News Report 18 May 2008

2008 MotoGP France - Le Mans

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Le Mans
4180 m
05 / 18 / 2008
Time to be confirmed

Rossi tops all Yamaha podium in Le Mans


Valentino Rossi made another historic step in his incredible career today when he took his 90th career victory in Le Mans, equalling the record set by the great Angel Nieto, to move into second in the all-time winners list behind Giacomo Agostini. It was an outstanding display from the Fiat Yamaha Team rider and he celebrated in fine style when Nieto joined him on his slow-down lap, the Spaniard taking charge of the bike with Rossi riding pillion behind him.
It was a superb day for Yamaha in general as Jorge Lorenzo once again defied his injuries to ride into an astonishing second place behind his team-mate and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards joined the pair on the podium in third place.

Rossi had an average start and was tailing the lead group in fifth at the end of lap one. It was soon clear how well his Yamaha-Bridgestone package was working however and he picked off first Nicky Hayden then Edwards and Dani Pedrosa to move into second behind Casey Stoner, before passing him too on lap eight. From then on Rossi was too strong for the chasing pack, stretching his lead lap after lap until some spots of rain forced him to slow slightly in the last third of the race. The sun soon came back out however, allowing the riders to continue without changing bikes and the Italian to cross the line 4.997 seconds in front to take his first back-to-back victory since 2006.

The 29-year-old’s 90th win moves him two points clear at the top of the championship with 97 points, whilst Lorenzo and Pedrosa are just behind him with 94 points each. Rossi will now stay here for two days of testing to ready himself for his home race at Mugello in Italy in two week’s time, when he will be looking for his 7th consecutive win at the track.

Valentino Rossi 1st 44'30.799; “To arrive at 90 wins like this and equal Angel’s record is a dream for me. I had quite a lot of pressure because Angel was waiting with the special leathers to join me on the bike, so I really needed to win! It was great to ride with him – I think maybe with some practice he can be as fast as us! 180 victories together on one bike is quite impressive I think!
Honestly I didn’t expect to be so fast today but together with Jeremy and my guys we decided to make some small modifications this morning and in the race my M1 and my Bridgestone tyres worked brilliantly from start to finish. When is started to rain a little bit I thought “oh no!’ and so I steadied a bit and tried to ride very sweetly; I had such a good rhythm and I really didn’t want to have to change bikes. Luckily the rain soon stopped and I was able to continue in the same way. It’s great for Yamaha to have the first three and I want to congratulate Jorge especially for doing such a good job in his condition. Thanks to everybody in the team; the job that Yamaha has done in three months is incredible. I enjoyed myself so much today, the atmosphere in our garage is perfect and now we will make two important days of testing, try to improve even more and then head to Mugello.”

Davide Brivio Team Manager; “What a day for Yamaha and for Valentino! This is a great victory, Valentino was even stronger than in China and now we are leading the championship. Our team, engineers and Bridgestone are doing a fantastic job and now we need to maintain this form through the busy run of races coming up. Next stop Mugello, which is a very important race for all of us, so we’ll be working hard at the test here to make sure we are in the best shape to try to repeat this result!”
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo once again stunned onlookers by riding to second place in Le Mans today with two fractured ankles. The 21-year-old rookie has found it increasingly difficult to ride through the pain during the course of the weekend but today he found his rhythm and was able to take his fourth podium in five races. It was a Yamaha whitewash in France as Valentino Rossi took his 90th career victory, equalling Angel Nieto with the second highest number of wins in the sport’s history, and Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards rode a strong race to finish third.

Lorenzo’s race was a carbon copy of China as he dropped back through the field at the start, struggling off the line and unable to find his rhythm in the early stages. He had lost five places from fifth on the grid at the end of lap one but on lap eight he suddenly found the feeling with the bike and began to make headway, passing three riders in one lap and setting off after Chris Vermeulen, who was some distance ahead. It took the Michelin-shod rider seven laps to reel in the Australian and then another five to pass Edwards, before he leap-frogged both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner on lap 21 to move into second. Some spots of rain caused a flurry of activity in the pits as the mechanics readied the second bikes with rain settings, but the sun reappeared and Lorenzo eventually crossed the line just under five seconds adrift of his team-mate.

Jorge Lorenzo 2nd +4'997; “Firstly I want to say congratulations to Yamaha because it’s fantastic to have three on the podium and it demonstrates how strong our bike is. After the weekend I have had, with the crashes and so much pain, I can’t believe I’m here! All last night I worried about this race because I really thought it might be too hard. It was a dream to finish sixth or seventh, especially when I could only manage 11th in the warm-up. I knew I had to try however and on the grid one of my mechanics reminded me that my rivals were just the same ones as in Portugal; this was a good motivation! I had some problems at the start and it’s clear that we need to work on these, but after a while I found my rhythm and once again I was able to make my way through the field and pass some riders. I think the rain helped me for the first time in my life because everyone was a little bit slower for a few laps, but second is unbelievable and I think I look a bit happier this afternoon! Now we have to work as hard as possible to heal my injuries and improve my physical condition, so that we can be back to our best in Mugello.”

Danielle Romagoli Team Manager; "Once again Jorge has done an incredible job in his condition and today is a great result for Yamaha and for the team. Our job this weekend has been very difficult because two crashes have meant less time to perfect the bike, but the team did a great job, found the best possible set-up and then Michelin gave us the best tyre for the race. Thanks to all of them! Now everyone needs some rest but Jorge most of all and we will all be hoping that he is able to relax and recuperate over the next ten days so that he can be back to full strength in Italy.”
Edwards claims home podium for jubilant Tech 3 Yamaha

Colin Edwards stormed to his first podium finish of the season in Le Mans today to hand a jubilant Tech 3 Yamaha squad its first premier class top three finish since 2004. Edwards finished third in a rain-affected 28-lap race to give Tech 3 its first home podium since 2003, while the American also helped Yamaha to its first clean sweep of the rostrum since 2001.
Starting from the front row of the grid for the fourth time in five races, the American was immediately in contention for the lead as he pursued reigning world champion Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa. Relegated to fourth by eventual Valentino Rossi on lap four, Edwards then spent 15 laps closely pursuing Stoner and Pedrosa, and in the process he clocked the second fastest lap of the race. Rain started to fall on lap 16, dampening the track at certain points, though not hard enough for a second successive flag-to-flag race to be played out in front of a large French crowd. Edwards briefly slipped back to fifth on lap 20, but he moved back into fourth when Stoner encountered technical problems and secured his ninth podium when he passed Pedrosa on lap 22. The result helped move Edwards into fifth place in the points, while Tech 3 Yamaha is now level on points with Ducati’s factory squad in the Team World Championship standings.
James Toseland’s Le Mans debut ended in disappointment after the British rider crashed out of ninth place following a tangle with Andrea Dovizioso on lap three. Toseland had made a fantastic start to jump to fifth by the end of the first lap, but in the frantic early exchanges slipped back to ninth before he crashed unhurt.
Colin Edwards 3rd +6.805; “I honestly thought that today was going to be my day with the pace I’d been able to run all weekend. I was fastest in free practice, fastest in the warm-up and second on the grid so I had high expectations. I really thought I could have got my first win out there, but I’ll still settle for third because it was a tough race. I thought I’d got a good start and then Casey and Dani came flying by and it was almost impossible to pass them. I tried everything, but they just didn’t make any mistakes and I couldn’t get close enough. I wanted to get by them because looking at my lap times I know I had more in the locker, but I couldn’t pass. They just had the jump on me coming out of the corners with acceleration and it would have taken a risky move for me to do it.
I’m an experienced rider and those guys are fighting for the world title while I’m in fifth, so I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. And when Valentino came blazing by like a cowboy with his guns shooting I knew he was going to push hard and that it would be tough for me. Casey had a problem and I got by him and then I passed Dani, as he seemed to check a bit at the first corner because of the rain. I didn’t think the rain was that bad and the lap times were not that much slower. I got to say a huge thanks to my team because I’ve wanted to give them a podium, and I guess there is no better to do it than in their home race. They’ve worked so hard and I’m glad to give them that podium. Congratulations to Yamaha as well because to have a 1-2-3 is fantastic. My Michelin tyres worked great too, so hopefully next time I can be closer to the win.”
James Toseland DNF; “I’m pretty frustrated because a little mistake ruins all the hard work myself and the team have put in. I wish I could have a second go at it now like you get in World Superbikes! I got a great start and really wanted to try and get away with the leaders but I lost a couple of places when John Hopkins came by with a hard but fair move. Andrea then made a small mistake and went slightly wide at the fourth corner and as I tried to go underneath him he came back on line and took my front wheel. It was just a racing incident but very disappointing because after that good start I felt like I could have got a good result.
I’m already looking forward to coming back strongly at Mugello and having done a bit of testing there before it won’t be completely alien for me. Congratulations to Colin because he has been awesome all weekend. He has been on the pace since pre-season testing and he’s deserved that podium, as has the team for all their effort. It was great for Yamaha to dominate the podium so it proves what great work was done in the winter.

Herve Poncharal Team Manager; “It has been a fantastic weekend for Tech 3 and for Yamaha. It has been a long time since our last podium and we had almost forgotten what it was like to celebrate after the race! But Colin has done a great job and I want to thank him for that. He almost got pole position yesterday but second was great and in qualifying this year he has been incredible. We knew it was going to be a tough race because this is a high calibre championship and to get a podium against such quality opposition is a great achievement, and all the more satisfying because this is our home race. Colin never gave up and in the end he was rewarded because he rode a sensible but fast race. It was an exceptional day for Yamaha and congratulations to them and Masao Furusawa. The Yamaha staff put in a tremendous amount of effort over the winter after a tough 2007 so to claim all the places on the podium is incredible.
We are not 100 percent happy because of James’ crash but we always knew this was going to be a tough part of the season but he did a good job in qualifying and his start was very impressive. He was right in the heart of the battle and riding well before the incident. I am 100 per cent confident things will get better for him and I believe today he could have finished around sixth. He is a true champion and I know he will never give up.”