Estoril MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo takes Portugal hat-trick
Jorge Lorenzo remains undefeated at the Estoril track in Portugal after he claimed his eighth victory of 2010 this afternoon.
After a weekend dominated by appalling weather that badly disrupted practice and qualifying, the 28-lap race was run in bright and sunny but blustery conditions.
And it was Lorenzo who came out on top in the set-up lottery as he cruised to a relatively comfortable victory once he’d disposed of the threat from Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi.
With no dry track time prior to the race, everybody was guessing on set-up and tyre choice.
But nobody called it better than Lorenzo and his first win since the Czech Republic round in Brno in mid-August was never in doubt once he moved by Rossi on the brakes going into turn one on lap 17.
He needed just six more laps to extend his advantage to close to four seconds and he eventually secured his third straight win at Estoril by over eight seconds.
The 23-year-old, who wrapped up the 2010 world title in Sepang earlier this month, has never lost a MotoGP race in Portugal.
Rossi did his best to wreck that golden run when he took the lead from the Spaniard at the tight chicane on lap four.
The Italian though was never capable of making a clear break and by lap 14, Lorenzo was right back on the tail of his factory YZR-M1 machine.
It took him just three more laps to seize the initiative and easily streak away from a fading Rossi.
Rossi was able to comfortably secure his fourth successive podium finish but some distance behind the factory Yamaha duo was a titanic scrap for the final place on the rostrum.
Third placed was eventually claimed by Andrea Dovizioso after he won a thrilling final lap dice with fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli.
Simoncelli had managed to get his San Carlo Gresini Honda machine underneath Dovizioso at the chicane on the final lap.
But in the long run to the start/finish line, Dovizioso used the superior top speed of his factory Honda RC212V engine to snatch third by just 0.059s.
Simoncelli though claimed his best MotoGP result with early leader Nicky Hayden in fifth and Randy de Puniet rounding out the top six.
Casey Stoner’s hopes of continuing his excellent recent form were ended prematurely when he crashed his factory Ducati GP10 at the final corner on lap five while he was chasing Rossi and Lorenzo.
He walked away unhurt but he’s now won three out of the last five races and crashed in the other two.
The Australian has now crashed in five races and his latest error ensured he can no longer finish second place in the final standings after Dani Pedrosa finished in a lonely eighth in his first race since he broke his left collarbone in a practice crash in Japan earlier this month.
Spanish veteran Carlos Checa, who was standing in for absent Finn Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati, had just passed Hector Barbera and Loris Capirossi for 12th when he was forced to retire.