Jorge Lorenzo won the Portugal MotoGP in convincing fashion to keep his title hopes alive and foil a dream comeback for Casey Stoner.
Lorenzo, clad in spaceman-suit silver and white to promote the launch of a new car model by his team sponsor, led the field from the second lap, looking unruffled throughout. Casey Stoner, fastest in the morning's warm up session, had to settle for second spot on his return to action after a two month lay off. Dani Pedrosa of Repsol Honda ended the race in third place, whilst championship leader Valentino Rossi finished off the pace in fourth, twenty three seconds slower than the victor.
The morning fog had lifted by race time, leaving the riders with the same sunny and still conditions experienced in qualifying. A Spanish-dominated crowd of over 45,000 turned out at the Estoril track, celebrating loudly upon Lorenzo's victory. The Spanish hero, Lorenzo, fastest in Friday's practice and in qualifying yesterday, will be relieved with the result, the first time this year that he has managed to turn a poll position into a race victory. After some initially aggressive racing to get himself into second, Ducati rider Stoner didn't have quite enough to mount a serious challenge to Lorenzo: “we knew we had the speed again but getting back into race mode is a bit difficult... I had arm pump issues. Lorenzo was just too fast today”
The victory sees Lorenzo narrow the gap on his teammate, Rossi, to eighteen world championship points with three races to go. On his title hopes, Lorenzo said: “the championship is less impossible but still difficult”. Lorenzo's victory and Rossi's fourth-placed finish also sees Fiat Yamaha take the MotoGP Constructor's title for the second consecutive year. British rider James Toseland finished positively in ninth, despite receiving news this week that this is to be his last year in the MotoGP class.
In the 250cc class, Marco Simoncelli (Metis Gelira team) powered home to his fifth victory this year. A strong ride saw him finish over five seconds ahead of the chasing pack. The contest for second proved to be far more exciting, a race-long tussle between Hector Barbera (Pepe World Team) and Mike Di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar) culminated in a remarkable dead heat on the finish line. After initial confusion, second spot was awarded to the Frenchman Di Meglio, based on fastest lap time. Simoncelli's performance has moved the Italian into third place in the world championship, twenty eight points behind championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Racing Team), who finished the race in fourth.
The results at Estoril mean that, going into the last three races of the season, both MotoGP and 250cc world championships are hotting up, Rossi and Aoyama's respective leading positions looking less impregnable than at the start of the weekend.
John McManus is the winner of our bwin blogger competition and will be writing for The Independent from a number of events across Europe over the coming weeks