| Motorsport News | Monday October 1 2012 6:34
Dani Pedrosa gave himself a timely birthday present with a dazzling victory in the Aragon MotoGP race on Sunday.
The Spanish Honda rider, who turned 27 on Saturday, came home clear of compatriot and overall series leader Jorge Lorenzo, on a Yamaha, while Andrea Dovizioso was third on a Yamaha a whisker ahead of team-mate Cal Crutchlow.
Pedrosa, who was winning his third race in the last four MotoGPs, narrowed the gap on Lorenzo in the standings to 33 points with four races to go and made up for his disastrous outing at San Marino a fortnight ago where he went out on the first lap.
Injured Australian Casey Stoner remains third and is expected to be back on his Honda for the next round in Japan.
But Stoner is now just seven points ahead of Dovizioso.
Pedrosa admitted that the cloud of the San Marino race was still affecting him entering the weekend.
"It was a tough weekend because of the cold conditions and rain yesterday and I had all the things in my head from the last race," said Pedrosa, a former 125cc and two-time 250cc world champion.
"It was hard to keep calm in the weekend but today it was good for me and a good race.
"Immediately I could see I could go faster and then open a gap.
"I am very happy to win in front of my fans and family and on my birthday weekend."
Valentino Rossi's race almost came to an abrupt end on the first lap when the Italian great tried to overtake Jonathan Rea, deputising for two-time world champion Stoner, but clipped his Honda and went onto the gravel before returning at the back of the field.
Ducati's nightmare got worse as Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden went veering off into the gravel after two laps and failed to pull up before the advertising hoardings - the impact of the collision sending him vaulting over the hoardings where he required medical attention.
Hayden, who was already nursing a sore arm prior to the race, was taken to the medical centre for further attention but arrived there speaking clearly and was later given the all clear.
An action-packed race saw impressive German rookie Stefan Bradl move into third place on his Honda only for catastrophe to strike as he went too low on a corner and came off the bike.
Up front both Lorenzo and Pedrosa were clear and contesting the lead.
That developed into an enthralling contest with Pedrosa overtaking his compatriot with 17 laps remaining and he pulled away with surprising ease to hold a lead of over two seconds after 10 laps and was never in danger thereafter.
Further down, Rossi was making up for his misjudgement by cutting through the field and with 14 laps of the 23 remaining but he was unable to eat into Rea's lead over him and wound up eighth.
Photo: Getty Images