Stoner pips Lorenzo for MotoGP lead

Stoner pips Lorenzo for MotoGP lead

ESTORIL, Portugal - Agence France-Presse
Stoner pips Lorenzo for MotoGP lead

Casey Stoner won the Portuguese MotoGP to take over the overall standings. REUTERS photo

Australian world champion Casey Stoner won the Portuguese MotoGP yesterday for his second successive victory this season, giving him a one point lead in the title race.

The 26-year-old Honda rider - whose win here was his first in the race and means he has won every single Grand Prix - beat Spain’s 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo on a Yamaha.

Stoner’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa became only the seventh rider to celebrate 100 podium finishes as he came third.

Pedrosa got the better start but was quickly passed by both Stoner and Lorenzo while Cal Crutchlow lost two spots and Valentino Rossi, who had qualified in his highest position on Saturday, gained two places from ninth to seventh.

Ben Spies once again disappointed as he lost places after a good qualifying where he finished fifth fastest on his Yamaha but the laid back American - who listened to the band Metallica while waiting on the grid - dropped to ninth after a quarter of the race had been run.

The pressure will only increase on Spies as he has been given a target of winning two races this term and was eventually only to finish eighth just behind Rossi, who recorded his best finish of the season on his Ducati.

Up ahead though Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa opened up a sizeable gap over the remainder of the field as they fought out the podium places with 20 laps remaining.

Behind them some six seconds back Andrea Dovizioso and Crutchlow were having their own duel for fourth and fifth while Rossi consolidated his seventh spot.

With 10 laps to go Stoner and Lorenzo looked to have the race to themselves as Pedrosa dropped off slightly and further behind the field was whittled down with just 16 remaining of the original 20-man field.

Stoner repelled everything that Lorenzo tried to throw at him and going into the final lap held a comfortable lead of just over a second and never looked like relinquishing that advantage.