Jorge Lorenzo won from pole position for the third year in succession at Estoril as he took victory at the bwin Grande Premio de Portugal on Sunday, finishing ahead of Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso.
The Fiat Yamaha rider, for whom this was an eighth win in his title-winning 2010 campaign, got the better of his rival and team-mate Rossi as they battled early on and when he took the lead on the 17th of 28 laps he did not look back, eventually taking the chequered flag 8.629s clear of the Italian.
It was Lorenzo’s first win since the Brno round, and leaves him on course to still be able to beat Rossi’s 2008 record points haul (373) in a single season in MotoGP with one round still remaining.
“On the warm-up lap I could see there were still a few wet parts and I knew that I was going to have to be careful at the beginning,” Lorenzo said. “I got a great start and was in the lead but eventually Valentino overtook me and then off he went. He had a better pace than me then and I couldn’t go with him. As the track got drier I found my pace improving and then step-by-step I closed the gap and was able to get past him.
“At that point I felt really good and I am so happy to win for the third time here at Estoril. It was a long time since I have won but my confidence has remained high and I haven’t been worried. I knew I could win here at my favourite track. We also confirmed the Triple Crown for Yamaha today so well done to the whole team for this victory.”
Rossi brought home his factory M1 in a lonely second position for his tenth podium at Estoril in 11 visits as he finished almost 18 seconds ahead of Dovizioso, who had engaged in a thrilling battle to the very finish with Marco Simoncelli for the final podium position.
“For the dry we started blind so I had to try to take some risks at the beginning because the setting was okay, but it was not enough because when Jorge got into his rhythm he was faster than me – I had no way to fight with him,” Rossi explained. “I tried to stay with him but he was too fast.”
It was the Repsol Honda rider Dovizioso who edged to third – by just 0.059s – to take his seventh podium of the season and leave the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Simoncelli still looking for his first rostrum in the premier class.
Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden placed fifth after coming close to the podium, the American just 0.620s behind Simoncelli, whilst Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the top seven, both within three seconds of Hayden.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) came in eighth, with Marco Melandri (San Carlo Honda Gresini) and Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) inside the top ten. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki), Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) were the final three riders to finish the race.
Casey Stoner (Ducati Team) suffered the bitter disappointment of crashing out at turn 13 on lap five as he pushed hard while in third position, whilst Pramac Racing pair Aleix Espargaró and Carlos Checa both failed to finish too, the former crashing on lap one and the latter retiring with an arm pump problem with 15 laps remaining.
Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) didn’t start the race after crashing on the sighting lap and dislocating his left ankle.
The battle for the runner-up spot in the championship will now be determined next weekend, with Pedrosa on 236 points and Rossi on 217 and the only two who can now possibly end the campaign in second.
Stefan Bradl’s first podium result in the Moto2 class was a hard fought victory as the Viessmann Kiefer Racing rider won from the third row of the starting grid, in a thoroughly engrossing intermediate category race.
Bradl, whose last world championship race win came at Motegi in the 125cc class in 2008, powered through to take victory ahead of Alex Baldolini by a margin of just 0.068s after the duo had battled closely in the final stages of the race.
For Caretta Technology rider Baldolini today’s second place was the first world championship podium of his career in his 143rd Grand Prix start.
At just over 2.7s further back another fantastic battle was being played out, with Alex de Angelis eventually taking third place. The closeness of that fight for the final podium position was well illustrated by the fact that Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) finished just 0.012s behind De Angelis, having rocketed up from 24th on the starting grid.
Special mention must also go to Turkish rider Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag-CIP) who on his GP debut led the race by a margin of over six seconds at one stage, before being reeled back in by Bradl and eventually finishing fifth as he rode his Suter MMX machine in dry conditions for the very first time.
Completing the top ten were Raffaele De Rosa (Tech 3 Racing), Anthony West (MZ Racing) – both with a season’s best results – pole man Gabor Talmacsi (Fimmco Speed Up), Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing).
The battle for second spot in the championship will go down to the final race in Valencia after Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) finished 12th and Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up) 21st to leave the Spaniard with a six-point advantage over his Italian rival, who crashed when in fourth position having risen from 34th on the grid.
Marc Márquez opened up a 17-point lead at the top of the 125cc World Championship over Nico Terol with just a single round remaining thanks to his tenth win of the season, which came in amazing circumstances.
Finishing ahead of title rivals Terol (who placed second) and Pol Espargaró (tenth), the Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider came from the back of the grid in a restarted race to record what will be looked back upon as one the definitive performances of his fledgling career.
The original race was red flagged with 16 laps remaining as rain began to fall, and with the leading four being Terol, Márquez, Smith and Espargaró at the time that was determined as the starting grid for the rescheduled nine-lap race, which was declared wet.
Just when it appeared the drama and pressure could not intensify a crash for Márquez on the sighting lap added to the already tense atmosphere. Unable to retake his place on the starting grid in time the 17 year-old was relegated to 17th position at the back of the grid for the restart.
That did little to hinder him as he rose to fourth position immediately and before long he was hunting down Terol. The Bancaja Aspar rider’s team-mate Bradley Smith did his best to aid his colleague, but after what he had been through Márquez was in no mood to be held back and overtook the Brit to set up a showdown with Terol.
On the final lap the pair swapped the lead a number of times, Márquez eventually getting his nose in front and crossing the line 0.150s ahead of Terol, with Smith taking third place. Jonas Folger (Team Ongetta), Luis Salom (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) and Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Cajasol) completed the top six.
Espargaró’s title hopes ended after he finished tenth, a gamble from his Tuenti Racing team on putting wet tyres on his Derbi machine failing to pay off. Brit Danny Webb (Andalucia Cajasol) placed ninth.
Márquez is still on course to equal Valentino Rossi’s 125cc record of the most victories in a single season (11 in 1997).