Jorge Lorenzo Wins MotoGP Race in Portugal

Henny Ray Abrams | October 31, 2010

Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo enjoyed the most dominant MotoGP win in over a year, convincingly beating teammate Valentino Rossi to win the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril for the third year in a row in a race considered something of a lottery.The race was held on a dry track, the first dry session for the MotoGP class all weekend. Every session prior to the race had been wet, which meant the teams were making calculated gambles on set-up. The Yamahas, which are considered the best bikes in the field, were clearly the best on the day; Rossi was 17.846 secs. in front of third place Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda). And Lorenzo’s margin of victory of 8.629 secs. was the most in class since Lorenzo won last year’s Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix by 9.435 secs.It  was also Lorenzo’s eighth win of the year, fifth from the pole, and first since the Czech Grand Prix back in August. Back then Lorenzo was more concerned about the championship, but once that was sealed in Malaysia, Lorenzo could concentrate on winning races again. He was thoroughly beaten by Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) in Australia, but today the Majorcan was unbeatable.”Yes, very tough and very unexpected race because we didn’t practice on the dry, so we start the race without any feelings,” Lorenzo said. “So a lot of patches of water and I’ve almost crashed many times, I think like everyone. But you know, in the laps eight-ten, I thought Vale (Rossi) is going to win the race. But little by little I was improving my lap time. He was still on the same pace, but I could catch him, pass him, then go.”Rossi admitted that “at the beginning was difficult because never try on the dry. So I take some risk in the first laps on the wet patches, because I feel confident with the bike and I was able to take a good pace and stay in front with a good advantage. But unfortunately when the track coming better, Jorge have a better pace than me. I try to change line, I try to make something for improve my pace. And I stay with him for two or three laps, I push a lot, but he was faster than me, so I have to give up.”But anyway is a good result for me, because last year was a bad, bad race. Make a good improvement for the setting. We need something more. Is a strange situation because we never have time for improve the bike. But this second place is also important for the championship, because for the last race I can try also to take Dani (Pedrosa).”Rossi took advantage of yet another race crash by Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner to move up to third in the championship. The Australian was in third place when he crashed out on the fifth lap. Lorenzo leads with 358 points to 236 for Pedrosa and 217 for Rossi. Stoner is fourth with 205.Dovizioso was entangled in an entertaining battle for third with fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini). The pair went back and forth right to the line, with Dovizioso taking his third podium in the last four races by finishing third.”Is always not so easy to fight with Marco because he’s really aggressive and I need to make a strategy because he’s really aggressive,” Dovizioso said. “And every time in the chicane he overtake me, so I knew on the last corner I can overtake him. I try to be in the front, but he overtake me and I use the last corner to try to exit faster. And really to have third position is so important to be on the podium.”Simoncelli was only .059 secs. back in fourth, the best finish of his MotoGP career by two positions.”Yes, we did a great battle, like in the 15 years ago in the pocketbike,” Simoncelli said. “And I enjoy a lot the race, but I fight with all my strength for the third position, but I did a little mistake in the last exiting. I exit a little bit slower than the lap before from the last corner and Dovizioso beat me. But anyway, I’m very happy and I try to do the podium in Valencia.”Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was part of the battle for third until the second half of the final lap when the Honda riders got away. Hayden had briefly led the race early on when he had the advantage of the softer front Bridgestone tire, but the longer the race went, the less advantage he had and he was consumed by the battle behind.”It was a lottery before the race because we’d had no dry track time and at the start there was still quite a few damp patches around,” Edwards said.  “My guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 though did an awesome job because what we ran on the bike worked pretty good. But if you don’t adapt in a couple of laps then you’re in big trouble and off the pace.”I felt pretty good from the start, even though it was so difficult in the first few laps. It was hard to find the limit or work out when you were going to slide and everybody was having big moments. This is all going on why you’re trying to push at the same time and it was a bit of a lottery just to keep it on two wheels. I caught that group and I could see third but I couldn’t do anything with them and that was pretty frustrating. I made up time on them on the brakes but they just had a bit more punch coming out of the corners. So each time I’d close up, they’d gap me leaving the next corner. The podium was right there, I could see it, but I just couldn’t get close enough.”Edwards’ teammate Ben Spies didn’t make it to the starting grid. The Texan high-sided in a right-hander on the sighting lap, dislocating his left ankle. That not only put him out of the race, but also put him in jeopardy of missing both next Sunday’s season finale in Valencia and the Valencia post-season test.Spies dropped into a tie with Hayden for sixth in the championship with 163 points.San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri finished ninth in front of Paginas Amarillas Ducati’s Hector Barbera.Rizla Suzukis finished 11th, Alvaro Bautista, and 13th, Loris Capirossi, with Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda MotoGP) in between.The return to MotoGP of Carlos Checa was a disappointment. Riding the Pramac Racing Ducati in place of Mika Kallio, Checa was running near the back of the field when he withdrew with arm pump on the 14th lap. The arm pump was a product of the increased pace on a dry track.Neither did the other Pramac Racing Ducati finish, with Aleix Espargaro crashing on the first lap.Stoner and Lorenzo got great starts, but no one better than Dovizioso who leapt from seventh to second into turn one. Hayden didn’t gate well before recovering for third in front of Rossi and quickly made his way through Dovizioso and set out for Lorenzo, who threatened to disappear.Hayden closed up on Lorenzo and and passed Lorenzo early on the second lap. Behind him Lorenzo was holding his place with Rossi third, Stoner now fourth, and Dovizioso into fifth.Lorenzo drafted into the lead on the second lap from Hayden, Rossi, Dovi and Stoner, whose bid for the lead was unsuccessful.Rossi came through on Hayden on the third lap just as Stoner came through on Dovizioso. De Puniet and Simoncelli were close, with seven riders bunched together as the riders learned their way around the wet patches in their first dry track time.Stoner was through and into third on the fourth lap and looking to join in the battle for the lead being waged between Lorenzo and Rossi.Rossi went up the inside of Lorenzo in the slowest corner, an uphill left hand chicane, to lead for the first time on the fourth lap. Rossi then set the fast lap while Lorenzo dropped slightly and into the clutches of Stoner, while Hayden was now a second back as Simoncelli passed Dovizioso.Stoner’s day ended in the Parabolica on the fifth lap, where he’d crashed earlier in the weekend. Now it was Rossi clearing out in the front ahead of Lorenzo and Hayden alone in third as Dovi got back in front of Simoncelli, though Simoncelli would soon take it back. De Puniet was now holding off Pedrosa with Edwards eighth.Rossi had 1.63 secs. ending the seventh lap with a similar gap to Hayden, who had three on Simoncelli and Dovizioso.The gap stayed constant, with Rossi unable to get away, though the pair were leaving Hayden, who though he was a very secure third, but would soon find out otherwise.The battle among the four-rider Honda horde just behind was unsettled. Simoncelli and Dovi were at the front until Dovizioso had a moment and let Pedrosa and de Puniet through. They crossed the line with Simoncelli in front of Pedrosa, de Puniet, and Dovizioso, with Edwards breaking up the Hondas back in seventh.Lorenzo set the fast lap of the race on the 13th to cut Rossi’s lead almost in half.Meanwhile, Hayden was starting to lose ground and Simoncelli was closing. Hayden was one of six riders to opt for the softer front Bridgestone and by mid-race his once secure gap was quickly fading.As the race entered its second half Hayden was under pressure not only from Simoncelli, but the other four riders he was towing along.With the fastest lap of the race, Lorenzo attacked in the first corner of the 16th lap, taking Rossi on the brakes up the inside into turn one.Hayden lost third to Simoncelli in turn three on the 18th lap, with the Repsol Honda riders lined up behind. Dovizioso came through for fifth into the interior Parabolica. Then Hayden lost fourth to Dovi into turn one on the 19th lap and fifth to Pedrosa soon after. Now Edwards was challenging and de Puniet wasn’t far behind.Lorenzo lowered the fast race lap on the 19th and again on the 20th, his 1:37.928 putting a gap of nearly two seconds on Rossi.The pair were now a whopping 17.5 secs. on Simoncelli, who was soon to lose third to Dovizioso-the pass came on the 21st lap-with Pedrosa in front of Hayden, Edwards and de Puniet. Hayden and Edwards came through on Pedrosa with Edwards into fifth after passing Hayden, but he ran wide out of the chicane and dropped back to eighth.Now Simoncelli and Dovizioso were pulling away-they had 1.7 secs. with seven laps to go, with the battle for fifth being fiercely waged.Lorenzo was gone, his lead now up to 2.541 secs. and growing. The interest was in the final podium spot, which was anything but settled.With two laps to go Dovizioso went through into third in turn one, with Hayden on their tails and de Puniet not far behind. Edwards was alone in seventh, having cleared out from Pedrosa.The final lap started with Dovi in front of Simoncelli and Hayden. Simoncelli made the move into third in the chicane, with Hayden too far back to be a threat. But Dovizioso had the better drive out of the final corner and narrowly held off Simoncelli. Hayden was fifth at .620 secs.MotoGP Results:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

2. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)

3. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

4. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

5. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

6. Randy de Puniet (Honda)

7. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

9. Marco Melandri (Honda)

10. Hector Barbera (Ducati)

11. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki)

12. Hector Aoyama (Honda)

13. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki)


Carlos Checa (Ducati)

Casey Stoner (Ducati)


Ben Spies (Yamaha)

Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.