Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took over the MotoGP World Championship lead by winning the French Grand Prix on a wet but drying Le Mans Bugatti circuit on Sunday. Pedrosa overcame several mistakes while attempting to pull away from Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso, who managed to lead for a good portion of the race after grabbing the holeshot at the start from his front row grid position. Dovisioso and Pedrosa traded the lead spot several times before Pedrosa took the lead for good on lap 13, eventually pulling away to lead by more than seven seconds before cruising in to win by almost five seconds over a charging Cal Crutchlow, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider grabbing his best career MotoGP finish.
Even more impressive, however, was the charge to the podium made by Pedrosa’s teammate Marc Marquez. After getting a terrible start from pole position and getting swallowed up by the pack, Marquez was mired in eighth place for a number of laps. The young Spaniard began to work his way forward, but a few mistakes—including running off at the La Chappelle curve where Pedrosa suffered a similar error—blunted his charge. Marquez didn’t give up though, and he continued to set the quickest laps of the race in his first real wet MotoGP event. He eventually caught and passed Dovisioso for the final podium spot with three laps to go.
The Yamaha Factory Racing...
The Yamaha Factory Racing team had a forgettable race, with Jorge Lorenzo (99) fading to 7th place, and Valentino Rossi (46) crashing, remounting to finish 12th.
The Factory Yamaha Racing squad had a race they’d rather forget, with Jorge Lorenzo quickly fading from second spot in the opening laps with tire grip issues to an eventual seventh place finish. Teammate Valentino Rossi was in the mix at the front for the first half of the race, but he fell off at La Chappelle as well, remounting to finish 12th. Lorenzo’s subpar finish coupled with Pedrosa’s victory, means that the reigning World Champion is now 15 points behind Pedrosa and nine points behind Marquez in the 2013 title chase.
After finally grabbing the...
After finally grabbing the lead for good from Ducati's Andrea Dovisioso (4), Pedrosa pulled away to win by almost five seconds.
“I’m so happy with this one because in the finish line, I got some slides and I lost some position sliding at the start but recovered at the first turn”, said Pedrosa. “I had no grip on the rear, but tried to stay in front with Dovi (Dovizioso) and Lorenzo. I started to have some good feeling in the wet, so I tried to push but made a couple of mistakes and run wide, almost (off the track) two times. I was able to hang on and just keep up the rhythm, so I could escape out in front and ride with good pace. The bike was working well; at the end of the race the drying line in the last laps made it difficult because the rear tire was spinning a lot. But I was able to manage the gap and bring home this victory which is so special.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow finished a MotoGP career best second at Le Mans.
Crutchlow’s race to second was definitely one of the hero rides of the weekend, after the British rider suffered a nasty highside in the last free practice on Saturday that resulted in a hairline fracture of his right shin. “I’m really happy to get my best ever result in MotoGP and the whole team did an incredible job and deserves this result,” remarked Crutchlow. “We showed our fast pace in the dry, we showed our pace in the wet and I think everybody is aware we are not here through luck. It’s even better and more important because this is the home race for Tech 3 and Monster Energy sponsors the event. So to be the best and only Yamaha on the podium feels really good.
“My start was not the best and it took me a bit of time to get temperature into the tires. But once I managed that I felt really comfortable. When I saw Andrea and Dani opening a small gap to Valentino I had to make a move because I was afraid they would be too far ahead to try and catch later in the race. And when I saw Marquez recovering time on my pit board I had to pass Andrea otherwise he might have caught both of us during the last laps. I’m really happy with how things went, especially after the crash yesterday. The wet track obviously put less stress on my body but it was tough riding injured in such tough conditions. From now on I just hope we can be injury free and go to Mugello to put on the same show as we did here today.”
Marc Marquez (93) charged...
Marc Marquez (93) charged to third place from a midpack start, keeping his podium finish record for 2013 intact.
“This podium almost counts as a win as it was my first wet race in MotoGP and I wasn't expecting to finish in the top three,” said Marquez after the race. “Also, bearing in mind that I had dropped quite far back from the front, third place and 16 points is an important achievement for the World Championship. We can say that this was a very good weekend; we had a good setting for the dry, but when it rained it was up to me to learn from the mistakes that I made at the start of the race. I need to improve, because I was finding it hard to ride with water on the track.”
MotoGP Le Mans race results:
1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha
3. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda
4. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati
5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati
6. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda
7. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha
8. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati
9. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha
10. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda
11. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati
12. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia
14. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW
15. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia
16. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki
17. Michael Laverty (GBR) ART/Aprilia
18. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia
DNF Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia
DNF Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW
DNF Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda