|Race Results – MotoGP 2011 – Rnd 4 – Le Mans|
|MotoGP Race – Rnd 4 – Le Mans||MotoGP Championship|
|1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 44’03.955|
2 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0’14.214
3 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 0’14.564
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 0’21.075
5 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 0’31.245
6 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 0’31.609
7 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0’35.566
8 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 0’51.502
9 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’03.731
10 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’03.885
11 Toni Elias Honda ESP 1’04.068
12 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’04.192
13 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA -2Laps
|1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 78|
2. Casey Stoner Honda AUS 66
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 61
4. Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 50
5. Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 47
6. Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 39
7. Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 36
8. Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 22
9. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 21
10. Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 21
11. Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 21
12. Ben Spies Yamaha USA 20
13. Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 18
14. Toni Elias Honda ESP 17
15. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 9
16. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 7
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner secured victory for the first time in his career at the Le Mans circuit in Sunday’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. It was a close battle until the very end between two Italians for second place but it was the second Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso who clinched the 20 points, ahead of Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) who achieved his first rostrum riding the Desmosedici.
Stoner took his 25th premier class career win after a dominant ride to pull away at the front and win by a margin of over 14 seconds. With his second win of the season, the Australian has now jumped up to second place in the standings, 12 points behind Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
It was a record-breaking attendance for the French GP with 88,400 fans attending the Le Mans circuit on Sunday. The rain managed to stay away and an eventful race was enjoyed by the large and enthusiastic crowd. There was action throughout the field but at the end all eyes were on the dice between Dovizioso and Rossi. As in the previous race in Portugal, the Honda rider managed to deny the advances of the nine-time World Champion and record his best finish of this year’s campaign so far, whilst Rossi scored his best result of the season four rounds in.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who had made one his trademark rocket starts, led Stoner for the first lap until his team-mate came through on the next lap to take control of the race. The Spaniard stayed with the race leader for the first half of the 28-lap race, until he fell into the clutches of Simoncelli. The Italian passed the Repsol Honda rider on lap 17 but then a controversial incident occurred between the two when Pedrosa attempted to reclaim his second position and the two touched, sending Pedrosa crashing out.
It was later confirmed that Pedrosa had broken his right collarbone, whilst Race Direction declared during the course of the race that Simoncelli had made an illegal manoeuvre, and served him with a ride through penalty. The 24 year-old eventually finished in fifth position and lost his opportunity of scoring his first ever podium in MotoGP.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing), making his 150th Grand Prix start and becoming the youngest rider ever to do so, had a bad start to his preparations on Sunday after a crash in warm up which wrecked his bike and left the Spaniard with an injured finger. After barging through on Dovizioso early on in the race for a top four place, the 2010 MotoGP World Champion slipped down the order after being re-passed by the Repsol Honda rider and by his fierce rivals, Simoncelli and Rossi, but eventually placed fourth.
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) equalled his best result of 2011 with sixth place, the American lost out to Simoncelli after the Italian got the better of him despite his ride through penalty. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) was seventh, ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) who had a lonely race in eighth.
Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) won the race-long battle to finish in ninth. The Spaniard had been involved in a very exciting tussle with Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) who finished tenth, Toni Elías (LCR Honda), 11th and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) 12th. After a difficult start to the season upon his return to MotoGP, Elías was showing signs of the ability which took him to the 2010 Moto2 World Championship and was up to 11th place in a five-rider battle in the early part of the race, but had a massive moment and was lucky to keep hold of his Honda as he dropped to the back of the group. The 28 year-old did manage to pick his way through a number of the riders after a difficult four rounds of the season.
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) who had qualified an impressive sixth on his first visit to the Le Mans circuit, suffered a lowside when in ninth place on lap five and had to return his machine back to the pits for his first non finish in his rookie campaign. It was not a good day for Monster Yamaha Tech 3 in their home race in France after Colin Edwards also crashed mid way through the race but managed to get back out to pick up three points in 13th place.
It was not a happy day for the French fans who had hoped to see Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) pick up his best result of the season. The French rider crashed into the gravel on lap two and walked back to the pits dejectedly. Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing) suffered a similar fate as he crashed out towards the end of the race.
– HRC Report
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored his second MotoGP victory on a Honda in today’s French Grand Prix to move into second place in the World Championship point standings. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) scored a fine second-place finish to secure a brilliant one-two for Repsol Honda.
But what could have been a perfect day for the team was spoiled by a mid-race incident, which saw the luckless Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) crash and break a collarbone after tangling with Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V). Simoncelli was subsequently punished with a ride-through penalty that demoted him from second place to fifth.
Stoner dominated this weekend just as he ruled the season-opening Qatar GP in March, topping free practice, qualifying and the race. And yet the race wasn’t without its moments for the Australian who overheated his clutch on the grid and therefore didn’t make his usual fast getaway. Nevertheless Stoner didn’t lose his cool and had muscled his way back into second by the end of the first lap, right behind Pedrosa. The following lap he moved into the lead and the two Honda riders quickly pulled clear of the pack, once again demonstrating the remarkable performance of the 2011 RC212V.
Stoner, however, couldn’t make the break. Whenever he upped his pace, his team-mate responded with impressive speed, establishing a new lap record on lap nine. Just before half-distance Stoner did finally open a small gap, leaving Pedrosa to deal with the advancing Simoncelli.
Simoncelli passed Pedrosa at Garage Vert on lap 18, ran wide, putting the pair side by side as they sped towards the Chemin aux Boeuf left/right chicane. The Italian was later on the brakes and rode round the outside into the left-hander, leaving his Spanish rival with nowhere to go, which caused the pair to collide. Simoncelli stayed on, Pedrosa fell, fracturing his right collarbone, another unlucky blow for the former 250 and 125 World Champion.
The controversial collision left Simoncelli clear in second place, but Race Direction decided to impose a ride-through penalty, which he took with four laps remaining. The punishment dropped the former 250 World Champion to seventh, but during the final few laps he fought back to fifth, ten seconds behind reigning MotoGP World Champion and current points leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) who finished off the podium for the first time this year.
With Simoncelli knocked down the order, the duel for second was fought out between Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi (Ducati), all the way to the finish. Earlier in the race Dovizioso had survived a scare when Lorenzo ran into him at turn two, but he came back strongly to get the better of Lorenzo. Later in the race Rossi got past his fellow Italian, but Dovizioso had a plan for the final lap and used some superb late-braking moves to keep Rossi behind him. The result gave a delighted Dovizioso his first podium appearance of the year.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) spent much of the race alone, lapping at a consistent pace that put him eighth at the end of the 28 laps.
Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) had a very different race, battling back and forth with Hector Barbera (Ducati), Karel Abrahams (Ducati), Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati). On lap 15 Elias was leading the group when he had a big moment, which lost him crucial positions. He took the chequered flag in 11th place, in the wheel tracks of Barbera and Abrahams.
There were five crashes: Pedrosa, Capirossi, Colin Edwards (Yamaha), Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) and Randy de Puniet (Ducati).
Reigning 125 World Champion Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) won his first Moto2 success in stunning style at Le Mans. The teenage rookie came from behind to win the enthralling race by an impressive 1.9s. Amazingly, this was his also Marquez’s first Moto2 points score, after he had tumbled out of his first three races in the Honda-powered series.
Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) and Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) completed the podium, with Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) and Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2-Suter) finishing a close fourth and fifth.
Marquez, who had qualified sixth fastest, completed the first lap in ninth place, caught the lead group before half-distance, cleverly worked his way through into the lead and then broke away, leaving those four men to dispute second place. The Spaniard was strongest through Le Mans’ daunting high-speed first turn, where he briefly seized the advantage on several occasions, finally making the move stick with five laps to go. During his winning ride Marquez also broke the Moto2 lap record by 0.6s.
Takahashi saved his best for last to score his second consecutive podium result. Although he couldn’t go with Marquez, the Japanese fought with Bradl to the very end, crossing the line just metres ahead of the German, Simon and Luthi. Just six tenths of a second covered the foursome at the finish line.
Bradl led the first 15 laps until he ran into side grip issues, which took him from first place to fourth in the space of just one lap. During the final few laps he rallied strongly to get the better of Luthi, who also succumbed to Simon on the final lap.
Bradl’s third-place finish stretches his World Championship lead to 28 points over Simon who moves into second, taking over from Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Suter) who slid out of the race at the Chemin aux Boeuf chicane on the first lap.
Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40-Pons Kalex) was with the lead group earlier in the race but slipped back to a lonely, but satisfying sixth-place finish, his best result since joining Moto2 for the 2011 season. Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project-FTR) had a lonely ride to seventh place until he was almost caught in the final stages by a train of riders led by Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP-Suter). Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3) finished 1.6 seconds behind Aegerter and just ahead of Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2-Motobi).
Local star Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing-Suter) was the top Frenchman in 11th, just ahead of Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing-Kalex) and Pol Espargaro (HP Tuenti Speed Up-FTR). Mike Di Meglio (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3) also featured well in that group until he slid off with two laps to go.
The MotoGP circus now enjoys two weekends off before commencing a busy period with four races over five weekends, commencing with the Catalan Grand Prix outside Barcelona on June 5.
Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: race winner – “The whole weekend has gone so well for us, arriving here from the Portugal test with the bike almost the same and we have improved small things here and there and only needed to adjust the set-up for this circuit. We went into the race confident. At the beginning of the race Dani was very fast and he was difficult to pass as he as being cautious. When I overtook him I thought I might be able to take some advantage, but he was able to match my times and follow me for some laps, so I continued to push more than I prefer and eventually I put a gap between us. From this point the race came to me and I was able to focus on my consistency and win. A big thanks to the team and everyone for all their hard work, but my thoughts are with Dani at this moment. I hope he can recover soon as he is a very strong contender for this championship.”
Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 2nd – “I’m really happy with the second position today, it’s so important for the championship and it arrives after a start of the season where we didn’t get the results we expected. We did a very good job with the team since the beginning of the weekend and I knew I could fight for the podium, but I didn’t expect second place. I had a great battle with Valentino and to beat him always has a special taste, and it’s good fun to get the podium after a hard fight. I was losing a lot in two areas, but I was strong in braking, so I made a good strategy and once I overtook him, I pushed 100 percent not to have him too close especially in turns 10 and 11, where he was faster. Concerning the race, I had a good start, Lorenzo’s strong overtaking slowed me down a little, but then I pushed to recover the gap. We had good pace, but we need to be faster. We have to keep on working to reduce the gap to stay with the front riders. Dani today was very unlucky and I hope he can recover soon.”
Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 5th “I am unhappy because a result that was within my reach was denied and, above all, because of the fact that Pedrosa is hurt. In my opinion the incident went like this: Pedrosa was having a bit of difficulty – I had pulled alongside him and passed him. When he passed me back I was not intentionally trying to resist, and my telemetry shows that I got on the brakes at the same point as on previous laps. I think that he had hit the brakes well before the corner, and I found myself on the outside of him and in front on the entry to the corner. I didn’t want to back off, so I left him with a metre between myself and the kerb in order to go in. I saw that it was tight, so I tried to adjust my position. That was when he touched my back wheel and went down. I repeat that I am unhappy about it, and I want to avoid any controversy regarding penalisation, but I believe that my ride-through was a result of all the talk over the past few days. Now I have to focus on Barcelona.”
Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 8th “I am fairly satisfied, because I was feeling good on the bike. Despite this, the lap times were slightly slower than we were expecting. I have taken more points in the standings, and I am confident about Barcelona.”
Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 11th – “We have been afraid about the warm-up of the tyres because the track temperature was colder compared to practice, but at the end it was not so bad. Our rear traction problem is not solved yet but now I can see progressive improvements and I want to thank the team for their good work. When I was leading the small group in the back I thought that I could catch Aoyama, but suddenly I suffered a ‘bike shaking’ and I banged my feet on the fairing. My leather security airbag activated and I could not ride properly for a couple of laps until it went down. After that I pushed to catch the group again but could not finish in the top ten. Anyway it has been a positive week end and I hope to see further improvements at my home GP at Catalunya.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: DNF – “I was having a good race. The goal was to ensure another podium and I had it in my grasp. But it counts for nothing. Simoncelli overtook me, I passed him back and I had the better line, he just came into me releasing the brakes and I could do nothing. I leave here with a broken collarbone and he with a ride-through penalty, good for him! Yet again I come out worse off. We only just recovered from the nightmare of the last operation and now I’m hurt again. It is very unfair, I don’t deserve it.”
– Ducati Report
The French Grand Prix saw Valentino Rossi score his first podium finish aboard a Ducati, following a race that was marked by excitement and surprises. Nicky Hayden started from the fourth row, but advanced to seventh place by the finish.
The Italian celebrated his third-place finish after a weekend of hard work and constant improvement, during which he and his crew progressively improved the bike’s setup until finding a good compromise for the race. Sixth at the end of the first lap, Rossi stayed just a few tenths from Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso, who fought over fourth place until an incident between Pedrosa and Simoncelli with ten laps remaining. At that point, the trio began battling over second place, and in the end, Valentino finished third, behind Dovizioso and winner Casey Stoner.
Nicky Hayden fought over sixth place with Ben Spies, and although he had to concede the position to his compatriot in the end, he was pleased with the progress made over the course of the weekend.
In two days, on May 17, Valentino Rossi will be in action at Silverstone Circuit aboard a Ducati 1198, as the English track inaugurates a new paddock wing.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd
“We’re very pleased with this podium because we’re on the right path, and especially because I had fun today. I rode the Desmosedici well, I was fast in the technical parts of the track, I felt good from start to finish and I had good lap times. This morning we made a last change to the setting together with Jeremy and the guys from Ducati, and it helped cut another couple of tenths. I knew I could beat Lorenzo, so that was my goal. I also passed Dovi at one point, but I got a little confused and made a move on the penultimate lap instead of the last one. I lost my concentration momentarily, but in short, he got me again. Anyway, it’s fine like this; I’m happy for myself, for my team, for Filippo (Preziosi), and for all the boys at Ducati. This result boosts our morale. We still have to keep working and improving though, because there’s more to be done. I also have to improve and keep adapting my style to the Ducati, because I’m still not riding it as I should, but in the meanwhile, we’ll enjoy today’s nice race and podium.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors by starting 10th, but actually, we made a little step forward with the bike today. I got a decent start but was just really tight and lost some time. As the race got going, I was able to move up a bit and slowly bring back Spies and Colin. Colin crashed, but once I got in front of Ben, I wasn’t really able to get down in the 34s and get away like I needed to. Seventh isn’t a great result for us, but I would say that overall, it’s probably been our best weekend yet. When the track was cold, I was able to go quite fast—always in the top five in those conditions. I hoped for better in the race, but I’m looking forward to the next stretch; we’re about to really get into the season.”
Vittoriano Guareschi (Team Manager)
“We’re satisfied with this weekend because we’ve already benefited from the first changes that we’ve made according to Vale’s requests. We had a nice race, maintained a good pace and took part in a nice battle. The team worked very well on the setup, which we changed every session and took a step forward each time—including one in the morning warm-up. We still have work to do, because this is only the start; there’s still a gap to make up, but anyway, we’re going in a promising direction. Nicky also confirmed that his feeling with the motorcycle has improved, and he made good progress on the bike over the course of the weekend.”
– Yamaha Report
The Grand Prix of France at Le Mans was today witness to yet another incident packed race played out in front of the packed grandstands. World Champion Jorge Lorenzo suffered a low side in the morning warm up, sustaining a minor injury to his finger but was otherwise unhurt
Lorenzo held his grid position off the line as the race got underway, battling up to fourth with 14 laps to go and taking Dovizioso on the second corner for the position. Having managed to close the gap to the second and third riders, a mistake caused him to run wide and lose ground, eventually crossing the line still in fourth. With previous closest championship rival Dani Pedrosa crashing out of the race, the results mean Lorenzo has now extended his lead in the Championship to 78, 12 points clear of second place.
Ben Spies leaves France happy to have put the misfortunes of the previous two rounds behind him. The Texan also kept grid position off the line but made two small mistakes in the first laps, losing time to those in front. Consistent race pace saw him close down on Colin Edwards in fifth until an unfortunate crash by the fellow Texan caused Spies to run wide to avoid collision. He recovered and managed to fight off Nicky Hayden to eventually take sixth. The result doubles his point score to 20, placing him in 12th position, only 2 points from Marco Simoncelli in eighth.
Jorge Lorenzo / Position 4th – Time +21.075
“I think the race has been good in general for us and the results and points are good for the Championship. Obviously I would like to fight with Casey and the other best riders for victory but at this moment it’s really hard. What I can do is try to finish with the best result possible, take the maximum from our bike as it is now and wait for future improvements.”
Ben Spies / Position 6th – Time +31.609
“It was a pretty exciting race. I made two mistakes on the first two laps and lost touch with Colin and Valentino. I tried to ride as hard as I could and was reeling in Colin until unfortunately he crashed; his bike slid across the track so I had to avoid it which allowed Nicky to get up to the back of me. We diced around a bit then I was able to get around him and go on my way. We got a sixth place result which is good for the points.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It’s been a very tough race here in France but the final result is not so bad. I’m not talking about the fourth position but the fact we are now leading the Championship by 12 points. I think it’s very important to look ahead, we’ve got a lot to discuss after this weekend and will be looking for big improvements moving forward.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A really strange weekend for the Team here at Le Mans; the race had a lot of incidents. For us it was a really important result, we got a lot of points and Jorge is still leading the Championship. Ben got a positive result and took some valuable points as well. Now we have to work to be ready for the Catalunya Grand Prix in three weeks time.”
Edwards and Crutchlow battle for top six in Le Mans
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team ended its home race at the historic Le Mans circuit pondering what might have been after Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow both crashed out of contention for a top six finish in a pulsating French MotoGP race today.
Edwards battled to a determined 13th place finish after he’d tumbled out of seventh position at the first chicane on lap 14. The Texan had produced a stunning early charge to keep himself in contention with a group featuring Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo, but lost the front-end of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 at the first left-hander.
Edwards lost his left footpeg in the slow speed fall but remounted and returned to the pits. Thanks to the quick work of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew, he was quickly back on track and able to score three World Championship points that keep him inside the top ten of the overall rankings after four rounds.
Crutchlow’s bid to claim a career best premier class finish was ended on the sixth of 28-laps while he was lying in ninth position and building up his speed to launch an attack on 2009 World Superbike champion and former Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Ben Spies.
Crutchlow was only 0.2s behind Spies when he lost the front-end at Turn 6. Determined to get back in the race, Crutchlow’s hopes of fighting his way back into the points were ended by a minor throttle issue that prevented him from continuing.
Colin Edwards / Position 13th – 21 points
“I got one of the best starts I’ve had in a long time and I just flew off the line but it was the usual jostle for position at the first corner. I got a bit of clear track in front of me and I could see Valentino was coming back to me a little bit and Dovizioso and Lorenzo were also just in front of him. I rode at my absolute maximum to try and stay with them because I really wanted to get a top six for Tech 3 and for Monster. I was losing four of five bike lengths though coming onto the back straight and then I’d also lose a bit more time at the next chicane because I wasn’t that fast through there. I could see the gap was staying at 1.5s and there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t making mistakes but neither were they, so I could see them but just not get close enough. When I crashed it didn’t feel like I was doing anything too stupid. I was on the same line and I didn’t get in there too hot. Normally you get a bit of warning when the front is going to tuck, but I had nothing. I was already looking through at the next corner and then I was down. I broke the footpeg off but came back to the pits and went out again and salvaged a couple of points, which might prove valuable at the end of the year.”
Cal Crutchlow / DNF – 21 poitns
“I’m pretty disappointed because looking at how the race panned out I could have been in sixth place because when I crashed I was having a good battle with Ben. I’d caught him quite easily and was looking forward to a good race when I made a stupid little mistake in Turn 6. I touched the kerb and I lost the front. I literally fell off the side of the bike and that was it. It is disappointing because I had the pace to get another top eight, but these things can happen when you’re pushing so hard in a competitive class like MotoGP. I managed to get back on the bike but there was a problem with the throttle, so it was impossible for me to carry on. I showed my raw speed all weekend so I’m not going to be too hard on myself, though I was desperate to get a good result for Tech 3 and Monster.”
Herve Poncharal / Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team Manager
“The whole weekend has been really good and as usual and it was just a shame that we couldn’t get the results that Colin and Cal’s speed deserved. But both of them are always giving their absolute maximum and that is all I can ask. In the race Cal didn’t get such a good start, but he recovered and was right behind Ben. From that moment we thought he could have had a strong race but unfortunately a little mistake cost him a lot. When you see Ben finishing sixth, then you can’t help wonder whether Cal could have scored his best result in MotoGP. Colin was very fast and very aggressive. He was looking strong for a top six finish, but then also he crashed. It is strange because our two guys don’t usually crash and yet both of them have crashed on the same day in our home race. That’s a pity but we will stay positive. They were both fast during the race and we move to Barcelona in confident mood. We wanted to do better for the French fans who came to support Tech 3 and for our sponsors Monster, who have done another amazing job in supporting the Le Mans event.”
– Suzuki Report
Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista produced another strong performance as he fought fairing-to-fairing right to the chequered flag at Le Mans today.
Bautista got off the line well at the start of the race, but was boxed in on the first couple of corners and found himself relegated to last place by the end of the first lap. Bautista composed himself and set about catching and passing the riders in front of him and on lap five he got involved in a five man battle that would carry on until the end of the race. Bautista picked each rider off over the middle section of the race to move up to ninth place, but a mistake later on saw him lose two places. The battling Spaniard was then hit from behind by Loris Capirossi, as Bautista also came together with Hector Barbera – an incident that saw Capirossi crash out. This caused Bautista to lose time to the pack and although he fought back to the group, he didn’t have enough laps for another attack and had to settle for 12th place, just 0.463 seconds from ninth position.
Over 88,000 enthusiastic French fans watched the race at trackside, as the storm clouds that threatened stayed away and allowed for a dry race. Honda’s Casey Stoner completed a dominant weekend’s work by winning the race by over 14 seconds from team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo still leads the riders’ standing after four rounds.
Rizla Suzuki will now travel to Spain for the next round of the MotoGP World Championship that sees the Montmelo circuit near Barcelona stage race five in this season’s calendar on Sunday 5th June.
Álvaro Bautista: “This is my first race this year because in Estoril I raced alone, but today I was able to fight with other riders! We managed to finish the race and get more kilometres under our belts, but I did not have the same feeling today as we had yesterday. I felt like I had no good rear grip in the exit of the corner and the bike was spinning a lot and I struggled to stay with the group going for places in the top-10. I made a mistake when I tried to pass Abraham later on as I touched the gear lever and went into neutral and lost some time, and I also had a bit of an incident with Loris and Hector. I tried to catch the group at the end, but it was very difficult to get past them. This is another race completed and I felt more competitive than in Estoril. This race was good for getting the racing feeling back and being able to overtake other riders and fight with them. I did many overtakes under braking and enjoyed the race very much – but not the result! I think if my rhythm had been better I could have finished in the top-10.
“I want to thank all my team, because it has been a difficult weekend with some strange weather conditions, we tried to do the best we could and make a good bike for these conditions.”
Paul Denning – Team Manager: “This weekend has been a successful second step for Álvaro’s recovery, and the fact that he’s ridden the bike in Estoril and here in Le Mans is a great result in itself – compared to what most people involved in MotoGP thought would happen. The general consensus was to come back at Catalunya, and that was as good as we could expect. Now we have two race-weekends under our belt, his first battle with other riders since Valencia last year and a good platform to really start our season. In Barcelona – the Rizla Suzuki goes well there, the rider will be back to full strength and we’re all looking forward to it!”
– Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium
Casey Stoner completed his master class today with a dominant victory on Bridgestone’s new soft rear tyre, setting a provisional new lap record and setting a new record total race time by a staggering 25seconds.
As the track temperature was lower under overcast skies, every rider today chose the new soft rear slick alongside the harder front tyre. On just the fourth lap of the race, Stoner dipped under the lap record and proceeded to deliver a string of consistent laps in the 1m 33second bracket to set his fastest total race time. Marco Simoncelli also went faster than the existing lap record but it was Dani Pedrosa who was the fastest man overall, setting the new lap record at 1m 33.617 seconds to go some 0.6seconds faster than the previous benchmark.
Stoner led from the second lap and, after an intense battle with Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa in the first half, pulled away from the field. Further back the sailing was not so smooth however. As Pedrosa slipped into the clutches of Simoncelli in third, the two came together entering turn nine and Pedrosa crashed, breaking his collarbone. Simoncelli was given a ride-through penalty for the incident that dropped him to an eventual fifth.
A battle for fourth was already raging between Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi and the demise of the two Hondas promoted this to a fight for second, which was ultimately claimed by Dovizioso in his best result of the season just ahead of Rossi in his first podium finish aboard the Ducati.
Taka Horio – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Casey rode a fantastic race today and has shown remarkable pace all weekend, so many congratulations to him and the Repsol Honda Team. It is also good for the fans and the sport to see Valentino on the podium for the first time with Ducati. I’d also like to wish Dani a fast and uncomplicated recovery from his injury today and hope that he can return to the championship soon. It is good to see a record number of MotoGP spectators for Le Mans today which is a sign of the appeal and strength of the championship, and I am pleased Bridgestone can support such an exciting series.”
Masao Azuma – Chief Field Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
“All weekend I have been pleased with the performance and consistency of our new soft rear tyre, and in the race it again showed its strength. Outright performance was good with the top three riders under the existing lap record, and durability and consistency were also satisfying. Eighteen of Casey’s laps were faster than the existing lap record, and in addition to his new total race time record, the top four riders were all faster than last year’s winning total race time.”
Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner
“I made a terrible start but I was pretty aggressive into the first corner so didn’t lose too much. At the start Dani was being conservative with the left side of his tyres but my tyres came up to temperature faster than his so I wanted to get past and make an advantage. Once I got past him I tried to stay consistent but Dani stayed with me so I had to keep lifting the pace and every time he matched my pace. Then I took a small advantage and was able to sustain those laptimes to the end. It’s been an awesome weekend and I’m really happy with the way the bike is working.”