Photo courtesy BridgestoneEnlarge Photo
Australian two-time and reigning MotoGP champion Casey Stoner can cross the final current race track off his to-do list. With his victory in the 2012 Grande Premio de Portugal Circuito Estoril, Stoner has now won at every track on the current MotoGP calendar.
Stoner led from pole position and never gave up the point, but he did have company towards the front of the pack with rivals Jorge Lorenzo (Factory Yamaha Team) and Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. That duo closed in on the leader throughout the race but toward the end, Stoner put his game face on to take the win by 1.421 seconds over Lorenzo and championship lead by a single point from the Yamaha rider. This was his 42nd overall win in all Grand Prix classes.
“In general we’ve been pretty happy this weekend, though for the race I had to keep up the pace as best I could as my pit-board showed that Jorge was always there behind me," Stoner explained. "In the middle of the race I tried a few changes to the map settings and slightly changed the way I rode which helped things and in the end we had enough in the bag to hold on for the win.”
Jorge Lorenzo photo courtesy MotoGPEnlarge Photo
Lorenzo, who has never finished off podium at Estoril came from fourth on the gird to take second at the first corner. He maintained that spot to the end despite a determined effort from Pedrosa to unseat the 2010 MotoGP champion. ""I'm happy with this second position because I was expecting to fight for third or fourth and not the victory," he said. "At the end Casey was very strong; we're just one point behind and hopefully we can improve something on the bike tomorrow (in testing) and be in front again."
In earning his 100th career podium Pedrosa called this race "really tough from the beginning; the pace was very high from the first lap to the final one. 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," he said. Pedrosa lies third in points, just 14 behind teammate Stoner.
Behind these three podium holders, who gapped to less than four seconds at the close came Andrea Dovizioso, finally beating his Monster Tech3 Yamaha teammate Cal Crutchlow for the first time this year; Crutchlow was fifth, while San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista again had a good, sixth-place finish.
Dovizioso took his best Yamaha result after moving from Honda this year: "I am very satisfied with my performance in today's race and particularly with the pace I could run because I was very fast and consistent throughout." Crutchlow was "pretty happy with fifth place but I would like to have been a bit closer to the top three like I was in Jerez."
Valentino Rossi had his best result of the season in seventh for Ducati team, followed by the second Factory Yamaha of Ben Spies, by Stefan Bradl of LCR Honda and Hector Barbera completing the top 10 on his Pramac Racing Team Ducati. Power Electronics Aspar's Aleix Espargaro took the top spot in the CRT ranks for a second race in succession.
American Colin Edwards did not take part in Sunday's race after breaking his collarbone in an accident during qualifying yesterday; he is expected to have surgery on Monday, even as most teams and riders remain behind at Estoril for a day of in-season testing prior to the next race of the year at Le Mans, France on May 20.