Tuesday 1 May 2012
ROUND THREE 2012 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – SUNDAY MAY 6
Just seven days after his stunning ride in Jerez Cal Crutchlow once again takes on the best in the World at the Grand Prix of Portugal at the Estoril circuit on Sunday.
The Isle of Man based Midlander has finished fourth in the opening two rounds of the 18 round MotoGP™ World Championship and last Sunday at the bwin Spanish Grand Prix was under two and a half seconds behind race winner, World Champion Casey Stoner. He also set the fastest lap of the race in just his second Jerez appearance.
To put his performances in perspective Crutchlow is the first British rider to secure a fastest lap in a premier class grand prix race since the late Barry Sheene in the 1984 South African Grand Prix. He is also the first British rider since Ron Haslam in 1984 to secure three consecutive fourth places.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider makes just his second appearance at the short 2.599 miles Estoril circuit where he finished eighth on his debut last year. He is pushing hard for the first British MotoGP podium finish for 12 long years in the 27 lap race that has often been affected by the weather because of the track’s location close to the Atlantic coastline.
It has been a tough start to the year for Cumbrian James Ellison and he was very unlucky not to score his first points of the season at Jerez. He was sidelined with an oil pressure problem a couple of laps from the finish when in a points scoring position. However after fitting the new compound Bridgestone tyre for the race the chattering problem on his PBM Art machine was considerably lessoned and he arrives in Portugal with confidence the problem has been solved.
Another rider looking forward to Estoril is Gloucestershire teenager Scott Redding. The Marc VDS rider is fourth in the Moto2™ Championship after a hard fought fourth in Jerez. He led but slowed when the rain started to fall causing the race to be halted prematurely. He is just four points behind third placed Tom Luthi and fancies at least a podium finish on Sunday.
Bradley Smith’s start to the season has not been easy but he still lies ninth in the Championship. Following a qualifying crash from the Tech 3 machine he started from the sixth row of the grid in Jerez and fought through to 11th when the race was stopped. The Oxfordshire – based rider has finished twice on the 125 cc Estoril podium.
Gino Rea will be looking to build on his first point scoring ride in Jerez. In just his second grand prix he was 15th riding the Federal Oil Moriwaki Gresini machine.
A battered and bruised Danny Kent arrives in Estoril. The Wiltshire teenager slid into a fallen bike when he crashed on the first lap at Jerez but he will be fit to ride. Danny Webb looked set for a top ten finish in Spain but was sidelined with a mechanical problem when he was racing through the field on the Indian Mahindra machine.
“I was fourth in Qatar but at Jerez I could actually see the winner and there is no reason why I can’t be up there battling for the podium from now on. There will still be some races where I won’t be that close to the podium but now I know we can be there. I gave it everything I had to pass Dani Pedrosa but there was nothing I could do. He was phenomenal round Jerez, so I’m happy to have challenged him so closely. But he was the better rider on Sunday and it was really hard to stay with him. I set the fastest lap of the race though, so that proves the progress I’ve made since last season.”
THE BATTLE CONTINUES IN ESTORIL
Just nine points separate the three leading riders as they race into the third round of the MotoGP™ World Championship, the Grand Prix of Portugal in Estoril on Sunday. The opening two rounds of the 18 round Championship has provided two breath taking encounters between Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa and the 28 lap battle round the 2.599 miles Estoril circuit should be more of the same.
Lorenzo riding the Yamaha leads the way after winning in Qatar and finishing second behind World Champion Casey Stoner’s Repsol Honda in Jerez last Sunday. Pedrosa won the Estoril race last year and is just a further five points adrift after second and third places. It’s a fight that could go all the way to the wire at Valencia in November. Lorenzo has won three times at Estoril and finished second last year behind Pedrosa. Stoner has not won a MotoGP race but was victorious in the 2005 250 cc race.
Waiting in the wings and ready to pounce to claim his first ever MotoGP podium is the impressive Cal Crutchlow who has finished fourth in the opening two rounds riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. His team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has been fifth on both occasions while just three points behind him is Spaniard Alvaro Bautista who’s made a solid start to his career at San Carlo Gresini Honda.
Stefan Bradl has won the Moto2 race in Estoril for the last two years and has made an impressive MotoGP debut on the LCR Honda. The German is eighth in the Championship one point behind former World Champion Nicky Hayden riding the Ducati.
Two riders looking for a change of fortune at the Estoril circuit, which is situated five miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean near the capital City of Lisbon, are factory riders Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies. Nine times World Champion Rossi who is struggling on the much changed Ducati has won five times in Estoril. Spies riding the factory Yamaha is down in 11th place after two 11th place finishes.
The two favourites for CRT honours Colin Edwards and Randy De Puniet both failed to score in Jerez and it’s Spaniard Aleix Espargaro who leads the way riding the Power Electronics Aspar ART after finishing 12th in Spain.
His younger brother Pol won the shortened Moto2™ race in Jerez after a typically fierce battle with Championship leader Marc Marquez. That is certain to continue on Sunday with Qatar winner Marquez leading the Championship by just four points. Throw into the mix former Estoril winners Toni Elias, Simone Corsi, Nico Terol, Hector Faubel, Mika Kallio plus the likes of Tom Luthi, Scott Redding and Andrea Iannone and the sparks are certain to fly.
All the talk in Jerez was about 16 year old Italian Romano Fenati who won the Moto3™ race in just his second grand prix appearance. It was a staggering performance by the Italian teenager on the slippery track to win by 36 seconds while others fell by the wayside. He leads the Championship by ten points after finishing second in Qatar. His rivals headed by Spanish teenager Maverick Vinales know that Fenati backed by the Italian Federation is a serious contender for the first Moto3 World title. Vinales and the likes of Sandro Cortese, Luis Salom and local rider Miguel Oliveira will be out to give him a hard time on Sunday.