Motorcycling: Race tightens after Pedrosa bursts Lorenzo's bubble

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The Independent Online

Dani Pedrosa finally ended Jorge Lorenzo's 100 per cent record at the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril with a victory which closed the gap at the top of the MotoGP standings.

Reigning champion Lorenzo had won all three of his previous MotoGP visits to the Portuguese circuit from pole position and looked set to again take his factory Yamaha to victory for most of the race. But fellow Spaniard Pedrosa gave chase before mounting a late move to take his first win of the season with fellow Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner third.

Third and final Repsol man Andrea Dovizioso pipped Valentino Rossi to fourth place by just 0.2 seconds while British rider Cal Crutchlow put in another impressive display to finish eighth. Lorenzo now leads the championship by four points from Pedrosa, with Stoner 20 points back in third.

After poor weather all weekend, the racers were blessed with a sunny afternoon. Lorenzo led from pole while Stoner and Marco Simoncelli nearly took each other out in turn two after clashing fairings. Simoncelli came under fire this week from Lorenzo for his aggressive style and the Italian duly failed to complete the first lap as he high-sided his Gresini Honda on turn four.

Rossi took advantage of his compatriot's accident to slot into fourth from ninth on the grid as Lorenzo and Pedrosa made a break from the rest of the pack. Lorenzo's team-mate Ben Spies had already had one excursion off the circuit when he ditched his Yamaha into a gravel trap at the midway point as the front two increased their lead.

Pedrosa was showing no ill effects from an operation to remove a steel plate from his shoulder and continued to stalk Lorenzo. Pedrosa finally made a move with four laps remaining as he dived up the inside to take the lead and opened up a huge lead instantly to streak into a three-second advantage by the flag.