Jorge Lorenzo was untouchable once again in Portugal this afternoon and took a stunning fourth win of the season, 16 months on from his maiden MotoGP victory at this same track.
His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi had a disappointing day and came home a distant fourth,
although the Fiat Yamaha Team secured the Teams' Championship title, the first leg of the ‘triple crown'.
22-year-old Lorenzo had looked invincible all weekend and today was no different as he blasted off from pole for the 35th time in his career, reaching turn one in second place but regaining the lead a couple of corners later. Wearing special ‘astronaut' leathers and helmet to commemorate the Moon Landing and match the one-off white ‘Fiat Punto Evo' livery on his YZR-M1, the Mallorcan was unchallenged from then on and stretched his lead unt il the end, finishing a commanding 6.294 seconds clear of Casey Stoner to take his 26th career win.
"What a day! I'm so happy to win here again in the same track where I won my first MotoGP race last year. I worked so hard in the break on my fitness with my father and maybe that's given me a little bit of extra speed, I certainly felt so strong this weekend and it is great to win like this after being top in every session as well”, he said. “I got a good start and it took me just a couple of corners to get past Dani and take the lead, but I honestly didn't expect to be unchallenged from then on or to finish with such a big gap. This is a good track for me but I am fast more or less everywhere now. The championship is closer now; it's still not easy but we have nothing to lose! I'm proud that we have won the Team Title and I want to say thanks and congratulations to everyone. I liked my leathers and helmet a lot this week end and I wanted to celebrate Neil Armstong and his landing on the moon so this is why I made this ‘moonwalk show' after the race!"
Rossi had struggled to match his team-mate's pace all weekend and a problem with rear grip plagued him today and compounded his difficulties. He dropped to fourth on the first lap after starting from second and was unable to make any headway into the gap to Stoner and Pedrosa, eventually coming home some 13 seconds behind the Spaniard.
It was the Italian's 100th start for Yamaha, from which he has won an incredible 43 times.
"It was a very difficult race for me. I was never able to be fast because I did not have enough grip in the rear and our tyre did not work well, but I think it was more a problem of setting”, he explained. “After a few laps I was in great difficulties and I immediately understood that this was not going to be "our" race. Throughout the practice sessions I had some problems but I thought that today I would be able to at least stay with Stoner and Pedrosa, but they made another step forward for the race and then there was no chance for me. On Friday I was three tenths off the pace and unfortunately this stayed the same all weekend and in the race today. Here in Estoril we struggled last year as well, so it might be that, with our setting, the rear tyre gets very hot and this causes a lack of grip. It is a pity that I am off the podium, but we have three more races and they are three great tracks. We must think race by race and we must work to understand what the problem was today in order to make sure that we fix it in time for Phillip Island".
Yamaha are now assured of one of their riders being crowned World Champion but with Rossi's lead now cut to 18 points from Lorenzo in second, the tension is mounting as to which one it will be. MotoGP now has a week off before the ‘flyaway' double-header in Australia and Malaysia.