Lorenzo claims maiden victory

Spanish rider bests field at Portuguese GP

By Motorcycle.com Staff, Apr. 14, 2008
A great rookie season just got a whole lot better for Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, as he picked up his first premier class victory at the Portuguese Grand Prix on April 13.

Lorenzo has earned three pole positions and three podiums in the opening month of the 2008 MotoGP season and his win on Sunday moved him into a tie for first in the championship standings. The 20-year-old Lorenzo is the youngest rider in premier-class history to earn three straight podiums.

“I feel like I’m in heaven,” says Lorenzo. “I can’t believe it and it’s really impossible for me to describe my feelings, I’m so happy for everyone.”

Lorenzo led Fiat Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi and Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in a close battle on the first lap. Rossi took the lead from Lorenzo early in the second lap, leaving Lorenzo and Pedrosa to battle for second.

Lorenzo celebrates his Portuguese GP victoryPedrosa got in front of Lorenzo on lap 11, but he couldn’t hold him off for long. Lorenzo passed his rival in turn one of lap 13 and set his sights on Rossi. Later on lap 13, Lorenzo made a bold pass on Rossi in the chicane and never looked back. He extended his lead and crossed the finish line 1.817 seconds ahead of Pedrosa, who slipped past Rossi on lap 15.

“The start of the race was quite crazy because there were some drops of rain and it looked like it might get worse,” says Lorenzo. “Anyway I just carried on and really I can’t remember the details of exactly what happened. I remember making my pass on Valentino; I know it was quite a risk so I’m sorry to him but at that point I felt that I could make it and get away from him, so I took the chance and it worked.”

With Lorenzo and Rossi finishing first and third, Fiat Yamaha earned its second double podium of the season.

“I think we’ve made another step forward this weekend and we have an important test tomorrow,” says Rossi. “I hope in China we will be able to fight for the win.”

After his difficult preseason, Pedrosa was pleased with his second-place finish, which leaves him in a tie with Lorenzo atop the championship standings.

“Today was a good race, the beginning was quite fun, but also a little dangerous because it was raining a bit and there were a few passing maneuvers. When the rain stopped, the pace got faster and faster, so we had to concentrate very hard to maintain tire grip all the time. Eventually we finished second and we’re happy.”

Colin Edwards of Tech 3 Yamaha claimed his best result of 2008 with a fourth place finish. He moved into fourth on lap 17 when he passed fellow American Nicky Hayden. It’s Edwards’ best finish since the German GP last July.

“I wanted to be on the podium but I’ll settle for fourth,” says Edwards. “It’s something to build on and now we have got the new engine we can look forward with a lot of confidence.

Kawasaki’s John Hopkins had his best ever finish at Estoril, one spot behind Edwards in fifth.

“I’m really pleased as my aim was for a top five finish today,” says Hopkins. “I’m looking forward to Shanghai: the Kawasaki will be better suited to it and we can hopefully achieve an even stronger result there.”

Ducati’s Casey Stoner was hot on Hopkins’ heels, but had to settle for sixth place. Stoner fell back to 11th earlier in the race when part of the on-board camera on his G8 came loose.

“It was incredible what happened today, we had a problem which was no fault of the bike from the beginning of the race,” says Stoner. “It was a major distraction. Sometimes the piece would lock the steering and sometimes it locked the clutch lever. It was a very difficult situation but eventually I worked out a way to ride around it.”

MotoGP Top ten standings

Pos. Rider Team Points
1. Jorge Lorenzo FIAT Yamaha 61
2. Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 61
3. Valentino Rossi FIAT Yamaha 47
4. Casey Stoner Ducati 40
5. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha 29
6. Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 26
7. John Hopkins Kawasaki Racing 24
8. John Hopkins Kawasaki Racing Team 24
9. Andrea Dovizioso JiR Scot Honda 21
10. Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 19

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Spaniards triumphant in Spanish Grand Prix