Ten Years Of Grand Prix Racing At Estoril
(*Pictured: Alvaro Bautista celebrates his stunning 2006 win)
This will be the tenth year that the Portuguese Grand Prix has been held at the Estoril circuit. Prior to moving to Estoril there had been two previous Portuguese Grand Prix events, both hosted in Spain; at Jarama in 1987 and Jerez in 1988. The first Grand Prix event at Estoril was in 2000 and it has been on the calendar every year since. Below are the highlights of the previous nine Grand Prix events held at Estoril:
2000 – Garry McCoy had the honour of winning the first 500cc race at Estoril riding a Yamaha, after qualifying on pole for the only time in the premier-class. In the 250cc class Daijiro Kato took his first GP victory outside of Japan from Olivier Jacque, with Marco Melandri finishing third to become the youngest ever rider to finish on a 250cc podium.
2001 – Each of the races were won by riders on their way to winning their respective world titles: 500cc – Valentino Rossi, 250cc- Daijiro Kato and 125cc – Manuel Poggiali.
2002 – Valentino Rossi won a race that was run in very wet conditions, after Sete Gibernau had led for most of the race only to crash out with four laps to go. Fonsi Nieto had an incredible win in the 250cc race after crashing on lap thirteen and re-joining the race down in seventh place.
2003 – Valentino Rossi won in the premier-class for the third successive year at Estoril. Spanish riders were successful in the smaller classes, with Toni Elias winning the 250cc race and Pablo Nieto taking his one and only GP victory in the 125cc class.
2004 – Both Valentino Rossi and Toni Elias repeated the victories of the previous year. The 125cc race was won by Hector Barbera ahead of current MotoGP riders Mika Kallio and Jorge Lorenzo.
2005 – Alex Barros dominated proceedings by winning the race from pole position and setting the fastest lap as well as being fastest in every practice session. This was the last time that Barros stood on the top step of the podium in Grand Prix racing. Casey Stoner won for the first time in the 250cc class, while Mika Kallio took his first ever Grand Prix win in the 125cc class.
2006 – After qualifying down in 11th place on the grid, Toni Elias scored his one and only MotoGP victory to date by just 0.002 seconds from Valentino Rossi to equal the closest ever recorded finish in the premier-class since the introduction of electronic timing. Alvaro Bautista’s win in the 125cc race was his 14th podium of the year – a new record for most podium finishes in a single season in the 125cc class.
2007 – Valentino Rossi won for the fifth time at Estoril after a great battle with Pedrosa. Alvaro Bautista takes the 250cc race after finishing lap one down in 12th place. Hector Faubel won the 125cc race from champions- hip rival Gabor Talmacsi, with Pol Espargaro taking his first ever GP podium in third.
2008 – Last year the Portuguese Grand Prix was the third event of the year and gave Jorge Lorenzo his first MotoGP win after he had qualified on pole for the third successive race. With this victory, Lorenzo became the 100th different rider to win a premier-class Grand Prix. Alvaro Bautista took his first win of the year in the 250cc class while Simone Corsi took back-to-back wins to extend his lead in the 125cc championship chase.