Monday, May 24


FIAT Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo won the French MotoGP on Sunday to extend his championship lead while Casey Stoner, Ben Spies and Loris Capirossi crashed out.

Stoner started from the front of the second row of the grid, was passed by Marlboro Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden in the first few corners but on the second lap the 2007 World Champion passed the 2006 World Champion and started closing on the front-runner trio of Valentino Rossi, Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Just as it appeared Stoner was about to get onto Pedrosa's tail, the crashed in a slow corner during the third lap. The overhead helicopter shot made it look as if the rear tyre had broken away, but Stoner said it was the front that went first. He said he was not pushing the bike hard and had not experienced any problems with his GP10 earlier in the weekend, had been fastest in the warm-up session in the morning and was therefore extremely frustrated after targeting a first podium of the 2010 season.

“I pushed that bike around all weekend and it had been almost faultless,” he explained. “I did need to get it hooked up a little better out of the corners but we had not had a problem with the front-end all weekend, so there was no reason for it. I went through that corner and lost the front about halfway through it, and it’s not really a corner where you are pushing.” He continued: “We need to start figuring out what’s going wrong and so far we have not made the Championship start we wanted to. It’s making things extremely difficult, if not impossible for us. So we just have to look to the next race.”

Stoner’s race pace throughout the weekend had indicated that he would challenge at the front, and he commended race winner Jorge Lorenzo’s display.

“I’m extremely disappointed,” Stoner stated. “We had a really good shot at giving Jorge a run for his money. Obviously he was going to be the one we were going to try and battle with. He made the others look a little silly today, and my hat goes off to him. It would have been nice to be up front.”

With Stoner out, Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa slowly pulled away from the rest, led by Andrea Dovizioso, who had passed Hayden just after Stoner crashed. Behind Hayden, the order was Marco Melandri (San Carlo Gresini Honda), Randy De Puniet (LCR Honda), Colin Edwards (Tech3 Yamaha), Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki), Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Gresini Honda) and Ben Spies on the second Tech 3 Yamaha.

Capirossi started to up the pace, passing Edwards on lap six, and began to open a gap on the American, before crashing. He was able to re-mount his Suzuki GSV-R, but was unable to get the motor running again and was forced to retire. Capirossi was at odds to explain what caused the crash – similar to the one last time out in Jerez.

Moments later, Spies was out of the running, like Stoner and Capirossi, suffering a front-end lose.

"I got a good start and after the first two laps I got into a decent rhythm," the Texan reported. "Capirossi and Colin started to come back to me a little bit and I was feeling quite confident. But I looked up and saw Capirossi lose the front at the third corner and as soon as I tipped in, I lost the front too and I was down. It was a weird crash but luckily I didn't pick up any further injury. Now I can take this week off and rest and go to Mugello to push at 100 per cent. It has been a rough last couple of races but I'm still confident I can be closer to the front when things are right and be doing a lot better."

Out front Rossi was leading with Lorenzo shadowing his team-mate's every move, looking for an opening.

The fight for the win started on lap seven when Lorenzo took the lead from Rossi, only to see the Italian immediately reclaim it. Undeterred, Lorenzo pushed again on lap 12, this time making his move stick as he moved into first and began to open up an advantage.

As the Yamaha duo occupied the top two spots, the battle for third was also extremely engrossing, and involved another pair of team-mates. Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa and Dovizioso were tight in third and fourth, with Hayden refusing to lose touch in fifth.

Lorenzo’s lead over Rossi at the front had stretched to over four seconds with four laps to go, and Pedrosa and Dovizioso were by now locked in a duel for the final podium spot. Marco Simoncelli, Colin Edwards and Héctor Barberá were involved in another tricky encounter for eighth position, as was Hiroshi Aoyama (Interwetten Honda) until a 'moment' on his bike saw him lose valuable seconds.

A thrilling last lap played out as Dovizioso forced his way through on Pedrosa to take third, and Hayden also squeezed past the Spaniard after he ran wide. Lorenzo crossed the line to take victory with a gap of 5.672 seconds over Rossi, with Dovizioso taking his second podium of the season in third place.

Hayden finished fourth for the third consecutive race, with Pedrosa ending the race in fifth. Melandri was sixth as a pre-race switch of suspension paid off for him, with Randy de Puniet taking seventh in his home GP. The top ten was completed by Hector Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar Ducati), Aleix Espargaró (Pramac Ducati)and Simoncelli. Aoyama took 11th place, and was followed by Edwards and Mika Kallio (Pramac Ducati).

Jorge Lorenzo’s commanding win not only extended his lead at the top of the MotoGP World Championship to nine points, but also delivered the 23 year-old back-to-back victories in the premier class for the first time in his career.

"I am so happy to win for the second race in a row, it's the first time for me in MotoGP and it makes me feel very confident in myself,” enthused Lorenzo, whose practice of his race starts paid off. “Finally I made a good start, which I'm really happy about, then I easily got past Pedrosa.”

He continued: “Passing Valentino wasn't so easy because he was braking so deep and I had to be very patient, something that I might not have managed one year ago! Finally I overtook him but I didn't expect to be able to get away like that. My bike and Bridgestone tyres just felt so good and it wasn't difficult for me to keep this pace up.”

Lorenzo won the MotoGP race at the French circuit last year and was second in his premier class debut at Le Mans the year before, and he added: “I have had a good time in Le Mans since I joined Yamaha; one second place and two victories, so I think I can say I enjoy racing here in France!”

There was also another interesting celebration from the Spaniard as he pulled up a chair in front of a big screen after taking the chequered flag and ate popcorn, following on from his water-based antics at the last round at Jerez.

Focusing on the fourth round at Mugello in a fortnight, a track at which he finished second last season, Lorenzo expects a tough battle to maintain his advantage at the top of the standings.

“It is fantastic to be leading the Championship but there is a long way to go and now we go to Mugello, a track that I love but where my rivals are very strong,” he concluded.

1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 44'29.114
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0'05.672
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 0'07.872
4 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 0'09.346
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0'12.613
6 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0'21.918
7 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 0'29.288
8 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 0'33.128
9 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 0'33.493
10 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 0'33.805
11 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 0'34.346
12 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 0'37.123
13 Mika Kallio Ducati FIN 0'55.061

Fastest Lap: Lorenzo, 1m 34.455s - 159.352 km/h (lap 15). Lap record: Valentino Rossi, 1m 34.215s - 159.910 km/h (2008).

For detailed results, click on this link: