Spain’s Dani Pedrosa took his fourth victory of the season, and first ever back-to-back race wins, with a lights-to-flag triumph at Misano’s round 12 of the series on Sunday.
But there were no celebrations as the news that Japan’s Shoya Tomizawa had lost his life in the earlier Moto2 event was announced immediately after the finish of the MotoGP race.
Podiums flags were flown at half mast and there was no spraying of champagne as a mark of respect to the young Japanese, who won the first ever 600cc grand prix at Qatar this year.
Pedrosa had converted pole into the race lead at turn one and was one-second clear by lap three of 28.
World championship leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) dropped from second to third at the start, but re-passed Ducati’s Casey Stoner later in the opening lap and remaining in second for the rest of the race.
Pedrosa’s lead over Lorenzo topped five seconds through the middle stages before he backed off to a 1.900sec victory at the chequered flag.
Lorenzo’s title lead over Pedrosa has now been reduced from 68 to 63 points with six rounds to go.
After the race, Pedrosa spoke of his deep sadness at the loss of Tomizawa, whose death comes just one week after Peter Lenz was killed in a support race at Indianapolis.
The fight for third was closer than the lead, with local legend Valentino Rossi – who overtook Stoner on lap eleven – facing an assault from countryman Andrea Dovizioso with 10 laps to go.
Pedrosa’s team-mate remained glued to the #46 until the penultimate lap, when Rossi built a one-second lead over the Honda rider – enough to prevent a last lap lunge.
Stoner’s pace dropped off markedly in the second half of the race and the Ducati rider took the flag twelve seconds behind Dovizioso, but almost ten ahead of top satellite rider Ben Spies.
The Texan, second at Indianapolis last weekend, was only tenth at the end of lap one, but moved through the field to claim sixth from Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Colin Edwards just before the midway mark.
Alvaro Bautista progressed all the way from 16th on the grid to eighth, three seconds behind Edwards, with Hector Barbera getting the better of Marco Melandri for ninth in the closing stages.
Randy de Puniet had been forced wide by a Barbera pass earlier in the race and finished in 13th place, ahead of only Melandri’s San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate Marco Simoncelli, who suffered a mishap while running sixth early in the race and finished last.
Loris Capirossi’s 200th premier-class start ended at the first chicane when he was hit by Nicky Hayden, bringing them both down.
A furious Capirossi was out on the spot, while Hayden (taken out by Alex de Angelis at the same point last year) re-joined, pitted for repairs, and eventually retired as well.
Round 13 of the championship will be held at the new Aragon circuit, in Spain, on September 19.
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 44’22.059
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0’01.900
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0’03.183
4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’06.454
5 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 0’18.479
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 0’28.385
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0’34.934
8 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 0’38.157
9 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 0’40.943
10 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0’42.377
11 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 0’45.906
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 0’46.394
13 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 0’50.481
14 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’23.143
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 271
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 208
3. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 139
4. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 130
5. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 130
6. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 120
7. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 109
8. Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 81
9. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 67
10. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 66
11. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 65
12. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 61
13. Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 44
14. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 41
15. Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 41
21. Wataru Yoshikawa Yamaha JPN 1