It was also his first in MotoGP since San Marino last September and continued his streak of winning a race in every season he has been in the top flight since 2006.
Jorge Lorenzo took third place, the triple MotoGP champion’s first podium for Ducati since his move from Yamaha, completing a Spanish sweep of the podium places in motorcycling’s 3,000th world championship grand prix.
Rossi’s lead was cut to two points over Spanish team mate Maverick Vinales, who finished sixth in the race, with the 38-year-old Italian now on 62 after four races. Vinales has 60, Marquez 58 and Pedrosa 52.
Pedrosa, the third different winner in four races, had started on pole for the first time since 2015 and pulled away at the start but it was not a comfortable afternoon for the little Catalan.
“It was an extremely hard race to be calm,” he said after his 30th MotoGP win. “I wanted to go faster but maybe the track conditions were not there and the feeling in some corners I was about to crash.
“I wasn’t really riding very comfortably so I had to be very focused every turn,” he added.
“At the middle of the race Marc started to be fast and put some pressure but I was able to control my pace and manage my lap times and my riding.”
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow had started third but fell back before crashing out while French rookie Johann Zarco took up the challenge behind Marquez on the non-works Yamaha Tech3, eventually finishing fourth.
Marquez said he had pushed hard to match Pedrosa but had felt from the start that the front tire was too soft for the conditions.
“With three laps remaining I had a big moment and said OK. I saw that second position was really good here...I always struggle at Jerez and here we were strong so I have a lot of confidence.”
Lorenzo said third was unexpected and like a victory for him after pre-season struggles to adapt to his new bike.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis