Jorge Lorenzo was smiling from ear to ear after today's penultimate MotoGP race at Estoril in Portugal where he stood on the top spot of the rostrum once again giving him a perfect three in a row at the Portuguese track. Jorge Lorenzo,...
Jorge Lorenzo was smiling from ear to ear after today's penultimate MotoGP race at Estoril in Portugal where he stood on the top spot of the rostrum once again giving him a perfect three in a row at the Portuguese track.
"I am so happy to win for the third time here at Estoril," beamed Lorenzo. "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."
Lorenzo was on flying form all weekend despite torrential downpours and cancelled practice sessions and was unstoppable in today's race after taking the lead near the halfway point.
Lorenzo crossed the line with fist pumping the air and a finger pointed at his crew and mechanics on the pit lane wall. Valentino Rossi secured second while Andrea Dovizioso grabbed the final step on the podium.
"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."
His victory gives him his 13th MotoGP win and more importantly, it has sent a massive warning to his outgoing team mate Rossi that he will be the man that the nine-time world champion (six times in the premier series) will have to beat next year.
Rossi commented, "Like I said yesterday, a wet warm up and a dry race is a difficult one! I am happy about this weekend, we worked really well on the bike on the wet and this morning I was the fastest in the warm up, if it had been a wet race I could have been very competitive."
The weather conditions were once again unpredictable leading race direction to start today's action with the Moto2 race to ensure that the MotoGP race was scheduled to run on time.
When the riders made their way to the grid it was the first time that slick tyres had been used all weekend and this proved disastrous for rookie of the year Ben Spies who dropped his bike on the sighting lap, leading to the Texan dislocating his left ankle.
With Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi heading the front row all three made a good start with the 2010 champion slotting into an early lead.
Rossi got swallowed up somewhat in the middle of the first lap but it was Hayden who applied the early pressure and actually took the lead at the start of the second lap but his lead was to be short-lived.
Aleix Espargaro (Pramac Racing Ducati) was the first to fall in the race after he slid out on lap 1.
While other riders struggled with a green track due to the sheer amount of rain falling over the weekend, Rossi and Lorenzo were in a world of their own and the Doctor then took over and tried to break away from his young team mate.
Factory Ducati rider Casey Stoner had more misfortune in this race as he did in Malaysia after he low-sided his bike just five laps into the race.
The battle for the final podium position was raging behind Rossi and Lorenzo with Hayden being chased down by Andrea Dovizioso, Marco Simoncelli, Randy de Puniet, Dani Pedrosa and Colin Edwards all close together.
Nearly ten laps into the race and Rossi was putting in a strong performance and had built a lead of close to two seconds but Lorenzo was keeping the Italian honest with the gap never exceeding two seconds.
Approaching the halfway point, the gap had begun to shrink between the leaders and Lorenzo was closing all the time on Rossi with the Spaniard setting fastest laps of the race so far while doing so.
"For the dry we started blind so I had to try to take some risks at the beginning because the setting was ok, 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. I tried to stay with him but he was too fast," admitted Rossi.
The battle for third spot was also getting interesting with Nicky Hayden now being hunted down by Simoncelli who was ahead of the factory Honda pairing of Dovizioso and Pedrosa.
Further down the field Carlos Checa who returned to the MotoGP series to ride this weekend and next at Valencia for Pramac Racing Ducati was battling with Hector Barbera but Checa's race was to be cut short after the veteran had to retire with arm pump.
Interwetten Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama was also in close quarters with Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista with the two rookies continuing to battle like they did a couple of years ago in the 250cc championship.
Lorenzo finally struck on lap 16 of the 28 lap race where he drafted past Rossi on the start-finish straight. The Spaniard quickly set to work to build a lead with his bike now working to its maximum potential with Rossi's machine now starting to get out of shape slightly.
With all the fighting going on behind first and second place, the factory Yamaha pairing now had an incredible 13 second lead over third place.
The closing stages of the race saw Hayden, Dovizioso and de Puniet all chasing Simoncelli for third place while Lorenzo and Rossi maintained their blistering pace at the front.
"To be back onto the podium is so important for us and I'd like to thank my team and fans for their support this weekend," said Dovizioso. "We can't be completely happy with our pace today because we were a long way from the front two riders, but overall the result is positive for us.
"It was quite an aggressive battle with Simoncelli but it has always been like this with him, so I needed to have a strategy for the last lap. He was faster than me in T3 and T4 and every time into the chicane he overtook me, but I knew that it was possible to take him out of the last corner because I had a bit more speed onto the straight, so this was my plan - and it worked. Now it's possible to fight with Stoner for fourth place in the championship and - although it will be difficult because he was fast here before he crashed and also has a ten point lead - this will be our target for Valencia next weekend," continued Dovizioso.
Rossi actually lost the front end on the second last lap but managed to save it on his knee without losing much time but the Italian had already settled for second at this stage.
"Second place is positive for my championship because I am back in third place and I'm not so far from Dani Pedrosa in second," Rossi added, "I'm happy to have improved the setting of the bike but we are still not strong enough so we will try to improve for Valencia for a final win with Yamaha."
The final round of the MotoGP series this year will take place in one week at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. Already this season has seen new records and seen horrific crashes that the riders have shown their physical condition by returning earlier than expected.