May 04, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
MotoGP Race Preview: Grand Prix of Portugal
|Race:||Grand Prix of Portugal|
|Date:||Sunday, May 6|
|Round:||Third of 18 races in 2012|
|Circuit:||Estoril Circuit, Estoril, Portugal|
|Distance:||28 laps on 13-turn, 2.599-mile circuit|
|2011 Winner:||Dani Pedrosa, Honda|
|2012 Points Leader:||Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha|
|U.S. Riders:||Nicky Hayden, seventh, 18 points; Ben Spies, 11th, 10; Colin Edwards, 13th, 4.|
|TV:||MotoGP: 8 a.m. (ET) Sunday, May 6, SPEED. Moto2: 1pm (ET), Sunday, May 6, SPEED.|
|Moto3:||Noon (ET) Tuesday, May 8, SPEED.|
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner earned his first career victory at the Jerez Circuit with a stunning triumph April 29 in the Spanish Grand Prix. He rode his Repsol Honda from the fifth starting spot on the grid to victory over Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo by .947 of a second.
Dani Pedrosa finished third on a Repsol Honda, with Tech 3 Yamaha teammates Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso fourth and fifth, respectively.
Casey Stoner: Two-time MotoGP World Champion Stoner produced an impressive ride to victory after starting fifth April 29 at Jerez, Spain. The victory pulled Stoner to within four points of leader and rival Jorge Lorenzo in the standings. The only troubling aspect of the victory for Stoner was a less-intense recurrence of the arm pump problem that caused him to drop from the lead to a third-place finish in the season opener April 8 at Qatar.
Cal Crutchlow: The question surrounding Crutchlow isn’t if he will earn his first career podium finish this season in MotoGP – it’s when. Crutchlow earned his second consecutive fourth-place finish of the season at Jerez on his satellite Yamaha, chasing the factory Honda of third-place Dani Pedrosa for the entire race. Crutchlow probably made few friends with his aggressive riding tactics, but he’s showing the brash confidence that helped him win races and fans in World Superbike and World Supersport.
Ben Spies: 2010 Rookie of the Year Spies has endured a rough start to the 2012 season, finishing 11th at Qatar and Jerez on a factory Yamaha. Team boss Lin Jarvis said during the preseason that he expected improved results from Spies in 2012 despite the American winning a race last season, so the pressure is on the American to stay closer to teammate Jorge Lorenzo and the podium at Estoril. Spies crashed out of his first two Grands Prix of Portugal, in 2010 and 2011.
Valentino Rossi: Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Rossi made some progress at Jerez, finishing ninth after placing 10th in the season opener at Qatar on his Ducati. But much more is expected from the highest-paid rider in the paddock and one of the all-time icons of the sport. Rossi said he found a breakthrough with the setup of his Ducati during the race after using the settings of his teammate, Nicky Hayden, who has outqualified and beaten Rossi in both races this season.
BY THE NUMBERS
This could be the last Grand Prix of Portugal for some time, as the race is rumored to be on the chopping block next season to make room for proposed new events in Argentina and Austin, Texas. There are five MotoGP events this season on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), a number that almost certainly will decrease in 2013 … Casey Stoner climbed to 10th among all-time Grand Prix winners with his 41st career victory over all classes last weekend at Jerez … Stoner earned his 17th consecutive podium finish in MotoGP by winning April 29 at Jerez, tying fellow Australian World Champion Mick Doohan for third on the all-time list. Valentino Rossi made 23 straight podiums from 2002-04, while Giacomo Agostini was on the podium 22 consecutive times from 1967-69 … Spaniard Dani Pedrosa is aiming for his 100th podium finish across all classes this weekend at Estoril. Only six riders have achieved that feat … Cal Crutchlow turned the fastest lap of the MotoGP race April 29 at Jerez. The last British rider to achieve that feat was two-time World Champion Barry Sheene, in 1984 … Romano Fenati of Italy won the Moto3 race April 29 at Jerez to become the third-youngest winner of a Grand Prix class, at 16 years, 105 days old.
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