Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Le Mans:
Jorge Lorenzo has wrenched back the momentum of the 2012 championship by taking a supreme victory at the French Grand Prix in Le Mans. Lorenzo dominated almost from the start to take the lead in the championship by 8 points.
With Dani Pedrosa on pole, the question of who would be first into the chicane at Le Mans was never in doubt. The Spaniard led the field through the first few corners, but Jorge Lorenzo was a man on a mission from the start. The 2010 World Champion was up to 2nd after the first couple of corners, and snapping at the heels of the Pedrosa as they rounded Le Musee. At the double right at Garage Vert, Lorenzo was past, and was gone. The Spaniard pushed hard in the early stages to get a gap, and though Casey Stoner closed up in the middle part of the race, there was no one who could match his pace. Lorenzo managed the gap to come home with a comfortable lead and a massively deserved victory.
Though Lorenzo effectively had the race won before the first lap was even halfway done, the battle behind him turned out to be one for the ages, for many reasons. Dani Pedrosa would not capitalize on his rocket start, the Repsol Honda man going backwards after the first few corners. Teammate Casey Stoner came past on the second lap, and Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow would follow in short order, leaving Pedrosa to fend off Stefan Bradl further down the order. Stoner held station with Lorenzo at first, though the Spaniard was a long way ahead, before starting to close in on him a little during the middle section of the race. But at around the two-thirds mark, Stoner's pace began to flag, and the group behind started to close.
That group, containing Valentino Rossi on the Ducati, and the two Monster Tech 3 Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso, provided the best entertainment of the day, at least until they caught up with Stoner. Rossi led the chase for the most part, but both Crutchlow and Dovizioso took their turns at the head of the group. Places were swapped, and quarter was neither given nor asked, but as the race went on, Rossi emerged as the stronger of the three. With the pace at this level, mistakes were inevitable, and Crutchlow was the first to falter, falling on lap 19 at the chicane, though he would manage to rejoin the race. Once Rossi was past Dovizioso and chasing Stoner, Dovizioso too would fall, but like his teammate, would rejoin and finish, the two teammates scoring a Tech 3 1-2, but much further down the field than team boss Herve Poncharal had hoped for.
Having shaken off Dovizioso, Rossi set his sights on Stoner, and with the Australian's pace starting to flag, the gap between the two bitter rivals would not hold. While catching Stoner was relatively easy, getting past would not be, both men determined not to cede an inch to one another. Where Rossi thrust, Stoner parried, the pair swapping places as the laps began to tick off, but on the penultimate lap, Rossi's challenge would prove too strong for the Australian. A jubilant Valentino Rossi would cross the line in 2nd, his best ever result on the Ducati and a repeat of the podium at Le Mans last year. Stoner would be forced to settle for 3rd, limiting the damage to his championship challenge, and extending his podium streak to 19 races.
Dani Pedrosa came home a lonely 4th, boosted a couple of places by the mistakes of the Tech 3 riders, while Stefan Bradl rode an outstanding race to come home in 5th, his best ever result in MotoGP. Nicky Hayden made it two Ducatis in the top 6, finishing ahead of the crashed Tech 3 riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, both of whom had looked in with a genuine shout at their first podium of the year at Le Mans. Hector Barbera came home in 9th, while Alvaro Bautista could not capitalize on the strong pace he had shown in practice, to take 10th. After having the threat of a sacking hanging over his head early in the season, a little help from Aprilia with the electronics of his ART bike helped James Ellison score an excellent result, coming home as the first CRT bike.
That electronics cannot cure all ills was demonstrated at the start of the race. Both Ben Spies and Randy de Puniet had to start from the wettest inside part of the grid, and both got horribly squirrelly off the line, despite launch control and anti-wheelie electronics. De Puniet got the worst of it, losing control of his bike entirely, and crashing before he had even crossed the start line. In the end, he returned to the pits and went out on his second bike.
Lorenzo's victory opens up the championship once again. The Spaniard retakes the lead from Casey Stoner, extending it to 8 points over the Australian. The two men are pulling firmly away from Dani Pedrosa, while just 1 point separates the two Tech 3 riders in 4th and 4th place.
|13||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ART||49'55.456||1 lap|
|14||51||Michele PIRRO||FTR||50'03.709||1 lap|
|15||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||BQR||50'13.248||1 lap|
|16||11||Ben SPIES||YAMAHA||50'55.642||1 lap|
|17||7||Chris VERMEULEN||SUTER||49'42.348||2 lap|
|18||22||Ivan SILVA||BQR||51'28.427||2 lap|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||IODA||43'54.019||4 laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||42'19.625||6 laps|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||DUCATI||20'45.461||17 laps|