Lorenzo beats Rossi for Estoril victory
31 October 2010
Jorge Lorenzo continued his perfect Estoril MotoGP record by winning from pole for the third time in succession at the Portuguese circuit on Sunday - but only after catching and passing team-mate Valentino Rossi.
After a weekend of extreme weather, so bad that two of the five MotoGP track sessions were a wash-out, the penultimate round of the 2010 championship was held on a dry track (with a damp patches).
That was something nobody had been able to prepare for, with not a single slick tyre lap completed by any MotoGP rider prior to the race.
The new conditions claimed one high-profile victim even before the start, with Rookie of the Year Ben Spies falling on his way to the grid.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was carried from the track on a stretcher after hurting his foot in the highside, ruling him out before the race had even begun. Spies should have started from fifth position.
Starting from a pole position decided by free practice times due to the cancellation of qualifying, new world champion Lorenzo made a strong start to defend his advantage through turn one, with Andrea Dovizioso, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi following.
Main loser had been Casey Stoner, who got off the line well, but was only seventh out of the first corner. The Ducati rider then made short work of Marco Melandri and was soon disputing the lead with Hayden, Lorenzo and Rossi.
Hayden had briefly overtaken Lorenzo to lead on lap 2 of 28, but within a lap it was the Fiat Yamaha riders up front, with Rossi in front of Lorenzo and Stoner ahead of Ducati team-mate Hayden.
Rossi quickly pulled a few tenths, while Lorenzo was left facing pressure from Stoner... until the Australian, winner of three of the last four races, crashed out at the final turn on lap 5. It was Stoner's fifth race crash of the year.
Rossi then built a lead of almost two-seconds, before momentum swung back to Lorenzo, who reeled the #46 back in - then overtook the Italian superstar under braking for turn one on lap 17.
Lorenzo, riding in his astronaut livery, then rode away from Rossi to claim his eighth victory of the season - but first in seven starts - by a huge 8.629sec (the biggest of the year) from outgoing seven time MotoGP champion Rossi.
The result also means that Yamaha has completed a clean sweep of all three 2010 MotoGP titles - adding the 2010 Manufacturers' crown to the previously decided Riders' and Teams' World Championships.
Joining Lorenzo and Rossi on the podium was Repsol Honda's Dovizioso, but only after re-passing satellite RCV rookie Marco Simoncelli on the run to the line.
Dovizioso, Simoncelli and Hayden were covered by just 0.620sec at the flag, with Randy de Puniet (LCR) sixth and Colin Edwards (Tech 3) seventh.
Former title contender Dani Pedrosa, who withdrew from the Australian event after attempting an early return from a broken collarbone, ran as high as fifth before taking the flag in eighth.
Simoncelli's Gresini Honda team-mate Marco Melandri and Aspar Ducati's Hector Barbera completed the top ten.
38-year-old Carlos Checa, returning to MotoGP for the final two rounds in place of Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati, retired with arm-pump at half race distance.
Checa's team-mate Aleix Espargaro was the other non-finisher, crashing out early in the race.
The 18th and final round of the 2010 MotoGP season, and Rossi's last race as a Yamaha rider, will be held at Valencia next weekend.
Portuguese Grand Prix:
6. de Puniet