Tire Temps Slow Stoner at Le Mans

May 21, 2012
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.

Lorenzo  center  in first  Rossi  left  in second and Stoner  right  in third.
Jorge Lorenzo (center) in first, Valentino Rossi (left) in second and Casey Stoner (right) in third at Le Mans.

Casey Stoner lost the lead in the MotoGP world championship in Le Mans after temperature issues with his wet weather Bridgestone tires left him in third position. The Aussie, who announced he will retire from racing at the end of 2012 on the eve of the French Grand Prix, was unable to hold off a hard charging Valentino Rossi on the final lap of an exciting 28-lap race.

With Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo romping to an impressive win in difficult conditions, Stoner now trails the Spaniard by eight points heading to next month’s fifth round at the Catalunya track near Barcelona.

The 26-year-old’s tire temperature problems were a handicap at the start and end of the race, which took place in front of a crowd of over 80,000 fans.

Said Stoner: “At the beginning of the race I was just trying to stay up. I couldn’t get temperature in the rear tire when there was more standing water on the track. As I got the tire warmed up and lost a bit of the pressure from behind I was able to catch Jorge and then unfortunately the rain stopped and the level of water went away and as soon as that happened we got too much temperature. As soon as that happened we lost all grip on the rear. We noticed in the warm-up that our rear tire didn’t really warm-up. I did two sighting laps before the grid to try and get some temperature into it to scrub the tire but it didn’t seem to work too well. At the start myself and Dani (Pedrosa) seemed to be suffering with the same problem. We were struggling to exit the corner with no edge grip on the side. The edge grip was by far the worst, especially on the left side. As soon as I tipped in it wanted to come around. Any left corner as soon I cracked the throttle it was a problem but at the end of the race with temperature in the tire it was the same both sides. As soon as we went into the turn the rear wanted to come round and if you gathered it in and touched the throttle it would go

Stoner out ahead of Rossi  though the tables were about to turn.
Stoner out ahead of Rossi at Le Mans, but the tables were about to turn as the Doctor powered forward.

again. That was for a long time and by that time Jorge had opened up a huge gap with lap times I couldn’t match. I started to have a lot of pressure from behind from Valentino and didn’t really know what to do. Each time I pushed the rear would step out of line and it was too much of a risk. We kept going at the pace we had and the tires seemed to come better with a bit more rain. I decided to try and catch Jorge, even though it was a long shot and we were taking chunks out of him. Unfortunately the rain stopped and the track dried out a lot and our tire temperature just went up way too high. We had no grip and I was going into corners with the rear coming round on me and it was a bit scary. To come home third and have a nice battle with Valentino and get some points was a good day for us when it had looked pretty bleak.”

Rossi and Stoner Recall Jerez 2011 Collision

Stoner and rival Valentino Rossi admitted having flashbacks to controversial collision in last year’s Jerez MotoGP race after they battled for the podium in an exciting finale to yesterday’s French Grand Prix.

Last year’s Jerez race served up one of the most controversial moments of the season after Rossi crashed and took out Stoner while they were racing for the rostrum in a rain-hit clash.

Rossi went to the Repsol Honda garage with his AGV helmet still on to apologize to Stoner, who then delivered the now legendary retort: “Did your ambition outweigh your talent?”

Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner locked in battle toward the end of the Le Mans race.
Valentino Rossi finally ahead of Casey Stoner, heading to the checkers to take his second place finish at Le Mans.

Yesterday’s Le Mans race was played out in almost identical conditions but this time there was no repeat of Rossi’s blunder as he executed a clinical last lap overtake to claim second. That secured him his best Ducati result but the 33-year-old confessed to thinking about his overzealous move in Jerez while in pursuit of Stoner’s RC213V machine.

The nine-time world champion said: “Unfortunately last year I know that I had a special chance in Jerez to try for the podium and I made a mistake and behave a little bit like a young rider. Unfortunately I also took Casey but this time I was behind him and I stayed behind and I know he had a good pace. I stayed behind him while always thinking about the mistake of last year.”

Stoner said he too had recalled the Jerez collision when hearing the engine of Rossi’s factory Ducati Desmosedici on his tail in the final stages of the 28-lap race. The double world champion said: “I could feel when he was right behind at the start that he was thinking about Jerez. I wasn’t in a good position at that point and didn’t have such a good feeling and I could hear Valentino getting on the gas very early and attempting some overtakes. I expected to see a bike coming up the inside but he didn’t, so I knew immediately he was thinking about this. But I also knew at the end of the race when he had a second chance he wasn’t going to think about it. I tried to hold on and do everything I could in the braking points but we had nothing for him.”

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