MotoGP Grande Prémio de Portugal, April 30-May1, 2011
After a race long-duel with fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) raced to victory at the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal on Sunday and with it claimed his first win at the Estoril circuit in any class. Third was Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda).
Pedrosa, who only recently had surgery on his injured shoulder, had been seemingly pacing himself behind race leader Lorenzo, until the final three laps, when the Repsol Honda rider passed the Yamaha man down the straight and then delivered a succession of fast laps to pass the chequered flag first. Pedrosa finished just over three seconds ahead of the reigning MotoGP World Champion and closed the gap on Lorenzo’s lead in the standings to just four points. Pedrosa’s triumph also prevented the pole sitter from clinching victory at the Estoril circuit for what would have been a fourth successive season.
Stoner had a lonely race in third and was over seven seconds behind his team-mate who won the race. The former MotoGP World Champion has never won at Estoril (one of only five circuits the Australian has failed to clinch victory at). All eyes were on the battle behind the Australian between Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) and Andrea Dovizioso. The Repsol Honda rider stayed close to Rossi throughout the race and managed to snatch the fourth place on the very last lap as they crossed the start finish line, by a mere 0.025s. The nine time World Champion’s previous lowest result here in Estoril had been a fourth place from 11 starts, before the pass from his fellow compatriot over the line.
It was a good day for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team. Colin Edwards arrived home in sixth position, two ahead of Cal Crutchlow. The British rookie had been involved in a tussle with Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), but the Japanese rider got the better of the former world supersport champion. Crutchlow was one of many riders racing following an operation and continued to pick up points in his first season in the premier class.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was ninth, after racing with Ben Spies early on and the final place in the top ten went to Frenchman Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing). Toni Elías (LCR Honda) who won here in 2006, was 11th after fighting with Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) and edging out the most experienced rider in the field, come the end of the race.
In the first race of the season for Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki), who missed the opening two rounds through injury, the Spaniard battled through the pain barrier to record 13th place and claim three points, just six weeks after breaking his leg.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) who started from the front row suffered his second crash of the Portuguese weekend on the first lap. The Italian, who crashed whilst in contention for pole position during qualifying, came off at the beginning of the race whilst in third.
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) struggled on his second visit to Estoril after several excursions off the track and dropping down to tenth. The American then crashed and was unable to restart the bike.
Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) had scored points in 19 of the past 20 races since he began his MotoGP career, but this race was not to be for the Spaniard after crashing out on the opening lap with a nasty looking highside. Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) who qualified ahead of the factory Ducati of Hayden in just his third GP start, had his first non-finish of his debut MotoGP campaign after an early off brought his race to a halt.
Stefan Bradl stays ahead of Julián Simón for the Moto2 win
After an exciting tussle in the last few laps of the Moto2 race Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) managed to hold off Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) to claim victory, with a poignant rostrum finish for Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) who came third less than a week after the tragic death of his brother.
The German rider kept his cool during an eventful race at the front to take his third victory in the Moto2 class and the fifth of his career. The Kalex rider has increased his lead in the World Championship to 13 points over Andrea Iannone (Speed Master). The Italian rider looked potentially on course to triumph in Estoril after clawing his way through the field from starting from the middle of the fifth row, to be leading with only a few laps to go after passing Bradl. However the Suter rider crashed and eventually finished in 13th place, 42 seconds behind the winner.
Bradl and Simón had a mouthwatering fight in the last few laps and it was Bradl who crossed the start finish line a mere 0.147s ahead of the Spaniard. The Mapfre Aspar rider was aiming to collect his maiden Moto2 victory in the class, but had to settle for second place and his 23rd career podium. Takahashi was an emotional third, a further six seconds behind the battle at the front.
It was a positive weekend for Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP) after his highest grid position in Moto2 of fifth. Aegerter then also finished the race with his best result in the class with fourth place. Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) was in fifth, Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up) sixth and Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) seventh.
Alex Baldolini (Forward Racing), who had his only ever podium in Grand Prix racing here at the circuit in 2010, had his best result of the 2011 campaign so far in eighth place, ahead of Mike di Meglio (Tech 3) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX).
Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) had got the better of Bradl after a few laps in and had just set the fastest lap of the race whilst attempting to pull away at the front, when he lost the front end of his Suter and went down at Turn 13. That was the end of the Swiss rider’s race and he had to return to the pits to retire.
Reigning 125cc World Champion Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) lost control of his bike whilst dicing with British rider Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) and clattered into the British rider forcing them both off into the gravel. With both riders failing to score so far in this year’s Moto2 campaign, they both managed to continue but finished down in 21st and 25th respectively, It was not a good day for the British riders in the intermediate class as Bradley Smith (Tech 3) was forced to pull into the pits with a wheel problem with ten laps to go and was classified 29th.
After challenging for a rostrum position, Kenan Sofuoglu suffered an accident which brought an early halt to his race whilst racing in fifth place for Technomag-CIP. Rookie Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing Moto2) had his first non finish in Moto2, crashing out of sixth place on lap one after achieving his best ever qualifying result in Grand Prix. Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) was another rider not to reach the chequered flag after his fall mid way through the race.
Bankia Aspar’s Nicolas Terol continued his perfect start to the 2011 season with his third successive win of the 125cc campaign. The Spaniard dominated at the front in Estoril and led home Sandro Cortese (Intact-Racing Team Germany) and Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo).
Pole sitter Terol become the first rider to win the opening three 125cc GP races since Masao Azuma in 1999. The 22 year old extended his lead in the championship standings to 25 points after securing maximum points from all three rounds and claimed his eighth career victory.
Cortese, who qualified second, continued his run of grid positions in the top two this season and fought with the most experienced rider in the class Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) through the middle of the race. They led a gaggle of riders for an intense battle including Maverick Viñales (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing) and Zarco. However, Faubel hit the tarmac after crashing with just a few laps remaining, when he was in line for the final spot on the rostrum.
Frenchman Zarco, who achieved his first podium in 125cc at the last round in Jerez, made it two in a row after a photo-finish between him and rookie rider Viñales decided that the Ajo Motorsport rider beat him on the line. The difference between third and fourth was a marginal two-thousandths of a second. Fourth place was the Spaniard’s best result of his debut campaign in 125cc, after narrowly missing the opportunity to stand on the rostrum.
Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) who is now joint third in the championship with Zarco, was fifth, ahead of Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo). Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) who became the first Portuguese rider to start on the front row of a Grand Prix grid, finished in seventh in front of the home crowd in his third race of his rookie season.
Luis Salom (RW Racing GP) was eighth, one spot in front of the second Bankia Aspar bike of Adrián Martín. Tenth went to Simone Grotzkyj (Phonica Racing).
Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) had a ride through penalty for a jump start but came through to finish in 15th and clinch the last point on offer. Kent fought off competition from fellow compatriot, Danny Webb (Mahindra Racing) who had to settle for 16th. The third British rider Harry Stafford (Ongetta-Centro Seta) had a crash towards the latter stages of the race and had to return to the pits. Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing) who qualified 26th after a crash in QP, did not start the race due to a shoulder injury sustained in his fall.
Lorenzo on Pole in Estoril
With dark clouds looming over the Estoril circuit on Saturday it was Jerez race winner Jorge Lorenzo who claimed the 17th premier class pole of his career and his first of the 2011 season at the circuit at which he has won from pole for the past three seasons.
The pole position lap time of 1’37.161 was just over one-tenth of a second faster than his nearest challenger Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) to secure top spot in QP for the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal. After dominating both Friday practices, the Italian rider had continued to lead the timing screens throughout the qualifying hour until he was pipped by the reigning World Champion in the final five minutes. Simoncelli then was on a lap which was a third of a second up on the Yamaha when he crashed into Turn 7, ruling out the possibility of the 24 year-old fighting to regain first position.
The top four riders were separated by 0.223s, with the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner in third and fourth respectively. Lorenzo’s Yamaha Factory Racing team-mate Ben Spies was fifth fastest, ahead of the third Repsol Honda rider Andrea Dovizioso on the second row. The Italian won here in 2006 in the 250cc category and was on the rostrum here last season in the premier class.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow were seventh and eighth respectively on the third row. Crutchlow was only a tenth off his team mate on his first appearance at the Estoril circuit in his debut MotoGP season.
The highest placed Ducati was the rider with the best record at the circuit. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team), who has had ten podium finishes here, was ninth quickest and just edged out the second Ducati of Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team). The top ten riders were within 1.202s of each other. Rossi’s team-mate Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was in 13th, rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) continued his form from the weekend to qualify in 12th.
Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) made improvements after his return to the bike this weekend following a broken femur. The Spaniard finished in 15th, just over two seconds off Lorenzo’s pole lap.
In Moto2 Stefan Bradl took his third consecutive pole of the season with a best time of 1’41.591 as the rain held off for the qualifying sessions in all three categories. The German rider of the Viessmann Kiefer Racing team was followed onto the front row by Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) and Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar).
Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) will challenge for his first race finish of the season from the second row having qualified fourth, with Dominique Aegerter (Technomag CIP) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing) fifth and sixth respectively.
Pirro’s team-mate Yuki Takahashi, Kenan Sofuoglu (Technomag CIP), Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) and Pol Espargaró completed the top ten in the session. Championship leader Andrea Iannone will start from 14th.
Nico Terol remains the 125 man to beat after the Bankia Aspar rider, who has won both races so far, qualified with a best lap time of 1’46.556. That placed the Spaniard over seven-tenths of a second clear of Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) with Miguel Oliveira (Andalucia Banca Civica) the only other rider to get within a second of the pole time and complete the front row for his home GP.
Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar), Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Banca Civica) and Johann Zarco (Avant AirAsia Ajo) will all start from the second row, whilst Luis Salom (RW Racing), Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport), Efrén Vázquez (Avant AirAsia Ajo) and Adrián Martín (Bankia Aspar) all set top-ten times.
Simoncelli Leads Estoril Practice
Big haired San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli was quickest in both practice sessions at the bwin Grande Prémio de Portugal on Friday, as the World Championship resumed action.
The Italian lost the front end of his Honda going into Turn 3 midway through the second session so had to jump onto his second machine, but he was never headed. The 24 year-old won at this circuit back in 2009 in the former 250cc class and will be aiming for his maiden podium finish this weekend, after missing out on the opportunity at Jerez in the previous round.
The second session of the day – in the afternoon – was run in much hotter temperatures underneath the Portuguese sunshine. The MotoGP class just missed out on the rain which began to fall at the end of the 45-minute practice, and all 17 riders improved on their earlier times to end the day spread across 2.510s.
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) who has won from pole position at Estoril for the previous three seasons was consistently quick throughout the day and finished with a deficit of just 0.061s to Simoncelli. The 23 year-old was 0.003s faster than his rival Dani Pedrosa in third. The Repsol Honda rider has yet to win in any category at this circuit and it is one of only four venues the Spaniard has been unable to achieve victory at.
Finishing on identical lap times of 1’38.102 were Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) after their much talked about coming together from the last race in Jerez. The Italian has had five wins here in the premier class, whilst the Australian is yet to take victory in the premier class at Estoril.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was again solidly in the top ten, keen to put the disappointment of Jerez behind him. The American has had two fourth places here, in 2006 and 2008, which are his best results at this circuit. Rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) was seventh quickest, and the Czech rider finished in 10th place here last season in the Moto2 race.
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) has not had a happy time so far at this venue after crashing on the sighting lap in 2010. After a run off in first practice in the morning, the Yamaha rider was eighth fastest, 0.9s off Simoncelli’s best time.
The final two places in the top went to two Ducati machines. Ninth was Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) who will be hoping to achieve the first win for Ducati at this circuit. Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team), who had his best ever finish in MotoGP thanks to his sixth place in Jerez, was tenth quickest in FP2. The ten riders were covered by less than a second.
Making his return to action was Rizla Suzuki rider Álvaro Bautista, who completed both the practice sessions in his first MotoGP action since breaking his left femur in Qatar.
The Moto2 class experienced different fortunes with the weather, enjoying good conditions for the morning session but being affected by rain in the afternoon. Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) topped the day’s times with a 1’42.202, closely followed by Tom Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) at 0.011s further back and Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol) who was 0.042s off the Japanese rider’s time.
Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) and Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing) were both in the top five, with Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing), Bradley Smith (Tech 3), Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) all inside the top ten.
Thanks to the scheduled order of the sessions the 125cc riders escaped the rain along with the MotoGP class, and true to form it was Nico Terol leading the way. The Bankia Aspar rider’s best lap of 1’46.385 from the second session of the day topped the combined session times, placing him a substantial 0.708s ahead of Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany).
The German was followed by Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) inside the top three, with Héctor Faubel (Bankia Aspar) and Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) completing the top five.