16-year-old Jorge Lorenzo rode like a hero this afternoon in Rio, securing his first ever GP victory - and top three finish - after catching and overtaking the likes of Stoner, de Angelis and Pedrosa in a thrilling 125cc Rio GP.
Yesterday, Dani Pedrosa staged a last gasp pole charge to successfully dislodge provisional pole sitter Alex de Angelis at the chequered flag. In a gripping finale, any one of five riders could have ended up on top, but with intense traffic filling the narrow track only Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso were able to find a clean passage and gatecrash the front row.
Pedrosa jumping from eighth to first on his last lap, while Dovizioso rose from even further back to snatch third from Gabor Talmacsi. Hungarian rider Talmacsi hung on to fourth position and only his second ever front row start with fourth. Title contender Stefano Perugini would start from sixth, despite crashing with Gino Borsoi at the end of the session.
As the field charged into turn one today it was Talmacsi who grabbed the holeshot and promptly set off like a rocket, building a slim early lead over de Angelis, Barbera, Dovizioso, Stoner, Perugini, Luthi and Lorenzo – while Pedrosa had made a shocking start and slipped down to twelfth.
Despite his early jump, Talmacsi was soon reeled back in by de Angelis thanks partly to the 1km long back straight providing a perfect slipstreaming opportunity, and so - after three of the 21laps – the top two were nose-to-tail, but enjoying a 1secs lead over third placed Barbera and the charging Pedrosa, now up to fourth.
Dani soon used Honda horsepower to blast past Barbera, and by lap four the Spaniard had not only caught the top two – but immediately slipstreamed around them for the lead! Meanwhile, Stoner was also on the move, up to fourth and quickly closing on the trio up front.
Stoner caught the lead pack on lap 6, giving a top four of; Pedrosa, de Angelis, Talmacsi and Stoner, all covered by just 0.5secs, while one second behind that quartet – an closing - came the second group of Barbera, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Nieto and Perugini.
The two groups would combine within a few circulations, giving any one of nine riders the chance of victory, but Pedrosa would be untroubled for the lead until de Angelis snatched the position back at the halfway point, while Derbi mounted Lorenzo bumped the #3 down a further position soon after.
Indeed, Lorenzo was riding the race of his life; and would overtake de Angelis for the lead on lap 11, then ride like a seasoned campaigner as he absorbed non-stop pressure from his rivals for the next four circulations, before being forced to yield by the San Marinese.