Not much of a race, really, except to tighten up the world championship standings; everything was pretty processional from start to finish.
Casey Stoner came, he saw, he conquered. The remainder of the three ‘aliens’ (Valentino Rossi having at least temporarily lost that label) followed the Aussie home, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo second and Stoner’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa in third. Lorenzo stuck to the back of Stoner’s Honda like glue, but never looked like having a shot at passing.
The next two riders home were, as usual this season, the Tech3 riders Italian Andrea Dovizioso and Brit Cal Crutchlow, Dovi beating Crutchlow for the first time this season. The two are almost perfectly matched and will likely provide some of the best racing of the season as things progress.
Next up was Alvaro Bautista, the Spaniard on the Italian Gresini satellite Honda, followed by Valentino Rossi on the first Ducati. Rossi was more than six seconds ahead of Texan Ben Spies, who continues to have problems with his factory Yamaha. After qualifying well and getting a great start, the multi-time American champion drifted slowly back down the order after running wide a couple of times.
For the first time this year, Spies was happy enough with his bike, but some riding errors – “I made four or five big mistakes during the race, they cost me time and places. It was a rough race but I’m continuing to build my confidence, I don’t enjoy Estoril so I’m happy to have finished.”
Rounding out the top 10 behind Spies were Stefan Bradl, the German Moto GP rookie on the LCR Honda in ninth, followed by Hector Barbera on the Pramac Ducati.
Ducati’s Nicky Hayden could only manage 11th, but both he and famous team-mate Valentino Rossi came away relatively pleased with the weekend despite the unimpressive results.
Rossi said, “We can say that we took advantage of our current potential, and now we’ll have to work to make another step forward. We must improve on corner exits and on acceleration because right now we’re not able to be as effective as the others due to the fact that we can’t get all of the power to the ground. We have a test tomorrow, and we’ll start working. Anyway, today I even managed to have some fun!”
Hayden had some kind of electronic problem: “Starting from the first lap, there was an electrical problem and the bike didn’t know where it was on the track. I tried my best to ride around the problem and not make mistakes … We’ll focus on tomorrow’s test now and look forward to the next race at Le Mans.”
In the “CRT class”, Aleix Espargaro took the honours from his Aspar team-mate Randy de Puniet after a race-long battle. Colin Edwards, usually in the mix, missed the race due to a broken collar-bone suffered in a practice incident, when de Puniet crashed and his bike took out the Texan. Edwards hopes to return for the next race, which is only two weeks down the road.
In the Moto 2 event, Spaniard Marc Marquez finally got back to the front, beating Jerez victor Pol Espargaró and Swiss Tom Luthi in a typically “knife fight in a closet” race. Marquez only got the win after Espargaró made a mistake in the chicane on the final lap.
In the Moto 3 class, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese literally squeezed out a win over Maverick Viñales, the two banging fairings more than once on the last lap.
Next race May 20, France, Le Mans
Moto GP Championship standings after three of 18 races
1. Casey Stoner, Australia, Repsol Honda, 66 points;
2. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 65;
3. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 52;
4. Cal Crutchlow, United Kingdom, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 37;
5. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, 35;
6. Alvaro Bautista, Spain, Gresini Honda, 29;
7. Stefan Bradl, Germany, LCR Honda, 24;
8. Nicky Hayden, USA, Marlboro Ducati, 23;
9. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Marlboro Ducati, 22;
10. Hector Barbera, Spain, Pramac Ducati, 19.