Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa may be out of the title picture, but the man I’ve been calling the best rider never to win a MotoGP title showed his true worth by taking the checkered flag at the Motegi Grand Prix in Japan. Pedrosa claimed his 50th MotoGP in dramatic style, overcoming his starting position (he started sixth from the grid) and a wet racetrack to deny Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo a chance to win Yamaha’s 11th race win of the season.

Pedrosa even admitted to having some tire issues at the start of the race, but as the race wore on, he was able to find his form and pick up his pace, eventually sweeping past Rossi and Lorenzo to finish first, 8.573 seconds ahead of Rossi. It’s also his first win in what has been a turbulent season by his own standards, including missing three races at the start of the season after getting arm pump surgery.

Lost in the attention of Pedrosa’s impressive victory is the title picture between Rossi and Lorenzo. Rossi’s second place finish gave him four extra points in the overall standings over Lorenzo. As it stands now with just three races remaining, the Italian rider leads his Spanish teammate, 283 points to 265. Lorenzo is by all means still in the title picture, but he’s going to need to post top finishes in the last three races and hope that Rossi stumbles in at least one of them to have a shot at overtaking his teammate and preventing him from winning a record 10th MotoGP title.

The MotoGP calendar now moves to the Australian Grand Prix in Philips Island on

Continue reading to read more about the dramatic title showdown between the two Yamaha riders.

Why it matters

Ideally, I would’ve wanted the title picture to be decided by riders from different teams. But at least the title race is going down the wire. That much I can’t complain about. Besides, it’s the same scenario in Formula One, at least before the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi. Lewis Hamilton is still on pace to win the title, but Rosberg has fallen to third in the standings on account of his retirement in Russia, allowing Sebastian Vettel to squeak past him in second. But for the most part, Hamilton has this in the bag.

That much can’t be said for Rossi, which is why I’m willing to excuse Yamaha’s overall dominance this season. Both Rossi and Lorenzo are two of the most likeable riders in the MotoGP grid today. They both have interesting storylines on why they deserve to win this year’s title. Lorenzo has won more races, but Rossi has more podium finishes. You can really pick any of these two riders to win the title and either one of them would deserve it.

Now that it’s down to three races, Rossi unquestionably has the inside track, but I’m still holding out hope that Lorenzo can keep it close enough to figure into a winner-take-all race at the season-ending race in Valencia on November 8, 2015. Now that would be a can’t-miss race.

Source: MotoGP

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