MotoGP > MotoGP 2006 Round 05: France GP > Race Results
MotoGPFranceMay 21, 2006
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
France Grand Prix at Le Mans

Melandri Wins, Pedorosa Third As Honda Dominates The French Grand Prix

Qualifying >>

Honda riders won all three classes in France with Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) winning his second MotoGP race of the season from Loris Capirossi (Ducati) with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) third. Four Honda riders finished in the top five. Yukio Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) won a spectacular 250cc GP from team-mate Andrea Dovizioso while in the 125cc race reigning 125cc World Champion Thomas Luthi (Elit Honda) won his first race of the season.



Marco Melandri


Dani Pedrosa


The race was declared wet as clouds loomed giving riders the option to enter the pits and change machines if conditions worsened. But it was only as the flag fell after 28-laps that any drops began to fall.

John Hopkins (Suzuki) led the field on lap one with pole-setter Dani and Melandri hard on his tail as lap one was completed. Loris Capirossi was in the running and Rossi too was in fifth as Hopkins set an early fastest lap on lap two.

Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki), later hampered by a ride-through penalty for a jump start, was in the mix, although his team-mate Randy de Puniet, so keen to do well in front of his home fans, was involved in a first turn fracas that brought his race to an early close.

On lap three Rossi made his way to third, then second and closed on leader Hopkins. Pedrosa consolidated third while Melandri and Capirossi disputed fourth. Nakano, Hayden and Stoner battled for fifth before the Japanese Kawasaki man was brought in for his ride-through punishment.

On lap five Rossi relieved Hopkins of the lead and three laps later the American Suzuki rider fell while trying to stay in touch. He remounted to finish 15th. Dani was now in second place and right up with Rossi while Melandri was 2.37 seconds behind the leaders in third.

Rossi began to work his lead over Pedrosa harder and by mid-race distance he held 3.2 second advantage over the Spanish rookie. Dani could not make an impression on Rossi, until Rossi slowed with a broken down Yamaha on lap 21.

Pedrosa led with eight laps to go, but Melandri was gaining on him lap by lap and Capirossi in third was closing too. This now turned into a lap time against laps remaining equation that would not run in Pedrosa’s favor.

Melandri had the speed and took Pedrosa at the turn one chicane on lap 24. Capirossi was 2.5 seconds behind Dani and gaining by 0.44 seconds a lap. Sure enough he took second place off Dani at the Musée turn on the final lap and the young Spaniard decided to collect the points for third rather than risk a fall retaliating.

Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) and Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) had a tough fight for fourth with the verdict going to Stoner as the pair crossed the line. Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) was seventh, Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V) ninth, while Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) retired early with so far undiagnosed problems.

Melandri was delighted with another victory in his 50th MotoGP start. He said, “I’m happy and I want to thank Michelin because it was the perfect tyre choice. I got away well and that allowed me to lead on the first lap. Hopkins then overtook me as my bike was suffering a bit in the first laps, but after a few laps when the tyre temperature increased, the bike began to work better and better and I was able to lap near the front. As the laps went by I started to think about winning and I overtook Loris and then, when the time was right, Pedrosa as well.”

Third-placed Pedrosa said, “When I took the lead I knew they were catching me and I knew I would only lead for two or three laps. On one lap I made two mistakes and I realized I was going slowly whilst on the limit. So I decided I didn't want to crash like in the race in Turkey and I closed the throttle and focused on finishing the race. But the result is good and we must stay consistent and learn from this.”

“Fourth place feels pretty damn good,” said Stoner in fourth. “And again I’ve answered the people who said I couldn’t race on worn tyres. The battle with Nicky was great, it was a clean fight, but unfortunately I nearly took him out at the start of race – I’m sorry for that, I just missed my braking a little. By mid-race the bike started to feel more comfortable so I pushed and started to catch the leaders.”

Hayden, fifth, said, “It’s been a tough weekend, all weekend! Since we got off the plane from China it hasn’t come real smooth – it’s been bad with the weather, bad with the flu we’ve had a few things go against us today. Yesterday we went backwards with the set-up so me and the team put our heads together after the wet warm-up this morning and made some changes. The Repsol Honda boys did a good job giving me a lot better bike that I felt good on so we just fought as hard as we could today and ended up fifth.”

Tamada in seventh place said. “I am only partially satisfied of today’s result as after the second free practice session of Friday the feeling with my Honda RC211V had reached a definitely better level than the one of today. I had to struggle all race long with a strong under steering problem, which did not allow me to be sufficiently fast when riding the first corners of the track. Anyway, the condition is absolutely better in comparison to the beginning of the season and this makes me hope for the best for the coming GPs.”

Elias had to settle for ninth and said, “It was a very difficult day. We still had the same problems in the warm-up and could not find a solution. I got a good start but could not then keep up the pace I wanted. Tomorrow we will stay at the circuit to test and I hope to find some solutions.”

A resolute Roberts, forced to retire after the warm-up lap, said, “I really don’t know what it was. The bike started misfiring on the warm-up and then the engine started cutting out completely. Until we take it all down we don’t know what the problem is.”

The World Championship points table now shows Hayden still in command with 83 points, Melandri on 79 tied with Capirossi, followed by Dani with 73 points and Stoner with 65. Rossi lies eighth with 40 points.

Honda riders dominated the 250cc race as rookie Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) won a tight tussle from his team-mate and series points leader Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) with another Honda rookie, Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW), completing the rostrum in third.

Takahashi and Dovi scorched into turn one from second and pole on the grid and set about ratcheting up an unassailable advantage over the field. They held a 3.2 second advantage over Roberto Locatelli (Aprilia) who was running third by lap four of this 26-lap race.

As Takahashi and Dovi settled down to wait for what was always going to be last lap battle, the chasing field spread out with Aoyama and his brother Hiro (KTM) left to dispute third place between themselves on the final lap.

Dovi led the last lap until the final turn where Takahashi slid up the inside on the brakes. The Italian knew the Japanese man would run wider mid-corner and he took the inside but his momentum carried him wide and Taka could get the power on earlier on the inside to broach the line first.

“I’m so happy with this result,” said a delighted Takahashi. “My bike set-up was really good and even though we were all sliding from mid-race distance my bike was very controllable and I knew I would do well at the end.”

Dovi, who is still searching for that elusive first win in the 250cc class, said, “Yuki was faster than me and it was difficult. I tried to keep him out on the last lap because I knew he’d have a go at me. I tried to get him back at the last turn but it wasn’t possible. But I’m happy to take the points.”

Aoyama was happy with his maiden podium. He said, “It was difficult to up the pace but I got faster from the middle of the race. I kept my brother at bay by really attacking the final lap and I’m really happy to be on the podium. Now I want to continue this success.”

The World Championship standings now show Dovi leading on 92 points from Hector Barbera (Aprilia), who finished 7th today, on 78 points with Hiro Aoyama on 75 in fourth. Yuki Takahashi is now fourth on 67.

Reigning 125cc World Champion Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) won his first 125cc Grand Prix of the 2006 season with a somewhat fortunate victory over Aprilia rider Alvaro Bautista, who slowed with machine trouble on the last lap while leading. He eventually finished fourth behind Mika Kallio (KTM) second and Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R) third.

In tricky damp conditions after morning rain, pole man Mattia Pasini (Aprilia) crashed out at the end of the first lap at the final turn followed closely by front row starter Lukas Pesek (Derbi) who crashed out on lap three. This left a four-man group at the front comprising Kallio, Luthi, Lai and Bautista – the race was theirs to dispute.

Luthi led for much of this 24-lap encounter setting a fastest lap on his 14th tour of the track and this was also the lap when Lai ran wide at the Garage Vert turn to drop back by four seconds from the leading trio. Lai had opted for cut slicks in the damp conditions and as the race worn on, these proved not to be the best option.

Kallio had also fitted cut slicks and dropped back in the closing stages to leave Bautista and Luthi to slug it out on the last lap. But when Bautista’s machine slowed the race was Luthi’s.

“I’m very happy to be back on the podium with a win,” said Luthi. “The track was wet in places and that was hard because we chose slicks and it took a while for me to catch the front group as the track dried. I had a plan for the last lap but when Alvaro’s bike stopped I didn’t have to use it.”

Lai said, “My start to the season hasn’t been as good as last year and it’s taken me five races to get on the podium. Conditions were hard and my tyre choice wasn’t the best as the track dried. I’d like to dedicate this win to my team because they’ve worked really hard to get me back on the podium.”

The World Championship points table shows Bautista ahead with 99 points, Kallio second on 76 and Hector Faubel (Aprilia) third overall with 56.



Yuki Takahashi, Andrea Dovizioso, Shuhei Aoyama


Thomas Luthi


MotoGP:

Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda, 1st:
"It was an incredible race! Obviously I am very satisfied as I was not expecting it. At the start the weather conditions were very changeable and I put on a hard rear tyre for the race after talking to our Michelin technician. I'm happy and I want to thank Michelin because it was the perfect tyre choice. I got away well and that allowed me to lead on the first lap. Hopkins then overtook me as my bike was suffering a bit in the first laps, but after a few laps when the tyre temperature increased, the bike began to work better and better and I was able to lap near the front. As the laps went by I started to think about winning and I overtook Loris and then, when the time was right, Pedrosa as well. I want to thank the whole team for the great job they did."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda, 3rd:
"I'm happy with the result because I was lucky today. We are on the podium which is good for me and my team, and also the race was dry. At the beginning I was strong but then I realised Valentino was gaining a few tenths every lap and I was trying not to lose ground on him, yet every time the gap was bigger and I had to focus on controlling the gap behind me. When I took the lead I knew they were catching me and I knew I would only lead for two or three laps. On one lap I made two mistakes and I realised I was going slowly whilst on the limit! So I decided I didn't want to crash like in the race in Turkey and I closed the throttle and focused on finishing the race. But the result is good and we must keep consistent and learn from this."

Casey Stoner, LCR Honda, 4th:
“Fourth place feels pretty damn good and again I’ve answered the people who said I couldn’t race on worn tyres. The battle with Nicky was great, it was a clean fight, but unfortunately I nearly took him out at the start of race -- I’m sorry for that, I just missed my braking a little. The mixed weather cost us set-up time and at the start my bike felt terrible, there was no way I could stay with the front guys -- I couldn’t brake late enough on full tanks. By mid-race the bike started to feel more comfortable so I pushed and started to catch the leaders.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda, 5th:
"It's been a tough weekend, all weekend! Since we got off the plane from China it hasn't come real smooth - it's been bad with the weather, bad with the flu we've had a few things go against us today. Yesterday we went backwards with the set-up so me and team put our heads together after the wet warm-up this morning and made some changes. The Repsol Honda boys did a good job giving me a lot better bike that I felt good on so we just fought as hard as we could toady and ended up fifth. It's not great - it's not the result we want - but we're still holding on to that championship lead and hopefully we can get some dry weather here tomorrow for testing and improve things a little and get ready for the summer. It's on now to Mugello in a couple of weeks and a lot of races coming up. I hated to see that consecutive podium streak end but hey, we'll bounce back and get ready for the next one."

Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda, 6th:
"I am only partially satisfied of today's result as after the second free practice session of Friday the feeling with my Honda RC211V had reached a definitely better level than the one of today. I had to struggle all race long with a strong under steering problem which did not allow me to be sufficiently fast when riding the first corners of the track. Anyway, the condition is absolutely better in comparison to the beginning of the season and this makes me hope for the best for the coming GPs."

Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda, 9th:
"It was a very difficult day. We still had the same problems in the warm-up and could not find a solution. I got a good start but could not then keep up the pace I wanted. Tomorrow we will stay at the circuit to test and I hope to find some solutions. We will look at the situation and I hope to be back where I deserve soon. I want to congratulate Marco who rode a very intelligent race."

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda: dnf - fuel starvation.
"I really don't know what it was. The bike started misfiring on the warm up lap. The fuel pressure was cutting in and out but until we tear it down and look I just cant say what caused it."


250cc:

Yuki Takahashi, Humangest Honda, 1st:
“In the last lap I thought just to overtake Andrea. I tried a couple of times, but he brake stronger and I couldn’t pass him. In the last corner, though, he went a bit wide and so I could pass him. I’m so happy that I still don’t believe I won. At half way to go, the bike started sliding and it wasn’t easy to keep my team-mate’s rhythm. But, my team did a great job and in the last lap I could push and try to win. I did it, and I want to thanks everybody of the team!”

Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Honda, 2nd:
“I didn’t make any mistakes today, but Yuki passed me inside at the penultimate curve. I tried to overtake him again in the inside but he exited faster from the last corner and so he beat me. This was a very nice race! Yuki stayed very close to me and at the end, he rode better than me, congratulations to him. Today we had the same rhythm and I couldn’t go away alone, even though I tried. When Takahashi was in front, the other riders were coming up very quickly and so I decided to take again the lead and make the pace. I knew he would have tried to pass me in the last lap, also because he is very strong in braking. Anyway, I’m very satisfied because here we have imposed the rhythm and have dominated. This is a good result for the championship: I prefer to have 14 points gap in the general standing than have won two races and be behind. I want to thanks Honda and my team because here the bike was really competitive”.

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda, 3rd:
“I’m very very happy. It was difficult to up the pace at the beginning but towards the middle of the race I was able to find my own rhythm. I could see the top group and my brother was pushing hard from the back so I decided to go for them and not to let him pass. I want to thank my team and Alberto and continue like this in the next races.”

Martin Cardenas, Wurth Honda BQR, 13th:
"My start was not very good and I got hit at the chicane and that cost me a couple of positions. The bike was really good today and when I settled down I was able to race with West and Ballerini. But over the final six laps I made a few silly mistakes and they opened a gap on ad I couldn't close it again."

Sebastian Porto, Repsol Honda, 14th:
“It’s a shame because I thought that we could do a good race today. But once again I haven’t felt comfortable on the bike. I tried, but it didn’t work out and the more I tried to follow those ahead of me the harder it was. We’ll stay around tomorrow to do some calmed testing without the pressure of a racing weekend, and we’ll try to find solutions to get this situation straight. The whole team is working hard to help me and I’m really thankful for it.”

Arnaud Vincent, Molenaar Honda, 15th:
"Not so bad my start was very good and I had a good first lap. The engine was very good today after our problems in qualifying. We also did some work on the suspension and all that helped me to a good position that I was able to hold. The only real problem I had was that I chose too soft a compound tyre. But I'm happy and I'm looking forward to Mugello, a good track that I like and one where my best engine will help me get a good result."

Arturo Tizon, Wurth Honda BQR, 16th:
"I am very happy with my race and the bike but a little sad because I didn't get into the points. We run a slightly different geometry on my bike than standard so for Mugello I think we will try the standard set up again. The enigne is really fast so I am looking forward to Mugello."


125cc:

Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda, 1st:
"On the starting grid we saw that there were still some damp patches on the track surface but it was very warm so we went with slick tyres. I took a lot of risks in the opening laps and had some big slides. When the track started to dry I went to the front and opened a gap on the group. Towards the end Alvaro (Bautista) caught me but following him I knew I had a good plan to pass him on the last lap. But his bike stopped and it was easy for me to take the win. It's fantastic to be back at the top of the podium and for this I have to thank my team for all the hard work they have done for me to make this possible."

Fabrizio Lai, Seedorf Racing World, 3rd:
"I want to dedicate this race to my team who have worked so hard for me all these months, and to all those who have believed in me. I think I could have finished better but I made a mistake and lost contact with the leaders. I chose an intermediate tyre for he conditions and pushed really hard on braking to stay with the leader but that's why I made the mistake - I pushed too hard at one point but I am happy with the result."

Sandro Cortese, Elit Honda, 15th:
"I got the perfect start to the race from 17th place on the grid to seventh at the chicane. Everything ran really well for he first three laps then my engine would not rev in top gear at the end of the straight. I fought hard to stay in the group by braking very hard but I had to let them go. It was a pity after such a fantastic start."

Gabor Talmacsi, Humangest Honda,17th:
"After three laps I started losing confidence with the bike and the temperatures of the water started to get higher. I was afraid the engine would break and so I slowed down. Actually, after the practice sessions I thought I could score important points, but I didn’t get any”.

Lorenzo Baroni, Humangest Honda, 19th:
“Still I don’t believe I did such a good race. I made a bad start and many riders crashed in front of me at turn 1. Luckily, I was able to avoid them and not lose time from the group. I pushed as much as I could, the slick tyres choice was correct and so I could take full advantage of the potential of the bike. I deserved a race like this. I lapped with a good rhythm and this is positive also for next race at Mugello”.

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda, 21st:
“The first few laps it seemed that I had improved a little bit but not much; I was in a group of three. I was caught behind a rider and then they opened a gap but I couldn’t catch the gap back. I made a few mistakes, got passed by Hernandez and then I passed him back and then he passed me back again and then I finally made an aggressive pass and managed to break away and catch the group in front. When I arrived to the group I wasn’t aggressive enough, I couldn’t pass and ended up back in twentieth. Then, on the final lap I was pushing to Paveroni but ran over the kerb and got the wrong side of the kerb. Imre Toth passed me and from then on I was trying to pass him but it was never enough and I ended up twenty-first. Maybe or definitely a different approach is needed for Italy, which is the next round.”

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda, 24th:
"The opening laps were really good. It was a great feeling to race in the points scoring positions on the damp track. As the race went on and the track dried I had a little difficulty to up my tempo. But on the closing laps I was faster even though I was sliding a lot with the rear tyre. I am very pleased with my race today."

Mike Di Meglio, FFM Honda, 27th:
“This morning, during the warm up, the track was wet and we could confirm the settings of the bike that suited me well. Unfortunately I crashed but, without damage, and realized the pole position of the warm up.. The track was different for the race; it was drying and I didn’t feel comfortable with the tyres. At the start I couldn’t catch the right group because there was only one dry path but then I pushed hard until the 6th place and after 6 laps I lost the front at the beginning of the “Dunlop chicane”. I could restart and finally I finished in 27th position. I’m a bit disappointed because the bike was very good but with the technical staff we keep on working and I will get my revenge in Italy.”

Aleix Espargaro, Wurth Honda BQR:
Aleix Espargaro did not race due to injuries sustained in race practice.

Michele Conti, Seedorf Racing World: dnf – crash:
"This bike lets you start very fast and it did today. I was about ninth at the first corner and this made me forget my bad qualifying. But I'm really disappointed now because Masbou made a mistake under braking and hit me and I crashed out."

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
France Grand Prix at Le Mans


line
MotoGP
1 Marco MELANDRI / Honda
2 Loris CAPIROSSI / Ducati
3 Dani PEDROSA / Honda
4 Casey STONER / Honda
5 Nicky HAYDEN / Honda
6 Colin EDWARDS / Yamaha
7 Makoto TAMADA / Honda
8 Sete GIBERNAU / Ducati
9 Toni ELIAS / Honda
10 Chris VERMEULEN / Suzuki
11 Carlos CHECA / Yamaha
12 Shinya NAKANO / Kawasaki
13 Alex HOFMANN / Ducati
14 James ELLISON / Yamaha
15 John HOPKINS / Suzuki



Marco Melandri
250cc
1 Yuki TAKAHASHI / Honda
2 Andrea DOVIZIOSO / Honda
3 Shuhei AOYAMA / Honda
4 Hiroshi AOYAMA / KTM
5 Alex DE ANGELIS / Aprilia
6 Roberto LOCATELLI / Aprilia
7 Hector BARBERA / Aprilia
8 Marco SIMONCELLI / Gilera
9 Sylvain GUINTOLI / Aprilia
10 Jakub SMRZ / Aprilia
11 Anthony WEST / Aprilia
12 Andrea BALLERINI / Aprilia
13 Martin CARDENAS / Honda
14 Sebastian PORTO / Honda
15 Arnaud VINCENT / Honda
 
125cc
1 Thomas LUTHI / Honda
2 Mika KALLIO / KTM
3 Fabrizio LAI / Honda
4 Alvaro BAUTISTA / Aprilia
5 Pablo NIETO / Aprilia
6 Raffaele DE ROSA / Aprilia
7 Joan OLIVE / Aprilia
8 Sergio GADEA / Aprilia
9 Andrea IANNONE / Aprilia
10 Simone CORSI / Gilera
11 Angel RODRIGUEZ / Aprilia
12 Julian SIMON / KTM
13 Tomoyoshi KOYAMA / Malaguti
14 Hector FAUBEL / Aprilia
15 Sandro CORTESE / Honda
 

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