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2012 MotoGP Estoril Results
Stoner Captures Portuguese GP, Leads 2012 Championship
On a perfect Sunday afternoon at Estoril, Dani Pedrosa’s customary rocket-like start was briefly interrupted by one of the “moments” common to MotoGP. The wobble, on the tire’s cold shoulder, dropped the diminutive Spaniard into third place, allowing both Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo through. Once Australia took the lead, it was over for Spain, on a day in which the world championship standings shifted at the top. Despite the Aliens’ stranglehold on the top three spots, there was enough racing across the grid to provide something for every taste and budget.
It’s been decades since there was a decent land war in Europe, but today’s match in Portugal, generally one of those silly little neutral countries, provided many of the nationalists in attendance with some happy moments. At the top, as mentioned, Australia defeated Spain.
In the usual 4 vs. 5 race between the Tech 3 Yamahas, Italy finally defeated Great Britain, for the first time this year. Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard, defeated Italian Valentino Rossi in the interesting dispute for 6th place. But Rossi, in an ironic twist to WWII, defeated the rest of the world for his relatively gratifying 7th place finish.
Much Ado about Nothing
Once again, the British announcers, Nick and Gavin, had us on the edges of our seats all day, for no reason other than wishful thinking. Two themes emerged: The first, as always, was tire conservation. Could Stoner keep his soft rear tire intact wrestling the bike around the track the way he does? Or would Lorenzo’s smoother, tire-conserving style allow him to overtake the Australian late in the day? The second theme, a subset of the first, speculated as to WHEN Lorenzo would attempt the alleged pass of Stoner. Surely, Nick insisted, Lorenzo HAD TO make a run at the Honda guy.
Lorenzo, having ultimately tracked his rival for the full 28 laps, apparently did not receive the memo from the broadcast booth. And Stoner’s tires were, once again, not an issue, despite the fact that he took time out of his busy day at the press conference to complain about chatter. The lap analysis will make it appear that today’s race was a procession. In retrospect, it was. But a much more interesting procession than the old ones. It looked like a Moto2 race, with three capable riders within striking distance of the lead.
Elsewhere on the Grid
Tech3’s Andrea Dovizioso finally took one over teammate Cal Crutchlow after getting punked at Losail and Jerez. The Italian went through on Crutchlow on Lap 5 and never looked back. Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista had to feel pretty good about starting and finishing 6th, which is where he belongs most weeks. And Rossi, after his 10th at Losail and 9th in Jerez, would have loved a 6th today. At 7th, he was the top Ducati, making him the latest winner of the Taller than Danny DeVito award.
Ben Spies, after a solid weekend of practice, qualified 5th next to Lorenzo, but once again was uncompetitive. He went walkabout on Lap 1 and again on Lap 6, worked his way down to 9th place, and spent the rest of the day fighting his way back into 8th. The likeable Texan is having a terrible season. There’s plenty of time for him to avoid a return to World SuperBike next season, but he needs to improve noticeably in France.
Trouble in CRT Land
It was a rough weekend for several of the CRT teams. Team Aspar racer Randy de Puniet’s unforced lowside in qualifying sent Colin Edwards to the hospital with a broken collarbone, causing the Forward Racing rider to miss the race. Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini put his bike down on Lap 12, too, and was done for the day.
Ivan Silva, with a Hopalong Cassidy-esque save in qualifying on Saturday, went high side during the warmup and called it a day today after 12 laps. His Avintia Blusens teammate Yonny Hernandez, who was warmly welcomed to MotoGP by Jorge Lorenzo in qualifying, crashed out on Lap 18 to join Silva in the garage. (During qualifying, Lorenzo effortlessly cut Hernandez off, causing the Colombian to stand the bike on its front wheel, and rode off down the road without so much as a fare-thee-well.)
Paul Bird Motorsports’ James Ellison had “throttle problems” that ended his day on Lap 19, i.e., his bike wouldn’t go fast enough. And Cardion AB’s Karel Abraham, making his prototype Ducati look and perform like a CRT entry, crashed today with five laps left, his fourth successive DNF dating back to last season. The good news was that Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was again the top CRT finisher. (Big brother Pol came within a whisker of winning the Moto2 race earlier in the day after a spirited fight with Marc Marquez. Felicitations Senora Espargaro.)
The Big Picture
Stoner now leads Lorenzo in the championship race by a single point. Pedrosa lurks with 52. Crutchlow sits at the head of the class of Tier Two, ahead of teammate Dovizioso by two points. Bautista and Bradl complete Tier Two, while Ducati jocks Hayden, Rossi and Barbera close out the Top 10.
|MotoGP Championship Top Ten Standings After Three Rounds|
|1||Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda||66|
|3||Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||52|
|4||Cal Crutchlow||Tech3 Yamaha||37|
|5||Andrea Dovizioso||Tech3 Yamaha||35|
|6||Alvaro Bautista||Gresini Honda||29|
|7||Stefan Bradl||LCR Honda||24|
|10||Hector Barbera||Pramac Ducati||19|
Looking Ahead, and a Final Look Back
Two weeks until MotoGP rolls into France for Round Four at LeMans. Time enough, perhaps, for Colin Edwards to recover from his impending collarbone surgery; guy is a fast healer, earning a podium last season one week after breaking his other collarbone. Lorenzo and Stoner have both enjoyed recent success at LeMans, while Pedrosa’s 2011 season ended here in a tangle with Marco Simoncelli. Andrea Dovizioso likes this track, too, so it could become a four-man race.
Rumors abound that Estoril is done as a MotoGP track. It has been said – by me, if no one else – that, during these 13 years, Circuito Estoril generally gave riders what they needed. Today, she gave two of the contestants – Stoner and Lorenzo – what they needed to keep the 2012 title chase airless. She also showed her vindictive side, punishing Dani Pedrosa for one little wobble in turn one of Lap One. If this is, after 13 years, the MotoGP curtain call for Circuito Estoril, the popular little Portuguese track seems, at least for the moment, to have taken one of her Spanish tormenters with her on the way.
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