At the start of the race, teammates Lorenzo and Rossi shot forward in first and second, but while Lorenzo was setting an unmatchable pace, Rossi was slipping further back lap after lap. Lorenzo quickly upped the ante and was soon running a race all by himself leaving Stoner and Pedrosa to battle it out behind him.
Lorenzo, sporting special leathers and a “moon man” helmet said, “What a day! I’m so happy to win here again in the same track where I won my first MotoGP race last year. I worked so hard in the break on my fitness with my father and maybe that’s given me a little bit of extra speed, I certainly felt so strong this weekend and it is great to win like this after being top in every session as well.”
“I got a good start and it took me just a couple of corners to get past Dani and take the lead, but I honestly didn’t expect to be unchallenged from then on or to finish with such a big gap. This is a good track for me but I am fast more or less everywhere now. The championship is closer now; it’s still not easy but we have nothing to lose! I’m proud that we have won the Team Title and I want to say thanks and congratulations to everyone. I liked my leathers and helmet a lot this weekend and I wanted to celebrate Neil Armstrong and his landing on the moon so this is why I made this ‘moonwalk show’ after the race!”
Stoner made his way to second place in his first race since Donington back in July. He finished just over six-seconds behind Lorenzo. During the first few laps, Stoner made a small mistake which he believes may have attributed to his second place finish, “I maybe could have been faster over the opening few laps but I made a little mistake, which caused my foot to slip off the peg. It broke the footrest support and it was moving around in all the right-handers, so my foot was slipping off. As the laps went by I was able to alter the footpeg position a little but I wasn’t able to go any faster.”
Although slightly disappointed with second, Stoner was quick to add, “It is great to be competitive again and to stay that way right to the end of the race. Obviously Jorge was too fast for us today and he did a fantastic job but I’m still really happy today for myself and for the team. It is brilliant to come back like this and I think it shows that the decision to take a break and tackle a physical problem that was really making it impossible for us, was the right choice. Like I said I’m happy for the team because it has also been a difficult period for them. My relationship with Ducati, built over the past three years, has always been strong and solid. Now I’ll try and start training a little before the next race because over the last few months my physical condition has suffered and I need to try and get some muscle back. The target for the next few races is for myself and the team to prepare as well as we can for next season.”
When the flag dropped, Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa took the holeshot, but he ran wide on Turn 3 and Lorenzo capitalized on it. A bobble later gave Stoner the green light and he made the pass. During his drive to keep Stoner in sight, Pedrosa set a new lap record at Estoril. Pedrosa made his eighth visit to the podium this season thanks to his third place finish.
The question of the day has to be ‘What happened to Rossi?’ After experiencing so much success at this circuit, finishing off the rostrum is a real surprise. After the race, Rossi commented on his “off” day, “It was a very difficult race for me. I was never able to be fast because I did not have enough grip in the rear and our tire did not work well, but I think it was more a problem of setting.”
“After a few laps I was in great difficulties and I immediately understood that this was not going to be “our” race. Throughout the practice sessions I had some problems but I thought that today I would be able to at least stay with Stoner and Pedrosa, but they made another step forward for the race and then there was no chance for me. On Friday I was three tenths off the pace and unfortunately this stayed the same all weekend and in the race today. Here in Estoril we struggled last year as well, so it might be that, with our setting, the rear tire gets very hot and this causes a lack of grip. It is a pity that I am off the podium, but we have three more races and they are three great tracks. We must think race by race and we must work to understand what the problem was today in order to make sure that we fix it in time for Phillip Island”.
American Colin Edwards piloted his Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha from a fifth place grid start to a fifth place finish. At one point in the race, Edwards was also running alone. Edwards said, ““Like I said yesterday, if you’re the next best rider behind the top four in the world then you’ve done a good job and I rode the strongest race I could today. I got a good start but we’ve been fighting some front-end movement all weekend and I knew early on I wasn’t going to be able to go with Valentino (Rossi) in front of me. The tires worked great but we were just missing something on the set-up that meant even though Valentino was struggling a little bit, I couldn’t really put any pressure on him.
“As much as I couldn’t comfortably stay with the four guys in front, it was pretty easy for me to run a pace that meant I could pull away from the group behind me. Once I’d got a comfortable gap it was just a case of staying consistent to make sure I didn’t give anybody a chance of catching me. I got a few more points back on Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and that is a good reward for the all effort my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 have put in. We’ve got three races to go and I’ll be giving it my all as always because I really want that fifth spot in the championship.” Edwards trails Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso by eight points in the points standings with three races remaining.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who only has a three point lead over Ducati’s Casey Stoner, will have a fight on his hands at Phillip Island.
San Carlo Gresini Honda’s Toni Elias, who won the 2006 MotoGP race at Estoril, landed in sixth after an impressive climb back up from 12th. Elias now sits among the top-ten for the championship and shares his goal for the season, “The hardest part was getting past Hayden and Dovizioso but I was able to make a move on Andrea four laps from the end and I am delighted to have held on to sixth place, which is a position we deserve. We finished ahead of one of the factory team bikes and that is important. Today we moved up into the championship top ten. In two weeks time we go to a circuit where we know it will be tough for us but where we hope to get the points that will help us towards our objective of seventh in the championship.”
Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso took seventh place and sits 28 points behind Stoner in the points race. Dovizioso and his team will look to Phillip Island for better results, “I’m disappointed today but we have plenty of potential to move forward and we’ll continue to improve our understanding with the new suspension for the next races.”
The Kentucky Kid, Ducati’s Nicky Hayden started ninth on the grid and finished in eighth. Hayden expressed that tire and mechanical issues were to blame, “After the morning warm-up I was expecting a little more today but I just didn’t feel like I had the traction I’d had for most of the weekend. The bike was moving around a lot under acceleration and it was hard to get out of the corners. We made good progress throughout the weekend and like I said this morning felt quite good but the afternoon was really warm and maybe that affected us too much. I got a decent start and moved up a few places but a lot of guys were able to pass me on the front straightaway and I’m not really sure why the bike didn’t feel fast as usual. Nevertheless we learnt a lot this weekend and got some good data. I’d hoped for more but eighth is the best we could do. It’s not for a lack of effort or hard work but sometimes that’s not good enough. Hopefully we can do better at Phillip Island.” This is the third time in 2009 that Hayden has finished in eighth place.
Behind Hayden was Edward’s teammate, James Toseland leaving Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen to round out the top-ten. Vermeulen was hampered by the wrong tire choice, “I got a good start, but from the fifth row it was always going to be difficult. I got a bit blocked in in the first few corners and that didn’t help things at all. I chose the softer tires because I knew the first part of the race was going to be very important, but after about eight laps the rear tire that I had chosen was too soft and it started to move around a lot and the grip level dropped off. This meant I couldn’t do the times I’d been doing all weekend – or that I wanted to do in the race. I am quite happy with the way I rode and the fact that I moved up through the field. We’ve definitely made improvements with the GSV-R at this track and I’m really looking forward to going to Phillip Island with those improvements.” Vermeulen will make the move to World Superbike in 2010 to race for Kawasaki.
MotoGP Estoril Race Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 45’35.522
2. Casey Stoner (Ducati) +6.294
3. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +9.889
4. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) +23.428
5. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +32.652
6. Toni Elias (Honda) +35.709
7. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +35.723
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +38.830
9. James Toseland (Yamaha) +44.093
10. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) +52.863
11. Randy de Puniet (Honda) +55.698
12. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) +1’04.515
13. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +1’04.538
14. Gabor Talmacsi (Honda) +1’27.299