Somebody at Yamaha told their MotoGP engineers to either shape up, or ship out. And someone at Michelin also did the same. Which is probably why we had one of the best MotoGP races of the season at Estoril, with Yamaha, Honda and Ducati riders fighting hard for win right up until the last lap.
The race started with Stoner taking the lead as usual, followed closely by Pedrosa, Hayden (who started from pole position, his first of the 2007 season!), Rossi and Melandri. Stoner and Pedrosa seemed all set to break away from the pack, but just as Melandri was beginning to worry Rossi, The Doctor decided to show everyone why he’s a seven-time world champ. Rossi began his charge to the front, overtaking Hayden, who seemed unable to put up much of a fight.
In the meanwhile, Pedrosa, riding like a man on a mission, also passed Stoner and took the lead. He looked like he had the winning pace, but No.46 had other ideas. Over the last 10 laps, Rossi and Pedrosa put in one of their best performances of this season (and for once, the tyres and the bikes also seemed to be working with them…), and had a glorious dogfight, passing and re-passing each other repeatedly.
Pedrosa’s Honda seemed to have a slight edge in terms of engine performance and low-end power delivery, but this was to be Rossi’s day, and he finally won the race just 0.175 seconds ahead of Pedrosa. Stoner came home in third place and while Hayden was not able to challenge the Aussie, he took a well-deserved fourth. Melandri finished fifth, and John Hopkins took sixth spot.
Barring a major disaster, Stoner is of course still winning the 2007 MotoGP world championship. It’s just that he’ll have to wait for one more week to claim the crown. But these two men – Rossi, with his fourth win of the season, and Pedrosa, with his stellar performance in the Portuguese MotoGP at Estoril – have conveyed one clear message. Stoner isn’t likely to have everything his way in 2008. If anything, the battles in MotoGP will be even harder next year…!
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2007 MotoGP race reports, features, interviews and hi-res wallpaper