Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took the win 4th Round of the FIM MotoGP World Championship in Le Mans, France this past weekend in some of the worst conditions seen all season.
Under wet and sloppy conditions, it was Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who got off to a quick start from pole position, followed by his teammate Casey Stoner. Starting from 4th on the grid and on the second row, Lorenzo made quick work of the two Repsol Honda riders to take the lead on the first lap. As the gap continued to widen between Lorenzo and the rest of the field, Casey Stoner pushed past Pedrosa to try to put a dent in the Yamaha rider’s lead.
As Pedrosa struggled in the wet conditions, Ducati’s Valentino Rossi, who has much better luck getting his Ducati GP12 to work in wet conditions than in the dry, worked his way into third place in the early laps of the race.
What followed was a battle for third between Tech 3 Yamaha riders Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati’s Valentino Rossi. With ten laps remaining, Crutchlow lost the front end of his motorcycle in the first chicane, leaving the Rossi and Dovizioso to fight for the final spot on the podium. Crutchlow managed to restart his bike and re-join in eighth. Meanwhile, Lorenzo had extended his lead to six seconds at the front with Stoner a further four seconds ahead of Rossi.
With five laps to go Stoner was held up slightly by Avintia’s Yonny Hernandez, allowing Rossi to get to within half a second of the Australian world champion. Two laps later Dovizioso crashed out of fourth tying to stick with the pair.
Jorge Lorenzo eventually crossed the finish line nearly 10 seconds ahead of second place finisher, Valentino Rossi, who had his best finish on the Ducati to date. Casey Stoner rounded out the podium in third place, while Dani Pedrosa followed in 4th and rookie Stefan Bradl had a strong finish in 5th. Ducati’s Nicky Hayden crossed the line in 6th place, followed by Tech 3 Yamaha teammates Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow in 7th and 8th respectively. Hector Barbera finished in 9th place while LCR Honda’s Alvaro Bautista rounded out the top ten.
Factory Yamaha’s Ben Spies had another tough race and was struggling with a wobble that saw him retire to the pits early.
Lorenzo attributes a strong level of concentration to support his race win, and according to the Spaniard, “I kept my concentration even when Casey was catching me.” Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi can only hope for wet conditions the remainder of the season as his Ducati seems to work better for him in the rain. According to the former world champion, “The bike in the wet is always good,” however he continued, “the result means nothing in the dry.”
Jorge Lorenzo now has an 8-point lead over defending World Champion Casey Stoner as the series heads to the Gran Premi de Catalunya on June 1, 2012.