The Racing Capital
of the World
May 15, 2011 | By Paul Kelly
2007 World Champion Casey Stoner completed a weekend of domination for Honda by winning the Grand Prix of France on May 15, closing to within 12 points of MotoGP leader Jorge Lorenzo.
Stoner beat Andrea Dovizioso by 14.214 seconds on his Repsol Honda for his second victory of the season, both coming from the pole. Stoner led all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race warm-up.
Seven-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi finished third, just .350 of a second behind Dovizioso, for his first podium with the Ducati Team.
Defending World Champion Lorenzo leads Stoner, 78-66, in the points after finishing fourth on his Yamaha. Marco Simoncelli was fifth on his San Carlo Honda Gresini after yet again creating controversy in the pivotal incident of the 28-lap race.
Stoner and teammate Dani Pedrosa traded the lead early in the race, with Stoner taking the lead for good near the halfway point. Once Pedrosa lost touch with Stoner, he started to drop closer to the charging Simoncelli.
Simoncelli passed Pedrosa for second early on Lap 18. But later that lap, Pedrosa regained second on the back straightaway. Simoncelli, who has angered a few riders this season with his aggressive tactics, countered later that lap with a brash move into a series of S-turns to pass Pedrosa again for second.
That maneuver caused 2010 Red Bull Indianapolis GP winner Pedrosa to clip the back of Simoncelli’s bike, throwing Pedrosa to the ground hard. Pedrosa suffered a broken collarbone in the crash, an injury he suffered last season and for which he required additional corrective surgery last month.
Simoncelli was assessed a ride-through penalty.
“He just came into me releasing the brakes, and I could do nothing,” Pedrosa said of Simoncelli. “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.”
Dovizioso and Rossi then took the spotlight with a spirited, clean duel for second over the last four laps.
2010 Rookie of the Year Ben Spies led the three American riders with a sixth-place finish on his Yamaha. Nicky Hayden finished seventh on his Ducati. Colin Edwards recovered from a crash to finish 13th on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
The next race is the Grand Prix of Catalunya on June 5 at Barcelona, Spain. The Red Bull Indianapolis GP is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
LE MANS, France – Results of the 28-lap Grand Prix of France MotoGP race, with position, rider, country, motorcycle, time behind winner. All riders on Bridgestone tires:
1. Casey Stoner Australia Ducati
2. Andrea Dovizioso Italy Honda +14.214
3. Valentino Rossi Italy Ducati +14.564
4. Jorge Lorenzo Spain Yamaha +21.075
5. Marco Simoncelli Italy Honda +31.245
6. Ben Spies United States Yamaha +31.609
7. Nicky Hayden United States Ducati +35.566
8. Hiroshi Aoyama Japan Honda +51.502
9. Hector Barbera Spain Ducati +1:03.731
10. Karel Abraham Czech Republic Ducati +1:03.885
11. Toni Elias Spain Honda +1:04.068
12. Alvaro Bautista Spain Suzuki +1:04.192
13. Colin Edwards United States Yamaha +2 laps
NC Loris Capirossi Italy Ducati +7 laps
NC Dani Pedrosa Spain Honda +11 laps
NC Cal Crutchlow Great Britain Yamaha +22 laps
NC Randy de Puniet France Ducati +27 laps
NC – Not classified
Fastest lap: Pedrosa, 1:33.617, Lap 9; Pole lap: Stoner, 1:33.153
Riders: Lorenzo 78, Stoner 66, Pedrosa 61, Dovizioso 50, Rossi 47, Hayden 39, Aoyama 36, Simoncelli 22, Edwards 21, Barbera 21, Crutchlow 21, Spies 20, Abraham 18, Elias 17, Capirossi 9, Bautista 7, De Puniet 6, Hopkins 6.
Manufacturers: Honda 95, Yamaha 78, Ducati 52, Suzuki 13.
CASEY STONER (Repsol Honda Team, 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 setup 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 to, 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 Team, second): “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 a 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 from the beginning. Dani today was very unlucky, and I hope he can recover soon.”
VALENTINO ROSSI (Ducati Team, third): “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.”
AMERICAN RIDER QUOTES
BEN SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing, sixth): “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