Estoril MotoGP Review

Although the Friday and Saturday sessions for the Portuguese MotoGP were plagued by rain, weather conditions for Sunday’s Estoril race were clear, allowing the sun to peek through at various times during the 28-lap race.

There was a tight battle up front between the Fiat Yamaha rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, but once the 2010 MotoGP Champion took the lead with 12 to go, he had nothing but clear track ahead.

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The Spaniard, who started from pole, would finish 8.629 seconds ahead of Rossi at the Penultimate round. Taking third was Repsol Honda RC212V rider Andrea Dovizioso, who overtook the rookie Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda) at the finish line.

The win was Lorenzo’s eight of the 2010 MotoGP season, and his third consecutive win at Estoril; he also won all three races from the pole. Lorenzo has stated that Estoril is one of his favorites because he took his first GP win there. In typical Lorenzo style, he had theatrics, revisiting his astronomical theme, planting a Lorenzo flag into Estoril after a short moonwalk.

Besides Lorenzo’s dominance, the other big news was the DNS from the MotoGP Rookie of the Year, Ben Spies. During the sighting lap, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider had a nasty highside on Turn 4, and was taken off the track on a stretcher.

Medical officials later confirmed that Spies dislocated his left ankle. Spies would have started the race in the middle of the second row (fifth). His start at the final round in Valencia is questionable.

There were also three other DNFs: Pramac Racing Ducati rider Aleix Espargaro crashed out on lap one; Ducati Team rider Casey Stoner lost his back end on Turn 13; and the World Superbike rider substituting for Mika Kallio on the other Pramac Ducati coasted into the paddock with 15 laps to go due to arm pump problems

Stoner’s crash came from lack of grip on his Ducati GP10. The MotoGP teams didn’t have much time to tweak suspension settings due to the track being soaking wet on Friday and Saturday. Also, the track was still a bit damp on Sunday.

There was much excitement at the beginning of the race. Lorenzo got off the line and into turn one first, followed by Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden. On Lap 2, Hayden took Lorenzo, and lead for the first time this season.

But the Kentucky Kid’s lead was short lived. Lorenzo overtook him at the end of the long straight on the same lap, where the MotoGP riders hit speeds over 200 mph and brake hard for a first-gear Turn 1.

Behind, a battle for third was brewing between Rossi, Dovi and Stoner. With 26 to go, Rossi piloted his Yamaha M1 around Hayden on Turn 6 for second, and began chasing down his teammate. Stoner did the same to Dovi, and captured third.

Then Rossi overtook Lorenzo on the slowest corner on the 2010 MotoGP schedule, the uphill chicane. Rossi began opening a gap on Lorenzo, as the three racers were battling for third: Stoner Hayden and Dovi.

But with Stoner going down, Hayden will slip into third as Dovi battled with Simoncelli behind, a clash that would continue to the end of the MotoGP race.

Lorenzo began closing in on Rossi, and pulled a Rossi move on Rossi, taking the Italian at the end of the long front straight; the move was very similar to the way he took Hayden on Lap 2.

Behind, Simoncelli overtook Hayden for third aftet the Ducati had a slight wheelie at Turn 3. Dovi who fell back to seventh after a huge save at Parabolica, regained his confidence and eventually moved back into fourth, passing Hayden and resuming his battle with Simoncelli.

Lorenzo began posting quicker lap times, setting the fastest lap of 138.044 with 10 to go. The race would remain the same to the checkered flag, but with Dovi overtaking Simoncelli at the finish line by 0.59 of a second.

With his second-place finish, Rossi is now the only rider who can take second place in the championship away from Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, who finished eight on Sunday; Rossi has 217 MotoGP Championship points, Pedrosa has 236.

The battle for second will be determined next weekend for the final round of the 2010 MotoGP Championship at Valencia in Spain, the fourth of four races in Lorenzo’s country.

2010 Estoril MotoGP Results:

Pos. Points Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time/Gap
1. 25 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 151.7 46’17.962
2. 20 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team Yamaha 151.3 +8.629
3. 16 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda 150.3 +26.475
4. 13 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 150.3 +26.534
5. 11 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 150.3 +27.154
6. 10 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 150.2 +28.297
7. 9 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 150.1 +30.109
8. 8 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 149.3 +44.947
9. 7 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 147.8 +1’13.649
10. 6 40 Hector BARBERA SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati 147.6 +1’17.721
11. 5 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 147.6 +1’17.908
12. 4 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP Honda 146.8 +1’33.025
13. 3 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki 146.5 +1’39.752
Not Classified
71 Carlos CHECA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 144.9 15 Laps
27 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Team Ducati 147.0 24 Laps
Not Starting
41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 0 Lap
11 Ben SPIES USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 0 Lap