Toni Elias won his first MotoGP win in Portugal. But the story of the race was that for the first time in the 2006 championship, Valentino Rossi tops the title fight after a brilliant race where Toni took the top step by just 2 thousandths of a second.
Rossi and his Yamaha teammate Colin Edwards locked out the top two positions in qualifying yesterday. American title contender Nicky Hayden had the third place on the grid on the Honda RC-211V. The eventual race winner started from 11th on the grid.
The two Yamahas lead into the first corner after the start, with the Hondas of Danni Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden close behind.
A few laps into the race Casey Stoner lost the front end of his Honda, and Sete Gibernau could not get out of the way of the falling Australian and ran over the sliding bike, taking himself out of the race, and re-breaking his collar bone he broke earlier in the year.
The championship leader however did not finish the race. On lap 5 the two Repsol Honda riders ran nose to tail, and the race ended for both riders when Danni Pedrosa decided to try and get past Nicky. The move did not go as planned, Danni got onto the kerbs and lost the front of his Honda, and in the process took out his team mate and championship leader.
With the race ended for the two Honda bikes, and the chasing pack now thinned out because of Casey's crash, the pressure seemed to come off Rossi, and his lap times seemed to struggle a little.
The two Yamaha riders lapped in the front of the pack. This however did not last long, the privately entered Honda of Elias, and he dragged the KR-Honda of Kenny Roberts Jr into the fight for the front.
Elias managed to make a very late breaking maneuver work at the same corner as the Repsol Honda bikes came off to pass Colin Edwards into second on lap 13. Edwards tried to fight back, but seemed to already be struggling on his tyres.