Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Mans:
Unstoppable Marquez makes it five-in-a-row with another perfect weekend
Repsol Honda sensation, Marc Marquez, has enjoyed a perfect weekend in Le Mans taking pole position (with a new record), setting a new fastest race lap (1’33.548 on lap 8) and crowning it with the victory (in a record time) in front of 88,222 spectators. He also became the youngest ever rider (21 years and 90 days) to win five successive races in the premier class, taking the record from Mike Hailwood (22 years and 160 days old). Teammate Dani Pedrosa struggled to find his rhythm in the 28 lap race, slowly progressing through the field from ninth on the grid to fifth by the chequered flag.
It was a chaotic start to the race with Marc slipping back from pole to ninth – after being pushed wide by Lorenzo – and Dani dropping a position to tenth by the end of lap one. As things began to settle down, and the race found it’s tempo, Marc started to pluck off the riders in front of him and by lap seven he was already up to fourth, with Dani also passing Smith and Dovizioso into seventh by lap nine. Marc then set the fastest lap of the race en route to passing Stefan Bradl and Pol Espargaro, and by lap thirteen he was on the tail of race leader Valentino Rossi. A slight error from the Italian gifted Marc first position and from this point he didn’t look back.
Dani found some rhythm on lap sixteen, passing Bradl and then on lap eighteen traded places twice with Lorenzo. On lap twenty he made the pass stick and took fifth place but despite a late challenge he was unable to close in on Pol Espargaro and finished 0.3s behind the fellow Spaniard, less then one second off the podium.
With his fifth win of 2014, Marc is the first rider since Giacomo Agostini in 1972, to win the opening five races of the year in the premier class, the first rider since Valentino Rossi in 2008 to win five successive MotoGP races and the first to win them all from pole since Mick Doohan in 1997, also on a Honda. He now extends his lead over Dani in the riders’ Championship to 42 points, Honda lead the constructors’ Championship by 38 points and the Repsol Honda Team lead the teams’ Championship by 82 points after five rounds.
1st - Championship Standing: 1st - 125 points
“I am really happy with this win, which was different to the other victories. I made a mistake at the start; maybe I was too relaxed off the line, then when Jorge passed me I had to take a wide line otherwise we would have touched and as a result, many riders overtook me. However, from that moment on I began a really good comeback it was a lot of fun, ending in my fifth consecutive victory. Although it might look easy to people, we are working extremely hard and this is the reward for the whole team!”
5th - Championship Standing: 2nd - 83 points
“It was a very difficult race to manage, because I didn't get a bad start but had Iannone and Smith coming through very strong on the opening corner; they split the group and even pushed a rider off-track. However, this wasn't the main problem, I had an issue with the front tyre preventing me from making my way up the order. Every time that I tried to be more aggressive I had a lack of grip and it took many laps for me to move forward. It's a shame, because I didn't find a setup that allowed me to ride comfortably and we didn't have a good race. I think I can go a lot faster here than what we saw today”
Superb Second for Rossi in Epic Le Mans Grand Prix
Le Mans (France), 18th May 2014
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has taken his second consecutive second place finish in the 2014 MotoGP Championship at the Le Mans circuit in France for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
The Doctor enjoyed one of the most exciting races of the season so far having fought from his fifth place grid position start to lead the race in the early laps. Quickly into third position, Rossi was then able to hunt down and out-manoeuvre rivals Stefan Bradl and then race leader Andrea Dovizioso to take the lead with 25 laps remaining. The nine-time world champion rode to the limit and had increased the lead to nearly a second before chasing rider Marc Marquez began to close in. With 16 laps to go Rossi ran wide into the last chicane, allowing Marquez past. He tucked in behind and was able to keep a gap to third place to the line, taking his third podium finish of the year with second place.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo endured a tough Le Mans race. Starting from sixth on the grid, he was firmly placed in the hectic mid-pack for the opening lap in seventh position. The double premier class world champion was able to make passes on first Alvaro Bautista and then fellow Yamaha rider Bradley Smith to secure fifth position with 24 laps to run. He then spent some laps switching between fifth and sixth as he was first passed by Marquez, then recovered ground by Dovizioso before allowing Bautista back past again. A fifth place looked possible as he passed Bradl with 13 laps remaining but it was not to be as Dani Pedrosa was able to make a move four laps later, relegating him to sixth at the line.
Rossi’s third podium of the year adds 20 points to his score, putting him on 81 points, now just two behind Pedrosa in second. Lorenzo takes ten points, keeping him in fifth on 45 points, eight behind Dovizioso in third.
MotoGP now moves to Italy for Rossi’s home race in Mugello in two weeks time.
2nd / +1.486 / 28 laps
“For sure I’m very happy about the race and the result. I made a very good start and when I saw Dovi and Bradl in front I knew I could go faster than them so I overtook. I got in front and tried as hard as possible but it was more difficult with the front today, maybe because the asphalt was hot. Anyway I tried the maximum and my pace was not so bad. I was waiting for Marc or Jorge and Dani to arrive, when Marc arrived I tried to push a lot to stay on the 1’34.0 to make the work difficult for him but in the crucial moment of the race I made a mistake in braking. I braked a little bit too deep and went wide. It's a great pity as it was too easy for Marc. If not we could have fought a little bit because today I was not so bad, difficult to beat but for sure more fun. I hoped he would wait for me but... he didn't! We’ll have to try again next week in Mugello, I want to do a good weekend and try to fight with him another time. I’m happy because my target is to be competitive, to stay with the front and fight with them. At this moment I’m not able to win a race but I am always there and I’m enjoying it very much.”
6th / +7.088 / 28 laps
“Well, I expected much more of both qualifying and the race because the pace I had shown throughout the different sessions was good. The start was not so bad but I could not overtake any rider in the early laps and it left me riding with not such a good pace, I tried but no luck. I am convinced that our opportunity will arrive soon because we are working well and more and more times we are ahead during the grand prix. Now I’m just thinking about preparing the next race in Mugello.”
“That was a really impressive race for Vale even though Marquez won. He made a really good start, worked hard for the lead and just made a little mistake when Marquez was on him. This podium is the result of good work all weekend; the mechanics, engineers and of course Vale put together a good package to achieve it. It is unfortunate that Jorge was unable to finish higher than he did, he also worked hard with his team in all practices and the package looked good for the race following the final warm up this morning. Now we look to Mugello, our first "home" race of the year. It’s a big race for Vale in front of his home crowd and also a big race for Jorge as he has won there for the last few years.”
Eighth for Dovizioso, eleventh for Crutchlow in French GP at Le Mans
The two Ducati Team riders – Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow – finished the French Grand Prix, round 5 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship, in eighth and eleventh place respectively.
Dovizioso, who started from the front row of the grid in third place, provided some early excitement by leading the first three laps, before losing out during lap 4. Over the next few laps, he then lost a few more places and slipped down to ninth, but six laps from the end regained one position when he won the scrap for eighth with Aleix Espargarò. After the Le Mans race, the Italian rider still lies fourth in the overall championship standings.
Cal Crutchlow finally managed to make it to the chequered flag for the second time this season. After qualifying in twelfth place, the British rider lost some positions in the initial stages and was unable to make much progress during the race, eventually finishing eleventh.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 8th
“At least I tried! I made a great start and tried to pull away as much as possible, but after a few laps I could see that I would never have a chance to fight with the frontrunners. It’s a pity, but for the moment our gap is still too big, and even if we grit our teeth, we can’t make any strategies or push hard in certain moments of the race. Even after my third quickest time in qualifying yesterday I knew that today was going to be difficult. Now we have to think of our home race at Mugello, where we’ll try and get a good result.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 11th
“Today it was important first and foremost to finish a race, and for me that’s good seeing as how my 2014 season has been so far. I got a great start and felt really good on the bike, but there was a crash on the first lap and I got hit really hard by Hernandez by accident, which gave me a dead leg, and I lost a few places. I also made a few mistakes in the race but it’s clear that for the moment it’s difficult for Ducati to aim for anything higher in the results. A big thanks to my team, who are working really hard for us to become competitive, even though the result is not what we hoped for.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“Both qualifying yesterday with Dovizioso on the front row in third, and his great start and the early laps in the lead today are clearly positive aspects. For sure however the middle part of the race was the most critical for us, and it confirms that we still have a lot of work to do. Now we are going to Mugello, which is Ducati’s home race, and we’ll try our hardest to give all of our fans a good result.”
BRADL ENDS IN 7TH HIS COMPLEX FRANCE GRAND PRIX
Le Mans, 18 May: the LCR Honda MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl rode his Honda RC213V to the seventh place in today’s 28-lap France GP scoring further important points which saw him holding the 6th place in the world classification. The German rider took an incredible start from the second row imposing his pace for several laps up in the pack, but he failed to keep fighting for the podium reporting some rear-end issues.
Stefan: “Honestly I am not so happy today because the 7th position is not what we expected. Maybe the problem is the change we made from the warm up to the race on the rear suspension trying to find more edge grip. Definitively we went in the wrong direction because at the beginning on a new tyre I was pretty fast, but after 6/7 laps I was not able to use my rear tyre out of the corners. I have tried to regain something on breaking but then I found my limit on the front, so Espargaro and Bautista passed me. For the rest of the race I could not find my pace and I managed to finish 7th. I am looking forward to Mugello GP because that’s one of my favourite tracks and we can go for more there”.
MIXED FEELINGS FOR DRIVE M7 ASPAR TEAM AT LE MANS
Hiroshi Aoyama picks up points but Nicky Hayden knocked out of the race after contact with another rider
The fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship saw a mix of riders at the front in the early laps as Andrea Dovizioso took early control and pole man Marc Marquez dropped back into the pack. Rossi, Bradl and Pol Espargaró joined Dovizioso at the front, with Rossi eventually able to take the lead and open a gap, but series leader Márquez clearly had the pace as he came through from tenth place, reeled the Italian in and made his escape. Rossi was comfortable in second place as Alvaro Bautista completed the podium in third. A fifth straight win of the season for Márquez means that he equals Spanish legend Jorge Martínez Aspar’s career tally of 37 career GP wins.
There were contrasting fortunes for the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team riders, Hiroshi Aoyama making up two positions on the first lap and another on the second lap before completing a lonely ride to take two points in fourteenth place. His team-mate Nicky Hayden was less fortunate, however, the American missing out on the points for the first time this season after being torpedoed by another rider in the second corner. Luckily Nicky was unhurt in the crash and he will be ready to fight again at Mugello, one of his favourite circuits, in a couple of weeks' time.
14th Hiroshi Aoyama: “Today was a tough race but luckily after starting from seventeenth on the grid we have come through to take a couple of points in fourteenth. The plan for the race was to put together a fast and consistent pace, especially on the first laps, and we have improved in comparison to recent races so I am happy about that. Unfortunately the higher temperatures today compared to yesterday worked against us and with the soft tyre the feeling wasn't the same as the rest of the weekend. My pace wasn't as fast as I wanted at the end of the race but we will try to improve again at Mugello in two weeks.”
Nicky Hayden (DNF): “The team have worked really hard all weekend and we have made some progress as a result, even in the warm-up this morning. So it is a shame that the weekend ended like this, with a crash that wasn't my fault. Look at the data it was probably my best start of the season so far but as we went through the chicane I could feel another rider touch my handlebar and I couldn't do anything to avoid the crash. It is a shame for the team and for me but sometimes these things happen in racing. Luckily I am okay and we just have to look ahead to the next round.”
BAUTISTA STORMS TO FIRST PODIUM OF THE YEAR IN LE MANS THRILLER. REDDING SECOND FASTEST OPEN
The Team GO & FUN Honda Gresini celebrated today at Le Mans in the French Grand Prix the first podium of the 2014 season thanks to the fantastic third place finish conquered by Alvaro Bautista: started from the seventh position, the Spaniard showed an outstanding performance aboard his Honda RC213V, making several overtakes and settling in third place with ten laps to go, beaten on the finish line only by Championship leader Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi.
The race saw also a strong performance by Scott Redding, who crossed the finish line in 12th position, second placed in the Open Class behind Aleix Espargaro and first Honda RCV1000R under the checkered flag.
ALVARO BAUTISTA (3rd)
“It’s been an amazing day! We have experienced a difficult start to the season, in which we have suffered so much, but we always continued to work hard, so I would like to thank the team because they worked very well throughout the whole weekend. I knew I could get a good result in the race because during practice we were very close to the other riders, apart from Marquez who has always shown a higher potential. I started the race pretty well, but in the early laps there was a lot of traffic; in any case I keep calm and slowly I took my pace, recovering many positions. Once I reached the third position, I tried to push to try to catch Rossi, but the gap was too high. Thanks to the whole team and our sponsors, who were close to us even in difficult times”.
SCOTT REDDING (12th)
“I knew I had a good feeling with the bike, during practice we were just struggling with some things which remains to solve, but in every session I was coming faster, also in Qualifying and during this morning’s Warm Up, so I was feeling quite comfortable ahead of the race. In the race I’ve been quite consistent and I was able to pull a gap from Aoyama, and even if Nicky crashed, I think that we could have been battling. I also learned a lot to control the tyres, trying not to burn it out too much in the beginning. It’s good to be back as the fastest Open Class Honda ahead of Mugello race: now I feel comfortable with the bike setting and I look forward to racing on a track I like very much”.
“Alvaro raced to a fantastic podium! We were already very close to clinch it at the beginning of the season, but then we experienced a difficult period marked by various mistakes, but it’s in these times of crisis that we must be able to give our maximum, and we did it re-starting from scratch. I talked a lot with Alvaro after the Grand Prix of Argentina and I think that it’s been useful for him to find again the right attitude. Today we got our first podium of the season, which moreover is also the first since we wear the GO&FUN colours: we are waiting for it since last year, and many time swe just missed it for very little. Now we hope to continue like this and to step on the podium often. I would like to thank all the team and all our partners, which support us and who shared with us the difficult times. Redding rode a fantastic race too: I'm happy with his result, the whole team and Scott deserve it because they worked hard, always with the right spirit. Scott is growing in every race and therefore I am convinced that in the future he can give us even more satisfaction”.
Espargaro first Open at Le Mans
The French GP saw the Spanish rider of the NGM Forward Racing as first open on the historic track of Le Mans.
Aleix Espargaro, who starting from the 8th spot on the grip, lost some positions and he finally finished 9th. The Spaniard struggled during the whole weekend for some electronics issue and today it was important for him to get as many points as possible. With today’s result Espargaro is now 8th in the Championship.
It was an unlucky race for Colin Edwards, who suffered for the third time in a row because of a fuel issue and was obliged to slow down dramatically and finally finished 17th . The team takes the responsibility for what happened and renews the commitment to develop some new parts that will be available already from the next race at Mugello.
“It was a difficult weekend: I’m still struggling to make this bike turn. Today I had reduced the gap and caught Aoyama and Hernandez when I start having problems with the electronics. In the last laps I realized that I had problems with the fuel and at the last lap I was almost obliged to stop due to a fuel issue and let the riders behind me pass. We need to keep on working and I look forward to the Italian GP where we will test new parts”.
“I’m quite satisfied but I expected to a better result on this track. We struggled a lot during the whole weekend and today the priority was to get as many points as possible. We will keep on working for the next two races that are very important for us: Mugello and Catalunya, where we want to be competitive and get a good result”.
Abraham scored a point in the very end of Le Mans race
Karel Abraham finished 15th in the French Grand Prix in Le Mans. Czech MotoGP rider stayed on 16th position for almost whole race and got on 15th in the last corner by overtaking Colin Edwards who ran out of fuel.
„I took one point but certainly it wasn´t good race for me. I must express my thanks to the team, because the bike works perfectly. I tried to push on hundred percent, but simply it wasn´t enough to get better standing. In the very end of the race I climb on fifteenth position only because Colin Edwards was out of fuel and passed the finish line with engine off. It should be more fun beating him regularly in the race.“
Marco Grana, Cardion AB chief mechanic
“Taking a point is a good result for us after problems we suffered on Friday. Except Jerez we have scored points in every race and this is our goal. We learn more about the bike this weekend and I´m sure we found our basic setup for next races. We must be happy and I expect that we can fight for more points in Mugello.”
Consistent Laverty 16th Yet Again For PBM
If consistency counted for anything, PBM MotoGP rider Michael Laverty would be a major contender after recording his fourth 16th place out of five races following this weekend's Monster Energy Grand Prix de France which comprised round five of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship at Le Mans.
Following a fraught free practice and qualifying, both Ulsterman Laverty and Australian team mate Broc Parkes struggled aboard the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed PBM machines to end up on row seven of the grid with ex British Supersport champion Laverty in 20th place and team mate and double World Supersport runner-up Parkes one place further back in 21st for the Cumbrian based team.
In the race, Laverty, aboard the Rapid Solicitors and Silkolene-backed Aprilia ART-powered PBM, made a brilliant start to run as high as 17th in the early stages as Parkes struggled a bit further down the order.
As the race progressed, Laverty was embroiled in a battle for 17th place as Parkes climbed the order to run in 18th where he was to remain for the remainder of the race. Laverty, meanwhile, battled with a number of other Open class machines before climbing to 16th place on the final lap to miss out on a vital point once more.
It was the fourth time in five races this season that Laverty had finished in 16th place and apart from a technical problem in Austin; Parkes has finished every race also.
With nine finishes out of the ten races completed so far and knocking on the door of the points at all four meetings, the PBM team is making significant development progress which will continue into the next round of the season at Mugello in Italy in two weeks time.
The results mean that Parkes holds 21st overall in the 2014 MotoGP World Championship table following his ride into the points in Qatar, ninth in the Open class standings and third in Rookie of the Year. With a hat-trick of 16th place finishes and an 18th also, Laverty has yet to register on the scoreboard but importantly for the PBM team, they occupy seventh place in the manufacturer's table and 13th in the team's standings going into the next race at Jerez.
Michael Laverty: "I can't believe I've finished in 16th place again! For the fourth time in five races we have finished just one position back from scoring points. They will come for sure, the team are doing a good job and I feel I am riding well at the moment. We need to find some speed to try and bridge the gap to Aoyama and Abraham but hopefully we can do that as the PBM machine has taken some good steps forward this year we just need to find another step now."
Broc Parkes: "I had a lot of problems this weekend with just a lot of silly things so lost a lot of valuable track time. At the end of warm up my number one bike which I had ridden all weekend had a problem with the engine so I had to start on the second bike and it just didn't feel as good from the start. I felt I had good pace in practice and an overall better understanding of the bike a lot more. I again struggled a lot with rear grip so lost some time in the last part of the race."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "We are reasonably satisfied with the results at Le Mans, as we believe we have improved our performance, although it is difficult to be sure as it is the first dry race PBM have had here. Michael had a good and consistent pace but was not rewarded with any points due to his fourth 16th position finish this year, whilst Broc had a good pace early in the race but could not maintain it. We are confident that we can improve both the performance and setting of our bikes with new parts planned for the next races and hope to further reduce the gap to our competitors."
French victory makes it five in a row for Marquez
Round 5: French MotoGP™ - Race
Le Mans, Sunday May 18 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-Soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 24-25°C; Track 43-46°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez continued his relentless push for a second MotoGP™ World Championship as the Spaniard won his fifth race in a row with victory at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
Starting from pole position, Marquez had a poor start and as the riders completed their first lap, found himself in tenth position. The reigning champion then increased his pace and made his way through the field, setting a new Circuit Record Lap time of 1'33.548 on lap eight, and then taking the race lead on lap twelve. Marquez’s constant pace led him to victory over Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi, who claimed his third second-place finish of the year. Taking third place was GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who rode brilliantly to claim his first podium since the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.
The track temperature today reached its highest level of the race weekend, with a figure of 46°C recorded in the final stages of the race. Race tyre choice amongst the riders was similar to that from yesterday’s Free Practice 4 session, with the soft compound front and rear slicks proving to be most popular. Only one rider selected the medium compound front slick for the race, the other twenty-one riders selected the soft compound front. Fourteen of the twenty-two starters opted for the soft compound rear slick, while eight riders selected the extra-soft rear that was available only to the Ducati and Open-class entrants. Despite the warmer than usual temperatures at Le Mans, tyre performance during race was excellent, with today’s French Grand Prix having the highest average speed ever recorded at this circuit.
Marquez’s latest victory sees his lead in the championship over his teammate Dani Pedrosa increase to forty-three points. Rossi remains in third place in the rider standings, but now sits just two points behind Pedrosa after five rounds.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“It’s been a while since we had a completely dry race weekend at Le Mans, and the constant fine weather gave riders plenty of time to find a setup to get the best performance out of the tyres. The pace this year was a big step forward from last year, but the riders also commented that the warm-up performance and safety of our tyres at Le Mans has also improved, so I am pleased with this result. New Circuit Best Lap, Race Lap and overall race time records were set this weekend at Le Mans. This is a very positive outcome for Bridgestone and shows that our revised tyre allocation for this circuit worked well for the riders.”
Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda – Race Winner
“I enjoyed today quite a lot, particularly the early part of the race. Maybe I was too calm in the early laps, I knew my rhythm was good so maybe I had too much confidence. Then when Lorenzo overtook me, I started to go quick and overtaking many riders which I enjoyed. When I was in second place I saw Rossi in front so I pushed 100% and when I reached Valentino I thought it would be a fight to pass him, but he made a mistake which allowed me to get through. I’m really happy for my fifth victory in a row, and I want to enjoy this moment as even though it looked easy, it was difficult go get the win.”