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MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012

Round 04: France

  • Overview
  • Race Results
  • Qualifying
  • Photo
France
France
May 20, 2012

Stoner Third, Pedrosa Fourth at Soaking Le Man

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) rode to a solid third-place finish in treacherous wet conditions at Le Mans today. Team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) finished one place behind the Australian.

Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)

MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) rode to a heroic fifth-place finish, despite suffering the effects of a nasty tumble during yesterday’s qualifying session.

Stoner – who announced last Thursday that he will retire from the sport at the end of this year – looked like he might challenge race winner Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) for the lead during the mid-stages of the race. After reducing the gap on his title rival he found he was unable to maintain his attacking pace once the track began to dry and his rear tyre overheated. During the final laps he came under pressure from Valentino Rossi (Ducati) who was able to sneak past into second place on the final lap.

After four rounds Stoner and Lorenzo have won two races each, but today’s result moves the Spaniard back into the title lead he had held following his success in last month’s season-opening Qatar GP. Eight points now separate the pair with 14 rounds still to go.

During the early laps Pedrosa suffered from a lack of temperature in the rear tyre – an issue that also hampered Stoner – and the Spaniard decided that this was one of those races in which it would be foolish to take too many risks. His decision paid dividends when Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso slid off in front of him, promoting him to fourth.

Moto2 World Champion Bradl had another impressive ride, scoring his best MotoGP result despite yesterday’s tumble. The German made a stunning start from 13th on the grid and spent much of the race chasing Pedrosa, then resisted pressure from Nicky Hayden (Ducati) during the later laps.

Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) was not able to get comfortable in the conditions and opted to settle for a finish rather than risk a crash. He brought his RCV home in tenth place.

Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) had an altogether tougher time on his Fireblade-powered CRT machine. He struggled with electronics issues and could only manage 14th place, a lap down on the winner.

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) dominated the soaking Moto2 race, beating Claudio Corti (Italtrans Racing – Kalex) by more than six seconds. The final podium place went to Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex).

There were plenty of tumbles in the 26-lap event, but Luthi rode a perfect race, running with the lead pack during the early stages as he waited for his rear tyre to warm up. He then moved into the lead at one-third distance, from where he built a comfortable three-second advantage. He looked safe in first position until he came under pressure from local Johann Zarco (JIR Moto2 – Motobi). The Frenchman was hoping to repeat the feat of compatriot Louis Rossi, who had won the earlier Moto3 race, but he overdid it with four laps to go, crashing out at the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane.

That took the pressure off Luthi who was delighted with his second Moto2 win, following on from his debut success in the class at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Corti also rode well, coming through from ninth on the grid to score his first Grand Prix podium result. Redding’s determined ride to third place gave him his first podium since the 2010 Australian Grand Prix.

Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) crossed the line in fourth place, the Italian dropping back after threatening Redding in the latter stages. Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex) won a frantic battle for fifth, just beating lap-one leader Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex) whose sixth-place finish moved him into the lead of the Honda-powered World Championship, just one point ahead of Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) who was one of today’s fallers. Marquez slid off at the same corner that claimed Zarco while running fourth, just before half distance. Former GP winner Anthony West (QMMF Racing – Moriwaki) had his first points score of the year in seventh position.

Luthi’s dominant victory moves him to within two points of Marquez, who had won two of the first three races.

In the new Moto3 class local Louis Rossi (Racing Team Germany – FTR Honda) won a fairytale victory. The 22-year-old from Le Mans survived the treacherous wet conditions to win by a remarkable 27 seconds after many of his rivals had fallen by the wayside. Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) made it two Honda-powered machines on the podium, the 16-year-old Spaniard finishing in third place, behind Alberto Moncayo (KTM).

Rossi had a charging race from 15th on the grid, the Frenchman keeping his head while many of his rivals lost theirs and fell in front of him. Among the earlier leaders who crashed were Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda) and Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda), who slid out of first place on laps 16 and 17. Those two tumbles promoted Rossi to first place with eight laps to go.

Niccolo Antonelli (San Carlo Gresini – FTR Honda) made it three Hondas in the top four, the 16-year-old Italian rookie fighting Rins for third place until he had a huge moment on the last lap that had him off the track and fighting for control. Antonelli regained the tarmac to score his best Grand Prix finish. Rins’ results was especially impressive since he fractured the little finger in his right hand when he crashed yesterday.

The MotoGP circus now returns southward for the Catalan Grand Prix at Catalunya on June 1/2/3.

Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)zoom
Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)
Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)zoom
Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)

MotoGP

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: 3rd
“I was pretty happy to hold on for a podium today. In the early stages Cal, Valentino and Dovi were behind me putting on a lot of pressure, but we managed to pull a small gap on them as I was chasing Jorge. Then as soon as the rain stopped and the track was less wet, our tyre temperatures got too high, we started spinning and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I thought the three of them would catch up and perhaps overtake me, but we managed to hold on for third. I enjoyed the battle with Valentino at the end, there was clean overtaking and we swapped positions a few times, but in the end we knew that Valentino had better pace than us and after he passed there was no way I could stay with him. We did everything we could today and to come away with a podium is a good result.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 4th
“I had no traction out of the corners, especially in first and second gear, and I wasn’t able to advance. We made a few changes to the configuration of the bike after warm-up, hoping to improve it a bit. In the end it was other way around, but these things can happen. In the race I immediately realised it was not my day, not a day to take risks and it was important to simply reach the best position. I was lucky − after the crashes of both Tech 3 Yamaha − to finish fourth. Wet races can be like this and today was just not our day. We lost many points to Lorenzo, but the Championship is very long and we will have our time. This race is over and we must now think towards Catalunya. I’m really looking forward to going there. It’s a circuit that motivates me a lot and I will have all my family and friends with me. The team is working very well, we have a good bike and we’ve been fast in every race, but we need to be determined. Let’s see if we can speed up a little and take our first win of the season in Catalunya.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 5th
“This is a fantastic feeling! I am very happy and the whole team is happy too: this makes me very proud. Honestly I think nobody was expecting such a good result in my fourth race in this class. In general the weekend was tough because we were struggling a lot in finding the right set-up during the dry sessions and I also had a big crash in yesterday’s qualifying. Finally it rained before the race and I knew we had a good package for the wet. Already on my sighting lap I could feel that the bike was good and my first lap was amazing. After the first split I was in seventh. After that I rode behind Pedrosa for a long time. He has a very precise riding style and I learnt a lot from him. When it started to dry I could ride with more confidence, adapting to the situation even if Hayden was trying to catch me.”
Alvaro Bautista, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 10th
“I didn’t feel in tune with the bike and I couldn’t keep up with the group of riders ahead of me. The only option was to try and finish the race as best I could, and that is what I managed to do. I’m rather disappointed with how things went today.”
Michel Pirro, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 14th
“Unfortunately, this is the first time that I have been lapped in my life, and that left me feeling very bitter. The electronics didn’t help me at all, and without electronics things become very difficult in the wet. I just tried to take home the best result that I could, and I remain very disappointed.”

Moto2

Thomas Luthi, Interwetten - Paddock-Suter: race winner
“It was a very difficult race. In the beginning it was important to find a good rhythm, but I was having many slides from the rear and I could see it was the same for Scott in front of me. Whenever I touched the throttle with any lean angle I lost the rear. It seemed like Pol didn’t have the same problem and he made a small gap. I thought, okay, settle down, bring in the tyre and then start to push. I found my rhythm, got into the lead and made a gap. But every lap was at the limit and halfway through the rain came again and Zarco was catching me fast. If he had passed me I would have had to let him go. But then he crashed and things became a little bit easier for me. I have to say thank you to the team. There’s a great spirit within our team and I think we’re only get stronger, which gives me a lot of motivation. Early in the race I had lots of slides from the rear, but I could see that the other guys couldn’t go any faster. So I tried to get into a rhythm, take the lead and make a gap, and it happened. This is an important day for the championship.”
Claudio Corti, Italtrans Racing - Kalex: 2nd
“I never go fast in the wet, so this result is unbelievable. I don’t like the rain and I don’t like this track, so this is very strange! In the beginning I was with many other riders, trying to keep my concentration. Then when De Angelis crashed and was sliding along in the middle of the track I lost a bit of concentration. After that I tried again and rode some good lap times, trying to catch the guys in front. Then when Zarco crashed in front of me I decided it was better to relax a bit and make sure of the podium.”
Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team - Kalex: 3rd
“We’ve been close all season after we made the gamble to switch to a Kalex chassis. We were close in Qatar, and then I messed up at Estoril. I’ve been trying to get the balance right, trying to calm myself down because I’ve been riding too aggressively. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit and I’m still going fast so that’s good. It took time for my rear tyre to come in − I was losing the rear every time I touched the gas. It took time for the tyre to come in. After that I was focused on not making any mistakes. Today it was all about being smooth and consistent.”

Moto3

Louis Rossi, Racing Team Germany - FTR Honda: race winner
“The conditions were horrible, but finally the race had a very nice end for me! To win here, in my home country, in my home town is incredible. I think I need some time to go back to my box and think about what has happened! The race was so long and the last seven laps were so hard. I was trying not to make mistakes and I was talking to myself, telling myself to keep concentrated. I was trying to brake at the same points and give gas at the same points, but with a little more safety. This was the first time in a long time that I’ve led a race! It will be different in the dry. We need to work some more if we are to be able to score podiums in dry conditions.”
Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0.0 - Suter Honda: 3rd
“I still don’t believe I got a podium! It was an unexpected result because we started from 26th on the grid. I went into the race with the aim of enjoying myself and doing my best. Many riders crashed and this allowed me to move up a few positions which motivated me even more. And finally I finished third which is a great result. My injured right hand didn’t bother me much. Before the race I had some painkilling medication, so I was able to ride without many problems.”
Niccolo Antonelli, San Carlo Gresini - FTR Honda: 4th
“We didn’t expect this result after yesterday’s crash in qualifying, but the race went perfectly even though I didn’t get a great start. Lap by lap I got more and more confident with the bike − which the engineers had set up perfectly − and I started making up positions. When I caught Rins I couldn’t believe I was fighting for the podium but I kept pushing hard until the end when I almost crashed and had to back off. Fourth place after eighth at Jerez and sixth at Estoril shows we are making progress and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)zoom
Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix
Round 04: France

MotoGP
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
2 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
3 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
5 Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)
6 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
7 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
9 Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)
10 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)
11 James ELLISON (Paul Bird Motorsport)
12 Mattia PASINI (Speed Master)
13 Aleix ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar)
14 Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)
15 Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)
Moto2
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)
2 Claudio CORTI (Italtrans Racing Team)
3 Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)
4 Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)
5 Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)
6 Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)
7 Anthony WEST (QMMF RAcing Team)
8 Max NEUKIRCHNER (Kiefer Racing)
9 Ratthapark WILAIROT (Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2)
10 Bradley SMITH (Tech 3 Racing)
11 Esteve RABAT (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)
12 Toni ELIAS (Mapfre Aspar Team)
13 Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)
14 Nicolas TEROL (Mapfre Aspar Team)
15 Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)
Moto3
Rank Rider (Team)
1 Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)
2 Alberto MONCAYO (Bankia Aspar Team)
3 Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)
4 Niccolo` ANTONELLI (San Carlo Gresini Moto3)
5 Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
6 Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)
7 Jasper IWEMA (Moto FGR)
8 Alan TECHER (Technomag-CIP-TSR)
9 Ivan MORENO (Andalucia JHK Laglisse)
10 Giulian PEDONE (Ambrogio Next Racing)
11 Jonas FOLGER (IodaRacing Project)
12 Marcel SCHROTTER (Mahindra Racing)
13 Kevin HANUS (Thomas Sabo GP Team)
14 Alessandro TONUCCI(Team Italia FMI)
15 Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)

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