MotoGP Estoril Race Results & Report: Pedrosa Wins in Portugal After Canny Stalking of Lorenzo

What Happens When It’s Only the Leader at the End That Matters

8:52am EST — Dani Pedrosa won the 2011 Grand Prix of Portugal after spending nearly the entire race in second, behind second-place finisher Jorge Lorenzo. The two set a punishing pace over the rest of the field, in a race marked by drama at the beginning and end. Marco Simoncelli and Hector Barbera crashed out on the first lap, with Karel Abraham joining them on the second. Ben Spies also crashed out after spending his race with an apparent lack of grip. It was nearly the end when Pedrosa finally took the lead from Lorenzo, striking into the first turn and not looking back. It was the end when Andrea Dovizioso took fourth from Valentino Rossi across the line.

Lorenzo started on pole, with rival Simoncelli starting next to him after leading much of Saturday’s qualifying session and crashing in the final minutes. The two had it out in the post-session press conference, as Lorenzo has been complaining about the Italian’s riding style. Pedrosa took the final front row starting position on his final qualifying lap, beating out teammate Stoner, who started fourth. Spies and Dovizioso completed the second row, while Rossi’s improvements did not continue for qualifying. He and teammate Hayden managed only ninth and thirteenth, respectively. It was a dry qualifying session, but the morning warm-up on race day was wet, leaving Edwards on top of the timesheets. Stoner, Rossi, Hayden, and Simoncelli completed the fastest five.

It was a sunny Sunday as the lights went out, with Lorenzo leading into the first turn, with Pedrosa close behind. Simoncelli had a moment leaving the turn, right with Stoner and Dovizioso. Just a few turns later, Simoncelli was out, with Barbera right behind with his own massive highside. Simoncelli’s had him spiraling through the air like a large, furry ballerina. Bother were down, but got gingerly up after a few moments. Simoncelli was directly in front of Stoner, but the Australian continued on. At the end of the first lap, Lorenzo led Pedrosa, Stoner, Rossi, Dovizioso, Spies, Capirossi, Edwards, Hayden, and Crutchlow. Abrham was the next out, soon assisted to the barried by marshals whilst holding his wrist.

Soon, Lorenzo and Pedrosa were out and away at the front, with Stoner in a lonely third two seconds back. Rossi, meanwhile, was fourth and soon coming under pressure from Dovizioso. By the end of L5 of the twenty-eight lap race, Lorenzo had less than a tenth on Pedrosa, with Stoner, Rossi, Dovizioso, Edwards, Hayden, Crutchlow, Aoyama, and Spies as the top ten. Without the specter of inclement weather, as had been predicted, the racing simply spread out. While Lorenzo couldn’t shake Pedrosa, he was also not gaining a gap. Stoner stayed calmly in third, though pushing to get to the leaders. Rossi and Dovizioso were fighting, but only over lap times and separated by around a half second. Spies ran into the back of Hayden on L11, but both continued on, only for Spies to crash out on the next lap.

At the halfway point, Lorenzo still led Pedrosa, but by only .072 across the line. Still, Pedrosa remained just a bit too far back to make a move. Stoner was nearly three seconds behind his teammate, with Rossi and Dovizioso holding station in fourth and fifth. They were two of the closest riders in the field, separated by four tenths. The only riders closer together on the circuit were Elias and Capirossi, with the Italian three tenths behind. They were fighting over eleventh, with Bautista still last despite his recovering leg. Edwards, Crutchlow, Aoyama, Hayden, and de Puniet completed the top ten, fourteen laps in.

In some of the only action on track (barring Stoner’s earlier left hip itch), Aoyama slid through on Crutchlow to take seventh, in the Briton’s first visit to Estoril. Riders held station with five laps to go, as Lorenzo and Pedrosa remained close, but not close enough for Pedrosa to make any challenge to the lead. Though some laps had Dovizioso closer to Rossi for fourth than others, they also remained just enough apart to preclude any diving or thrusting.

However, Pedrosa made his move into the first turn with four to go, sneaking past Lorenzo to take the lead. The marginally smaller Spaniard was soon flat out at the front, gaining nearly a half second by the next time across the line. Crutchlow and Aoyama continued their dance, with the rookie getting back around, while between the two battles Dovizioso closed slightly on Rossi. Pedrosa was a second ahead of Lorenzo with two laps to go, as Stoner remained in third. By the final lap, Pedrosa was nearly two seconds ahead, even as his teammate closed further on Rossi. Pedrosa took the comfortable win after his late-race pass, with Lorenzo and Stoner following across the line. However, it was a younger Italian across the line in fourth, as Dovizioso took the position from Rossi across the line, by just .025s.

Final Positions for the 2011 MotoGP Portuguese Grand Prix:

Pos. # Rider Team Gap
1. 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda
2. 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory +3.051
3. 27 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda +7.658
4. 4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda +16.530
5. 46 Valentino Rossi Ducati +15.555
6. 5 Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha +32.575
7. 7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Gresini Honda +38.749
8. 35 Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha +40.912
9. 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati +54.887
10. 14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati +59.697
11. 24 Toni Elias LCR Honda +1:00.374
12. 65 Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati +1:01.793
13. 19 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki +1:24.370
  11 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory
  17 Karel Abraham Cardio AB Motoracing Ducati
  58 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Gresini Honda
  8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Ducati


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