2007 MotoGP Le Mans Results

May 20, 2007
Ken Hutchison
Ken Hutchison
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The ulcers keep piling on for the warden of the MotoUSA asylum. With the inmates running rampant around the globe, Hutch has opted to get in on the madness more these days than in years past and is back in the saddle again.

The Alice Grand Prix de France started under dry conditions but that all changed by the tenth lap when the track surface became a slippery rain-soaked mess that really shook up the regular order of things in the premier class.

Rizla Suzukis Chris Vermeulen celebrates his first career MotoGP win with a wheelie across the finish line at Le Mans. - Le Mans
Chris Vermeulen: “The bike felt really good in the rain, but as it got heavier it made it hard to hold the bike in top gear down the straight – there was so much water it was just spinning the rear.”

Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen earned his first career MotoGP victory over Gresini Honda’s Marco Melandri and point leader Casey Stoner and his Marlboro Ducati. Stoner extended his championship lead over Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi who was fortunate to slide into sixth place late in the deluged race.

With the track completely saturated by lap 10 and both Carlos Checa and Toni Elias falling down on the way back to the paddock the entire field was forced to pit and switch to bikes fitted for wet racing. Vermeulen took control of the race from there and went on to win easily over Melandri. The win ends a six year drought for Suzuki.

“I’m absolutely over the moon,” exclaimed Vermeulen. “I am really happy for myself, my crew and everyone involved in the team. We’d had a difficult weekend coming into the race as not everything quite went to plan – but we were getting quicker and quicker and I’m sure if it had been dry today we would have improved more. The conditions were slippery to start with and it was difficult to know how hard to push. Some guys came past me and then a lap or so later they crashed. It started to rain quite heavy and I decided to come in and change my bike. I came back out and just stuck my head down and tried to get the tires up to heat up as quick as possible. Tom O’Kane – my Crew Chief – and the rest of the guys gave me a really good wet bike today as we hadn’t done much wet testing with the new 800. The tire choice was spot-on and the bike was certainly good enough to win on!”

Behind the podium finishers was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Pramac Ducati’s Alex Hoffman who earned a career-best fifth place for the satellite squad. Defending champion Nicky Hayden was working his way to a top five finish when a spectacular crash destroyed his Repsol Honda with only two laps remaining. His bad luck allowed Rossi to move into sixth place, just ahead of Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins.

Stoner’s third-place podium finish now gives the second-year MotoGP rider a 21-point edge on Rossi in the championship.

“I was surprised to stay upright really! I thought it was going to be difficult to finish because a lot of people were slipping off for what looked like no reason,” said Stoner. “In the first part of the race it was light rain and there were a lot of people going fast but a couple of corners later they’d be on the ground, so you weren’t too sure how hard to push. We got through that part, got on the wet-weather tires at the right time and from there just tried to play it smart. I felt like we did that today, we did everything right. I went back to eighth or ninth or something – I couldn’t really see my pit board with all the rain – then at the end we managed to pull back up to a podium position and bring it home.”

Le Mans Results:
1. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki)
2. Marco Melandri (Honda)
3. Casey Stoner (Ducati)
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda)
5. Alex Hoffman (Ducati)
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha)
7. John Hopkins (Suzuki)
8. Loris Capirossi (Ducati)
9. Makoto Tamada (Yamaha)
10. Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha)
11. Fonsi Nieto (Kawasaki)
12. Colin Edwards (Yamaha)
DNF: Alex Barros (Ducati)
DNF: Kenny Roberts (Team KR)
DNF: Nicky Hayden (Honda)
DNF: Shinya Nakano (Honda)
DNF: Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki)
DNF: Toni Elias (Honda)
DNF: Carlos Checa (Honda)

Championship Standings:
1. Stoner, 102
2. Rossi, 81
3. Pedrosa, 62
4. Melandri, 61
5. Vermeulen, 55

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