By Godon Hatch, MotoGP correspondent
- Despite racing in pain, Pedrosa wins
- The Spaniard held off rival Lorenzo
- Stoner hangs on to take third
Dani Pedrosa out-foxes rival and compatriot Jorge Lorenzo after thrilling Estoril race
I'm very happy for today's win, but more than the win, I'm happy for my condition and it seems that my surgery was finally successful.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa stamped his authority on the rest of the MotoGP field at today’s third round of the 2011 championship in Estoril, Portugal. Pedrosa finished ahead of a dejected Jorge Lorenzo to take his first ever MotoGP win at the Portugese track despite only recently having surgery on his left shoulder.
Speaking after the race Pedrosa was eveidently very happy and was delighted that his recent surgery to cure the numbness in his left arm that he experienced at the first two rounds had worked and said, “I'm very happy for today's win, but more than the win, I'm happy for my condition and it seems that my surgery was finally successful.
“I was trying to rest my arm at times as it was cramping with 15 laps to go. I was riding behind Lorenzo and waiting for the numbness to come together with the loss of power, but it didn't come! I'm just so happy to see that the surgery has worked, it's been around six months with this and it's a big relief, he said.
Commenting about the race itself Pedrosa added, “For the race, I was riding at my best, Lorenzo is amazing here, always riding so smooth and fast and I was trying to stay with him. In the end, I felt comfortable and tried to make a move and I was successful. I'm very happy to win here, it's my first win on this track and thanks to all the doctors, my physio and trainer because it's been hard work and finally we got a win.”
Lorenzo was picture perfect throughout the race on his factory Yamaha YZR-M1 and looked on target for his fourth win in a row at the Portugese track but as he neared the end of the race, the reigning MotoGP Champion’s physical fitness began to fade somewhat letting Pedrosa grab the intiative, and when Lorenzo was passed at turn one with four laps to go Lorenzo had nothing left to reply with and settled for 2nd.
“I made a good start and I’m really happy for that then I pushed to my maximum to try to open the gap to Dani,”said Lorenzo while continuing, “Unfortunately today was not the day for that, he was too strong and consistent and at the end he was maybe fresher to push.
“Second is a good result, we have a lot of points from three races so I think we are in a good way to keep fighting for the championship. I want to thank my team who worked really hard this weekend to make sure we were as competitive as we could be,” added the reigning MotoGP Champion.
This year’s new sensation, San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli got off to a great start from second position but at turn two he made contact with Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner and at turn four ‘Super Sic’ had an enormous highside and was not able to rejoin as did Mapfre Apsar man Hector Barbera at the same turn.
Casey Stoner was then a lonely third on his Repsol Honda RC212V and while he didn’t seem able to make any ground on his teammate Pedrosa and Lorenzo, he was in a comfortable position ahead of Ducati Marlboro rider Valentino Rossi who was being stalked by the third of the Repsol Honda men - Andrea Dovizioso.
Stoner was not happy with Simoncelli and made his feelings known afterwards. The 2007 Cahmpion blames a loss of mometum due to Simoncelli’s crash and lack of confidence in his rear tyre, “We had a pretty good start to the race but Pedrosa moved across me and I had to hit the brakes and back off. After that, I was challenging Marco Simoncelli for 3rd position in the first turn and he cut me off which I'm not so happy about. Then in turn 4 he crashed and I lost the tow to Pedrosa and Lorenzo.
“I didn't really have a lot of confidence in the first laps with the rear tyre, it didn't seem to want to work so well, especially on the left side, I nearly crashed a few times so I slowed down a little,” he said.
Stoner also explained a strange movement of his left hand behind his back during the race, “During the race at some point, I felt my back completely lock up on me and I couldn't move for three or four corners. I was struggling to do anything and had no breath. I thought I had to go back to the garage, but thankfully within half a lap it eased up a little, got better and we managed to finish, so I'm very happy to stay in 3rd place today,” Stoner added.
The early stages of the race saw more incidents take place in the form of Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) crashing out in his Ducati GP11 while the returning Alvaro Bautista went off track as well and Texan Ben Spies dropping right off the pace and sinking to last in the early stages.
Positions within the top ten remained unchanged for some time with the frontrunners pulling away but the intervals between each of the top five riders was maintained in the Portugese sunshine. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Colin Edwards made a great start to hold 6th spot behind Rossi and Dovi. The Texan was being caught for a time by his teammate and rookie Cal Crutchlow who was performing brilliantly despite only having surgery on his left arm recently.
While Edwards was holding station in 6th, an incident involving Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) and Spies on board his Yamaha YZR-M1 allowed Hirsohi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) through to chase Crutchlow with both riders now chasing Edwards down – Aoyama would eventually overcome Crutchlow who appeared to be suffering from fatigue in the latter part of the race.
Things continued to go from bad to worse for Ben Spies as he crashed out of 10th position with 16 laps remaining. With Spies out of the race his fellow countryman Hayden was left in 9th with Randy de Puniet (Pramac Ducati) chasing him down while Tony Elias on board his LCR Honda RC212V was trying to find his form at the Portugese track that holds foind memories for the Spaniard.
With ten laps to go in the race the front three remained unchanced with Lorenzo still leading Pedrosa who looked in no hurry to get by at this stage and Stoner holding position in third ahead of Rossi who continued to be chased by Dovi. Edwards also remained in 6th with ten laps left with Aoyama and Crutchlow not too far behind.
The next five laps saw the field stretch out somewhat but with four laps left Pedrosa made a move up the inside of Lorenzo at turn one making it stick and Lorenzo not seeming to have any answer to his fellow countryman’s move. Stoner continued to circulate in 3rd while Rossi and Dovi remained locked in the battle for 4th position.
Further down the field Edwards maintained his gap from 5th to 6th place man Aoyama who was now confortably ahead of Crutchlow. Hayden’s nightmare continued and he was being chased down by de Puniet with Capirossi, Elias and Bautista bringing up the rear.
The final three laps of the race saw a stellar performance from Pedrosa who rammed home the fastest laps of the day to break Lorenzo and grab the win with the tiny Spaniard displaying his happiness at taking his first win of the season. Stoner crossed the line with no trouble in third while Andrea Dovizioso caused the upset of the day when he drafted passed Rossi on the line in a move that was a carbon copy of how Tony Elias took the win from Rossi in 2006 at the same track and amazinlgy by the exact same gap as in 2006!
MotoGP now moves to the French GP at Le Mans on 15th May and Lorenzo now leads the Championship on 65 points while Pedrosa is in second with 61 points and Stoner in third with 41 points.