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GP Week : Issue 152
D efending World Champion Casey Stoner made it two in a row at Estoril, his first win at the Portuguese circuit, overcoming the twin challenges of arm pump and Jorge Lorenzo to take the points lead with three races gone. He’d earlier praised the track for having many overtaking points, but there wasn’t much of that. He took the lead out of the first corner after fast starter Dani Pedrosa, his Repsol Honda team-mate, had a big slide, and stayed there all the way. Stoner had built up his early lead to 1.25 seconds after three laps, but that was the most all race. Lorenzo had moved straight into second, and now he started to close. By half distance, the Yamaha rider was right on Stoner’s tail. But Stoner had by now figured out a way round his twin problems of arm-pump and chatter, and held him at bay all the way. “I had real bad chatter especially at the beginning,” said Stoner. It triggered arm pump, finally convincing him that the two are inter-linked. If he could cure the chatter, then maybe the arm pump would recede. So it proved, as he switched electronic maps and changed his lines and techniques to minimise the vibration. He was successful, and “in the last few laps I felt more confident to open up a little gap.” It was 1.4 seconds over the line, with Lorenzo nonetheless insisting “I’m very happy. The weekend was a nightmare” (he had qualified a dismayed fourth), “but in the race my only problem was with the clutch after the start, for the first couple of laps.” For a second race he decided that second would be better than taking further risks. Lorenzo broke the lap record third time round, as he started to close on Stoner. Pedrosa was third throughout, 3.6 seconds away from Stoner by the end but blaming “a tough first lap” for failing to get close enough to the two up front: “I couldn’t warm the tyre. I had some big slides and lost one second. I spent almost the whole race half-a - second from Jorge, but it was hard to manage. I had a lot of chatter, and I tried to modify my style, but I didn’t have the corner speed. I had to try to recover time braking; I’m not comfortable riding like this.” Behind the dominant trio, Ben Spies (Yamaha) had led the early pursuit, only to run wide on lap two – the first of several errors for which he blamed an eventual drop to eight. This left the two satellite team rivals Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso (Monster Yamaha) battling, as at Qatar. This time it went the other way, Dovizioso fending off the Briton, and eventually finishing almost three seconds clear. “This weekend was so important,” said Dovi. Qualifying on the third row robbed him of the chance to follow Pedrosa, but he’d been matching his lap times. “The improvement is my feeling with my bike. I need more time on the Yamaha, and I think I can go faster, but I understand the bike better, and how to ride it differently from the Honda.” It was the first time he’d beaten team-mate Crutchlow, but the Briton refused to be downhearted at the reversal: “If you’d have told me last year I was going to be fifth here I’d have been really happy,” he said. “Dovi was faster today, his set-up was better. I’m happy with my race.” Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo) was a lone sixth; Rossi (Marlboro Ducati) a year’s best seventh, after his setting change from Jerez bore fruit all weekend. “It was a better race – all weekend was improved and I could stay at the lap time I expected. So we have a step, but from now we have to fix the problem,” he said. Spies was eighth, finally getting back ahead of Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda); Hector Barbera (Pramac Ducati) was dropping away in tenth. Nicky Hayden (Marlboro Ducati) had a real tale of woe. The GPS that controls his electronics corner by corner went completely haywire (see separate story), leaving him at some points clinging on for dear life as it cut power when he needed it, and delivered it when he didn’t. Aleix Espargaro (Power Electronics ART) was next, top CRT bike after getting back in front of team- mate Randy de Puniet, who was still hurting from a heavy crash in qualifying. Michele Pirro (San Carlo FTR Honda) and Danilo Petrucci (Came Aprilia) were the only other finishers, both in the points, the last- named a lap down. Karel Abraham (Ducati), Mattia Pasini (ART) and Yonny Hernandez (FTR Kawasaki) crashed out; James Ellison (ART) and Ivan Silva (FTR Kawasaki) retired. Stoner has 66 points to Lorenzo’s 65 and Pedrosa’s 52,with Crutchlow and Dovizioso on 37 and 35. “I HAD REAL BAD CHATTER ESPECIALLY AT THE BEGINNING." IT TRIGGERED ARM PUMP, FINALLY CONVINCING HIM THAT THE TWO ARE INTER-LINKED. IF HE COULD CURE THE CHATTER, THEN MAYBE THE ARM PUMP WOULD RECEDE ... SO IT PROVED CASEY STONER: 29 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> ESTORIL