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MotoGP ups the pace for bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal

MotoGP ups the pace for bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal

Two weeks on from the second round of 2008 MotoGP action in Jerez, the World Championship returns for the third of this year's 18 races, the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, on Sunday, 13th April.

Two weeks on from the second round of 2008 MotoGP action in Jerez, the World Championship returns for the third of this year's 18 races, the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, on Sunday, 13th April.

Heading into the Portuguese contest, there is a new leader in the MotoGP general standings. Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa´s record of two podium finishes from as many races -including victory at the last round in Jerez- elevates the Spaniard to a provisional top spot with 41 points on the board, usurping reigning World Champion Casey Stoner from the head of the classification for the first time in over a year.

Pedrosa was on the podium at the Estoril Circuit - which hosts this weekend's Portuguese race - for the first time last year, the rostrum having eluded him in all three classes until his second place behind Valentino Rossi in 2007.

The Spaniard´s style of taking the lead and breaking away from the back has worked in devastating style in his most recent Grand Prix triumphs, at Valencia (November 2007, and Jerez, and he will want to impose a similar strategy in Portugal.

Fiat Yamaha´s Jorge Lorenzo trails fellow countryman and rival Pedrosa by just five points, also holding a perfect podium record from his first two races in the premier class.

The 250cc World Champion and MotoGP rookie has astounded onlookers with his impressive adaptation to 800cc riding, and has been the man to beat in qualifying after taking two poles in his maiden pair of races. The feat is unprecedented since qualifying records were kept in 1974, and all eyes will be on Lorenzo to see if the Spaniard can further astound on Saturday in Estoril.

Lorenzo's Fiat Yamaha employers, their garage segregated by virtue of a split in tyre manufacturers, currently lead the team standings. They do so through the performances of Lorenzo and five-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi, who took his 100th MotoGP podium in Jerez with second place. Rossi lies behind new team-mate Lorenzo in the classification, a situation that -if extra motivation was necessary- will urge the Italian on to aspire to a sixth premier class victory on Portuguese soil.

Just one point separates Rossi from fourth placed rider Casey Stoner, who in Jerez had his lowest finish since joining the Ducati Marlboro team for 2007. The MotoGP title holder was on the podium at last year's bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, a repeat of which would help put his title defending season back on track. Stoner won the opening race of this season, the first MotoGP night race in Qatar, and has a hunger for further victories with the Desmosedici GP8.

Like longtime adversary Lorenzo, JiR Team Scot´s Andrea Dovizioso is also announcing his arrival in the premier class in fantastic style. Portugal is one of the few tracks at which Dovizioso has consistently out-placed the Spaniard in the lower cylinder categories.

James Toseland, himself a MotoGP debutante this season, will have some added firepower at his disposal for the visit to Estoril. Until now the Briton has been using a hybrid engine for his Tech 3 Yamaha satellite M1, but will now be given the added grunt of the factory pneumatic valve motor as he aims to battle on a level playing field with the MotoGP big guns.

2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden used the latest version of the Honda RC212V for the first time in Jerez, and saw instant improvements. However, the Repsol Honda rider is not one to settle for anything less than a podium finish, and is chasing his first rostrum placing of the year as the series heads to Portugal.

The current MotoGP top ten is completed by Rizla Suzuki´s Loris Capirossi, Kawasaki star John Hopkins and San Carlo Gresini Honda satellite man Shinya Nakano, all of whom will be looking for front running positions at Estoril with respective new 2008 teams.

As usual you´ll be able to follow all the action from Estoril on motogp.com with our various multimedia passes.

Tags:
MotoGP, 2008, bwin.com GRANDE PREMIO DE PORTUGAL

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