Since joining the MotoGP Championship in 2000, the Estoril Circuit in Portugal, just west of Lisbon, has continually challenged riders due to its bumpy straights, long-radius corners and the tricky chicane between turns 8 and 10.And with only four days of rest, the 21-rider grid will begin taking on the challenges of Estoril Friday with the first free practice sessions for Round 3 of 18 in the 2012 MotoGP Championship. Following the race on Sunday, the riders will then remain at 2.599-mile track featuring 13 corners for a post-race test.And the largest battle of the new 1000cc era will continue this weekend between Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner. Both riders have each won a round, with Lorenzo taking the season opener at Qatar April 8 and the reigning MotoGP Champ Stoner taking Jerez last week.Due to his Qatar win and finishing second at Jerez, Lorenzo has the points lead with 45. And the Portuguese circuit is especially kind to Lorenzo; he has four consecutive pole starts there, and has won three consecutive races (2008-2010). Last year, he finished second behind his Spanish compatriot Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda).Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1 MotoGP) says: “We go to Estoril now, a track which has seen very good results for me. I have had some great victories here, and really enjoy the racing. I think we can be very strong in the race and as in Jerez I think the right tires will be very important.“We are leading the Championship but the competition is very tough so we must give everything to try and stay in front. We also will test on Monday which will be important to continue to make the 1000cc M1 even better.”Stoner couldn’t catch Lorenzo at Qatar, but showed his dominant ways at Jerez. But a huge issue plagues the Australian as the series heads into Estoril – arm-pump issues. Stoner has also never achieved a premium-class win at the track.Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V MotoGP) says: “A flying visit back home to Switzerland and now we have the Grand Prix of Portugal this weekend. After our win in Jerez, I’m looking forward to going to Estoril and hopefully we can maintain the form we’ve had in the past two races as we’ve shown good pace. However, we do need to fix the arm pump issue as it’s held us back a little and it’s disappointing we weren’t able to fix it before Jerez.“We’ve had some really good results at Estoril in the past, I got my first 250cc win there so I’ll be aiming for another good result but it would be really nice if we can have some better weather for the weekend.”Stoner currently trails Lorenzo by four points. As for Stoner’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa has garnered 36 points due to taking second at Qatar and third at Jerez.Fourth in points is Cal Crutchlow, the sophomore Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider. The Brit battled intensely with Pedrosa at Jerez, but couldn’t get his first-ever podium finish. Cruthlow has been showing consistency on the YZR-M1, though, finishing fourth in Qatar and Jerez.Crutchlow’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso was fierce on the Yamaha at Jerez, but is still familiarizing himself with the new machine. Regardless, the former Repsol Honda rider has finished fifth at both rounds so far, earning him fifth in the standings with 26 points, four behind Crutchlow.Sixth in points is San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, followed by the highest-placed Ducati – the GP12 piloted by Nicky Hayden. The American qualified third for the Jerez race, but lost grip as the race progressed. The 2006 MotoGP Champion finished eighth at Jerez, one spot ahead of his teammate, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.Rossi, on the other hand, has clearly struggled with the GP12, and his ninth at Jerez and 10th at Qatar place him ninth in the championship with 13 points, five behind the rider residing in eighth – LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, the reigning Moto2 Champion.Rounding out the top 10 in points is Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera, who also has 13 points. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies is in 11th place in points, after finishing 11th in both Qatar and Jerez.As for the new Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) MotoGP says they didn’t have it easy in Jerez, having to adapt to the ever-changing weather and track conditions with little previous data to go on.MotoGP says: The coming round will not prove and awful lot easier, as Estoril is a track which is renowned for providing set-up complications due to its highly varied nature. Power Electronics Aspar´s Aleix Espargaró finished top CRT last weekend, after his teammate Randy de Puniet retired towards the end. Paul Bird Motorsport´s James Ellison and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Michele Pirro suffered a similar fate, while Came IodaRacing Project´s Danilo Petrucci recorded a positive 13th place for his team.“Joining them will be Speed Master´s Mattia Pasini, NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Colin Edwards, as well as Avintia Blusens pair Yonny Hernandez and Iván Silva, who will once again be gunning for top CRT spot.”2012 Estoril MotoGP Schedule:Friday:
Free Practice 1: 5:10 – 5:55 a.m. (EDT)
Free Practice 2: 9:10 – 9:55 a.m.Saturday:
Free Practice 3: 5:10 – 5:55 a.m.
Qualifying: 8:55 – 9:55 a.m.Sunday:
Warm-Up: 4:30 – 4:50 a.m.
Race: 8 a.m.2012 Estoril MotoGP TV Schedule:Speed TV will broadcast Estoril MotoGP at 8 a.m. EDT.2012 MotoGP Championship Points (after 2 of 18 rounds):
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