World champion Jorge Lorenzo won a wet Spanish MotoGP in Jerez ahead of second-placed Dani Pedrosa.
|Pedrosa fires champagne at his Spanish rival Lorenzo after a close fought race in Portugal [EPA]
Spaniard Dani Pedrosa won the Portuguese MotoGP for Honda on Sunday to deny world champion Jorge Lorenzo a fourth straight win at Estoril.
With only four laps to go Pedrosa overtook his countryman to claim his first MotoGP win at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Aches and pains
Despite pain from recent shoulder surgery Pedrosa passed his countryman Lorenzo on the inside and held on to get his first win of the season on the 4.182-kilometer (2.599-mile) Estoril circuit.
Pedrosa’s Honda teammate Casey Stoner, who was struggling with back pain, finished in a distant third while five-time winner Valentino Rossi came in fifth.
Pedrosa was in obvious pain after the race and said he was as surprised as anyone to have won.
“Jorge is an expert here. I tried to hold on, he was going very fast and with a few laps to go I thought I might as well try something.”
“I was in a lot of pain, so today was a complete success.”
The Spanish battle
Pedrosa’s victory in Portugal moved him to within four points of Lorenzo in the overall standings. Lorenzo, winner of the previous race at Jerez in Spain, remained top after three rounds with 65 points to Pedrosa’s 61.
Stoner, who won the Qatar season-opener in March, has 41 and nine-times world champion Valentino Rossi 31.
The race win, in a time of 45 minutes 51.483 seconds, was a relief for Pedrosa who has struggled to gain momentum at the start of the season.
“It’s been very difficult for me lately and to be here after surgery is something incredible.”
“The race was very tough and Jorge was at an amazing pace all the time, but at the end I was there with him and I did not want to be second again,” he told BBC television.
An injury also hampered the race of Australian Casey Stoner who was seen tweaking his back during the race.
“For about half a lap I couldn’t move. I was contemplating pulling into the pits.”
“Luckily it loosened up enough for me to be able to change direction and get from one side of the bike to the other. It’s just a relief, to be honest, to finish.”
After the race Lorenzo described his frustration of failing to hold Pedrosa off after the two pulled away to fight their own Spanish duel.
“He stayed behind me during all the race, maybe I was more tired physically because I was pushing and pushing and he only had to follow me.”
“But he has done a better race so he deserved the win. The important thing is that we finished the race, didn’t crash and we get some important points for the championship.”
The Italian battle
Italian Andrea Dovizioso, riding a Honda, stole fourth place from compatriot Rossi on the final straight with the two separated by just two hundredths of a second as they crossed the line.
“Fighting with Valentino is always nice and always more important than with other riders,” said Dovizioso.
Compatriot Marco Simoncelli, who had started a career best second on the grid for the Gresini Honda team, was thrown off his bike on the opening lap.
Jorge Lorenzo and Simoncelli had traded angry words at the post-qualifying news conference, with the Spaniard accusing Simoncelli of overly-aggressive riding, but the crash ended track hostilities with the race barely started.
In the Moto2 category, Stefan Bradl won his second consecutive Portuguese GP with a fastest time of 44 minutes 40.765 seconds, followed by Julian Simon of Spain and Japan’s Yuki Takahaski.
The German is now 13 points clear of Italy’s Andrea Iannone in the Championship standings.