Pedrosa Takes Estoril from Lorenzo

Henny Ray Abrams | May 1, 2011

ESTORIL, PORTUGAL, MAY 1 – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa rode through the pain of a surgically repaired left shoulder to win his first MotoGP race at the Estoril Circuit and end Jorge Lorenzo’s (Yam) Estoril winning streak at three.The race was a thing of tactical beauty for the Spaniard, who admitted after qualifying third that he didn’t know how his shoulder would hold up over the stress of 28 laps. The operation had taken place less than four weeks earlier and Pedrosa had been careful not to abuse it during the run-up to the race.Lorenzo controlled the pace from the start, but Pedrosa was right there and the question was how would the end of the race go. Pedrosa answered it by passing Lorenzo on the brakes going into turn one starting the 25th of 28 laps. Lorenzo tried to hang with his fellow Spaniard, but Pedrosa was having none of it. He ended the 25th lap with a .484 sec. lead, then it went over a second and he finished with a 3.051 sec. margin of victory.The win was Pedrosa’s first in Estoril, first of the year for Pedrosa, and first since the Misano race on Sept. 5 of last year. It was his 36th grand prix victory and the first when his physical condition was in serious doubt.”Yes, but that’s the main thing today because, of course, the race win is super, but I can tell you when I was with Jorge (Lorenzo) and the laps were going on, I was just smiling inside because I was so happy about my arm because, it wasn’t OK- I had muscle pain, but no numbness, but no problem-so I was thinking if I finish second in this race I’m more than happy, because it looks like the problem could be gone. So, super-happy.”And then the race was amazing thanks to Jorge, because he put a very, very strong race and he make the race even much more interesting and thanks to my team for the bike they give me today. And, yeah, to all doctors also and all the physio that helps me to be here fit, even though with some pain. Thanks to all them.”Asked if spent the race waiting for Pedrosa to make his move, Lorenzo said, “No, as always I try my best, I push him a lot and I make a good start. I push into the first position, try to open a gap, but when I pass the straight I always see plus-zero; that means that Dani was always behind me. Maybe I push so much that my physical condition was a little bit lower  than Dani, but apart from that he deserves 100% the victory because he was faster at the end of the race, and normally it’s the opposite. So he deserves the victory and let’s see what happens in the next races”Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner had a lonely ride to fill out the podium 4.6 secs. behind Lorenzo. Stoner’s hopes of sticking with the leaders ended on the first lap after a crash by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) caused him to lose touch with the leaders. It was the second incident on the first lap with the Italian. Later in the race, Stoner pinched a nerve in his back, which made him  consider stopping, but he soldiered on.”Yeah, unfortunately, you know, I wasn’t really too happy with the move Marco (Simoncelli) pulled on me in the first turn and we both made a mistake between turn one and two and he crashed in front of me in turn four and that really just put the gap there and after that I was really struggling to find confidence entering the corner,” Stoner said. “Every time I’d go in on the left side, the bike wanted to pull me around and almost high-sided a couple times. So really just set that gap there and from there I tried to pull the gap, but couldn’t really make any inroads. More or less doing the same they pulled some on a few consecutive laps and I’d be able to pull a little bit back, but it was never quite enough.”Then we thought, maybe at the end of the race everything was going to come better, because that’s the way we normally we have our bikes set-up better for, I unfortunately had a twinge in the back and about half a lap I couldn’t move and I was contemplating sort of pulling in the pits. But luckily it sort of loosened up a little bit, enough for me to change direction and get from one side of the bike to the other.”It’s just a relief to be honest to finish. At the end of the race I thought I’d try and at least keep the pressure there a little bit in case one of them made a mistake we could capitalize on that, but, no, they both rode a great race and there was no way I could pull them back in”The third member of the Repsol Honda team, Andrea Dovizioso, spent the race chasing Ducati Marlboro’s Valentino Rossi. On the run to the flag, Dovi won the drag race to take fourth, and put  three Hondas in the top four, by .025 sec.Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards had his best race of the year by finishing sixth, two in front of teammate Cal Crutchlow. In between came San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama, who battled back and forth with Crutchlow before taking the position for good on the final lap. Edwards was again the top non-factory bike, but watching the battle in front early in the race was frustrating for the Texan who knew he didn’t have the weapon to keep pace.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden was a disappointed ninth after problems backshifting cropped up during the sighting lap and affected him during the race. There were also the usual front end struggles.The final American, Yamaha’s Ben Spies, didn’t make the finish of an eventful race. First he ran wide in the left hand turn six, and seemed to be adjusting something on his handlebars while re-entering the track. That dropped him to tenth.


Spies then ran up the inside of Hayden in a right-hander, the pair touching and Hayden looking back. A lap later Spies ran off the track, but didn’t lose a spot to Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati), who was just behind. And on the 13th lap Spies finally crashed, unable to continue. De Puniet finished tenth.Later Spies explained why he was having such a hard time. A tool used to temporarily block the fuel overflow pipe on grid was accidentally left in place for the race start, compromising his braking ability. The tool’s location next to the front brake lever made it impossible for him to brake effectively, ultimately affecting his concentration which resulted in a crash with fifteen laps remaining of the race.The final three of 13 finishers were Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP), Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Ducati), and Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard returning to racing after breaking his femur in practice for the opening round in Qatar in March.Neither San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli, nor Mapfre Ducati’s Hector Barbera made the end of the first lap. The end was a bitter one for Simoncelli, who’d been fast in both sessions on Friday and had qualified second to Lorenzo on Saturday.Cardion AB Ducati’s Karel Abraham also crashed out of the race.Lorenzo leads the world championship with 65 points after three rounds. Pedrosa is second with 61, with Stoner third at 41.


1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)

2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

3. Casey Stoner (Honda)

4. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

5. Valentino Rossi (Ducati)

6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)

7. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

8. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha)

9. Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

10. Randy de Puniet (Ducati)


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.