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Pedrosa picks his moment for Estoril win
1 May 2011
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.
Stoner inherited third on the opening lap when Marco Simoncelli saw his best ever MotoGP qualifying position, of second, wasted after a huge highside. Simoncelli (third) and Stoner (fourth) had previously survived a scare on the exit of turn one.
Simoncelli's highside - which was followed moments later by an accident at the same corner for Hector Barbera - blew the lead group apart.
Valentino Rossi made use of the incidents to carve his way up to fourth on lap 1, from ninth on the grid, then spent most of the race trying to hold off the third Repsol bike of Andrea Dovizioso.
Rossi succeeded until the final few metres of the race, when fellow Italian Dovizioso snatched the place from him by just 0.025sec. Fifth is Rossi's best dry result as a Ducati rider and matches his wet finish - after a crash - at Jerez.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Colin Edwards held sixth place for almost the entire race, with Simoncelli's San Carlo Honda Gresini team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama taking seventh place after a long battle with Edwards' rookie team-mate Cal Crutchlow.
Joining Simoncelli and Barbera on the DNF list were Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies and rookie Karel Abraham.
Spies dropped from fifth to tenth after a mistake on lap two, and later tagged the rear of fellow American Nicky Hayden as he made his way back up the order.
The Texan's progression came to an end when he crashed out of eighth place on lap 12, his second DNF from the three rounds this year.
Ducati riders Hayden and Randy de Puniet were ninth and tenth at the flag, with LCR Honda's Toni Elias eleventh. Loris Capirossi took twelfth on the second Pramac bike.
Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista - returning to action after breaking his left femur during practice for round one in Qatar on March 18 - rode an understandably conservative race to 13th and last.
Estoril became round three of the 2011 world championship after the postponement of the Japanese Grand Prix.
A one-day test takes place at the track on Monday.Portuguese Grand Prix:
10. de Puniet