2011 Portugal MotoGP
Following a three-week hiatus from racing, which was brought on by the postponement of the Japanese round due the tragedy of the tsunami, the MotoGP circus is settling into Estoril, Portugal for the third round of the 2011 season.
Thus far, 2011 has been interesting to say the least, with new faces, new teams, new machines, the MotoGP championship is already shaping up as completely unpredictable.
While the Estoril circuit may have the lowest average speed it is laced with several high-speed sections, including one of the longest straights on the MotoGP calendar.
Reigning MotoGP World Champion (and current Championship leader) Jorge Lorenzo is certainly looking to continue his winning ways, coming into Estoril with a three-for-three record, winning from pole every year he has competed in the premiere class. A win in Portugal would gain him precious points in extending his lead.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory MotoGP) says: “The track (Estoril) has turned into a talisman for me and it is the place where the astronaut always comes back. We have been training for a month, and I hope that this makes us fit for a good race. We are in front of the standings, but it is very early and it is just the beginning.”
Fan favorite, Valentino Rossi – whom many are still adjusting to seeing in Ducati red – has been victorious five times over his eleven premier-class appearances in Estoril- with an additional five podiums. The general consensus is that Vale is still coming to grips with the mighty Ducati and is on the eve of great results.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team MotoGP) says: “Now we go to Estoril, a track I quite like, where we’ll continue working on the GP11’s setup, particularly during the test on Monday. The conditions are often unpredictable at Estoril because the area is very windy and close to the ocean, making for variable weather.
“We saw at Jerez that we’re already competitive in the wet, however we’re hoping for sun in Portugal, so that we can make the most of our time on the track. We still have to understand the bike better and to work on the setup, with the goal of being faster in the dry in time for the most intense phase of the season, when we’ll have six races in eight weeks starting in June.”
The MotoGP Underdog
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech3 Yamaha MotoGP), the rookie, faces a track he’s never been to before. However, the Brit proved his facility for learning new circuits at Jerez, where he challenged for the podium on his maiden trip.
Crutchlow is fresh off surgery undertaken to resolve numbness.
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1) says: “I am looking forward to Portugal. This is a new circuit for me and it will be difficult once again as the others know this track already and have a lot more experience on it than me.
“I hope I can learn this circuit as fast as Jerez where I was quickly up to speed and I qualified inside the top ten. My arm is getting better and better after the surgery that was done to get rid of the numbness I felt during Qatar and Jerez. The stitches are out already, but I haven’t tried to ride a bike yet, so I’ll understand more on Friday when practice starts.”
Come Friday morning, the stopwatches will fire up and we can settle in for round 3 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship.