Fiat Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi put in a superb team performance at the Grand Prix of Portugal on the Estoril circuit at the weekend, the 17th round of 18 in the series, taking first and second respectively to deliver Yamaha its third consecutive Triple Crown with the Team, Rider and Manufacturers’ titles.
The achievement marks the first time since the Triple Crown’s inception that any manufacturer has won it three times in a row. After a weekend of disruption from the weather, the race was run mainly in bright sunshine, although rain earlier in the day meant the track was still patchy to begin with.
The new 2010 World Champion, Lorenzo, made a strong start from pole, taking the lead into the first corner before briefly relinquishing it to Ducati’s Nicky Hayden for a few seconds before taking back control of the race.
Team-mate Rossi made a play for the lead on lap four, relegating Lorenzo to second until lap 17 where a decisive out braking manoeuvre saw the Spaniard retake the lead, putting his head down to build an impressive eight second lead over Rossi by the chequered flag.
The victory was another landmark for Lorenzo, being the third consecutive time he has won from pole position at this track. Rossi’s second position finish continues his impressive record in Portugal, giving him his tenth podium here in all classes.
Rossi’s second-place and a non-finish from Ducati’s Casey Stoner means the Italian has moved back to third in the championship standings, 19 points off Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and second place. The final round of the season comes in one week’s time at Valencia in Spain.
“On the warm-up lap I could see there were still a few wet parts and I knew that I was going to have to be careful at the beginning,” said Lorenzo afterwards.
“I got a great start and was in the lead but eventually Valentino overtook me and then off he went. He had a better pace than me then and I couldn’t go with him. As the track got drier I found my pace improving and then step-by-step I closed the gap and was able to get past him. At that point I felt really good and I am so happy to win for the third time here at Estoril.
“It was a long time since I have won but my confidence has remained high and I haven’t been worried. I knew I could win here at my favourite track. We also confirmed the Triple Crown for Yamaha today so well done to the whole team for this victory.”
Ross was happy about his weekend.
“Like I said yesterday, a wet warm up and a dry race is a difficult one! I am happy about this weekend, we worked really well on the bike on the wet and this morning I was the fastest in the warm up, if it had been a wet race I could have been very competitive,” said Rossi.
“For the dry we started blind so I had to try to take some risks at the beginning because the setting was ok, but it was not enough because when Jorge got into his rhythm he was faster than me, I had no way to fight with him. I tried to stay with him but he was too fast. Anyway second place is positive for my championship because I am back in third place and I’m not so far from Dani Pedrosa in second. I’m happy to have improved the setting of the bike but we are still not strong enough so we will try to improve for Valencia for a final win with Yamaha.”
Meanwhile, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha Team experienced mixed fortunes at the Grand Prix of Portugal, Colin Edwards racing to a gutsy seventh position while Ben Spies was unfortunately unable to start after a heavy fall on the sighting lap.
After a weekend of atrocious weather severely disrupted the practice and qualifying schedule, the MotoGP race started on a drying track in bright and sunny but blustery conditions. Some damp patches were still visible on the surface after further torrential rain this morning, but with no dry track time under his belt, set-up and tyre choice became a lottery for Edwards.
Edwards needed to call on all his experience as tricky conditions in the early laps presented the 36-year-old with a severe test of skill and bravery. Working out quickly where he could push, Edwards spent the majority of the race on the fringes of an exciting five-rider fight for third place. He got up to seventh on lap 18 with an overtake on Randy de Puniet and at that point he was only 1.6s behind Marco Simoncelli in third.
Frustratingly for the Texan, he was unable to force his way into contention for a rostrum, despite launching numerous attempts to close down on the podium battle unfolding directly in front of him. He eventually finished seventh and heading to the final round in Valencia next weekend, Edwards is just one-point behind Marco Melandri in his bid to claim a top ten overall championship finish.
It was a difficult afternoon for fellow American Spies, who had impressed all weekend on his first visit to the Estoril track. Spies was confident of a strong race despite having never completed a single lap of the track in the dry. But he crashed on the second of two sighting laps at turn four and was unable to start the 28-lap encounter.
Spies suffered a dislocated left ankle and aggravated injuries suffered in Le Mans and Silverstone earlier in the season. The 26-year-old will now travel to Spain where he will undergo MRI scans on the ankle, though he is determined to end his outstanding rookie campaign by participating in the final round in Valencia next weekend.
2010 MotoGP Portugal – Estoril 31/10/2010
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 46’17.962
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0’08.629
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’26.475
4 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 0’26.534
5 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0’27.154
6 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 0’28.297
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0’30.109
8 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0’44.947
9 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’13.649
10 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’17.721
11 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’17.908
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’33.025
13 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’39.752
Championship standings after the 17th round of 18 in the series:
1. Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, ESP 358
2. Daniel Pedrosa, Honda, ESP 236
3. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, ITA 217
4. Casey Stoner, Ducati, AUS 205
5. Andrea Dovizioso, Honda, ITA 195
6. Ben Spies, Yamaha, USA 163
7. Nicky Hayden, Ducati, USA 163
8. Marco Simoncelli, Honda, ITA 115
9. Randy De Puniet, Honda, FRA 110
10. Marco Melandri, Honda, ITA 100
11. Colin Edwards, Yamaha, USA 99
12. Hector Barbera, Ducati, ESP 82
13. Alvaro Bautista, Suzuki, ESP 78
14. Aleix Espargaro, Ducati, ESP 60
15. Hiroshi Aoyama, Honda, JPN 51
21. Wataru Yoshikawa, Yamaha, JPN 1