Jorge Lorenzo claimed a dominant victory and moved into the MotoGP championship lead with a stunning ride at Le Mans. Behind him there was a moment of utter joy for Valentino Rossi, who defeated Casey Stoner in a thrilling last-lap duel to take his best ever finish with Ducati in second.
Lorenzo’s Yamaha dominated from the front as he surged into the lead on the opening lap and quickly built a gap that would never get below 2 seconds as Stoner chased behind in the early laps. Meanwhile a resurgent Rossi showed how good the Ducati is in the wet as he battled to claim another French Grand Prix podium.
The Italian battled with the Tech 3 Yamaha’s early on for the last podium spot as Lorenzo and Stoner rode off into the distance. Having finally bested the Tech 3′s of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow; Rossi began to rapidly close down Stoner. Having spent the last five laps swarming over the back of the reigning world champion’s Honda. Rossi and Stoner rolled back the years to battle ferociously on the track. Twice Rossi got through only for Stoner to immediately get back past. In a grandstand moment that elicited huge cheers from the crowd; Rossi dived down the inside at the first chicane on the final lap and made the move stick. He pulled out a gap on Stoner over the rest of the lap to seal second.
Stoner losing second to Rossi gave Lorenzo a further boost as it means that he know has an eight point lead in the championship over Stoner having came into the race a point behind.
Lorenzo was seemingly always in control; his stunning opening lap gave him a near two second advantage. He pulled away further as the race progressed and bar Stoner closing the gap for a few laps never looked hassled. When Lorenzo responded to Stoner’s mid-race charge he expanded the gap at a staggering rate before slowing in the closing laps to ensure his victory.
Pole-man Dani Pedrosa struggled in the race and fell back early on behind Rossi and the battling Tech 3‘s to a rather anonymous 6th place before crashes would move him up the order.
In the early laps it looked like there may be a 3 way fight between Rossi and the Tech 3 bikes for third prior to Cal Crutchlow losing control and remounting. Once Rossi had got to the front of that battle he started to close the gap to Stoner with Dovizioso in tow. Unfortunately for Dovizioso he would later fall trying to keep pace with Rossi as they closed in on Stoner.
Much like team-mate Crutchlow, Dovizioso was able to get back on his bike and went onto beat his team-mate with a 7th placed finish. Crutchlow was just 6 seconds further down the road in 8th. Ultimately it’s a disappointing race for Tech 3 in their home Grand Prix as they would have been hoping for a podium with the pace that both bikes had shown this weekend.
Their falls allowed Pedrosa to take fourth, whilst there was celebration in the garage of LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl who claimed a career best finish of fifth in Moto GP. Having had a quiet race, Rossi’s Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden finished sixth just behind Bradl having rapidly closed the gap between them from 8 seconds to less than half a second in the final few laps.
The lead privateer Ducati was the Pramac Ducati of Hector Barbera, who beat long-time rival Alvaro Bautista‘s Gresini Honda to claim 9th with his fellow Spaniard in 10th.
The lead CRT rider was Paul Bird’s James Ellison who triumphed in a three-way battle with Danilo Petrucci and Mattia Pasini to finish top of the CRT pile in 11th. Petrucci had looked the CRT bike to beat for most of the day before crashing 4 laps from home.
As Lorenzo dominated up front, the second works Yamaha of Ben Spies endured another horrid race would finish 16th. A poor start dropped the Texan down the field and he never really recovered. Speculation regarding his future in the works Yamaha team is likely to continue as his performances continue to be below par when compared with his team-mate and the privateer bikes of Crutchlow and Dovizioso.
Karel Abraham’s miserable season also continued as he yet again failed to finish. The Czech rider is yet to finish a Grand Prix this season.
Unofficial Results – 28 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 49m39.743s
2. Valentino Rossi Ducati + 9.905s
3. Casey Stoner Honda + 11.298s
4. Dani Pedrosa Honda + 29.361s
5. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda + 32.477s
6. Nicky Hayden Ducati + 32.842s
7. Andrea Dovizioso Tech 3 Yamaha + 59.759s
8. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha + 1m05.152s
9. Hector Barbera Pramac Ducati + 1m07.846s
10. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda + 1m13.193s
11. James Ellison Paul Bird Aprilia + 1m26.663s
12. Mattia Pasini Speed Master Aprilia + 1m27.633s
13. Aleix Espargaro Aspar Aprilia + 1 lap
14. Michele Pirro Gresini FTR-Honda + 1 lap
15. Yonny Hernandez Avintia FTR-Kawasaki + 1 lap
16. Ben Spies Yamaha + 1 lap
17. Chris Vermeulen Forward Suter-BMW + 2 laps
18. Ivan Silva Avintia Inmotec-Kawasaki + 2 laps
Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Aprilia 24 laps
Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 22 laps
Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 11 laps
Luthi claims Moto2 win at Le Mans
Thomas Luthi claimed his victory of the season in a war of attrition at the Le Mans circuit in France. The Swiss rider remained calm in the tricky conditions to control the race from the front and score a mightily impressive victory that left him just 3 points from the lead of the championship.
Championship favourite and points leader going into the race Marc Marquez suffered his first retirement since Silverstone last year, crashing out while running fifth just 10 laps into the race. A spate of late incidents allowed Pol Espargaro to move up to his eventual sixth place and saw him move one point clear of his fellow Spaniard Marquez to claim the championship lead.
Starting from second, Luthi stayed near the front during the early chaos and then moved into the lead seven laps in by overtaking Espargaro. The chasing pack initially tried to stay with him, but it did not take long for Luthi to extend his lead past the three-second mark as he raced off into the distance. After battling his way up to second; last year’s 125cc runner-up Johann Zarco had threatened to turn the race into a grandstand finish to the delight of French crowd. He appeared to be in full on win it or bin it mode when closing on Luthi in the final laps. As the rain started pouring again Zarco closed the gap further but with just four to run the JIR Motobi rider high-sided out at Turn 10 and was left ruing a lost podium finish..
The weather kept things tense and worsened in the final laps. With his main challenger in Zarco having hit the scenery, Luthi was able to come home untroubled and collect his third victory in three different classes at Le Mans (having previously won in 125cc, 250cc and now Moto2 at the circuit).
Claudio Corti on the Italtrans Kalex claimed his first grand prix podium in second, while Marc VDS’ Scott Redding claimed his first podium of the year in third. The wet conditions helping Redding to protect his tyres sufficiently for him to get the podium his talent so richly deserves.
The difficult conditions did not see the same amount of crashes as in Moto3′s earlier crash fest of a race, but accidents where still plentiful and definitely played a part in the final outcome of the race with the likes of Marquez and Zarco who had been potential challengers crashing out. An early impressive performance from Gino Rea who was riding a Suter chassis for the first time ended in the gravel trap. Rea had found himself battling for a podium having started way down the grid.
His fellow Briton Tech 3′s Bradley Smith was another to suffer in the conditions. Up to fourth in the opening stages, he ran wide and lost huge ground on the eighth lap. Smith fought his way back and was set to finish sixth, but lost the bike on the final turn and eventually dragged it to 10th.
His woe was Espargaro’s gain, as the Pons Kalex rider who had lead in the early stages of the race claimed sixth, and with it the points lead. It was not a bad day for the Pons rider who had looked likely to have a disappointing end to a promising day as he fell down the field at one point.
Andrea Iannone on his Speed Master took fourth after having to take avoiding action at the first corner of the race as Corsi fell. Redding’s Marc VDS team-mate Mika Kallio finished ahead of Espargaro in fifth.
Wet weather expert Anthony West took seventh ahead of Max Neukirchner’s Kiefer Kalex and Gresini’s Ratthapark Wilairot who were eight and ninth respectively, ahead of the recovering Smith.
An honourable mention has to go out to Julian Simon who pushed his bike across the line after he crashed at the last corner on the last lap. He picked up three points for his trouble and a few cheers from the French crowd.
The day belonged to Luthi however who having had a slightly disappointing start to the season; has no immersed himself in the Moto2 championship battle.
Unofficial Results – 26 laps:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Thomas Luthi Paddock Suter 50m02.816s
2. Claudio Corti Italtrans Kalex + 6.354s
3. Scott Redding Marc VDS Kalex + 12.162s
4. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Speed Up + 16.338s
5. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Kalex + 19.278s
6. Pol Espargaro Pons Kalex + 20.874s
7. Anthony West QMMF Moriwaki + 21.705s
8. Max Neukirchner Kiefer Kalex + 28.117s
9. Ratthapark Wilairot Gresini Suter + 38.317s
10. Bradley Smith Tech 3 + 40.940s
11. Esteve Rabat Pons Kalex + 44.077s
12. Toni Elias Aspar Suter + 59.583s
13. Julian Simon Avintia Suter + 1m01.785s
14. Nico Terol Aspar Suter + 1m03.430s
15. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter + 1m10.341s
16. Roberto Rolfo Technomag-CIP Suter + 1m22.145s
17. Axel Pons Pons Kalex + 1m46.994s
18. Yuki Takahashi Forward Suter + 1 lap
19. Marco Colandrea SAG FTR + 1 lap
Johann Zarco JIR Motobi 21 laps
Elena Rosell QMMF Moriwaki 18 laps
Takaaki Nakagami Italtrans Kalex 17 laps
Mike di Meglio Speed Master Speed Up 16 laps
Ricard Cardus Arguinano AJR 13 laps
Marc Marquez Monlau Suter 11 laps
Gino Rea Gresini Suter 7 laps
Alexander Lundh MZ 7 laps
Alex de Angelis Forward Suter 3 laps
Angel Rodriguez SAG Bimota 2 laps
Simone Corsi Ioda FTR 2 laps
Randy Krummenacher Switzerland Kalex 1 lap
Rossi singing in the rain in Moto3
Louis Rossi gave the massive French crowd reason to cheer in the pouring rain at Le Mans as he claimed his first Grand Prix win in the Moto3 class. The French rider kept his nerve as no fewer than four previous leaders crashed out of a dramatic Moto3 race.
In an amazing race where more than half of the field did not see the finish; it was Rossi who would make his way through the treacherous conditions to a dream home victory by more than 27 seconds.
The FTR-Honda shod Rossi had not even been involved in the fight for a podium position during the opening half of the race, but in a race where staying on track was key he would move up the field as others went into the scenery. The race took a dramatic turn 12 laps from the end when then leader Hector Faubel fell immediately followed by Jakub Kornfeil who was in third at the next corner.
Just a lap later and another former leader Luis Salom’s Kalex crashed out from fourth. With all of this happening it promoted Miguel Oliveira into the lead with Maverick Vinales and Rossi filling out the top three.
Oliveira, who had been shadowing Faubel when the he he fell from the lead. Oliveira began to stretch away but nine laps from the finish he too crashed, losing the front at the final corner.
Vinales therefore inherited the provisional lead of both the race and the championship, but it lasted all of one lap as he high-sided at exactly the same turn.
Rossi, to the delight of the crowd moved into a 22 second lead which he gradually extended as others struggled in the conditions to keep pace. The luxury of this gap allowed him to back off completely in the final lap and cruise to the finish line, to the adulation of the soaked grandstands. The cheers of the crowd as Rossi crossed the line will have filled the young Frenchman with joy as he claimed a historic win. Rossi’s previous best finish was 9th despite showing great promise.
The drama behind him was not complete; championship leader Sandro Cortese on his KTM who had spent most of the early laps at the bottom of the top 10 fell from second three laps from the finish. In a heroic move he held onto the bike as it slid into the run off area; was able to keep the bike going and eventually finished sixth place to extend his points lead.
Alberto Moncayo saved something for his Aspar squad after team-mate Faubel’s crash by finishing second. Behind him was the battle of the youngsters as there was a debut podium for 16-year-old Alex Rins who battled Gresini‘s Niccolo Antonelli to the final lap for the final podium position. Antonelli somehow held onto his bike as he lost control on the last lap but did enough to to stay onboard and finish fourth.
All Timing Unofficial:
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time/Gap
1. Louis Rossi Germany FTR-Honda 49m12.390s
2. Alberto Moncayo Aspar Kalex-KTM + 27.348s
3. Alex Rins Monlau Honda + 28.899s
4. Niccolo Antonelli Gresini Honda + 33.195s
5. Arthur Sissis Ajo KTM + 36.989s
6. Sandro Cortese Ajo KTM + 45.312s
7. Jasper Iwema FGR-Honda + 58.645s
8. Alan Techer Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda + 1m05.022s
9. Ivan Moreno Laglisse FTR-Honda + 1m09.194s
10. Giulian Pedone Ambrogio Oral + 1m45.751s
11. Jonas Folger Ioda + 1 lap
12. Marcel Schrotter Mahindra + 1 lap
13. Kevin Hanus Thomas Sabo Honda + 1 lap
14. Alessandro Tonucci Italia FMI FTR-Honda + 2 laps
15. Niklas Ajo TT Motion KTM + 4 laps