Press releases from the teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's fascinating French Grand Prix:
Flawless French Finale for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo repeated his stunning performance from Jerez at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, taking his second consecutive victory. Teammate Valentino Rossi also rode a brilliant race at Le Mans and took second place, his fifth consecutive podium finish of the 2015 MotoGP season.
Le Mans (France), 17th May 2015
After an amazing victory in Jerez, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo dominated the MotoGP field for a second time in a row, taking a sensational victory at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. Valentino Rossi also showed a blistering pace in the French sunshine at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. He claimed a strong second place and his fifth podium finish of the season.
Lorenzo was strong right from the beginning of the 28 lap sprint. Starting from third on the grid, he shot off the line to take second into the first turn and move into the lead going into the second corner. Followed by Andrea Dovizioso, he completed the first lap with already nearly half a second advantage over his rivals.
With clear track in front of him, the double premier class World Champion put the hammer down and rode consistently fast lap times in the 1‘33s to manage a gap of half a second. Completely in control, Lorenzo remained unchallenged for the rest of the race. Leading from the first lap until the chequered flag, the Spaniard claimed his second consecutive victory by 3.820s, with only his teammate besting his fastest lap of 1‘33.004.
Teammate Rossi thoroughly enjoyed today‘s racing action, fighting his way up the order from his seventh place grid position. The Doctor had a good start and quickly moved into fifth position to hunt down Marc Marquez, passing him with a brilliant move on his third lap.
The nine-time world champion then set his sights on Andrea Iannone and increased his pace, posting a 1‘32.879, the fastest lap of the race. With 18 laps to go Rossi made the audience cheer as he took third place and immediately put his next target, Andrea Dovizioso, under pressure. Displaying some very clever racing, he lined his rival up and made his move at end of the fourteenth lap. Unable to close in on his teammate, who had a gap of more than 1.8s, Rossi focused on managing his advantage over Dovizioso and took a well-deserved second.
Lorenzo‘s first place earns him 25 points, while Rossi‘s fifth podium of the year adds 20 points to his score. These results put The Doctor on 102 points, keeping him in the lead for the championship, with teammate Lorenzo moving up to second in the championship with a 87 points total.
Before the race I was a little bit worried about the front tyre on the right side, because it was close in some corners. Sometimes that‘s worse in the race on Sunday, because it‘s hotter at two o‘clock and you have more fuel in the tank and push more on braking. On the third or fourth lap it started closing, and I started worrying that I had an ever worsening tyre in the next laps, but luckily for us the tyre stayed more or less the same. It was close in the whole race, but not becoming worse. I was pushing the whole time and when the fuel tank ran low I pushed a little bit less. So this time we have been lucky. I know that other riders also struggled with the front. I could improve in some areas because I lose out in some corners. It was important to be second and overtake Marc at the start and Dovizioso in the first corner. This is the way I prefer to ride, because with nobody in front I can brake perfectly, keep the corner speed and try to increase the gap, so that is what happened. It was difficult because Andrea kept a gap of under a second for a long time, but finally I could stay ahead by 1,2 or 1,4s. Then, when I saw Valentino in second place and in some place close in a little, I had to try to push so much, especially on braking, I could brake later and later and rode a 1‘33,004, which gave me the advantage I needed to win this race. Winning two races in a row after finishing outside of the podium in three Grand Prix is a big contrast. These are much better results, but you have to keep your feet on the ground and not hesitate, because things can change very quickly and I can have bad results in the future. Mugello is a good track for Yamaha and especially for me, because it‘s my favourite track, but Valentino is also very fast there, so who knows what‘s going to happen.
I‘m happy but we struggled too much to find the right setting in the practice, so we decided to risk and modify the bike before the race. I have to say thank you to my team because they worked very well, my bike today in the race was fantastic and I was able to push, recover and overtake and I was especially able to enjoy riding a lot. I started from the third row and Jorge is always very fast at the start. I had a small gap but I enjoyed the race a lot, because I could overtake and ride at the maximum. Around half way through the race I arrived in second place behind Jorge. He had around two seconds so I wasn‘t so far behind him and I tried the maximum, because I felt good, but he was in a perfect situation. He was in front and concentrated and he was in his "hammer time". When he‘s like that it‘s very difficult to come close to him. This weekend he was stronger than us and was better prepared for the race, so he deserved to win, but I‘m happy, also for Yamaha because this year our bike is very strong. These twenty points are very important for the championship. We arrived late at the front, but we arrived and it was another great race. We struggled in the practice, I think that‘s also due to our bike a little bit, because Jorge also struggled, while he‘s always great at putting out one fast lap. That‘s our weak point, but on the other side, in the race our bike is fantastic, it‘s very balanced and you can push every lap and this is important. I arrive in Mugello with this great condition I‘m in and that makes me very happy. The problem is that it‘s also Jorge‘s favourite track! Today was a great result for our team, a Yamaha 1-2, and we hope that in Mugello we can reverse the order!
Another podium finish for Andrea Dovizioso with third place in the French GP at Le Mans. Andrea Iannone finishes fifth after a spectacular battle with Marquez
Andrea Dovizioso produced yet another fine performance at Le Mans to step onto the podium in the French Grand Prix with a third place finish. The Italian rider, who started from the front row after going second in qualifying, got off to a good start and crossed the line at the end of lap 1 in second place behind Lorenzo, the eventual winner of the French race. Dovizioso held on to second until lap 13, when he was passed by Rossi, and he took the chequered flag in third. Andrea is now third overall in the Riders’ championship standings.
Team-mate Andrea Iannone, still feeling pain in his left shoulder which he injured last Tuesday during Ducati testing at Mugello, had an outstanding race. Thanks to assistance and treatment from the Clinica Mobile and his sheer determination, the rider from Vasto provided some exciting action during the race: he powered away well at the lights, finished lap 1 in third and then maintained the same place until lap 11. After being passed by Rossi, Iannone was running fourth, but exhaustion set in and he was then caught by Smith and Marquez, who both overtook him on lap 24. At this point, Marquez and Iannone provided all the excitement for the massive Le Mans crowd, trading positions numerous times, and in the end Iannone finished a well-deserved fifth ahead of Smith. The Italian also lies fifth overall in the championship standings with 61 points.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 3rd
“I am happy because it is always very important to score a podium finish and the one I got today confirms once again that we are competitive. The conditions were good, but after the mid-point of the race I was no longer able to keep the pace of Lorenzo. Unfortunately the tyre had a drop in grip and I was not able to be as efficient as in the first half of the race: I thought my speed was good enough to get me to the flag and allow me to fight for the win, but it was not possible. This confirms that we are still missing a little something and, even though we have to be satisfied with another podium, we still have to work hard and make further improvements to the GP15”.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 5th
“This was a really difficult race for me, maybe the most difficult of my career. At the start I was feeling fine, I had good pace and I was pleased with the way things were going. Up until lap 10 I was lapping quickly behind Lorenzo and Dovizioso, but then I began to feel pain in my left arm and had to use my right arm more to compensate. As a result I could no longer brake the way I wanted. I also made a couple of mistakes, losing some time, and I was caught by Smith and Marquez, with whom I had a really great scrap. In any case I've got to be pleased with today, because it was really difficult to finish the race, and I want to thank my team who gave me a really competitive bike that allowed me to obtain this result. A big thanks also to the guys in the Clinica Mobile who have been taking care of me all weekend”.
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“Today’s podium was the fifth for us since the start of the season and so we are really satisfied with it. Dovizioso was on really good form and ran a quick and smart race throughout to score another podium finish with the Desmosedici GP15. Iannone raced brilliantly, showing true character and, despite strong pain in his left shoulder, he had a superb battle with Marquez to finish the race in fifth place. Now that the French GP is over, from tomorrow onwards we will be beginning preparations for our ‘home race’, because we know that at Mugello there will be massive numbers of Ducatisti, and we want to try and give them even greater satisfaction than today”.
Marquez battles hard for 4th place in France with Pedrosa showing courage despite crash
Today’s GP of France was a tough race for the Repsol Honda riders, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Marc dropped back to 4th from pole position with Dani moving up one place to 7th as the 28 lap race got underway. Unfortunately, Dani lost the front in turn three on the second lap, but was able to rejoin the race – albeit in last place.
As Marc began to experience difficulty with the front, he lost places and by lap five he had dropped down to 6th place. He and 5th place Smith – who rode together for the majority of the race – finally caught up with 4th place Iannone and with six laps remaining, Marc launched one final attack. He passed both Smith and Iannone into 4th place, then a battle ensued with Iannone with the two riders fighting for five laps and passing each other several times. Marc finally held on to take 4th and 13 important Championship points.
Dani showed grit and determination by continuing to ride in order to test his physical ability after his surgery six weeks ago. He worked his way through the field, posting consistent lap times and clinched 16th place on the final lap. It was a relief for him to finish the race without too much discomfort and he can now rest ahead of the Italian GP in two weeks time.
4th Championship Standing: 4th - 69 points
"Today the temperature rose sharply; we had not ridden in such conditions at any time this the weekend. On the fourth lap I started to notice that I had a lot of problems with the front end. I think all the Hondas had the same trouble; in fact a lot crashed after losing front grip because we were really suffering. We knew that with a rise in temperature, conditions change, but we expected it to be for the better and this time it was for the worse. We must learn from this race and especially from the data we have gathered."
16th Championship Standing: 15th - 10 points
"It was a shame to crash so early in the race; I don't understand much about the crash, because I just lost the front end. I tried to restart the engine and get back in the race, even though the handlebars were bent, because I wanted to try completing an entire race. It was a positive test for me, although there is still room for improvement, but fitness-wise things are a little better. Hopefully we can improve even more over the coming weeks.”
BITTER-SWEET LE MANS FOR ESPARGARO AND VIÑALES
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 17th
The difficult weekend at Le Mans resulted in a hard race overall as Team SUZUKI ECSTAR experienced the polar opposite feelings of motorcycle racing today.
After the hard crash he suffered yesterday, Aleix Espargaro struggled in the morning to find a good feeling with his machine, due to the pain he suffered in the crash which injured his right hand and lower back. Unfortunately this prevented him from approaching the race in a confident mood, but his will to race meant he was eager to compete. His start was good, as was the first lap, but unfortunately he had to retire on the second lap due to clutch issues, which are now under further investigation.
Maverick Viñales exploited the warmer weather and the sunshine this morning in Le Mans to perform a very positive warm-up session, with the Spaniard being consistently near the top of the timesheets. In the race he had a positive start, but unfortunately dropped several positions at turn two, so he needed to make progress through the field. He had a consistent – and yet fast – pace for the whole race, gaining positions lap-after-lap, finally ending his race with an excellent ninth place.
Satoru Terada – Project Leader:
“This has been a hard weekend as both riders crashed on Friday and then a major crash for Aleix on Saturday, which of course affected his whole weekend’s performance. Unfortunately we had a technical issue at the very beginning of the race with Aleix’s bike, which resulted in a retirement. It is a pity because Aleix was fighting against the pain and he deserved a positive race. We are now investigating the possible cause and we’ll see from the data how to improve.
“For Maverick the weekend has been more positive. He was consistent in practice as well as with race-pace and this finally gave him a good position at the end. His pace was very similar to his competitors who finished in sixth and seventh place so I believe that if we learn how to better perform in qualifying he can fight for a better position in the race itself. We still have to work to do on his GSX-RR to find a better set-up, and I think that if we can fix these two aspects we will gain a better position at the end of the race.”
“Of course I’m really disappointed for the weekend, when something has a bad start it usually ends up bad as well! I had a minor crash on Friday and then the huge crash on Saturday; nothing broken but I didn’t really feel well and finally I had the technical issue on my machine on Sunday. I had a good start, but I immediately felt the bike was not performing as well as it usually does and finally I had to retire at the very beginning of the race because it was impossible to go beyond the second lap. Apparently we had an issue with the clutch, so now the engineers are checking everything. It’s a pity because I felt good on my GSX-RR: it was maybe the best set-up we’ve had since the beginning of the season but it finally turned out to be a bad weekend. Tomorrow in Barcelona I will make some further investigations on my hand because it hurts a lot during hard braking, but we need to look ahead to Mugello and be positive.”
“At the end of the race I’m happy on how it went and ninth place is a good performance; the same I did in Austin and the one we deserve at the moment. For sure our potential says that we should be in better positions, but we need to improve how we work through the practice sessions and we still have some lack-of power. As we see from the race I always struggle in the middle of the pack but my lap-times are better than my competitors, therefore it is a matter of starting further towards the front, so the riders ahead are not slowing my progress. I’m not complaining for being in the position I am, as I am also a rookie, but when you see a potential it is hard to accept a result for yourself which is not the best.”
BAUTISTA 15th AND MELANDRI 18th AT LE MANS
Le Mans (France), 17 May 2015 - Despite the poor grip throughout the MotoGP weekend at Le Mans which conditioned the performance of the RS-GP bikes in the race as well, Alvaro Bautista finished in fifteenth place, enough to earn another championship point. Marco Melandri, also hindered by problems with the gearbox, finished in 18th place.
It was a weekend full of hard work for Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, penalised more than the others by the poor grip conditions which, with unpredictable weather also being an accomplice, characterised the sessions on the French track. Bautista rode a very courageous race, keeping up with the pack in the initial phases, losing ground as the tyre began to wear and then finding a good feeling at the end which made it look like perhaps a better result was in store but, although he closed the gap behind Laverty, he was unable to attack for fourteenth place. The two RS-GP bikes crossing the wire is in any case a good result for a team with the primary objective of the season being development of the MotoGP project.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
“It was a difficult race, perfectly consistent with how everything went this weekend. This track was lacking grip from the first day. Alvaro worked his hardest and we brought home another point, but in a situation that is much different than the progress that we demonstrated at Jerez and it certainly does not satisfy us. This is precisely the goal we need to work on - better performance even when we take on these conditions.”
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
“Leaving France with another point earned by Bautista obviously pleases us, even if we had a complicated weekend. As had already happened in practice, today in the race Alvaro had grip problems which kept him from pushing to the limit. So we'll take this race and the difficulties we faced as another valuable experience that will help us to move forward. It was a shame that we had gearbox problems which affected Melandri's performance because otherwise he could have tried to get close to a finish in the points.”
“I got off the line well, moving up in the pack and with fresh tyres I was doing well, but as soon as they started to wear the bike became more unstable and more difficult to ride. We need to analyse all the race data carefully because toward the end the bike improved, becoming easier to ride, maybe because of the emptier tank and lower weight. We'll wait for Mugello. An evolution of the bike will be ready there and in the meantime I'd like to thank the team as they are working very hard. We finished here as well, earning a point, and given the conditions we found this is a good sign of confidence.”
“It was a difficult weekend where I never found the right feeling with the bike. Then today in the race the problems with the gearbox made things more complicated and slowed me down, so I wasn't able to do much better. It's a shame. After Jerez we could have done better, but now we'll try to put it behind us quickly and think about Mugello, our home round.”
Smith shines on Tech3 home turf to finish as leading satellite rider
Bradley Smith completed a notable weekend at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in 6th position aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. As the 28 lap battle commenced under glorious sunshine at the legendary Le Mans circuit, Smith undertook a strong start and fought his way through an intense first lap to hold on to his qualifying position of 6th. The young British rider tailed the leading riders before successfully catching and overtaking Marquez on lap five and then opening a gap on him. Smith’s formidable race rhythm and consistent lap times kept him in a fast pace and with half race distance reached, the 23 year old was running in 5th position. With 8 laps remaining, Smith had impressively closed the deficit to Andrea Iannone and was involved in a memorable and fierce fight for 4th position. Smith stayed right in the hunt and eventually finished the race in 6th but just a hair’s breadth back from Marquez and Iannone. This result puts him as the leading satellite rider at the round five battle and sees him now only one point behind 6th place in the riders championship standings.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro rode a strong race to overhaul five riders and finish in 7th position after a challenging qualifying which saw him start the 28 lap race from 12th on the grid. The young Spaniard undertook a solid start to clinch 9th at the close of the first lap at the Le Mans circuit. He pushed onwards and continued to clock fast and continuous lap times and was running in 8th with five laps completed. The 2014 MotoGP rookie of the year remained focused and at half race distance was in 7th place having scored some competitive lap times to gap the chasing riders. He met the chequered flag in this position, marking a positive close to a tricky weekend. Espargaro now looks positively on to Mugello for round six of the MotoGP World Championship where he will intend to battle for the leading satellite position.
Position : 6th Championship : 7th points : 46
"I am happy and it was a great way to end the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s home race! The track conditions really warmed up today, which meant that we all went a bit into the unknown as it was much cooler on the other days. Therefore our setting was slightly limited at the beginning of the race because it resulted in me tucking the front a few times in the opening laps. However, to end up fighting with the reigning MotoGP World Champion and with another factory rider is where we want to be so I have to be happy with finishing as the leading satellite bike. We’ve also gained some championship points on Cal, so we have accomplished what we set out to achieve. Of course, it would have been even better to reach 4th but at one point I thought that Marc and Andrea may collide, so I gave myself enough space in case they did! Anyway, it was useful for me to watch this battle as I learnt a lot and I can use this knowledge in future races."
Position : 7th Championship : 8th Points : 35
"After the race that we had here last year, I came to Le Mans with high expectations, so today can just be considered as damage limitation. We had a tough weekend from the word go and my feelings with the bike were never at their best. Yet, this morning in warm up we modified the setting of my M1 completely and to be honest things improved considerably for the race. My start was ok and I was able to follow the riders at the front during the opening laps, but then I had to sustain the gap to the riders behind me, due to another, non bike related issue. So to leave France with nine additional points in the championship is not too bad, although it’s definitely not what we aim for. We now have to think about the next steps to take in order to improve our performance in Mugello in two week’s time."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager :
"It was an amazing race, I am delighted with both riders and what they achieved today. Brad had an incredible weekend and topped it off with a good finish. Across all three days he was fast, consistent and made no mistakes and from the start until the finish flag, he gave 100% plus, it was an incredible moment when we saw him catch and then open a gap on Marquez. The race then went quite, but he didn’t give up and we saw him easily close down Iannonne so we thought we had 4th in the bag. However, in the end it was a great battle between those three riders and definitely the best fight in the race. To finish behind Marquez and Iannone as well as the first non factory bike was mission accomplished plus we were right in the mix. I want to say thanks to Brad for showing his determination and staying cool plus, without doubt, he learnt a lot. Pol had a strong race compared to the qualifying yesterday and turned his weekend around to get a decent result from 12th on the grid. He set off well, overtook three riders in the first lap and continued to make good progress through the field. In the second half of the race he could see that he wasn’t going to catch the guys in front, so he did his best to the keep the gap to the chasing rider. It was a great day for motorcycle racing in France and for us at our home race, as we managed to close the gap to Repsol Honda in the team championship standings where we are now just behind 3rd position by three points. I also want to congratulate Yamaha for their outstanding performance at Le Mans."
A fantastic double Top 10 for Pramac Racing at Le Mans. Yonny finishes 8th, Danilo 10th
Pramac Racing celebrates a weekend full of satisfaction with the first exciting double Top10 of the 2015 MotoGP season.
The Grand Prix de France - held in a beautiful sunny Sunday on the circuit of Le Mans to the presence of more than 90,000 spectators - saw Yonny Hernandez and Danilo Petrucci finish respectively 8th and 10th place and taking home 14 points representing the best result of the year for Pramac Racing.
A not particularly brilliant start was perhaps the only discordant note of a race that saw both Yonny and Danilo immediately take position in the group of the top 10 to keep it until the end. The rider of Medellin has tripped better and managed to defend the 8th position as he pushed hard maintaining a good pace during the whole race.
Petrux struggled a little bit in the first half of the race due to the full tank. But it was able to maintain ninth place until three laps from the end when he failed to reply to the attack of Vinales.
With 6 points scored today, Petrucci (11th in the general standing) rises to 25 point, just two points off the Top 10. For Hernandez 8 points which allow him to make a great leap in ranking going up in twelfth place with 20 points. Pramac Racing consolidates seventh place in the ranking for teams with 45 points.
8° - Yonny Hernandez - Pramac Racing #9
I had a good feeling throughout the whole weekend. Unfortunately I had some difficulties with the weather condition during the Q2 but the confidence has always been high. That allowed me to do a great race and to get the best result so far in the season. I have to thank the team and my crew chief Giacomo Guidotti: they gave me a very good bike which let me to stay in the Top 10 without problems. I'd like to be able to find the same feeling at Mugello. I am learning a lot. I have to keep pushing hard and that's what I want to do.
10° - Danilo Petrucci - Pramac Racing #9
It was a weekend full of satisfaction. I have achieved all the goals I set myself from the qualifying to the race. I wish it could stay even closer to Yonny but in the first half of the race, with a full tank, I always meet some difficulties. I regret not being able to maintain the position in the duel with Vinales but the rear tyre was really finished. But this does not affect the evaluation of a very positive weekend. I just have to make that small step that I am still missing. I have to thank the whole team that is working in this direction. Next stop Mugello, a race that I want to enjoy. I will be in front of my home fans and I hope I can do a good race.
French frustration for Redding in Le Mans
Le Mans, France – 17 May 2015: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding’s French MotoGP race ended in disappointment after an early crash thwarted his quest for a fourth points scoring finish of the campaign.
In the hottest conditions of the weekend at the historic Bugatti Circuit, the Briton was charging confidently towards the top 10 when he lost control of his RC213V Honda machine at the famous La Chapelle right-hander on the fourth lap.
Redding’s Honda RC213V was too badly damaged for him to rejoin the 28-lap battle that unfolded in front of a huge crowd of close to 94,000 fans.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS now move to the spectacular Mugello track in Italy confident of solving some of the front-end confidence issues that have hampered the 22-year-old in recent races.
Scott Redding: DNF
“The start of the race was difficult because it was hard to find front grip. I thought it was getting better, so decided to try and pick up my pace. But then I closed the front at turn six. It was an early end to the race and I am very disappointed. We keep trying to find a solution to some of my problems but we haven’t quite got there just yet. I am looking forward to Mugello. It is a track I really like and I am sure we can bounce back strongly.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was a difficult weekend but we had some highlights. We were confident after the warm up that we had made progress with the set-up of the bike and that Scott could at least repeat his ninth place in the race. It was going to be a difficult race but I think a top 10 was achievable. But Scott’s lack of confidence with the front-end was there again and this caused him to crash. We will put this result behind us as quickly as possible and look to return more competitive in Mugello.”
Nicky Hayden takes Open honours at Le Mans
Sunday, 17 May 2015 16:17
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider rounds off strong weekend with eleventh place after close battle for a top-ten finish, as Eugene Lavery picks up first MotoGP points
Marc Márquez may have started today's race from pole position but the full half-second advantage he held over his rivals after qualifying yesterday proved to be nothing but an anecdote today after a dramatic change in conditions seemingly handed the initiative to his rivals. Jorge Lorenzo started from third on the grid but the Spaniard took control from the first corner and produced a carbon copy of the dominant ride that took him to victory in his home race at Jerez two weeks ago. His consistent pace in the mid-1'33s was enough to maintain a cushion over the comeback king Valentino Rossi, who followed him across the line almost four seconds behind in second place as Andrea Dovizioso completed the podium.
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider Nicky Hayden backed up his performance from yesterday, when he qualified as the best 'Open' rider, by claiming the same honour in today's race. The Kentucky rider was able to set a pace in the 1'34s from the start, taking the fight to a group of factory riders for a top ten finish. Only a technical problem in the closing stages of the race forced him to drop his pace as he picked up five valuable points in eleventh place. His POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar team-mate Eugene Laverty also picked up points, his first of the season, after a battling display. The Irishman was run wide in the second corner of the first lap but he fought back from virtually last place to move up to fourteenth position and open his MotoGP account.
11th Nicky Hayden: “The team did a great job yesterday and it was good to start the race from further up the grid than we have been doing lately. I made a good start and held my position over the opening laps and the changes the team had made to the bike yesterday evening worked well. It was nice to be able to take the bike where I wanted and to finish as the top Open is a bonus. It was also good to fight with some of the factory guys. I was in front of Viñales for a good few laps and had a nice battle with Petrucci. Around ten laps from the end we had something going on with the electronics, which limited our pace towards the end of the race because the bike was acting strangely in second gear. Anyway, I am happy with the results and the points we have picked up today so I want to say thanks to the team because this hasn't been an easy year so far. Thankfully in Jorge we have a boss who fights every day to keep us moving forward in the face of adversity. I think we all deserved this result, so now we need to enjoy it and make sure we go to Mugello with our batteries fully charged, ready to go again.”
14th Eugene Laverty: “The objective before the race today was to score points and we have achieved that. The key was the good work done by my mechanics once again this weekend. We have had a good setting for the past few races but this was a different kind of circuit and we found ourselves on the back foot on Friday. We had to make big changes to the front end of the bike and our work wasn't made easier by two crashes, which were down to a mistake with tyre choice. I made a good start to the race but in turn two, with all the traffic, I touched with another rider and ran off track. I lost a lot of ground there and found myself almost at the back. I thought it was going to be a complete disaster but pushed hard and tried to make up as much ground as I could. I set some consistent laps and managed to get in the points for the first time this season. I am happy with that and hopefully we can keep it up for the upcoming races.”
CRUTCHLOW DISAPPOINTED AFTER LE MANS MISFORTUNE
A dramatic change in conditions on race day at Le Mans proved to be to the detriment of Cal Crutchlow today, as the CWM LCR Honda Team struggled to match the strong form he had shown throughout free practice and qualifying for the French Grand Prix.
After qualifying just 0.051 seconds shy of the front row yesterday the British rider struggled for front grip this afternoon as the sun finally broke through the grey clouds in northern France and raised track temperatures by 15ºC.
Despite that Crutchlow was holding a strong position in seventh and biding his time for a late charge, which unfortunately never materialised after a mistake under braking on the 8th lap of 28.
Cal Crutchlow #35 (DNF)
“Obviously I'm very disappointed with today. It seems all the Hondas struggled for front grip today but this wasn't actually the reason for the crash. My foot slipped off the rear brake pedal and as that happened I grabbed the front brake, which caused a big spike in the front braking and caused me to crash.
“I'm really sorry to the team for that because I felt that in the latter part of the race we were due to come stronger and fight in the group that was immediately in front of me.
“That was the limit of what we were capable of today. I was close to Marc [Marquez] when it happened but we were both a long way from the front guys because it seems they had a lot more front grip than us. We need to regroup now and go to Mugello, where hopefully we can have a better race.”
Difficult weekend for Avintia Racing in France
17/05/15 Avintia Racing MotoGP – Grand Prix of France – RACE
Expectations were very high for Hector Barbera and Avintia Racing in Le Mans after winning three of the first four races of the season in the Open Class and because of a new chassis for his Ducati that he received for the French Grand Prix. But things went not as planned. The Spanish rider gave his maximum in the race to finish 13th and to score some more championship points, but this time he finished behind the Open bikes of Hayden and Baz. Barbera suffered from strong pain in his right arm. Rider, team and doctors share the opinion that the problem was caused from the effort made by the rider to control his Ducati that had a more aggressive power curve for the 28-lap race. A medical problem such as arm pump, a condition many motorcycle racers experience during their career, was ruled out for the moment. However, if the problem reoccurs at the next race, team, rider and doctors will investigate further. The new chassis works well and Barbera leaves Le Mans with more advantage in the Open Class fight, which are the positive sides of this Grand Prix.
Mike Di Meglio made a great start in his home Grand Prix, but after just two laps he suffered a crash when he was running in 17th position.
HECTOR BARBERA #8 / 13th (P3 Open) @HectorBarbera
It was a difficult race and a difficult weekend altogether. We started bad on Friday. On Saturday, we seemed to make improvements, but we failed again in qualifying. I also have to admit that I was not in my best form during the weekend. It was the most difficult race of the year so far, because we made some tests with the electronics to get more power. From the eight lap on, I had pain in my right arm. I suffered a lot riding the bike and although the chassis is working well, the bike was too aggressive. Mugello should be better for us and I look forward to make a difference. The only good thing of this weekend is that we came with a 4 points lead in the standings for the Open Class and we leave with 5. But I’m disappointed, because we should do better.
MIKE DI MEGLIO #63 / DNF @Mikejpp63
I’m disappointed because I’ve made a good start. But on the first lap, Viñales and I touched and I lost many positions. Then, in the second lap, I crashed in the back straight chicane. It’s a pity because I was right there with the Open Class group and after so many crashes it would have been easy to score some points in my home race. If I have to take something positive from this race then it´s the fact that both bikes are working well now and we classified better on Saturday. We have to keep pushing and try again in Mugello.
MILLER UNFORTUNATE TO SLIDE OUT OF CONTENTION IN FRANCE
Jack Miller was unfortunate to leave the French Grand Prix empty-handed today as another strong and consistent weekend came to nothing after a crash on the 15th lap of 28 at Le Mans.
Starting from 18th on the grid the CWM LCR Honda rookie made a strong start to the race, making up three positions on the opening lap and moving up to 12th by the end of lap two.
However, with track temperatures up to 32ºC today compared to just 14ºC at the same time on Friday and 17ºC for qualifying yesterday, Miller found that his set-up was not ideal for the change in conditions and he started to lose front grip as the race approached mid-distance.
Despite battling valiantly to maintain his position, the Australian slid out of contention in turn four, bringing to a premature end another otherwise impressive and informative weekend.
Jack Miller #43 (DNF)
“We had a great start and I was going really good, I was happy with the way the race was going. After about six laps I was right behind Hayden and Petrucci but I was having a few too many moments, I kept losing the front and so I decided to drop the pace a little bit.
“It was still a decent pace but it wasn't what I needed, Maverick caught up and passed me so I tried to stay with him and see what we could do. About two laps later in the direction change at turn four I lost the front and couldn't save it. It's one of those things, the track temperature was almost twenty degrees hotter than we've had all weekend and we weren't quite prepared for it.
“Apart from that we have had a strong and consistent weekend so I am looking forward to taking the things we have learnt here to Mugello.”
Lorenzo sets record pace at Le Mans to secure second straight win
Round 5: French MotoGP™- Race
Sunday, May 17 2015
Le Mans, France
Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry. Ambient 18-18°C; Track 39-42°C (Bridgestone measurement)
The French Grand Prix was the venue for another dominant performance by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, as the Spanish rider won his second-successive race this season by producing the quickest ever race finishing time at the Le Mans circuit.
Starting from third on the grid, Lorenzo was able to out-brake Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso who got the holeshot, and by the end of the first lap the Yamaha rider had already built a one second gap from Dovizioso in second place. Once in the lead, Lorenzo was never headed and although his teammate Rossi managed to pass Dovizioso for second place, he couldn’t catch the leader and as the chequered flag was waved it was Lorenzo who was the victor by 3.280 seconds ahead of Rossi in second. Finishing a further eight seconds back in third place was Dovizioso who has now finished on the podium in all but one Grand Prix so far this season. Exemplifying his dominance today, Lorenzo’s overall race time was a new record for the French Grand Prix, beating the old mark by nineteen seconds. Meanwhile, Rossi set a new Le Mans Circuit Record Lap time of 1’32.8 on lap four – smashing the previous record by seven-tenths of a second.
Conditions on race day were markedly warmer than the previous two days of the race weekend, with a peak track temperature during the race of 42°C, over twenty degrees warmer than was recorded during qualifying. Although temperatures were much warmer, the riders used the same tyre combinations they preferred yesterday as there was no time to evaluate the harder front and rear tyre options in warm weather prior to the race. Every rider selected the soft compound front slick for the French Grand Prix, while the soft compound option was also the most popular rear slick option, with eighteen riders selecting it. The remaining seven riders selected the extra-soft compound rear slick.
Lorenzo’s second win in a row sees him leapfrog Dovizioso into second place in the championship standings and just fifteen points behind Rossi who maintains his lead in the championship. Dovizioso is now four points behind Lorenzo in third position on the points table.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“We had a record race day crowd of almost 94,000 at Le Mans today and they witnessed Jorge set a stunning pace over the twenty-eight laps. Congratulations to Jorge for his second victory this year and also Yamaha for a commanding 1-2 result. France is an important market for Bridgestone and so I am pleased that the MotoGP riders were able to show such strong performance on our tyres today, with new race lap and overall race time records being set. One great feature of this year’s championship battle is that we have so many riders capable of winning, and I can’t wait to see what the next race at Mugello in a couple of weeks’ time will bring.”
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Track temperatures were much higher today but as the riders didn’t have time to properly evaluate the medium compound front and rear slicks, no one decided to use these options today. Instead, the soft compound front and rear slicks were by far the most popular choice and they performed very well, with a new race lap record and overall race time record for Le Mans being set today. Le Mans is a circuit where the tarmac doesn’t offer very high levels of grip, but thankfully the track conditions today were quite good which in combination with our revised tyre allocation for this track made for some very strong and consistent performance.”
Jorge Lorenzo, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – Race Winner
“I had a very good start, and I could take overtake Dovizioso on the outside into turn two. It was then a hard fight with Dovizioso as the gap to him stayed at one second, and when I saw Valentino was behind me in second place, I knew I had to push more. I was able to build a gap and change my riding style to make the front tyre work better towards the end of the race. To get another win is important for the championship, so I am very happy.”