MotoGP Info 2012: MotoGP™ set to fight it out on Portuguese turf

2012-04-30 09:52
Following an enthralling race weekend at the inaugural European round in Jerez, the MotoGP™ World Championship heads across the border to contest the Gran Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.

With all three races going right down to the wire, the riders have just four days to recover before testing their machines on the Estoril track, which combines a long straight, some tyre-punishing corners, heavy braking zones, and a tricky chicane in between. Challenging enough as it is, riders and teams will be hoping for greatly improved weather conditions compared to the Spanish round, which provided different track conditions for almost every session.

Championship Leader Jorge Lorenzo, who won three years in a row at the Portuguese circuit between 2008 and 2010, will be looking to replicate that kind of form on board his Yamaha Factory Racing machine, as he looks to hold off the challenge from Repsol Honda Team pair Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa.

For Stoner, who won last weekend´s Jerez round just fractions ahead of Lorenzo, this is now the only track on the current MotoGP calendar where he has not yet recorded a premier-class win. As well as wanting to make it a full house, taking the championship lead off his Yamaha rival will be top of the agenda for the Australian. Teammate Dani Pedrosa took the win at Estoril last year ahead of Lorenzo and Stoner. Despite not running with the pair at the front in Jerez, Pedrosa is looking in good form.

Monster Yamaha Tech3´s Cal Crutchlow, who continues to be the revelation of the season after almost getting the better of Pedrosa in Spain, will be seeking his first ever podium finish in the premier class. Coy about his performances so far, the Britain will no doubt be boosted by his latest showing. His team mate, Italian Andrea Dovizioso, is still getting to grips with the Yamaha, yet will be buoyed by his fourth place finish at the Portuguese track last year.

Lorenzo´s team mate Ben Spies, who has endured two tricky first rounds, will not want to finish last Yamaha for a third time in a row, and has vowed to bounce back in the next race, after showing much promise in pre-season testing aboard his bike.

San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Álvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP´s Stefan Bradl have been consistently fast on their satellite Hondas in the first two rounds of the season. Last year at this point, Bautista was still recovering from a broken femur and finished last, while Bradl won the Moto2 race.

Ducati Team pair Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden have not had an easy start to the season, yet have been boosted by some glimpses of hope in Jerez; Hayden by putting his Ducati on the front row of the grid, and Rossi by discovering some good form in the wet. Tyre wear and handling continues to be an issue, yet the team feels it is now heading in the right direction.

Pramac Team´s Héctor Barbera, who has tussled with Rossi the previous two races will be looking to get one over the Italian in Portugal. Second satellite Ducati rider, Cardion AB Motoracing´s Karel Abraham, has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking to turn his fortunes around this time out.

The new Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) did not have it easy in Jerez, having to adapt to the ever-changing weather and track conditions with little previous data to go on. The coming round will not prove and awful lot easier, as Estoril is a track which is renowned for providing set-up complications due to its highly varied nature. Power Electronics Aspar´s Aleix Espargaró finished top CRT last weekend, after his teammate Randy de Puniet retired towards the end. Paul Bird Motorsport´s James Ellison and San Carlo Honda Gresini´s Michele Pirro suffered a similar fate, whilst Came IodaRacing Project´s Danilo Petrucci recorded a positive 13th place for his team. Joining them will be Speed Master´s Mattia Pasini, NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Colin Edwards, as well as Avintia Blusens pair Yonny Hernandez and Iván Silva, who will once again be gunning for top CRT spot.

The Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril takes place from May 4-6th, and the MotoGP bikes will be on track for the first practice session at 10.10am local time on Friday morning.

World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1- Jorge Lorenzo
SPA
Yamaha
45
2- Casey Stoner
AUS
Honda
41
3- Dani Pedrosa
SPA
Honda
36
4- Cal Crutchlow
GBR
Yamaha
26
5- Andrea Dovizioso
ITA
Yamaha
22

After another classic Moto2™ thriller in Jerez, during which Spanish youngster Pol Espargaró took his maiden victory in the Moto2 class, the riders are set to continue their battle at the Gran Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril this weekend.

Moto2 was the only class to be affected by rain during the Spanish GP, cutting the race short after 19 laps, after which Espargaró was declared the winner. Championship leader, Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol´s Marc Márquez, who finished the race in second, will be hoping to continue his strong form so far this season. Estoril was a race for him to forget last year, as he finished in 21st. Yet with the pace he has shown so far, he is no doubt one of the favourites.

Interwetten-Paddock rider Tom Lüthi has not managed to get the better of Marquez yet this season, though continuously strong performances and a third place in Jerez will see him in high spirits for the Portuguese round. Marc VDS riders Scott Redding and Mika Kallio were in the hunt for podiums as well, and are starting to gel with their new Kalex bikes. With Kallio recording a DNF last year and Redding far down the order, both will be looking to make amends this time out.

Pons 40 HP Tuenti´s Espargaró, now second in the World Championship, has not only his maiden win to give him a boost, but also a sixth place last year at the difficult track. Estoril´s 2011 podium contenders, Avintia Blusens' Julián Simón and NGM Mobile Forward Racing´s Yuki Takahashi have both not fared particularly well this year, but a new chassis for Simón from the last round may see a reversal in fortunes for the Spaniard.

JiR Moto2 rookie, Johann Zarco, who impressed with some stunning wet weather performances in Jerez practice sessions, will undoubtedly be hoping for rain this weekend, as he placed his bike first in both wet sessions. Speed Master´s Andrea Ianonne, who shone in Qatar with a very close second, yet fell under the radar in Spain, is still fifth in the championship and will be looking for a strong showing to get his title challenge back on course.

World Championship Standings Moto2™
1- Marc Márquez
SPA
Suter
45
2- Pol Espargaró
SPA
Kalex
41
3- Thomas Luthi
SWI
Suter
27
4- Scott Redding
GBR
Kalex
23
5- Andrea Iannone
ITA
Speed Up
22

After a Moto3™ race in which almost half the field failed to finish and Italian youngster Romano Fenati confirmed himself as a talent to be watched for the future, riders and teams will be hoping for a somewhat more normal race when they head out on track at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.

Team Italia FMI rider Fenati is the first rider since Noboru Ueda in 1991 to have finished on the podium on his Grand Prix debut and then followed this up with another top three finish at the next Grand Prix. At the top of the leader board, the young Italian was aided by title rival Maverick Viñales having an off day at Jerez, finishing sixth on board his Blusens Avintia bike. However Viñales, who was beaten to third in last year´s 125cc race by only 0.002 seconds, will be looking to make amends and get back to winning ways.

Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Miguel Oliveira will be the talk of the town as the only Portuguese rider on the grid. Oliveira, who is also considered as one of the title contenders has shown some good form already, having led the Jerez GP before crashing out after half way. He will be aiming for the kind of consistency shown by Red Bull KTM Ajo´s German rider, Sandro Cortese, who is currently lying fourth in the championship, just one point off Spanish rider Luis Salom. The RW Racing GP rider has also impressed from the off, and will be one of the riders to watch as the riders take to the track.

Caretta Technology rider Jack Miller will hope to be fit enough to race after fracturing his collarbone in Jerez, while TT Motion Events Racing rider Niklas Ajo has been banned by the FIM from the Portuguese round after an altercation with a track official.

World Championship Standings Moto3™
1- Romano Fenati
ITA
FTR-Honda
45
2- Maverick Viñales
SPA
FTR-Honda
35
3- Luis Salom
SPA
Kalex-KTM
33
4- Sandro Cortese
GER
KTM
32
5- Alex Rins
SPA
Suter Honda
19

Source: MotoGP

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