With 13 turns, a tricky uphill chicane and a long straight (0.613 of mile) where the prototypes reach 200 mph and then have to brake for a 70 mph-turn 1, the technical Estoril layout continually challenges the MotoGP grid.
And the 2011 Portuguese Grand Prix was no different.
After running a patient race Sunday, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa strategically made a move on the reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo with four laps to go, and held the position to the checkered flag.
Lorenzo would finish second aboard the Yamaha Factory Racing M1, 3.051 seconds behind Pedrosa, with Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) taking the final podium position.
In fourth was Andrea Doviziso, making for three Repsol Hondas in the top four; Dovizioso beat out Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi at the line by 0.025 of a second.
With the MotoGP "aliens" running up front, the most excitement of the 28-lap race occurred in the first lap and then in the final four.
Starting from his fourth consecutive pole at Estoril, Lorenzo got to Turn 1 first, followed by fellow countryman Pedrosa and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli. In fourth was Stoner.
The opening lap brought about two DNFs. First, Simoncelli had a nasty highside in Turn 4. The Italian was a favorite going into the race; he dominated Friday’s practice sessions, and qualified second on the grid.
Mapfre Ducati Team’s Hector Barbera went down seconds after Simoncelli. The Spaniard also high-sided, slamming the concrete. This was the first crash for Barbera in the premier class, and only his second DNF since having mechanical problems at Laguna Seca in the 2010 MotoGP season.
Both Simoncelli and Barbera walked off the track. Their injuries are unknown at the time of this writing.
By the end of the first lap, the top three were Lorenzo, Pedrosa and Stoner. As Lorenzo and Pedrosa began opening a gap on the remaining riders, Rossi passed Dovizioso for fourth. The order remained this way until four laps remained.
There would be two additional crashes in the race; the rookie Karel Abraham went down on lap two, and then Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies crashed with nine to go. Both riders suffered DNFs.
Up front, Lorenzo and Pedrosa were in an intense battle, riding almost idenital lap times but completely different lines due to the differences between the Yamaha M1 and Honda RC212V.
Pedrosa continually reached Lorenzo at the end of the front straight heading into turn 1, but Lorenzo’s Yamaha was more stable under braking, allowing him to brake harder and keep a smooth line into Turn 1.
But with four to go, Pedrosa made the pass stick as the two headed into turn one. A few corners later, and Pedrosa opened up a gap on Lorenzo.
Behind, Stoner ran consistently, and finished third with nobody around. Rossi looked to have his best finish on the Ducati, but had to settle for fifth after Dovi got him at the line by 0.025 of a second.
The Estoril MotoGP win was the first for Pedrosa since San Marino last season. Two rounds following the San Marino win, Pedrosa crashed, breaking his shoulder (Motegi).
The shoulder plagued Pedrosa for the remainder of the 2010 season and the first two rounds of 2011 MotoGP in Qatar and Jerez. Following round 2 of this year’s championship in Jerez, Pedrosa had additional surgery on his shoulder, the doctors taking out the pins.
And just four weeks later Pedrosa took the win at Estoril, which was his 13th victory in the MotoGP class, and his 50th podium. He now trails Lorenzo by four points.
2011 Estoril MotoGP Results:
|1.||25||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||153.2||45’51.483|
|2.||20||1||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||153.0||+3.051|
|3.||16||27||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||152.8||+7.658|
|4.||13||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||152.3||+16.530|
|5.||11||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||152.3||+16.555|
|6.||10||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||151.4||+32.575|
|7.||9||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||151.1||+38.749|
|8.||8||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||151.0||+40.912|
|9.||7||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||150.2||+54.887|
|10.||6||14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||150.0||+59.697|
|11.||5||24||Toni ELIAS||SPA||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||149.9||+1’00.374|
|12.||4||65||Loris CAPIROSSI||ITA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||149.8||+1’01.793|
|13.||3||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Rizla Suzuki MotoGP||Suzuki||148.6||+1’24.370|
|11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||149.8||16 Laps|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||136.6||27 Laps|
|58||Marco SIMONCELLI||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||0 Lap|
|8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP||Ducati||0 Lap|