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Lorenzo wins first MotoGP victory ahead of fellow Michelin man Pedrosa

Michelin men Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1-Michelin) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) dominated this afternoon's Portuguese GP to finish first and second and share the joint World Championship lead after three rounds of the 18-race World Championship.

The two Spaniards spent the first half of the race disputing the lead with Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha Team YZR-M1) in spectacular style but as the pace increased they left the Italian behind. The early laps had been particularly difficult, with light rain falling across the Estoril circuit, situated just a few miles inland from the Atlantic.

Michelin had also dominated qualifying, with every one of its seven riders in the top eight, rookie Lorenzo taking pole position and bettering last year's pole time by almost six tenths of a second.

"We're very happy with this weekend," said Jean-Philippe Weber, Michelin's director of motorcycle racing. "We knew Valentino has won five times here, so he was very motivated to win again, but both Jorge and Dani were able to ride faster than him. Congratulations to Jorge for his first win with Michelin tyres and congratulations also to Dani for another excellent ride. They both chose similar tyres today, Dani's rear slick just a little bit harder. This is always a tough circuit, which is very aggressive on the right side of the tyres and much less so on the left side. But today it was more difficult than usual during the early laps, it must have been worrying for the riders because they were seeing rain on their visors."

Lorenzo has made an astonishing entry into MotoGP, the double 250 World Champion making history by becoming the first premier-class rookie to take pole at his first three events. Second at Losail and third at Jerez last month, it seemed only a matter of time before he made it to the top of the podium.

"I feel like I'm in heaven," said the 20 year-old who also set a new lap record. "We didn't expect this, we thought I'd be sixth or seventh after three races, but we have to be careful because Valentino and Pedrosa are both very fast and very clever riders. The rain wasn't good for us mentally, it was a little scary. But when the rain stopped I could ride quite good. The bike is working so well and we are doing some great work with Michelin, I feel great with the tyres."

Colin Edwards (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin) also rode an excellent race to fourth place, five seconds off the podium and three places ahead of British rookie James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1-Michelin). Italian rookie Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Team Scot Honda RC212V-Michelin) ran brilliantly with the leaders until he fell at half-distance. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V-Michelin) set the third fastest lap of the race behind Lorenzo and Pedrosa and was catching the leading group when he slid off.

Race Classification

1 Jorge LORENZO (Fiat Yamaha Team- Michelin,45'53.089

2 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team- Michelin),45'54.906 (+ 1.817)

3.Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team),46'05.812 (+ 12.723)

4.Colin EDWARDS (Tech 3 Yamaha- Michelin),46'10.312

5.John HOPKINS (Kawasaki Racing Team),46'16.841

6 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team),46'19.777

7James TOSELAND (Tech 3 Yamaha- Michelin),46'25720

8.Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP,46'29.471

9.Loris CAPIROSSI (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP),46'31.357

10 Shinya NAKANO (San Carlo Honda Gresini),46'32.565

11 Alex DE ANGELIS (Honda Gresini),46'54.395

12 Toni ELIAS (Alice Team DUCATI), 46'56.956

13 Marco MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team),47'02.614

14 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Alice Team),47'02.723

15 Randy DE PUNIET (LCR Honda MotoGP-Michelin),47'04.631.

16 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team), 47'16.718


69 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team-Michelin),12 LAPS

4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (JiR Team Scot MotoGP-Michelin), 13 LAPS

April 2008