Honda Repsol Team’s Dani Pedrosa (above) has become the first rider to win two races in the 2013 MotoGP season, coming from sixth position on the grid in mixed conditions at Le Mans. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Tech3) seized his first podium of the season in second place, giving him a career-best result. Pedrosa’s partner and pole sitter, Marc Marquez finished third after a poor start dropped him to ninth position.
For the second year in succession, the field was presented with a wet track for the start of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. All competitors duly elected to fit the Soft compound wet weather tyres for both front and rear wheels, although this resulted in an extremely difficult final handful of laps as the tarmac dried out.
Pedrosa’s ride to a first victory at Le Mans in the premier class was a calculated but exciting one. Having crashed in qualifying, he stayed out of trouble at the start and passed Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Honda rider then caught Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who had fought into the lead from a front row start and continually re-passed Pedrosa whenever the latter made a mistake. Places were swapped for the final time mid-way through the race.
After Le Mans, Pedrosa becomes the championship leader with 83 points, six ahead of teammate Marquez.
On Saturday, Crutchlow fractured the top of his shin but was given the green light to race before the Warm-Up session. From fourth on the grid, he avoided the hazards of a slippery track to pass former teammate Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), who lost momentum exiting the final corner with only a handful of laps to go.
Having achieved his second pole position, Marquez was caught out by wheelspin on a damp track and dropped to ninth position, but went on to take advantage of incidents in front of him and passed numerous rivals including Andrea Dovizioso finishing third in his first wet-weather MotoGP race. Marquez – championship leader heading into the day – maintains his 100% podium finish record for 2013.
“It was a very good race for me. I’m so happy with this one because I lost some position sliding at the start but recovered at the first turn. I had no grip on the rear, but tried to stay in front with Dovvy (Dovizioso) and Lorenzo. I started to have some good feeling in the wet, so I tried to push but made a couple of mistakes and almost went off twice.
“I was able to hang on and just keep up the rhythm, so I could escape out in front and ride with good pace. The bike was working well; the tyres were spinning a lot with the drying line in the last laps, but I was able to manage the gap and bring home this victory which is so special.”
“I’m really, really pleased. It’s great to be up here with the Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha team as it’s their home race and the Monster Energy (sponsored) event, so we are pleased to be able to do it for the team.
“I had a big crash yesterday and I think it was going to be a difficult race if it was dry; I had confidence I would be there in the top five but maybe the podium would have been difficult. I was remembering what happened here last year, when I crashed out, and it was the same guys again; me, Dovvy (Dovizioso) and Vale (Valentino Rossi) were all together again at one point, so I knew I needed to make amends from last year and we finally got the podium.”
“It was so difficult, especially in the beginning with that water on the track. I had only ridden a few laps in the wet, at Jerez. First I made a big mistake with wheelspin at the start, so I’ll take a lot of experience from that! In the beginning I maybe tried to push too much and made many, many mistakes and lost lots of time.
“I took the feeling I had had in the Warm-Up and came back through. I didn’t expect to finish on the podium, if I’m honest, but I was just focussed on my race. I saw Cal was there on the last lap but I said, ‘Okay, after this race the podium is enough!’ These 16 points are so important because this was my first MotoGP race in the wet and to start the championship with four podiums in a row is quite important.”
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso held the lead well into the race but was unable to maintain his position and ultimately just missed out on a podium finish. Nicky Hayden confirmed Ducati’s strongest day of the campaign to date by finishing fifth from GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista.
It was a somewhat disastrous afternoon for Yamaha Factory Racing. Lorenzo struggled to make an impression and slid down the order to seventh, whereas Valentino Rossi – who had previously battled with his teammate – fell while under pressure from Hayden. The Italian recovered to 12th behind Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, whose temporary teammate Michele Pirro rose to eighth ahead of Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.
“In the beginning of the race the bike was not the same as warm up but not so bad and I could follow Andrea and Dani. I was losing a lot in some areas of the track but recovering in others. Then after three or four laps the bike got worse and I got problems everywhere. In the braking because in the middle of the corner I didn’t trust the rear tyre and in acceleration because the rear was spinning so much I lost nearly half a second compared to the others. Races are like this sometimes; last year I won by 20 seconds with a very good bike and this year was completely the opposite. I couldn’t do much more without crashing.”
Aleix Espargaro again celebrated the top CRT spot in 13th, although the Power Electronics Aspar rider had to fight past Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and took advantage of a crash for teammate and local favourite Randy de Puniet. Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Claudio Corti (NGM Mobile Forward Racing), Lukas Pesek (Came IodaRacing Project) and Yonny Hernandez (PBM) also all retired but no rider suffered injury.
1. Dani PEDROSA / SPA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 49’17.707 / 142.6 /
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW / GBR / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / YAMAHA / 49’22.570 / 142.3 / 4.863
3. Marc MARQUEZ / SPA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 49’24.656 / 142.2 / 6.949
4. Andrea DOVIZIOSO / ITA / Ducati Team / DUCATI / 49’27.794 / 142.1 / 10.087
5. Nicky HAYDEN / USA / Ducati Team / DUCATI / 49’36.178 / 141.7 / 18.471
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA / SPA / GO&FUN Honda Gresini / HONDA / 49’41.268 / 141.4 / 23.561
7. Jorge LORENZO / SPA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 49’45.668 / 141.2 / 27.961
8. Michele PIRRO / ITA / Ignite Pramac Racing / DUCATI / 49’58.482 / 140.6 / 40.775
9. Bradley SMITH / GBR / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / YAMAHA / 49’59.114 / 140.6 / 41.407
10. Stefan BRADL / GER / LCR Honda MotoGP / HONDA / 50’18.702 / 139.7 / 1’00.995
11. Andrea IANNONE / ITA / Energy T.I. Pramac Racing / DUCATI / 50’22.817 / 139.5 / 1’05.110
12. Valentino ROSSI / ITA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 50’34.075 / 139 / 1’16.368
13. Aleix ESPARGARO / SPA / Power Electronics Aspar / ART / 50’41.907 / 138.6 / 1’24.200
14. Danilo PETRUCCI / ITA / Came IodaRacing Project / IODA-SUTER / 50’43.433 / 138.6 / 1’25.726
15. Karel ABRAHAM / CZE / Cardion AB Motoracing / ART / 50’49.818 / 138.3 / 1’32.111
Fastest Lap: Dani Pedrosa 1’43.597 145.4 Km/h Lap 15
Circuit Record Lap: Dani Pedrosa 1’33.617 160.9 Km/h 2011
Circuit Best Lap: Dani Pedrosa 1’32.647 162.6 Km/h 2008
1. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 83
2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 77
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 66
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) monster Yamaha Tech3 55
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 47
6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 39
7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 38
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 35
9. Alex Espargaro (SPA) Power Electronics Aspar 20
10. Andrea Iannione (ITA) Pramac Racing Team 18
11. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 17
12. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 17
13. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati Test Team 13
14. Ben Spies (USA) Pramac Racing Team 9
15. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Blusens 7
16. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Power Electronics Aspar 6
17. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came Iodaracing Project 4
18. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 3
19. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Paul Bird Motorsport 1
20. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1
21. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Avintia Blusens 1
22. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1