Monday, May 7


Ben Spies tries an inside move
A Yamaha in a Honda Sandwich

Australian Honda rider Casey Stoner won the Portuguese MotoGP at Estoril on May 6 in the nick of time. The circuit was hosting its last motorcycle GP for the foreseeable future and after his win at Jerez a week earlier, Estoril was the last remaining track on the calendar the two time World MotoGP Champion had not won a premier class race at.

He rectified that in no uncertain terms, qualifying on pole and leading the 28 lap race from start to finish, once again with 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo stalking him the entire way, just as he had the previous Sunday at Jerez in Spain.

Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa made another of his trademark blazing starts to lead into the first corner but that was the only time he was in front.-Stoner railed around the outside and Lorenzo, getting a good drive from the second row of the grid, went under his countryman a split second later to begin what was to be a race long pursuit of the Australian with Pedrosa just astern ready to pounce if either of the men in front made the slightest mistake.

They didn’t and after an absorbing contest in which Lorenzo closed the gap to just over one tenth of a second, Stoner was able to stretch it out to just under one and a half seconds at the end.

Ben Spies, after setting fastest time in the first practice, second fastest in the second session then qualifying on the second row with fifth fastest time, appeared to be a man on a mission, slotting into fourth place to chase Pedrosa early on. But entering a left-hander, the American ran wide to avoid running into Pedrosa’s rear wheel and lost a lot of time, rejoining in sixth before making a further mistake, being passed by Alvaro Bautsta (Gressini Honda), Valentino Rossi on the Marlboro Ducati and MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda).

Stoner's First Premier class win at Estoril

Spies then got embroiled in a battle for eighth with the German Moto2 champion, getting the better of the satellite Honda rider as the race got to the halfway point. At that stage, less than a second covered Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa, with quite a gap back to the Tech 3 Yamahas of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.

Bradl did not give up and got by Spies again but the Texan stuck to his mission, getting back in front of Bradl before the finish. What was interesting in this duel was that Bradl’s satellite Honda had the edge on Spies’ works Yamaha in acceleration out of corners so Spies had to brake later and run higher corner speed to get ahead of the German and at the same time, it appeared he was working to overcome a front-end instability in his Yamaha.

With three laps to go, Stoner got back into the high 1m 37s to break Lorenzo’s challenge and went on to win, taking the points lead from Lorenzo in the process, 66 to 65 with Pedrosa third on 52 points.

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