Dominant Stoner takes championship lead with win at Estoril

[Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner made it two wins in a row to take the lead in the MotoGP™ championship with victory at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.

Having led from the start, the reigning World Champion never gave up the lead, as he put in another dominant performance at the Portuguese circuit, ahead of championship rival, Factory Yamaha Team’s Jorge Lorenzo. Stoner’s win now means he has won at every track on the current MotoGP calendar in the premier class.

The Australian pulled out a gap early on, but Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa did not give up without the fight, as they slowly closed in on the leader throughout the race. It was however Stoner who put the hammer down in the final laps, to take victory and the championship lead.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso fought a race-long battle with teammate Cal Crutchlow, and came out on top for the first time this season finishing in fourth. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista put in another solid performance to take sixth place, finishing ahead of Ducati Team´s Valentino Rossi, who recorded his best finish of the season. Despite still not being near the front, Rossi has stated that he is starting to feel more comfortable on-board his Desmosedici.

After showing promising form all weekend, Yamaha’s Ben Spies had another disappointing race, finishing down in eighth after running wide early on in the race. He displaced LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl into ninth, ahead of Pramac Racing’s Héctor Barberá in tenth. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró took top CRT spot for a second race in succession.

Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham, Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini and Avintia Blusens’ Yonny Hernández all crashed out in the race, while Hernández’s teammate Iván Silva pulled into the pits early on after suffering pain from his earlier warm-up crash.  Paul Bird Motorsport’s difficult start to the season continued, as Briton James Ellison retired with a mechanical issue on his ART bike.

[Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Marquez took victory at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril after a [phenomenal last-lap battle with compatriot Pol Espargaró.

Márquez took the holeshot and led the opening stages from Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi, as Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Espargaró and JiR Moto2’s Johann Zarco made their way to the front. It was however Lüthi who took the lead early on, which he held for most of the race. The relentless efforts of Spanish pair Marquez and Espargaró meant that they soon re-caught the Swiss rider, and went past his for the lead. They went on to provided one of the best last-lap battles seen in Moto2, as the pair swapped positions numerous times in the final minute, with Marquez coming out on top after a mistake by Espargaró going into the final chicane.

This makes it two wins from three races for Márquez to extend his championship lead. Lüthi took the final spot on the podium, followed by Zarco, Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex De Angelis. Rounding out the top ten are Mapfre Aspar Team’s Toni Elías, Blusens Avintia´s Julián Simón, Marc VDS Racing Team’s Mika Kallio and Tech 3 Racing’s Bradley Smith.

There were numerous crashed throughout the race including NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Yuki Takahashi, Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Axel Pons, his teammate Esteve Rabat, Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi and S/Master Speed Up’s Mike Di Meglio. Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Gino Rea went into the pits with an electrical problem, and subsequently had to retire.

[Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese took victory in a thrilling battle to the line with rival Maverick Viñales in the [Moto3™ class at the Grande Prémio de Portugal Circuito Estoril.

It was Cortese who got the holeshot and led into the first corner, ahead of Blusens Avintia’s Viñales. After the typical Moto3 melee of 34 bikes swapping places in the opening laps, a leading group containing Cortese, RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, Viñales and Cortese’s teammate Danny Kent started to pull away early on.

In the latter stages of the race, Cortese moved past Viñales at the end of the straight to take the lead, though could not shake the young Spaniard, as the two were wheel to wheel for the final three laps. Salom, then lying in fourth, also took the fight to Air-Asia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin in front, as he pushed past him on the first bend with two laps to go.

The last lap was a nail-biting affair as Viñales and Cortese touched fairings throughout, yet it was the German who won the drag to the line after the final bend, to take his first victory of the season and the lead in the championship. The last step on the podium went to Salom, who manage to hold Khairuddin at bay to secure third. The top ten were rounded out by Efrén Vázquez, San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, Danny Kent, Caretta-Technology’s Alexis Masbou and Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil.