Dani Pedrosa has taken his first MotoGP
victory since Misano 2010 after a late pass on world championship leader Jorge Lorenzo
at Estoril on Sunday.
World champion Lorenzo had never been beaten as a MotoGP
rider at the Portuguese circuit, while Pedrosa - riding in his first race since a collarbone operation - had never won.
Lorenzo converted his fourth successive Estoril pole into the early lead, with Pedrosa retaining second through turn one. The battle for victory remained exclusively between them thereafter.
Pedrosa, unsure if the shoulder operation had cured his arm-numbness problems and still tender from surgery, then stuck doggedly to Lorenzo for lap-after-lap.
When Pedrosa was still in Lorenzo's wheeltracks as the race passed the 20-lap point, of 28, the perception of Pedrosa had changed firmly from 'clinging on' to 'planning a pass'.
The Spaniard's factory RCV was quicker than Lorenzo along the straights, but he didn't look to have a decisive straight-line advantage... until he breezed alongside Lorenzo on the home straight and into the lead with four laps to go.
Whether Pedrosa had been backing off in previous laps, or simply got a better exit on that lap, isn't yet known - but what is clear is that Pedrosa seemed to have been saving something, as he quickly put a second of track between himself and Lorenzo.
Pedrosa beat fellow Spaniard Lorenzo by 3.051sec at the chequered flag and is now just four points behind the #1 in the world championship. A relieved Pedrosa later reported no arm numbness during the race.
Pedrosa's Repsol Honda team-mate and fellow 2011 race winner, Casey Stoner, rode to a lonely third despite suffering a 'twinge' in his back in the closing stages.