2010 MotoGP Le Mans Sunday Insider

May 23, 2010
Scott Mathews
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There are few people worthy of getting an audience with Mathews but he makes himself available on occasion to the racers of the Grand Prix paddock. If they’re lucky, he might even mention their name. He’s Scott Mathews, and he’s bringing you the inside scoop on MotoGP.

Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo hailed his French MotoGP success after he demolished Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi with his second successive premier class win. Lorenzo stalked his more experienced team-mate for the opening 12 laps before making his decisive move to secure his first ever back-to-back MotoGP success. The outcome never looked doubtful once Lorenzo hit the front, as he was comfortably able to leave Rossi trailing behind him.
With a time just 0.140 seconds off his team-mates pace  Jorge Lorenzo was able to get over an electronics issue for the third best time during Fridays practice at Round 3 of the 2010 MotoGP series.
Lorenzo was able to take the win at Le Mans by over five seconds from his teammate Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo eventually won with ease by over five seconds, and even the 23-year-old was surprised with how easy he had claimed his seventh MotoGP victory.

“Finally I made a good start. I can’t say we solved this problem because one good start doesn’t mean anything but I didn’t lose so much time in the first few laps and it is important to get my second victory in a row for the first time.”

“I feel so confident this year,” Lorenzo continued. “I can be more patient and ride better and today was proof of that. I kept my patience and understood that Valentino brakes late, so I waited for one mistake of his but he didn’t have many. I just waited and tried to be as close as possible on the exit of the corners. When I made the move it was easier than I expected to open up a gap. It was an easier race than Jerez.”

Lorenzo denied Rossi seeing any trouble with set-up issues or his damaged right shoulder as he chased the 31-year-old in the early stages.

“When he was in front of me I saw he was quite fast but not as fast as me on the corners. But he had good acceleration and good stability on the brakes.”

Meanwhile Valentino Rossi settled for second. Rossi conceded he was powerless to prevent Jorge Lorenzo from romping to a dominant victory in Sunday’s French MotoGP race at the iconic Le Mans track.

Valentino Rossi along with teammate Jorge Lorenzo took the top two qualifying spots at Le Mans during Round 3 of the 2010 MotoGP series.
Rossi expects a larger battle will develop for the Championship title as Casey Stoner and and Dani Pedrosa come into the mix.

The Italian led for 12 of the 28-laps, but once Lorenzo attacked Rossi had no answer to his hard charging team-mate’s blistering pace.

The nine-time world champion was able to ride home in a distant and lonely second-place but now trails Lorenzo by nine-points having twice been overshadowed by the Spaniard in the last month.

Rossi’s fears that his damaged right shoulder would suffer after 10 to 12 laps came true as he suddenly dropped off the pace in the second half of the race.
 
Signs that Rossi was struggling with his shoulder were obvious on Lap 15 when he suddenly slipped 1.505s behind his team-mate. And on Lap 16 Lorenzo was able to extend his lead by another 1.6s as Rossi faded quickly to a distant second.

Rossi said he wasn’t overly concerned by Lorenzo’s dazzling form. The 23-year-old’s victory was the first time in his career he managed to register back-to-back MotoGP wins.

“Having nine points of advantage is better than a disadvantage but it is not a lot and the championship is so long. What I don’t expect is to be fighting with just Jorge. I expect after the winter that (Casey) Stoner will be closer and also Dani (Pedrosa).”

Casey Stoner’s MotoGP title hopes suffered a crushing blow in Le Mans after the Australian crashed out for the second time in three races. The Australian’s latest mistake came on the third lap of the French MotoGP race while he was lying in a menacing fourth-place behind Fiat Yamaha duo Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa’s factory Honda.

Stoner lost the front-end of his factory Ducati GP10 and was unable to continue and he now sits in a lowly 13th in the series standings with just 11-points gained from the opening three rounds.

Casey Stoner at le Mans for Round 3 of the 2010 MotoGP series.
Casey Stoner took a DNF at Le Mans when his front-end washed-out, leaving him 13th in the overall standings.

Stoner is already a massive 59-points behind the championship leader and his latest crash followed his fall out of the lead in the season’s opening race in Qatar back in April.

The 2007 world champion also lost the front during practice in Jerez, saying: “I’m really disappointed because the bike has felt great all weekend. I pushed that bike really hard all weekend to see what the front-end would do. I didn’t have the same problem as Jerez and Qatar and it never faltered or wobbled when I pushed it. I was going through a corner that doesn’t put much pressure on the front tire. There’s not much to do in that corner other than being smooth on the way out and pick it up for the exit. So at the most unimportant part of a corner on the whole circuit I lost the front, and to be honest I have no idea why.”

Stoner did his best to shrug off the bitter frustration of his latest major setback and added: “It doesn’t take time to recover. If you are mature enough than you just stay in the present and go to a different track and look to the future. I’m not worried about what has happened and if I go to Mugello and don’t have any front-end issues than fine. Maybe I’ll be a little cautious but normally when I back-off I crash, so maybe I’ll go just as hard and fast as I can to the end.”

Nicky Hayden claimed fourth-place for the third time this season in Le Mans to continue his impressive start to 2010.

In fourth on the first lap after sweeping by factory Ducati team-mate Casey Stoner, the Kentucky rider occupied fifth-place for most of the 28-lap race before late drama extended his run of top-four finishes.

Hayden had done brilliantly to close down Repsol Honda duo Andrea Dovizioso and Dani Pedrosa in the final stages of a relatively uneventful 28-lap affair. When Spaniard Pedrosa ran wide just three corners from the end because of a rear brake issue, Hayden seized his chance.

Nicky Hayden: The second row for us is a positive result because to be honest my race pace hasnt been great and now weve given ourselves a chance because the start is so important here at Le Mans.
Kentucky rider Nicky Hayden was content with finishing fourth for the third time so far this season.

“I can’t be bummed out with fourth again because I rode absolutely as hard as I could. I couldn’t have done that race two tenths faster without crashing and to be close to the podium again and see it right there would have been nice. This weekend has not been easy. I’m pretty satisfied but sure it would have been nice to be a lot closer. I have to be happy and the team made a good step before the race. After the warm-up I thought we might be in with a good shot but there is some stuff that we still need to get better to catch those guys, especially in the beginning.”

For Dani Pedrosa a rear-brake problem cost him the chance to celebrate his 150th Grand Prix in style at the Le Mans circuit in France.

The Spaniard looked certain to claim his 40th MotoGP podium finish when he started the final lap in third-place.

Pedrosa did well fending off challenges from teammate Andrea Dovizioso and factory Ducati rider Nicky Hayden after he wasn’t able to close in on Valentino Rossi for second.

A rear brake issue, however, left him struggling to enter corners and control wheelies on the exit. The 24-year-old succumbed to Dovizioso at the first chicane on the final lap to surrender third. But worse was to follow as he lost fourth- place when he missed his braking marker, letting Hayden surge through to collect his third fourth-place of the 2010 campaign.

Being relegated to fifth also saw Pedrosa drop to third in the overall rankings.

“Well of course I’m not satisfied to have finished in this way because we were able to stay near the leaders for the first part of the race and then dropped back. Losing two places on the final lap is not a good feeling. My start was ok and I could stay near the front in the first few laps but later in the race I was making a lot of mistakes trying to maintain my pace. I had a bit of a rear brake issue, which meant I couldn’t get the bike into the turns as I wanted and I was fighting the bike a bit. Andrea rode well and pushed very hard at the end, so congratulations to him on the podium finish.”

Andrea Dovizioso was in a jubilant mood after he exacted revenge on Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa to claim third place in the French MotoGP race.
 

Andre Dovizioso  #4  begins his initial approach and eventual pass of Dani Pedrosa  #26  on the final lap at Le Mans.
Dovizioso (#4) got his revenge over Pedrosa (#26) when he capitalized on a rear brake issue that his teammate was having. 

A year ago Dovizioso lost third on the final lap to his Spanish teammate after Pedrosa had superbly pulled back from a ten-second deficit in a gripping flag-to-flag encounter.

But it was Dovizioso’s turn to celebrate on Sunday in front of over 82,000 fans at the Le Mans circuit.

The Italian claimed fourth-place on the third lap when Casey Stoner tumbled out at the Garage Vert corner and it was a position he held until the crucial final moments of the race.

With Pedrosa struggling to overcome a rear brake issue, Dovizioso pounced with a brilliant overtake at the first chicane on the final lap. Pedrosa tried to retaliate but ran wide and Dovizioso comfortably held his spot to claim his second podium finish in the first three races.

“I am so happy because we needed the podium, and also for last year when Dani pulled back ten seconds on me and passed me on the last lap. Everybody knows that Dani has really good acceleration so it was so difficult to be in the perfect position on the brakes to overtake him. He made the line to block me and it was really difficult. Nicky (Hayden) was really close as well so I needed to choose the strategy really fast.”

Dovizoso raced with a new chassis he first tried at the recent test session in Jerez, but he said Honda still had plenty of work to do to try and fight on a consistent basis with the dominant Japanese factory Yamaha.

American rider Ben Spies admitted he could not explain the cause of the crash that saw him fail to finish a second successive MotoGP race in 2010 at Le Mans.

The Texan was running in 11th position when he lost the front of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine at the third corner on Lap 7.

It ended a tough French MotoGP debut for the reigning World Superbike Champion who started the 28-lap race with a severely swollen left ankle after a big high-side in Saturday’s final practice session.

Rizla Suzukis Loris Capirossi qualified ninth in Saturdays practice session at Le Mans with a time of 134.306.
Loris Capirossi and Ben Spies both suffered crashes at Le Mans which prematurely ended their race.

“It was a tough weekend and I made it tough for myself. The crash on Saturday morning was my fault and missing a session didn’t help. I need as much track time as I can get so to miss a whole hour isn’t good. I got a good start and after the first two laps I got into a decent rhythm. Capirossi and Colin (Edwards) 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.”

Spies’ tumble came seconds after Loris Capirossi had lost control of his factory Suzuki GSV-R under identical circumstances.

The Italian veteran was also at a loss to explain what had happened and said: “In the race I started steadily because the grip was not too good. After a couple of laps I felt a bit better and increased my rhythm and got past Colin, but in Turn 3 I crashed. I leaned in and just lost the front, I don’t know why it happened and this is the third time I’ve crashed on the front and we will have to discover what’s causing it. During the weekend the feeling has been good and in warm-up I didn’t have any problems, but then in the race we struggled and I crashed.”

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