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Final phase of season commences at Estoril

Final phase of season commences at Estoril

The first of a concluding quartet of rounds in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship season takes place over the 2nd-4th October weekend at the Estoril circuit.

As Valentino Rossi prepares to make his 100th appearance on a Yamaha factory machine, in the Grande Premio de Portugal, at a venue where he has taken victory on five occasions in the premier class, the Italian rider is aware that another Portuguese win will edge him closer to retaining the MotoGP title.

Rossi has a 30 point championship lead after 13 rounds, the last of which saw him take victory on home soil at Misano to bounce back from his Indianapolis crash and DNF, before a September break in proceedings.

Indeed, Rossi’s main objective at Estoril will be to finish in front of his Fiat Yamaha team-mate and championship rival Jorge Lorenzo, who still has a fighting chance of catching his illustrious colleague in the standings. Lorenzo achieved his maiden MotoGP win in Portugal last year in just his third premier class race and the Spaniard will be striving to repeat that success this time around.

Lorenzo has also crossed the line first and second at the last two rounds of the current season to push his way back into the title fight after consecutive DNF results at Donington and Brno earlier in the summer.

For third-placed championship rider Dani Pedrosa, Estoril is one of just four tracks on the current MotoGP calendar where he has not tasted victory in any class of Grand Prix racing. However, Pedrosa has crossed the line in second place in Portugal for the last two years and the Repsol Honda rider will be highly motivated by the challenge of staying ahead of the returning Casey Stoner in the standings over the final four 2009 GPs.

Stoner returns for Ducati Marlboro at round 14, having missed three race weekends due to illness, and he will aim to rediscover his early season competitiveness which saw him register wins at Losail International (Qatar) and Mugello, in addition to three further podiums. The Australian is 87 points behind Rossi, 57 behind Lorenzo and just seven adrift of Pedrosa, heading to a track where he won the 250cc race in 2005 and was on the MotoGP rostrum in third place in 2007.

Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso, who in fifth place is ten points ahead of Colin Edwards, has finished fourth in the last three races – since his first MotoGP victory at Donington in July. The Italian was the 250cc race-winner at Estoril three years ago but last season he crashed out on his debut MotoGP appearance at the circuit.

Edwards’ blameless first lap crash and DNF at Misano last time out was his first non-point scoring result since Germany last year and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 man would probably be happy with repeating his 2008 and 2006 fourth places at Estoril.

Behind Edwards, Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing) complete the current MotoGP top ten.

The 2009 Grande Premio de Portugal takes place from 2nd-4th October, with free practice in the MotoGP class commencing at 1.55pm local time.


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