Casey Stoner closed the points gap on both Pedrosa and Lorenzo with a dominating performance at Le Mans.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner closed the gap on his championship rivals at Le Mans, the Australian taking his first career victory at the French circuit. Joining the Stoner on the MotoGP
podium was teammate Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati’s Valentino Rossi. Points leader Jorge Lorenzo placed fourth in the 28-lap race, with Repsol’s Dani Pedrosa crashing out of the race in a controversial incident.
Things started well for Pedrosa, the Spaniard shooting out to an early lead in the opening lap. The pole-setting Stoner, who had dominated practice and qualifying throughout the weekend, made the pass for the lead the next lap. Pedrosa continued to hold a podium pace, challenged by the hard-charging Simoncelli. The duo swapped positions, making contact on the last exchange with Pedrosa down and out, breaking his collarbone in the crash. Simoncelli was served a ride through penalty for the incident, relegating the Italian to his fifth-place result.
Stoner was uncatchable at the front, powering on to a 14 second margin of victory. Dovizioso fended off the advances of Rossi for a battle over second, Le Mans the best showing of both riders thus far in 2011.
As for Lorenzo, the points leader had an odd beginning to his 150th career Grand Prix, having crashed his M1 in the morning warm-up session. It didn’t prevent Lorenzo from running as high second, before losing ground to Dovizioso, Rossi and Simoncelli.
Post ride-through Simoncelli was found himself battling for the final top-five position against Ben Spies. The factory Yamaha man would finish sixth, followed by fellow American Nicky Hayden.
Dani Pedrosa held the early lead, though soon fell to second behind teammate Casey Stoner, and then out of the race entirely courtesy of Marco Simoncelli.
Andrea Dovizioso nabbed his best result of the year in second, as did Valentino Rossi
Gresini Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama placed eighth, with Ducati satellite riders Hector Barbera (Mapfre Aspar) and Karel Abraham (Cardion AB).
Pedrosa’s DNF was the most prominent on the day, but not the only carnage at Le Mans. Cal Crutchlow binned his Tech 3 Yamaha on Lap 5, having started from a career-best sixth on the grid. Teammate Colin Edwards also crashed mid-race, though the Texan was able to remount and gather three championship points by finishing 13th a full two laps down on the field. Loris Capirossi suffered a crash-out DNF, as did French rider Randy de Puniet.
Stoner’s victory vaults the 2007 champ to second in the points, cutting Lorenzo’s lead to 12. Pedrosa’s disastrous day drops the Repsol rider to third at 61 points, five behind his teammate. The third Repsol, Dovizioso, holds fourth in the standings courtesy of his impressive 20-point haul at Le Mans. Rossi is fifth, 31 points behind Lorenzo.
The incident between Simoncelli and Pedrosa will generate considerable controversy. Simoncelli and his riding tactics were the main point of contention at Estoril, where the Italian had a tense press conference exchange with Lorenzo regarding comments the reigning champ made about the former rider's aggressiveness. Post race Simoncelli defended his move on Pedrosa, claiming the ride through penalty from Race Direction was in response to the recent controversy not the moves actual merits. The Pedrosa camp obviously feels differently.
"I was having a good race, the goal was to ensure another podium and I had it in my grasp," said Pedrosa after the race. "But it counts for nothing. Simoncelli overtook me, I passed him back and I had the better line, he just came into me releasing the brakes and I could do nothing. I leave here with a broken collarbone and he with a ride through penalty, good for him! Yet again I come out worse off. We only just recovered from the nightmare of the last operation and now I’m hurt again. It is very unfair, I don’t deserve it".
2011 MotoGP Le Mans Results:
The first-ever all Repsol podium looked possible at Le Mans, until unofficial fourth factory HRC man, Simoncelli, barged his way forward.
1. Casey Stoner (Honda)
2. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) +14.214
3. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) +14.564
4. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) +21.075
5. Marco Simoncelli (Honda)+31.245
6. Ben Spies (Yamaha) +31.609
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) +35.566
8. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) +51.502
9. Hector Barbera (Ducati) +1'03.731
10. Karel Abraham (Ducati) +1'03.885
11. Toni Elias (Honda)+1'04.068
12. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) +1'04.192
13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) +2 Laps
DNF Loris Capirossi (Ducati) +7 Laps
DNF Dani Pedrosa (Honda) +11 Laps
DNF Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) +22 Laps
DNF Randy de Puniet (Ducati) +27 Laps
Repsol scored a pair of Grand Prix wins at Le Mans with Marc Marquez claiming victory in the Moto2 race. The Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol rider took the top spot ahead of Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) and the points leader Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing). The Le Mans Moto2 result is the first win of the year for Suter-chassis machinery, a Moriwaki and Kalex also on the steps. Finishing just off the podium were Suter riders Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar) and Thomas Luthi (Interwetten).
The win for Marquez is the first points scoring result for the Spaniard. His 25-point haul moves him into ninth overall. Bradl still holds the top spot, the German 28 points up on the second-place Simon. Speed Master rider Andrea Iannone retains third in the standings, the Italian crashing out of the Le Mans race on the opening lap.
American Kenny Noyes just missed out of scoring points, placing 17th in the 40-rider strong Moto2 grid.
2011 Moto2 Le Mans Results:
1. Marc Marquez (Suter)
2. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) +1.982
3. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) +2.237
4. Julian Simon (Suter) +2.349
5. Thomas Luthi (Suter) +2.609
6. Aleix Espargaro (Kalex) +12.295
7. Simone Corsi (FTR) +18.739
8. Dominique Aegerter (Suter) +18.918
9. Bradley Smith (Tech 3) +20.408
10. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) +20.566
11. Jules Cluzel (Suter) +23.225
12. Randy Krummenacher (Kalex) +23.359
13. Pol Espargaro (FTR) +23.676
14. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) +24.756
15. Max Neukirchner (Honda) +25.063
DNF Mika Kallio (Suter)
DNF Andrea Iannone (Suter)