Casey Stoner is in ominous form. After being relegated to third position in the season opener at Qatar due to an arm pump problem, Stoner had bounced back last week to break his Jerez jinx to win there and this week he broke the Estoril to grab victory and lead in the MotoGP series. Jorge Lorenzo who had a disappointing qualification yesterday made a good start to settle down behind Stoner who started from pole and took the lead right in the beginning and at one point Lorenzo looked as if he could overcome Stoner and fight for victory. But towards the winding down laps of the race, Stoner upped the ante to extend his lead over Lorenzo by one and a half seconds and comfortably took victory. Through out the race Dani Pedrosa, Stoner’s teammate on the other Repsol Honda remained in third place. This is the third race in succession that the same three have finished on the podium and the second in succession where Stoner has been on the top step followed by Yamaha’s Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies continued to have horrors and could only manage an eighth place despite having shown promise in qualifying yesterday.
Much behind the first three was an interesting battle between teammates at Tech3 Yamaha, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow. In the first two races, the Englishman Crutchlow took fourth position and this had led to a war of words with Dovizioso who simply put Crutchlow’s success down to the increased 1000cc which was what the latter was used to in World Superbikes. Crutchlow’s response was that Dovizioso had to learn how to ride the Yamaha after having campaigned all his life and in all categories on Honda machinery. Crutchlow initially held the advantage over Dovizioso but the latter got the better of the former to hold fourth position. Crutchlow despite his best attempts had to settle for fifth place this time around. Both Crutchlow and Dovizioso are not just fighting for their positions in Tech3 Yamaha team but also are contending for the factory Yamaha position which everyone seems to sure will fall vacant at the end of this year due to the under performing Ben Spies.
Alvaro Bautista’s confidence with the Honda has been increasing and he rode to a lonely 6th place while Valentino Rossi finally accepted that he has to work with the machinery given to him and therefore rode to a seventh position ahead of all other Ducatis and especially ahead of Hayden who outperformed him in the first couple of GPs leading to many punters in the paddock to say that for all practical purposes Nicky Hayden was now the leader. Rossi put a point across yesterday by out qualifying Hayden but was still behind Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera. Today in the race however, Rossi righted that too by ensuring that he finished as the first Ducati. Spies followed in eighth but only after he fought off the challenge of Stefan Bradl riding the LCR Honda. The LCR Honda is rumoured to be the bike that was meant for the now late Marco Simoncelli and if that is indeed the case, then Bradl is riding a factory spec Honda albeit in a satellite team. Barbera on the Pramac Ducati was able to stay ahead of the factory Ducati of Hayden who could only finish in eleventh position.
From then on it was a list of CRT machines led by Aleix Espargaro who fought with teammate Randy De Puniet to take the honour of being the top CRT rider for the second race in succession. Apart from the afore mentioned ART bikes, Danilo Petrucci riding the Ioda machine featuring a custom frame and an Aprilia engine to finish in the points in fifteenth position while fourteenth went to the Honda CRT of Michele Pirro. Karel Abraham on the Cardion AB Ducati,Mattia Pasini on the Speed Master ART, Yonny Hernandez on the FTR Kawasaki, James Ellison on the PBM ART and Ivan Silva Inmotec Kawasaki did not finish the race. Colin Edwards who broke his clavicle in yesterday’s qualifying did not start the race.