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2009 MotoGP - Le Mans Photo Gallery

Round 4 of the 17 session 2009 MotoGP Championship took the riders to the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans, France. Check out the full 2009 MotoGP Le Mans Results.

Slideshow
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Valentino Rossi burning-out in front of the Eiffel tower on a special edition Monster Energy Yamaha YZF-R1.
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Rossi in front of the Arc de Triomphe on the western end of the Champs-Élysées.
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Valentino Rossi: 'It’s my first time to the Eiffel Tower so I was pleased to do that, we all had some fun out there. I’m looking forward to this weekend at Le Mans now.'
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Rossi leads the Championship headed into Le Mans. Adding insult to his competitors' injuries is the fact that he appears to be just playing a game.
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Calm, collected, and focused, Ducati Marlboro's Casey Stoner hoped to catch Rossi off-guard and reclaim the Championship points lead.
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The rainy Sunday morning meant all the riders started the race on rain tires, and the Rizla Suzuki umbrella girls had thier work cut out for them keeping Vermuelen and Capirossi dry.
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Plus they had to figure out how to keep themselves dry, which was harder than it might sound. Then it stopped raining and got sunny, which threw a monkey-wrench in the whole operation.
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The umbrella girls deemed the weather to confusing to umbrella, and soon gave up. Strangely, no one was upset by their lack of effort. The End.
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San Carlo Honda Gresini felt that Toni Elias needed to lighten-up about his 11th place qualifing position.
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With Alex de Angelis starting at an abysmal 16th on the grid, San Carlo Honda Gresini spared no expense in getting him the serious support he needed.
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This is how the world looks if you spend all you time pushing 200 mph on a motorcycle.
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Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo qualified second for the Sunday race in Le Mans, behind Honda's Dani Pedrosa.
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Lorenzo, starting from second, slipped a place at the start but had passed both Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa by the end of the first lap to take the lead.
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By lap five a dry line had begun to appear and a few riders chose to make early pit stops to change bikes. The 22-year-old Spaniard however was feeling comfortable and had an excellent pace on his Bridgestone wets and so he stayed out, constantly stretching his lead.
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In the end he was the last of the front-runners to pit, a gamble which paid off brilliantly as he was by then nearly 34 seconds clear and was able to rejoin the race in the lead on lap 13.
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Once he had bit of heat in his slick tyres the youngster put his head down and kept his nerve for the remaining 15 laps.
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Lorenzo eventually took the chequered flag an impressive 17.710 seconds clear of second-placed Marco Melandri.
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Starting 9th on the grid Marco Melandri improved upon his incredible fifth in Spain as he claimed his first podium, powering into second behind Lorenzo. The only Kawasaki rider in the paddock now sits fifth in the points standings.
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Dani Pedrosa had started strong, completing the first lap in second, but then he started slipping backwards. He decided to change to dry tires along with Valentino Rossi (Yamaha).
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After seeing Rossi crash, the Spaniard slowed down and dropped to 12th after seven laps, Pedrosa steadily got up to speed on his slicks and then started clawing his way back to the front.
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He made it into fourth place on lap 14, finally passing Dovizioso as they braked for the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane for the 28th and final time. The result puts Pedrosa fourth overall in the World Championship, just nine points behind Lorenzo.
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Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), 3rd: 'Towards the end of the race when I had sufficient temperature in my tyres I was able to get into a rhythm and go faster and faster – eventually closing the gap on Andrea. In the end I caught and passed him on the last lap – really close to the finish. He was riding very well and made it hard to pass, but I was able to get the place, so I’m happy with the podium today.'
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Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) was disappointed at losing out on his first podium finish for Repsol Honda but nonetheless the result was his best so far this year.
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The Italian was riding superbly, moving up to second place during the early stages of the race. He slipped to fourth after changing tyres but soon moved back into third place, holding that position until the final few corners.
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Stoner had the second fastest lap time during the Friday free practice session.
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On Saturday he had third fastest time, which put him on the front row of the grid with a good shot at another podium or win.
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Despite making an excellent start Stoner was not totally comfortable with his wet set-up and struggled during the early stages, dropping from second place to seventh in just three laps.
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After changing to a bike fitted with slick tyres he then encountered a problem with his steering damper, which he managed to fix himself but lost valuable time as a result.
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Once he got back into his rhythm he was able to pass compatriot Chris Vermeulen for fifth place and pick up eleven crucial points that leave him level in the championship with Valentino Rossi on 65 points
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Stoner: 'I’m pretty disappointed because I don’t think we realised our potential at all today – the wet bike we started with had a big problem and I couldn’t find any traction from the warm-up lap. I never felt comfortable and I was losing a lot of time but it still wasn’t dry enough to come in for slick tyres.'
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Stoner: 'Then when I switched over my other bike had a problem with the steering damper and after four laps I had to take my hand off the gas coming down the straight to fix it.'
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Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) was the fourth fastest rider during the Friday practice session in Le Mans, France with a lap time of 1’36.301.
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The Brit took the 7th spot during the final qualifying session on Saturday, starting on the second row for Sunday's race.
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Vermeulen delayed his decision to come into the pits to change to his Suzuki GSV-R with slick tyres. After changing tires he rejoined the race two places further down the field and managed to get up to fifth, but wasn't able to hold the place from Stoner.
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Vermeulen: 'It was a really difficult race - which I am sure everyone else will say. We started on wets and we hadn't done any wet testing so it was really tough for the engineers to get the bike set up for the conditions. They did a really good job and the bike felt reasonable.'
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Vermuelen: 'When the track started to dry out I saw Rossi crash and thought that it wasn't dry enough for slicks yet, so I stayed out a bit longer - probably a couple of laps too long - and it made things a bit difficult towards the end.'
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Texan Edwards was left to rue a missed opportunity to claim a second successive podium in Le Mans after a disappointing start from sixth on the grid in wet conditions.
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Once Edwards switched to his Monster Yamaha YZR-M1 fitted with slick tyres on lap 11 as the track dried rapidly, the 35-year-old produced a stunning surge through the field.
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Edwards: 'To only finish seventh is a bit frustrating when you look at my times in the dry. At the end of the day I rode a good second half of the race. But the first half wasn't great and that cost me. I'm confident for Mugello though and hopefully we'll get plenty of dry track time.'
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He passed team-mate Toseland with five laps remaining and at the end he was just over two seconds away from the top six having set the third fastest lap of the race.
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Loris Capirossi took the brave step of coming in to change to dry tyres very early in the race and the gamble nearly cost him dearly as twice he lost grip on wet patches and ran off the track.
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Capirossi continued to battle on and although he never found a comfortable rhythm he still brought his machine home in eighth to score valuable points.
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Capirossi: 'We changed to a slick tyre really early on in the race and it was still a bit too wet to do that. It wasn't really a mistake, more a gamble that didn't work, as I made a couple of mistakes on the damp patches and ran off.'
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Capirossi: 'I tried to keep my rhythm, but I found I had the same problem as yesterday that when the track dried out I just didn't have enough grip. I tried hard, but Colin went past in the last few laps and I just didn't have enough to attack him back.'
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Loris Capirossi now sits ninth in the Championship with 27 points. The Italian rider looks forward to returning to Italy for the next race in Mugello.
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James Toseland (Yamaha Tech 3) set a stunning pace on wet tyres in the early stages and fought his way through from 12th on the grid to seventh.
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The British rider changed bikes to slick tires as conditions improved on lap seven and for a while he closely pursued Australian duo Casey Stoner and Chris Vermeulen. He eventually claimed his second top ten finish of the campaign.
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Toseland: 'I've never been in a flag-to-flag race before and it is definitely different. It was nice to be fighting up there again but on the other hand a bit frustrating because I think we could have had a seventh. It's not the best finish but I really feel we have made a step forward here and my team is working great.'
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San Carlo Honda Gresini teammates Toni Elias and Alex De Angelis had a great duel for the final place in the top ten, Elias beating De Angelis by just three tenths of a second.
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Elias had been the last rider to change to his slick-equipped bike, the Spaniard coming into the pits just before half-distance.
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It was a heroic ride from Elias who has 30 stitches in his right arm, the legacy of a recent operation to fix ‘arm pump’ problems.
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Alex de Angelis took 11th which was an improvement over the Sanmarinese rider's 14th in Spain and a notable accomplishment after qualifying 16th in Le Mans.
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Alex de Angelis: 'I was taking a lot of risks to keep my pace up and then when we got more heat into the tyre I was able to set a good pace. Basically the race ended up to be better than I was expecting but we can still do much better than this so that is the target for the next race at Mugello.'
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The rain-shortened Friday practice session in Le Mans was bad news for Nicky Hayden who desperately needs time to sort his new Ducati.
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It was a positive weekend overall for Nicky Hayden, who wasn’t blessed with the ideal conditions to begin working with a new Chief Mechanic but still made progress throughout the weekend and put in an impressive race performance.
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Hayden: 'The conditions were tricky and sometimes you have races that aren’t exactly what you’ve planned. It’s actually good fun on the grid making late decisions on set-up and tyres and things, with the track being wet but the sun shining. I got a decent start and even though I’ve had very little time on this bike in the rain my feeling was pretty good and I was able to move up a few spots.'
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Lapping in fourth place before changing machines the American was battling for eighth in the second, dry half of the race when Mika Kallio crashed, the Finn’s Ducati making contact with Hayden’s and causing it some light damage, as well as forcing the American off track.
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Hayden, 12th: 'I was actually as high as eight at one point but I got unlucky again when Kallio crashed and his bike slid into me. I was lucky to save it because the impact was hard – you can see the rubber on the side of my bike – and I ran off track. It cost me time and positions and also damaged the front wheel sensor.'
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A twelfth place finish was somewhat of a disappoint for Hayden after showing improvement throughout the weekend.
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'Overall it’s not a great result but it has been a weekend where me and Juan have been able to work a lot together for the first time, we’ve tried to build an understanding and hopefully we can go forward from here.' - Nicky Hayden
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Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing), 13th: 'This was my first time competing in a race like that, with bike changes. The conditions were tricky, so it was a difficult GP. My start in the wet conditions wasn’t great but once I got into a rhythm I was able to overtake a few rivals.'
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Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) didn’t have the home race he deserved, the Frenchman finishing 14th, just two weeks after his brilliant ride to fourth place at Jerez.
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Randy de Puniet: 'I am very disappointed for the team and for the fans because I had a very bad race today.
At the beginning, on rain tyres, I was not comfortable with the front end. Then I switched to my other bike on slick tyres but I made a mistake on Turn Four, which lost me a few seconds. After that I struggled I lot and could not ride the way I would normally expect to ride.'
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Randy de Puniet: 'We started the weekend with the right package and I was aiming at getting a better result. However, I did score two points and I am tenth in the overall standings. Now I’m looking forward to racing at Mugello in hopefully better weather conditions.'
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It was the first Gran Prix ridden on the Le Mans circuit for Pramac Racing's Niccolò Canepa.
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Canepa rode out a tough race to conquer another world championship point, the third of the season.
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Canepa: 'A strange race. I lost a lot of time after changing bike. I took too much time to get the rhythm. Then, in the last five or six laps of the race, I was riding really well and this gives me a lot of trust for the next race at Mugello. Finally a track that I know well and where I will try not only to continue to drop my distance from the firsts riders but also my position in the standing.'
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Valentino Rossi qualified for 4th to cap-off the final row of the starting grid for Sunday's race in Le Mans.
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The Italian was in second behind his team-mate when he elected for an early bike change, coming in to swap onto his second M1 on dry Bridgestones after just five laps.
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Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi was the first man to change to slick tyres, but his decision proved precipitous and he crashed during his out lap, with the track still damp in places.
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He returned to the pits next time around to swap back onto his other bike, with the rules stipulating that he had to keep one wet tyre with the second bike change.
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A problem with the Italian's pit-limiter meant he was penalised for speeding on exit and forced to return once again two laps later to perform a ride-through penalty.
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His final visit to the garage came on lap 11 when he changed once again onto a fully-dry machine, but by then he was some two laps adrift and he finished in 16th.
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Rossi: 'I decided to change bikes early because usually this strategy – being among the first to change the bike – pays off. Of course I knew that I had to warm the tyres up a little bit but I crashed anyway in that corner because at that point the track was still wet and I just didn’t ride into it in a calm enough manner.'
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Rossi: 'We’ve had problems throughout the entire weekend with the set-up of the bike and today I was just hoping that I could stay with the riders in front and get some important points for the championship. Now we go to Mugello, my home GP, where I will perhaps be even more motivated than usual!'
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Pramac Racing's Mika Kallio was in ninth position until he slipped on some remaining water and went of the track. The Finish rider did not finish the race.
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Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner are now tied in second with 65 points each, one point behind new Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo.
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Lorenzo let everyone know that his guns were drawn and he was ready for a Championship shoot-out with Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa. Let the battle begin.
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Le Mans is the third straight podium for Dani Pedrosa. He now stands eight points behind the Rossi and Stoner, within striking distance of the Championship.
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The Spanish Fist Jab, it hurts a little more the second time it strikes.
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The MotoGP Le Mans Podium (left to right): Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) in second, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) with the Super Mario Jump win, and Dani Pedrosa (Honda) in thrid
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Lorenzo: What were saying about me after I crashed-out of my home race in Spain? Too rookie to pull off another win?
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We'll see you again in Mugello, Italy for Round 5 of the MotoGP Championship.