Stoner outclasses Lorenzo for MotoGP lead
Casey Stoner wins his fourth consecutive Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island - Photo by Damian Visentini / SMP Images
Casey Stoner led from the opening lap to the final straight in Estoril, in a performance of high quality that was indicative of his world champion capabilities.
Jorge Lorenzo ensured a tight race in Portugal for his Australian counterpart, but the defending 2011 Moto GP world champion had too much speed for his Spanish rider to contend with.
The Repsol Honda world champion continued his successful start to the MotoGP season by clinching another win at Jerez in Spain in the previous round, while Lorenzo’s Yamaha grabbed second position.
The former Ducati rider clocked a consolidating 1:37.338 at the end of the third practice session at the Estoril circuit. As well as a 1:37.188 time at the conclusion of the qualifying session, with Stoner gaining pole position for the Portuguese MotoGP.
Fellow Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also had a successful qualifying time as he was only 13-tenths of a second behind the defending champion. The championship leader up to Round 3, Lorenzo, secured a fourth place finish in qualifying.
Stoner looked very strong early on, getting a time that was only 82 tenths of a second short of his qualification ride, less than four laps in. With Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow losing their places within two laps of the race, Lorenzo started to mount some pressure on Stoner by climbing up to second spot at Estoril.
The Spanish rider closed the gap on Stoner by less than a second with 22 laps remaining. The lead continued to evaporate as Lorenzo kept chipping away at Stoner.
With 20 laps remaining at the Portuguese circuit, the margin between first and second was just under 800 hundredths of a second.
Further back, Italian Mattia Pasini was in 14th place when he lost control of his Speed Master CRT bike on the 16th lap, going down into turn 12.
‘The Doctor’ Valentino Rossi, who is nine-time world champion, continues to struggle on the Ducati. The record breaking rider couldn’t find the speed and is unable at present to challenge the top three.
Meanwhile, the pressure continued to intensify on Stoner as Lorenzo cut the gap to less than a second. The Australian rider was feeling Lorenzo’s presence but continued to ride at a world-class capacity; withstanding the 2010 champion’s pressure to win.
The defending world champion clinically displayed the exceptional performance that shows he could achieve back-to-back Moto GP world titles.
Stoner’s win at Portugal means the Australian rider now leads the MotoGP world title race by one point over Lorenzo. Fellow Honda rider Pedrosa is sitting a further 14 points behind in third position.
The next round of the MotoGP world championship is at the Le Mans circuit in France.