News Report 13 April 2008

2008 MotoGP Portugal - Estoril

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4182 m
04 / 13 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Lorenzo takes spectacular maiden victory at Estoril


Jorge Lorenzo topped off an incredible opening month in MotoGP with his maiden premier class victory today, his first ever career win at Estoril. After three pole positions and two podiums, the Fiat Yamaha Team rookie went one step further to win the Portuguese Grand Prix in fine style, taking joint first in the championship standings in the process. It was also the second double podium of the season for the team, with Valentino Rossi finishing third.

The first lap was a close battle between Lorenzo, Rossi and Dani Pedrosa with Lorenzo just prevailing over the line. Rossi however then passed him into turn one and pushed on ahead, leaving his team-mate to defend second position from Pedrosa, who was right on his tail. It began to spot with rain but Lorenzo kept his head and kept in touch with Rossi, despite pressure from Pedrosa behind him. On lap 11 Pedrosa made it past Lorenzo and stayed in front of him for two laps, but the Mallorcan was clearly cruising and, after setting the fastest lap of the race so far on lap 12, the Michelin-shod rider passed Pedrosa into turn one and set off after Rossi. He made his move later that lap in typically flamboyant fashion with a bold pass at the chicane and from then on it was a one-man-show as he extended his lead and eventually crossed the line 1.817 seconds in front of Pedrosa, who had passed Rossi on lap 15.

At just 20 years of age, Lorenzo’s victory today makes him the youngest rider in premier-class history to take three successive podiums and he now shares the championship lead with Dani Pedrosa on 61 points. Rossi consolidates third with 47 points whilst Fiat Yamaha top the Team’s table and Yamaha the Constructor’s.
Jorge Lorenzo 1st - 45'53.089
“I feel like I’m in heaven! First of all I have to say thank you to Yamaha and to Fiat because without their confidence in me I wouldn’t be here now. I can’t believe it and it’s really impossible for me to describe my feelings, I’m so happy for everyone! My team did a fantastic job and my Yamaha and my Michelin tyres worked very, very well today. The start of the race was quite crazy because there were some drops of rain and it looked like it might get worse. Anyway I just carried on and really I can’t remember the details of exactly what happened…I remember making my pass on Valentino; I know it was quite a risk so I’m sorry to him but at that point I felt that I could make it and get away from him, so I took the chance and it worked. I’m so proud of everyone, to be here after just three races and at the top of the championship as well is something that I could never have even dreamed of. We can’t afford to relax now however because Pedrosa and Rossi are here as well and they are two very fast and clever riders. I had some pain again in my arms today so tonight we will make a decision about whether or not I will have the operation before China, but for now I’m just going to enjoy this moment!”

Danielle Romagnoli - Team Manager
“This is a dream come true for all of us; Jorge rode an unbelievable race. Watching him fight with the others it was impossible to believe that it is only his third race and now here he is, already a winner! Thanks to the team because they did a fantastic job to set the bike up and Yamaha and Michelin together gave us a fantastic package to work with. We had planned a test tomorrow but this will depend on the decision about Jorge’s operation. There are three weeks until the next race so there is plenty of time for him to recover if he chooses to go ahead with it. Now we’re looking forward to another exciting weekend with Jorge in China!”
Valentino Rossi extended his Estoril podium record with third place today, meaning he has now finished on the podium at all of his nine career visits to the Portuguese track.

Valentino Rossi 3rd +12.723
“At the end of the day this isn’t a bad result for us because we expected this to be quite a difficult track for us. My M1 worked well today; I got a good start and was able to stay at the front to begin with and have some fun. My Bridgestone tyres were working well but I was thinking about trying to conserve them as much as possible because I knew 28 laps was going to be hard. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay with Lorenzo and Pedrosa in the later stages and I started to slide a little bit, but anyway to have two podiums in a row with Bridgestone is very important because we’re still in the learning stages of our relationship. I think we’ve made another step forward this weekend and we have an important test tomorrow – I hope in China we will be able to fight for the win!”

Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“Valentino defended very well today despite difficult conditions for us and we took a good podium and some important points. We expected it to be hard and I want to thank the team and our engineers for working hard all week and keeping the level of our Yamaha-Bridgestone package at the maximum. We’re looking forward to another 15 races and we hope that in China we’ll be in attacking form and able to get our first win with Bridgestone! We will work on tyres and settings for China tomorrow and then everyone will have a good rest before the next challenge.”

Masahiko Nakajima - Team Director
“Very impressive! This weekend Jorge has been very consistent and to get a third pole position and then go on to win is fantastic. He showed a strong drive in the race and proved that he can keep his concentration at the maximum for the entire race. I want to congratulate him for a great achievement and thank him on behalf of everyone at Yamaha.
”Unfortunately for Valentino we are still struggling a bit in some areas but anyway the combination between our chassis and the Bridgestone tyres is improving race by race. Step-by-step we are making progress and for sure here in Estoril everything went even better than in Jerez. This is a very unusual track; it requires a very delicate chassis balance because it has the slowest average speed in the world championship but also some very high-speed areas. In conclusion, I am happy with Valentino’s podium in these difficult conditions and I am confident that next time we will improve even more together with Bridgestone.
Fighting fourth for Edwards, Toseland seventh
Colin Edwards claimed his best result of 2008 with a determined ride to fourth place in Estoril today, while a hard fought seventh moved James Toseland into the top five of the MotoGP world championship standings. Lying sixth and tantalisingly close to the leading bunch for the opening nine laps, Edwards comfortably held onto the fourth place that he seized on lap 17 after a mistake by fellow American Nicky Hayden. He briefly threatened to close on Valentino Rossi in third as he posted his fastest lap on lap 19 of 28 with a 1.38.083, but settled for his best result since the German GP last July. The race started in tricky and unpredictable conditions as light rain showers fell at several sections on the circuit, leaving riders unsure of exactly how hard to push in the early stages.
The light rain certainly had an impact on Toseland’s normal aggressive start. He slipped down to 11th on lap one, but fought back to overtake Loris Capirossi, Chris Vermeulen and Casey Stoner. The British rider only lost his chance of a third consecutive top six finish when Stoner passed him with eight laps remaining. Toseland and Edwards though ensured that Yamaha claimed four of the top seven places, and today’s result strengthened Tech 3 Yamaha’s fourth position in the all-important Team world championship standings.

Colin Edwards 4th +17.223
“When you are sitting on the grid with big rain spots on the visor, it is the worst feeling because you just don’t know what to expect. I actually got a good start but then somebody was out of the seat in turn one in front of me and then somebody else did the same at the second corner. I thought, ‘it must be real slick because of the rain.’ And it was a bit like being on ice. I just got my head down but it seemed they were just driving away from me. I was on it and the electronics were kicking in and working but I wasn’t really going anywhere. Basically I couldn’t build any heat in the tyre early on. Running that different tyre from Michelin for acceleration grip instead of maximum corner speed, for those conditions it didn’t really work.
Had it been dry from the start we’d have been good to fight for the podium. But with a bit of moisture I couldn’t get any heat in the side of the tyre and no edge grip in the middle of the corner. Once I got heat into it I was motoring, which proved had it been dry, I’d gone for a good direction with Michelin. I wanted to be on the podium but I’ll settle for fourth. It’ something to build on and now we have got the new engine we can look forward with a lot of confidence. It was my best result for a long time so thanks to Tech 3 Yamaha and Michelin for that.”
James Toseland 7th +32.361
“It is another solid finish and I’ve moved into fifth in the championship, so I’ve got to be pleased with that. But it was a tough weekend. Losing that hour of dry set-up time on Friday was pretty crucial, but I still got a second row and top seven on a track I don’t know. Honestly though I wasn’t aggressive enough at the start. When we were coming to the grid I saw Rossi pointing to the sky but it was only spitting, and I thought they’d take it a bit easy at the start. I’d got spots of rain on my visor and those conditions are not nice and not knowing the track and a bit of inexperience with the tyres I just didn’t realise how hard you can push.
But I didn’t get a great start and that lack of experience cost me because I wasn’t sure where to brake for the first corner. I braked too early and got baulked. I got into a consistent pace and was running 38s but losing that hour on the first day meant the set-up wasn’t spot on. It wasn’t bad but it could have been better. The rear shock was too soft under acceleration and pumping. So when I opened the throttle that pumping just ran me a bit wide on the exit. The package I have got now with the new engine is better than that, and that’s what makes it frustrating. I’m not as happy with this as my other results because the bike is capable of more. It was another good day for the Tech 3 team and Michelin so I’ll be looking to get closer to the front in China.”

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“What an incredible day for Yamaha, and I am glad Colin and James contributed to that. I have to say a big thanks to both of them because it was a very difficult race in extremely demanding conditions with the light rain making it hard to gauge how hard to push. Both of them rode a very strong race and fourth and seventh is a great result for the team. It is easily our best of the season so far and gives us a great platform to build on for the rest of the season. We are clearly moving forward together as a team and the future is looking very promising.
Now we have everything clear with James and Yamaha we can look forward to getting better and better, particularly now we have the new engine from Yamaha to help us achieve the results we want. I’d also like to offer my warmest congratulations to Jorge Lorenzo on his first win for Yamaha and Michelin. I’m sure it won’t be his last.”