2011 Estoril MotoGP: Rider Talk

Portuguese Grand Prix

When the results were finalized in Round 3 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship at Estoril Sunday, the top four consisted of three Repsol Honda RC212Vs, and a Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1.

Up until four laps remained, it looked as if Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo would take yet another win from the pole (the Spaniard won three consecutive races there from the pole, 2008-2010). But with four laps remaining, Dani Pedrosa robbed the lead and began pulling away.

Pedrosa would win, followed by Lorenzo. Taking the third and fourth spots were Pedrosa’s teammates, Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizoso, respectively. Rounding out the top five was Valentino Rossi on the Ducati Team GP11.

Here’s what the riders were saying following the 2011 Estoril MotoGP race:

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: “I’m very happy for today’s win, but more than the win I’m happy for my condition and it seems that my surgery was finally successful. I was trying to raise my arm at times as it was cramping with 15 laps to go, I was riding behind Jorge and waiting for the numbness to come together with the loss of power, but it didn’t come! I’m just so happy to see that the surgery has worked, it’s been around six months with this and it’s a big relief.

“For the race, I was riding at my best, Jorge is amazing here always riding so smooth and fast, I was trying to stay with him and in the end I felt comfortable and tried to make a move and I was successful. I’m very happy to win here, it’s my first win in this track and thanks to all the doctors, my physio and trainer because it’s been hard work and finally we got a win.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: “After a difficult weekend we had a good race with the best lap at the end and a good strategy to overtake Valentino. I was riding at the limit during the whole race and Valentino was stronger in 2-3 points so it was difficult to overtake him. I pushed hard to keep contact with him and at the very last lap I tried to overtake him at turn 10, even if I knew that it’s a difficult corner to overtake.

“Then at the very last long corner I tried to overtake him inside, Vale closed the door so I tried to exit faster than him, I made it and I could overtake him in the straight with the draft. I’m happy of this result but we are still too far from the first rider. We need to be competitive from the first day if we want to fight with Dani, Casey and Lorenzo so it’s good to have a test tomorrow where we can work on set up and electronic system.”

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) says: “We had a pretty good start to the race but Dani moved across and I had to hit the brakes and back off so after that I was challenging Marco for 3rd position in the first turn and he cut me off which I’m not so happy about, then in turn 4 he crashed and I lost the tow to Dani and Jorge.

“I didn’t really have a lot of confidence in the first laps with the rear tire, it didn’t seem to want to work so well especially on the left side, I nearly crashed a few times so I slowed down a little.

“Then during the race at some point, I felt my back completely lock up on me and I couldn’t move for three or four corners, I was struggling to do anything and had no breath. I thought I had to go back to the garage, but thankfully within half a lap it eased up a little, got better and we managed to finish so I’m very happy to stay in 3rd place today.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1) says: “I made a good start and I’m really happy for that then I pushed to my maximum to try to open the gap to Dani. Unfortunately today was not the day for that, he was too strong and consistent and at the end he was maybe fresher to push.

“Second is a good result, we have a lot of points from three races so I think we are in a good way to keep fighting for the championship. I want to thank my team who worked really hard this weekend to make sure we were as competitive as we could be.”

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1) says: “I am bitterly disappointed with today. After a lot of hard work by the crew this weekend we started the race with a very competitive set up and I was feeling good. When I noticed the tool hadn’t been removed I tried to do it myself because it was right in there next to my brake lever.

“I managed to get it off but then this loose tube was flying around which was pretty scary. It really messed with my concentration as I was worried about taking out another rider in one of the corners and then I crashed. After the DNF at Jerez this was really frustrating as it was completely out of my control, nothing to it now but to move on and come back strong for Le Mans.”

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) “Apart from Dovizioso, today went well! I’m joking, but Andrea obviously rode a race that was strategically perfect. I think he played with me a little, knowing that on the straight, he could probably beat me to the line. He couldn’t pass me because I was strong on the brakes, so he had me do all the work for 28 laps before making his attempt, and he got me by twenty-five thousandths.

“Apart from that, the team and I are very happy, because it was a nice race and this, for the time being, is the best we can do. I started well, I made up several positions, and then I was very consistent, with decent times. I practically did the same lap from qualifying for 28 laps, so it’s a good result. My only disappointment is that fourth would have been my best finish with the Ducati. Anyway, another positive is that I’m physically well, as I’m missing just fifteen percent of my strength, but I think I’ll be at 100 percent between Le Mans and Catalunya.

“As for the bike, there’s certainly still work to do, but we’re working together with the Ducati technicians. They’re pleased with the data they have, and I’m seeing that what I get from the racing department works. It will take some time, but we’re going forward. Tomorrow we’ll have some new things to try, so let’s hope that it’s dry, and we’ll see how it goes. We don’t expect to solve everything in seven hours, just to continue down the path we’ve started on together.”

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team GP11) “Starting from thirteenth, it was always going to be difficult for us, but the bike was good off the line and I got a good start. I made some early mistakes, but I was also recovering a few positions. I got into seventh, but I was having difficulty back-shifting.

“Already on the sighting lap, I knew it was an issue. On the grid, we talked about getting on the other bike, but we decided together that it was better to stick with our bike and not start from pit road. It caused some difficulty, especially on corner entry, and some guys came past. Then Spies hit me pretty good and stood me up going into Turn 3, so I lost the bridge to Aoyama and Crutchlow.

“I’m really happy we have a test tomorrow. We’ve got some stuff to try, and hopefully we’ll get some good weather, because we lost some dry time this weekend with the rain. The bike was great in the wet-third Friday and fourth this morning-but we need to make it better in the dry.”

Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “First of all I have to say thanks to the team because they have done a great job in changeable weather over the weekend here at Estoril. I tried to stay as focused as possible in the race, which wasn’t easy at the start on cold tyres but after about five laps I started to get confident with them and the bike. At that point I was able to be more decisive and after a tough fight with Crutchlow all the way to the last lap I was able to secure seventh place. It is a positive result but we will try to do better still in the next race.”

Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) says: “I am really disappointed for myself and for the team. I had a warning from the rear tire coming out of turn one. I also saw Pedrosa and Stoner have trouble so I tried to stay calm and decided to take turn three in a higher gear to keep the engine sweet.

” I did the same in the next corner to make sure it wasn’t too aggressive but in the middle of the corner with the throttle closed I was thrown out of my seat and that was goodnight. I am really disappointed and I don’t know what else to say. For sure it was my mistake and I have to be more careful next time. It’s a shame because I was fast! We’ll try not to make any stupid mistakes at Le Mans.”

Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V) says: “Well… it has been a difficult and hard race for me. In the beginning I have struggled a lot because the bike was pushing a lot in the front in the braking points but then Capirossi and Randy have slowed down and I could catch them.

“I have beat Loris and could have passed Randy with 2 further laps as my pace was consistent. I am not satisfied about my position but I am pleased with my performance because I pushed hard till the end. In my opinion we have got a big potential and we took a step forward on Friday so in tomorrow’s test we must develop the data we have gathered to improve the bike”.

Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1) says: “I don’t know what happened at the start but there was stuff going on everywhere. I saw Casey have a big moment and then Simoncelli needed a parachute, so it was just survival for the first few corners and see what happened. I saw Valentino and Andrea right in front of me and I was ready to reel them in. I was getting closer but I was pushing so hard just to stay in touch I lost a bit of side grip in the middle of the race and the lap times dropped a bit.

“I couldn’t have tried any harder to catch them and felt I had the pace in some areas, but when I opened the throttle the traction control would kick in because I was having quite a bit of wheelspin. But to be in the top six in this field is still a great achievement for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team and me.

“I can’t really ask for anything more because I know the package I’m on and I know how fast the factory bikes are and the guys sat on top of them. A top six to take into the next race in France gives us all a lot of confidence because that is a big race for Tech 3 and Monster and I’m already looking forward to going there.”

Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1) says: “I’m happy enough with that because before the start of the weekend I’d have never thought it possible to finish in the top eight on a circuit I’d never even seen before. And considering I had problems with both my arms all weekend, it is a great feeling.

“My right arm, which I had the operation is fine, but my left arm is really sore because I’ve been compensating with it. But the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team have been awesome all weekend. They have experience of helping rookie riders and they are doing a great job for me.

“And they’ve adjusted the bike to help me feel more comfortable with the arm problems. It is a shame I couldn’t quite beat Aoyama at the end. Earlier in the race I felt really comfortable and kept some really fast and experienced guys behind me. It was a really good battle with Aoyama and while I don’t like to get beaten in a last lap fight, I gave him a good run for his money and it is great experience for me to be in a scrap like that.

“If I keep doing what I’m doing at the moment then there is no reason why on tracks that I know that I can’t be even further up. I’m really looking forward to Le Mans now. It is a massive race for the Team being in France and also for Monster, so I’ll be looking to get another top ten finish.”

Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R) says: “I have some mixed emotions today. I am happy because I made the target of finishing the race, but after a decent start and getting in to a good position early on, I am really disappointed that I had to run off the track because Abraham crashed in front of me. I tried to take a different line, but I had to go into the gravel and I lost too much time from the main group.

“I did the rest of the race alone and ok, we finished, but I would have liked to have battled with other riders. I think it was possible to fight with Toni, Loris and Randy today – or maybe even better!

“The first target was to finish the race, so we have to be happy about that and now I have 14 days to improve the strength and power in my leg and go to Le Mans in a much better condition than I came here. My body and my mind are now more prepared for racing, so I am really looking forward to the next race.

“I want to say a big thank-you to all the team and to everyone that supported me during the last month. If I can make this effort to be here and finish this race, part of what I did was because all of them believed in me all the time. I also want to say a very Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums in Spain, especially my own!”

Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP11) says: “I’m partly happy. Before the start of the race, if I knew I’d finish tenth, I’d have celebrated the result this weekend. But I don’t know what happened with my knee. It hurts very badly in the race, and I didn’t have enough strength in my legs. I had X-rays earlier this week, but I don’t know how my ligaments are. I hope it’s not anything serious, but tomorrow I will return at home for a check-up.

“As for the bike, we’ll try to fix the problems with the front. I’m happy for the six points earned, but without the pain in my knee, my result would undoubtedly have been better. We must work to find the same feeling glimpsed at Losail and Jerez.”

Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Team GP11) says: “I expected a different outcome, certainly something better from this race. Whether the results obtained in these two days, both for started.

“I was just very aggressive, I spent a lot of motion. But the problems with the front slowed down my pace by a second per lap. It’s unfortunate, because we had worked well. Now we’ll focus on the test, where we’ll try to make some progress. We must be positive and have a winning mentality. We’re only at the third race.”