After a dominant victory by Jorge Lorenzo on Oct. 4 in Portugal, the race is back on in MotoGP. 2009 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Lorenzo started from pole and led all 28 laps of the Grand Prix of Portugal at the Estoril Circuit for his fourth victory of the season. Lorenzo pulled to within 18 points of Fiat Yamaha teammate and points leader Valentino Rossi with just three races remaining.
Six-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi had an uncharacteristically sluggish weekend, finishing fourth, 23.428 seconds behind his teammate.
"What a day!" Lorenzo said. "I’m so happy to win here again in the same track where I won my first MotoGP race last year.
"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."
2007 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner finished second on his Ducati Team machine, 6.294 seconds behind Lorenzo. It was Stoner’s first race since July 26, as he had missed the last three races due to illness.
Dani Pedrosa finished third on his Repsol Honda. He led for the first few corners of Lap 1 before Lorenzo took the lead for good.
The only suspense left in the race was how the charismatic Lorenzo would celebrate his victory. He wore leathers and a helmet that paid tribute to the U.S. Apollo lunar landing program, so Lorenzo did a "moonwalk show" as a salute to Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.
While Lorenzo celebrated, it’s safe to say 2008 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Rossi wasn’t in a party mood. He qualified second but dropped to fourth on the first lap. He never challenged the top three due to a rear grip problem and finished off the podium at Estoril for the first time in his career.
Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden finished fifth and eighth, respectively.
Edwards rode his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine across the line two places ahead of Andrea Dovizioso’s Repsol Honda bike, picking up two points in their spirited duel for fifth in the point standings. Dovizioso leads, 142-134.
"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," Edwards said. "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."
Hayden was plagued by lack of grip during the race on his Ducati.
The next event is the Grand Prix of Australia on Oct. 18 at Phillip Island.
ESTORIL, Portugal – Results of the 28-lap Grand Prix of Portugal MotoGP race, with position, rider, country, motorcycle, time behind winner. All riders on Bridgestone tires:
1. Jorge Lorenzo Spain Yamaha
2. Casey Stoner Australia Ducati +6.294
3. Dani Pedrosa Spain Honda +9.889
4. Valentino Rossi Italy Yamaha +23.428
5. Colin Edwards United States Yamaha +32.652
6. Toni Elias Spain Honda +35.709
7. Andrea Dovizioso Italy Honda +35.723
8. Nicky Hayden United States Ducati +38.830
9. James Toseland Great Britain Yamaha +44.093
10. Chris Vermeulen Australia Suzuki +52.863
11. Randy de Puniet France Honda +55.698
12. Marco Melandri Italy Kawasaki +1:04.515
13. Niccolo Canepa Italy Ducati +1:04.538
14. Gabor Talmacsi Hungary Honda +1:27.299
NC Loris Capirossi Italy Suzuki +8 laps
NC Alex de Angelis San Marino Honda +20 laps
NC Mika Kallio Finland Ducati +23 laps
NC – Not classified
Fastest lap: Pedrosa, 1:36.937, Lap 11; Pole lap: Lorenzo, 1:36.214
Riders: Rossi 250, Lorenzo 232, Pedrosa 173, Stoner 170, Dovizioso 142, Edwards 134, Capirossi 97, de Puniet 93, Melandri 91, Elias 90, Vermeulen 90, de Angelis 88, Toseland 85, Hayden 81, Kallio 51, Canepa 38, Talmacsi 14, Sete Gibernau 12, Yuki Takahashi 9, Aleix Espargaro 8.
Manufacturers: Yamaha 330, Honda 236, Ducati 211, Suzuki 126, Kawasaki 91.
JORGE LORENZO (Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha/Bridgestone, winner): "What a day! I’m so happy to win here again in the same track where I won my first MotoGP race last year. 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 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."
CASEY STONER (Ducati Team Ducati/Bridgestone, second): "It is great to be competitive again and to stay that way right to the end of the race. I maybe could have been faster over the opening few laps, but I made a little mistake, which caused my foot to slip off the peg. It broke the footrest support and it was moving around in all the right-handers, so my foot was slipping off. As the laps went by, I was able to alter the foot peg position a little, but I wasn’t able to go any faster. Obviously, Jorge was too fast for us today and he did a fantastic job, but I’m still really happy today for myself and for the team. It is brilliant to come back like this, and I think it shows that the decision to take a break and tackle a physical problem that was really making it impossible for us was the right choice."
DANI PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team Honda/Bridgestone, third): "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 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."
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
COLIN EDWARDS (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha/Bridgestone, fifth): "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. 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 setup 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."
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Team Ducati/Bridgestone, eighth): "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."