World Champion Casey Stoner won his 2nd Grand Prix in a row and victory in the Portuguese round at Estoril propelled him into the championship lead by a single point over arch rival Jorge Lorenzo who was 2nd ahead of Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner almost led from start to finish. The usual lightning start from fellow Red Bull Athlete Pedrosa saw the Spaniard nose ahead into turn one but a slide coming out lost him the drive and he slipped to 3rd behind Stoner and Lorenzo.
From there the order never changed but there was no shortage of effort and tension as the arch rivals raced away from the rest of the field.
By lap 7 of the 28 Stoner had eked out a lead of almost a second but then Lorenzo began to squeeze the gap. He had cut it to 0.4 by lap 10. Pedrosa wasn't loosing ground either in 3rd, just a second off the lead. The chasing Tech Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso were 6 seconds in arrears.
Crossing the line with 15 laps to go Lorenzo was close enough to pick up Stoner's slipstream. Still the Australian held on and Lorenzo was pushing the limit, sometimes missing an apex in his desperate pursuit. Pedrosa was there too, less than a second behind Stoner and waiting for any sign of weakness from the 2 men ahead.
9 laps to go and Stoner has resisted the pressure superbly, his advantage swung between 2 10ths of a second and 6 10ths but The Spaniard was never close enough to attempt a pass on the Australian. Pedrosa remained a similar distance behind Lorenzo in 3rd.
With 2 laps to go Stoner had an advantage of over half a second, he pushed again. Onto the last lap it was closer to one second and Lorenzo had nothing left. A faultless final lap and Stoner won by 1.4 with Pedrosa 3rd and a further 2.2 behind.
The Tech 3 team were next, 10 seconds behind the Spaniard with Dovizioso getting the verdict over Crutchlow.
Stoner has now won at every MotoGP venue. He knew all the way through teh race just how close Lorenzo was as he reported later. “Not only could I hear him but my pit-board kept me well informed. Things have gone well this weekend but we have always had trouble in the warmer conditions and that is what happened in the race. Especially in those middle laps still with a full tank of gas I was having a lot of front chatter and lost the front a few times.
“I played a lot with the engine maps and tried to find a way to get through the corners with less chatter. I learned to ride the bike a bit different and that helped so in the end it was a great result for us,” concluded the world number 1.
Honda team mate Pedrosa explained his race. “I had a tough first lap, I don't know why but I couldn't warm up the tyre properly and I lost about a second in the 1st lap and had to try and catch up. I had to work hard from there and I was fighting it because I didn't have any corner speed for some reason and it was really hard to stay with them. I tried to ride the bike a bit differently and work around it and things got a bit better but towards the end. Then I started to get a lot of chatter and I had no chance to catch Jorge at the end.”