Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo made his bid to tighten up the MotoGP World Championship once again with a flag-to-flag win at the Estoril, Portugal round. The Majorca native was the man to beat all weekend, and clearly had the measure of his competition. After qualifying on pole position, the only time Lorenzo didn’t lead was the first three corners of the race, as Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa once again pulled a holeshot and led into the first corner in an attempt to break away. Pedrosa left the door open slightly heading into the tight uphill turn, and that was all Lorenzo needed, with the Yamaha rider quickly knifing up the inside and grabbing a lead he would never relinquish. Rossi swiftly moved past Pedrosa when he saw Lorenzo taking off, but rear tire grip problems forced the Doctor to gradually fall back to a frustrated fourth, with both Pedrosa and a revitalized Casey Stoner on his Ducati soon moving past. Stoner wasted little time in passing Pedrosa, but couldn’t make inroads into the flying Lorenzo, who made sure the gap never dropped below two seconds on his way to victory. Colin Edwards once again proved himself as the fastest non-factory pilot with a strong (but lonely) fifth place finish, while Nicky Hayden finished eighth.
With Estoril victory, Lorenzo...
With Estoril victory, Lorenzo cuts Rossi's title lead to 18 points with three races to go.
"What a day! I'm so happy to win here again in the same track where I won my first MotoGP race last year,” said an obviously overjoyed Lorenzo. “I worked so hard in the break on my fitness with my father and maybe that's given me a little bit of extra speed, I certainly felt so strong this weekend and it is great to win like this after being top in every session as well. I got a good start and it took me just a couple of corners to get past Dani and take the lead, but I honestly didn't expect to be unchallenged from then on or to finish with such a big gap. This is a good track for me but I am fast more or less everywhere now. The championship is closer now; it's still not easy but we have nothing to lose! I'm proud that we have won the Team Title and I want to say thanks and congratulations to everyone. I liked my leathers and helmet a lot this weekend and I wanted to celebrate Neil Armstrong and his landing on the moon so this is why I made this ‘moonwalk show' after the race!"
Ducati's Casey Stoner quieted...
Ducati's Casey Stoner quieted his critics and showed that his two-month racing sabbatical was good for his recovery by finishing a strong second at Estoril.
Stoner’s runner-up finish upon his return from a two-month racing sabbatical quickly showed that he is back on form, and the Australian took satisfaction in proving his critics wrong. “There’s been a lot of criticism of our decision to take some time off, and people were saying there were conflicts in the team and all sorts of things,” related Stoner. “People just don’t understand that when you’re not competitive and you’re getting worse each race that there’s no sense to just keep going. You’ve got to stop, find the problem, and fix it; if a bike isn’t running right, and you’re nowhere near competitive, you have to stop and fix it. It’s no different with the human body, and this is what we needed to do. To come back and be more competitive than I’ve been in a long, long time is a really good feeling. I’ve been putting in a lot of effort over the last five races and not get much; it was nice to be able to relax toward the end of race and still do good lap times, so I’m very happy.
“I was nervous again today, and I haven’t been nervous for a long time, because the last races…we knew we didn’t have a chance of winning. Nobody understood how bad my physical condition was, and I was absolutely destroyed after a few laps, and bringing everything I could out of my body to just stay there. So today I was nervous because I knew we had a chance, I knew my physical condition was better, and the outcome was I guess not the perfect one, but about as good as we can get.”
Stoner was definitely looking much fresher post-race than he’d been previously. “Physically, I’m feeling much better. My arms are a little sore from arm pump, things like that, but that’s just from not having any physical training at all for two and a half months. It definitely doesn’t help, your muscles relax too much and they’re not used to it. It’s just been very nice to put all the critics to rest. It’s nice to be running up front and actually be competitive, not just running up front because I’m riding around a track. I’m actually riding well, I’m able to pick up the bike, even at the end of the race, I can do a faster lap time than pretty much my best in the previous races, so it was a really good feeling.” Stoner then revealed the main physical ailment that has been the root of his problems, as well as cautioning that he’s still not out of the woods yet. “We didn’t expect to do that well going into the weekend. We knew we’d be fast, but we still weren’t sure of my physical condition. Up until a week and a half ago, I still had the same problems that I did two months ago, and it was only the sodium diet and a few other things that might’ve helped the situation recently. I’m hoping that was just the problem that we had—low blood pressure levels—and I’m just looking forward to Phillip Island and see if we can be competitive there. I’m looking forward to it being a little bit cooler to help out my physical condition.”
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa...
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa will now have a fight on his hands for third place in the championship with Stoner showing little sign of backing off to the end of the season.
Pedrosa was reasonably satisfied with his third place, but now knows he will have a fight on his hands for third in the championship. “I made a very good start today and held the lead until the third corner where I ran a little wide and Jorge came by. He was pushing really hard in the first few laps and even though I was too, I couldn’t match his rhythm as he opened up a gap. When Casey came past I tried to stay with him and was able to put some pressure on and maintain a good pace. I had a moment though where the bike was snaking as I braked, I ran wide and I nearly crashed – that cost me some time and opened up the gap to Casey. So I’m reasonably happy with a podium and it definitely it will now be an interesting fight for third place in the championship with Casey. He is the reference in Australia and so the next race is going to be hard fought – I’m looking forward to it. I definitely want to win at least one of the three races left and maybe the next one is the most important.”
Rear tire grip problems forced...
Rear tire grip problems forced Rossi to settle for fourth, cutting his championship points lead to 18 points with three races to go.
An obviously disappointed Rossi knows that he still has a good lead in the championship, but that there is no letting up with three races to go. "It was a very difficult race for me,” lamented Rossi. “I was never able to be fast because I did not have enough grip in the rear and our tire did not work well, but I think it was more a problem of setting. After a few laps I was in great difficulties, and I immediately understood that this was not going to be ‘our’ race. Throughout the practice sessions I had some problems but I thought that today I would be able to at least stay with Stoner and Pedrosa, but they made another step forward for the race and then there was no chance for me. On Friday I was three tenths off the pace and unfortunately this stayed the same all weekend and in the race today. Here in Estoril we struggled last year as well, so it might be that, with our setting, the rear tire gets very hot and this causes a lack of grip. It is a pity that I am off the podium, but we have three more races and they are three great tracks. We must think race by race and we must work to understand what the problem was today in order to make sure that we fix it in time for Phillip Island".
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards finished fifth, once again the top finisher of the factory satellite team riders.
Edwards felt good about his fifth place finish. “Like I said yesterday, if you're the next best rider behind the top four in the world then you've done a good job and I rode the strongest race I could today,” said the Texan, who will be joined by fellow statesman Spies next year in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. “I got a good start but we've been fighting some front-end movement all weekend and I knew early on I wasn't going to be able to go with Valentino (Rossi) in front of me. The tires worked great but we were just missing something on the set-up that meant even though Valentino was struggling a little bit, I couldn't really put any pressure on him. As much as I couldn't comfortably stay with the four guys in front, it was pretty easy for me to run a pace that meant I could pull away from the group behind me. Once I'd got a comfortable gap it was just a case of staying consistent to make sure I didn't give anybody a chance of catching me. I got a few more points back on Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and that is a good reward for the all effort my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 have put in. We've got three races to go and I'll be giving it my all as always because I really want that fifth spot in the championship.”
Ducati's Nicky Hayden didn't...
Ducati's Nicky Hayden didn't do as well as he'd hoped, with his progress in getting the Desmosedici dialed in to his liking once again slowing. He finished eighth.
Hayden was hoping for more, as his progress—while steady—is still slower than he’d like. “After the morning warm-up I was expecting a little more today but I just didn’t feel like I had the traction I’d had for most of the weekend. The bike was moving around a lot under acceleration and it was hard to get out of the corners. We made good progress throughout the weekend and like I said this morning felt quite good but the afternoon was really warm and maybe that affected us too much. I got a decent start and moved up a few places but a lot of guys were able to pass me on the front straightaway and I’m not really sure why the bike didn’t feel fast as usual. Nevertheless we learned a lot this weekend and got some good data. I’d hoped for more but eighth is the best we could do. It’s not for a lack of effort or hard work but sometimes that’s not good enough. Hopefully we can do better at Phillip Island.”
- 1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
- 2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati
- 3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda
- 4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha
- 5. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha
- 6. Toni Elias (SPA) Honda
- 7. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Honda
- 8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
- 9. James Toseland (GBR) Yamaha
- 10. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Suzuki