May 07, 2012 | By Paul Kelly
MotoGP Race Report: Grand Prix Of Portugal
The circle is complete for Casey Stoner after a lights-to-flag victory Sunday, May 6 in the Grand Prix of Portugal.
Reigning World Champion Stoner now has won at every circuit on the current MotoGP schedule after earning his first victory at Estoril on his Repsol Honda, beating rival and fellow World Champion Jorge Lorenzo to the finish by 1.421 seconds.
Stoner took the championship lead by one point, 66-65, over Lorenzo with his second consecutive victory of the season. Dani Pedrosa finished third on a Repsol Honda, while Tech 3 Yamaha teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
“In the end, it was another fantastic weekend for us,” Stoner said. “In warm-up we didn’t have a big problem with chatter, but then for the race, under the warmer conditions, we struggled a lot more. This was very difficult to ride with. I was changing the mapping to try and reduce the chatter problem. Toward the end of the race, I began to understand how to ride around it.”
Stoner led from pole, pulling out a lead of nearly 1.5 seconds in the first few laps. But Lorenzo began to chip away on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine as Stoner suffered from tire chatter, pulling to within two-tenths of a second just past the halfway point.
But then Stoner rebuilt a larger gap and pulled away for the victory.
Ben Spies led the American contingent by finishing eighth on his Yamaha Factory Racing bike. Nicky Hayden finished 11th on his Ducati, the first time this season he has placed behind teammate Valentino Rossi, who finished seventh. Hayden’s bike was plagued by an electrical problem caused by radio signal interference at the circuit.
American Colin Edwards did not race after suffering a broken collarbone during qualifying Saturday. He will undergo surgery to repair the injury this week in Barcelona, Spain. Randy de Puniet fell in front of Edwards in qualifying, causing Edwards to crash.
In other MotoGP news, American Kenny Noyes was named this weekend as the reserve rider for the Pramac Ducati team. Noyes, who raced in Moto2 in 2010-11, will race for the team if race rider Hector Barbera is unable to compete due to injury.
The next MotoGP race is the French Grand Prix on Sunday, May 20 at Le Mans. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is the 11th of 18 races this season, Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
PODIUM FINISHER QUOTES
CASEY STONER (Winner, Repsol Honda Team): “In the end, it was another fantastic weekend for us. This morning we were more confident but also a little concerned because yesterday afternoon when we had a very similar setting to FP3, the bike was a little bit worse in the warm conditions. In warm-up we didn't have a big problem with chatter, but then for the race, under the warmer conditions, we struggled a lot more. This was very difficult to ride with. I was changing the mapping to try and reduce the chatter problem. Toward the end of the race, I began to understand how to ride around it.”
JORGE LORENZO (Second, Yamaha Factory Racing): “I’m happy with this second position because I was expecting to fight for third or fourth and not the victory. The bike improved a lot from the practices, so it was possible. I had two problems. At the start, I used a lot of clutch and burnt it. So for two or three laps, it was burning, and I lost a lot of distance from Casey. Also at the end, Casey was very strong. After this, everything was working well and I made a fastest lap, which is not very common for me. We are just one point behind Casey. Hopefully we can improve something on the bike (in testing) tomorrow and be in front again.”
DANI PEDROSA (Third, Repsol Honda Team): “It’s been a really tough race from the beginning. The pace was very, very high from the first lap to the final one. Casey did a good race, unbelievably strong. I had a big shake in the first braking area; Casey and Jorge overtook me, and I lost 1.5 seconds on the first lap. Three races on the podium is very good overall, but in three races we missed something. So let’s try it again in the next one.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
BEN SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing, eighth): “Very mixed emotions today. This is actually the first time in three years that I’ve finished a race here. As I told the team, I made four or five big mistakes during the race; they cost me time and places. It was a rough race, but I’m continuing to build my confidence. I don’t enjoy Estoril, so I’m happy to have finished. Now we go to Le Mans, which is a great event with an amazing crowd but another track I don’t love so much. I’m happy with the bike and its performance, so we’ll continue to build my confidence and improve the results.”
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Team, 11th): “Starting from the first lap, there was an electrical problem, and the bike didn’t know where it was on the track. I tried my best to ride around the problem and not make mistakes. It’s really a shame to work hard all weekend but not be able to take advantage of it with a result in the race. The team did a great job overnight, and I felt so much better this morning in the warm-up. I almost matched my qualifying lap and was pretty consistent. Of course I’m not saying I was going to fight for the win, but it would have been nice to at least have a decent race.”
Riders: Casey Stoner 66, Jorge Lorenzo 65, Dani Pedrosa 52, Cal Crutchlow 37, Andrea Dovizioso 35, Alvaro Bautista 29, Stefan Bradl 24, Nicky Hayden 23, Valentino Rossi 22, Hector Barbera 19, Ben Spies 18, Aleix Espargaro 9, Randy de Puniet 6, Colin Edwards 4, Danilo Petrucci 4, Michele Pirro 2, Mattia Pasini 2, Yonny Hernandez 2, Ivan Silva 1.
Manufacturers: Honda 70, Yamaha 65, Ducati 27, ART 11, Suter 4, Ioda 4, FTR 2, BQR-FTR 2, BQR 1.
MotoGP SUPPORT CLASS WINNERS
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Moto3: Sandro Cortese, Germany, Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM.
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