Published on 20 May 2012 by Toni M.
The surprises in today’s MotoGP race at Le Mans were more than one, but that often happens in races that are fully wet. Casey Stoner who still has fourteen races before he ritires, suffered unexpected tire problems at the start of the race and in the final laps that caused him to fade and get caught by a resurgent and determined Valentino Rossi, who Stoner said overtook him cleanly (is Laguna Seca 2008 still rattling around his mind?).
“I was pretty happy to hold on for a podium today,” said Stoner. “In the early stages Cal, Valentino and Dovi were behind me putting on a lot of pressure, but we managed to pull a small gap on them as I was chasing Jorge. Then as soon as the rain stopped and the track was less wet, our tyre temperatures got too high, we started spinning and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I thought the three of them would catch up and perhaps overtake me but we managed to hold on for third. I enjoyed the battle with Valentino at the end, there was clean overtaking and we swapped positions a few times but in the end we knew that Valentino had better pace than us and after he passed there was no way I could stay with him. We did everything we could today and to come away with a podium is a good result.”
Dani Pedrosa may have been the pole sitter and gotten the holeshot, but that lasted less than the first lap as he began to fade almost immediately, as he found himself entrenched with Valentino Rossi and the Yamaha Tech3 duo Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow, and then with an amazing Stefan Bradl who from 13th on the grid and was up to 7th by the end of the first lap, but he was able to keep the rookie at bay and take fourth despite wrong set-up changes and not wanting to take too many risks on the treacherous Bugatti circuit.
“I had no traction out of the corners, especially in first and second gear, and I wasn’t able to advance, said Pedrosa. “We made a few changes to the configuration of the bike after warm up hoping to improve it a bit, in the end it was the other way around, but these things can happen. In the race I immediately realised it was not my day, not a day to take any risk and it was important to simply reach the best position. I was lucky, after the crashes of both Tech 3 Yamahas I finished fourth. Wet races can be like this and today was just not our day. We lost many points to Lorenzo but the Championship is very long and we will have our time. This race is over and we must now think towards Catalunya. I’m really looking forward to going there, it’s a circuit that motivates me a lot and I have all my family and friends with me. The team is working very well, we have a good bike and we’ve been fast in every race, but we need to be determined. Let’s see if we can speed up a little and take our first win of the season in Catalunya.”