Going into the penultimate MotoGP round in Estoril, Jorge Lorenzo has more than the 2010 title supporting him for a win at the Portuguese Grand Prix – he also has won in Portugal for the past two years. And if that isn’t enough, the Spaniard also started from the pole at both races.
But as the Fiat Yamaha M1 rider can enter Estoril stress free if he wanted, there’s a battle heating up or second place in the MotoGP championship. Respsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa holds the position with 228 points, but is still recovering from his accident at Motegi.
During the wreck, the RC212V rider broke his collarbone, and subsequently missed the MotoGP rounds in Motegi, Malaysia and Australia. Due to not starting at these races, two riders have crept up in points and can possibly take second from him, Ducati Team GP10 rider Casey Stoner and Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi.
Stoner trails Pedrosa by 23 points, and is coming off a dominating win at his home race in Australia. But only eight points behind Stoner is the nine-time World Champion Rossi, who has been on the podium for the past three races, including his win at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
As rider’s mentally prepare themselves before taking to the track Friday for the first of three practice sessions, here’s some stats and facts about the riders heading into Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
- Jorge Lorenzo has dominated the Portuguese MotoGP for the last two years. He took his first MotoGP victory in 2008 in Portugal, in only his third race in the big class. He won again last year at Estoril; after taking the lead on the first lap, he pulled steadily away to take the win by over six seconds. He also started from pole at the Portuguese GP in both of the last two years.
- Dani Pedrosa’s second place finish in 2007, after a race-long battle with Rossi, was his first podium finish in any class of Grand Prix racing at the Estoril circuit. In each of the last two years he has been the first Honda across the line; in second place in 2008 and third last year. Estoril is one of just four current MotoGP circuits where Pedrosa has not had a win in any class of MotoGP racing; the others are Losail, Aragon and Silverstone.
- Casey Stoner has had two podium finishes in the MotoGP class at Estoril; third in 2007 and second last year on his return after missing three races with health prob- lems. He crashed out of the MotoGP race at Estoril in 2006 and in the process took out Sete Gibernau. In 2008 he finished sixth while having to deal with a TV control box that had become detached from its mountings. Stoner also won the 250cc race at Estoril in 2005 from current MotoGP rivals Andrea Dovizioso and Randy de Puniet; this was Stoner’s first 250cc GP win.
- Valentino Rossi’s fourth-place finish last year at Estoril MotoGP was the first time in his 10 visits to the circuit that he had failed to finish on the podium. The nine podium finishes he has had at Estoril include five race wins. Rossi has started from pole on just one occasion at Estoril – in 2006.
- Andrea Dovizioso finished on the MotoGP podium on all three occasions when he raced in the 250cc class at Estoril, including a race victory in 2006. In 2008 he crashed out on lap 16 and suffered his only non-finish of his debut year riding in the MotoGP class. The Portuguese GP last year was one his less successful weekends; he qualified in eighth and he finished in seventh, just behind Elias on the non-factory bike.
- Ben Spies has never previously raced at the Estoril circuit. At the Australian GP Spies clinched the Rookie of the Year award and also ensured that he would be the top non-factory rider in MotoGP in 2010.
- Nicky Hayden’s fourth place three years ago is his best ever finish at the Estoril circuit, when he also started from pole for the only time in 2007. In 2006 Hayden was knocked off by his team-mate Pedrosa on lap five, in 2008 he crashed out of fourth place on lap 17 and last year he finished eighth. Hayden needs to score just four more MotoGP points in the remaining two races to achieve his highest points’ total since winning the MotoGP championship in 2006.
- Tenth in 2006 is the best result for Randy de Puniet in his four MotoGP starts at Estoril. He retired from the Portuguese MotoGP with a mechanical problem in 2007; in 2008 he slid off while in seventh with just two laps remaining and re-started to finish 15th. Last year he qualified well in sixth but had problems with his right boot coming unfastened early in the race which dropped him to the back of the field, then picked his way past a few riders to finish eleventh.
- Marco Simoncelli has finished on the podium for the last two years in the 250cc class at the Portuguese GP, finishing second in 2008, after starting from pole for the first time in the 250cc class, and winning the race last year.
- Marco Melandri’s fourth-place MotoGP finish in 2005 on a Honda is his best result from seven MotoGP starts at Estoril. He has not had much success over the last couple of years in Portugal; he was thirteenth on the Ducati in 2008 and last year he finished twelfth after qualifying in sixteenth place on the grid.
- Colin Edwards’ fourth place MotoGP finishes in 2006 and 2008 are his best results at the Estoril circuit. He had another decent result at Estoril last year, finishing in fifth and first of the non-factory riders.
- Hector Barbera qualified on pole for the 250cc race at Estoril last year and then finished third – his first podium at the circuit in the 250cc class. Barbera won the 125cc race at Estoril back in 2004 when he shared the podium with the new Mo- toGP champion Jorge Lorenzo, who finished third.
- Prior to last year, Alvaro Bautista had won for three successive years in Portugal – the 125cc race in 2006 and the 250cc race in both 2007 and 2008. Last year he was in the leading group in the 250cc race at Estoril when his engine seized which resulted in a crash.
- Aleix Espargaro’s best result at Estoril is eleventh in the 250cc race in 2008. He did not compete at the Portuguese GP last year as he was without a Grand Prix ride at that time.
- Hiroshi Aoyama’s second place finish in the 250cc race in 2006 on a KTM is his only podium at the Estoril circuit. He finished fourth last year at Estoril on his way to taking the 250cc world title.
- Loris Capirossi has had two podium MotoGP finishes at Estoril; in 2001 on the 500cc Honda and in 2003 riding the Ducati after he had qualified in pole position. Last year in Portugal he retired on the 20th lap with a technical problem.
- Carlos Checa will be making his first appearance in MotoGP since the final race of 2007 at Valencia. The 800cc Ducati that he will ride in Portugal is the sixth different machine he has ridden in the premier-class, adding to the following list: 500cc 2-stroke Honda, 500cc 2-stroke Yamaha, 990cc Yamaha, 990cc Ducati, 800cc Honda.
- Toni Elias has a fantastic record at the Estoril circuit, having won three times; the 250cc GP race in 2003 and 2004, and the MotoGP race in 2006 after he had qualified down in eleventh place on the grid. Last year in the MotoGP race at Estoril he had a great ride to finish sixth after qualifying down in thirteenth.
- Julian Simon’s fifth place in the 125cc class in 2006 is his best result at the Estoril circuit. Last year he dominated practice and qualifying for the 125cc Portuguese Grand Prix and was leading comfortably when he crashed out on the 17th lap; he re-started to finish 12th.
- Andrea Iannone has not had a top ten finish in his four GP starts at Estoril in the 125cc class; his best result at the circuit is 11th in 2008.
- Simone Corsi qualified on pole, won the race and set the fastest lap in the 125cc GP at Estoril in 2008
- Alex de Angelis’ victory in the Moto2 race in Australia came after a gap of almost four years since his other GP win at the final race of 2006 in Valencia in the 250cc class.
- Mike di Meglio’s sixth place finish in the Moto2 race in Australia is his best result so far in 2010. Di Meglio finished second last year in the 250cc race at Portugal, in front of Hector Barbera in a photo finish after the two riders could not be separated by the timekeepers; this was Di Meglio’s best result of 2009.
- Scott Redding’s second place finish in Australia is his best GP result since he won the 125cc race at the British GP in 2008. Redding has not had much success in the last two years competing in the 125cc class at Estoril, having finished outside a point scoring position on both occasions.
- Fonsi Nieto had an incredible win in the very wet 250cc race in 2002, after crashing on lap thirteen and rejoining the race down in seventh place and then re-starting to battle back to the front of the field.
- Hector Faubel had excellent results at Estoril when competing in the 125cc class; he finished second in both 2005 and 2006, and he won the race in 2007.
- Stefan Bradl’s fourth place in the 125cc race at Estoril last year equaled his best result of 2009.
- Marc Marquez has not scored points in his previous two GP starts at Estoril; he finished 18th two years ago and last year he crashed while in second place on lap thirteen.
- Pol Espargaro’s third place finish in the 125cc race at Estoril in 2007 was his first appearance on a Grand Prix podium. He won the 125cc Portuguese Grand Prix last year from Sandro Cortese and Bradley Smith, with less than six-tenths of a second covering all three podium finishers.
- Nico Terol’s third place finish in 2008 is his only point scoring GP finish at the Estoril circuit. Last year at Estoril, he crashed on lap seven while in the leading group, after a collision with Bradley Smith.
- Bradley Smith took the final podium position last year at Estoril – his first top ten finish in Portugal.
- Sandro Cortese set the fastest lap of the race last year on his way to finishing second in the 125cc race at Estoril, which was his best result of 2009.