Flawless French Finale for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo repeated his stunning performance from Jerez at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, taking his second consecutive victory. Teammate Valentino Rossi also rode a brilliant race at Le Mans and took second place, his fifth consecutive podium finish of the 2015 MotoGP season.
After an amazing victory in Jerez, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo dominated the MotoGP field for a second time in a row, taking a sensational victory at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. Valentino Rossi also showed a blistering pace in the French sunshine at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. He claimed a strong second place and his fifth podium finish of the season.
Lorenzo was strong right from the beginning of the 28 lap sprint. Starting from third on the grid, he shot off the line to take second into the first turn and move into the lead going into the second corner. Followed by Andrea Dovizioso, he completed the first lap with already nearly half a second advantage over his rivals.
With clear track in front of him, the double premier class World Champion put the hammer down and rode consistently fast lap times in the 1'33s to manage a gap of half a second. Completely in control, Lorenzo remained unchallenged for the rest of the race. Leading from the first lap until the chequered flag, the Spaniard claimed his second consecutive victory by 3.820s, with only his teammate besting his fastest lap of 1'33.004.
Teammate Rossi thoroughly enjoyed today's racing action, fighting his way up the order from his seventh place grid position. The Doctor had a good start and quickly moved into fifth position to hunt down Marc Marquez, passing him with a brilliant move on his third lap.
The nine-time World Champion then set his sights on Andrea Iannone and increased his pace, posting a 1'32.879, the fastest lap of the race. With 18 laps to go Rossi made the audience cheer as he took third place and immediately put his next target, Andrea Dovizioso, under pressure. Displaying some very clever racing, he lined his rival up and made his move at end of the fourteenth lap. Unable to close in on his teammate, who had a gap of more than 1.8s, Rossi focused on managing his advantage over Dovizioso and took a well-deserved second.
Lorenzo's first place earns him 25 points, while Rossi's fifth podium of the year adds 20 points to his score. These results put The Doctor on 102 points, keeping him in the lead for the championship, with teammate Lorenzo moving up to second in the championship with a 87 points total.
1st / 43'44.143 / 28 laps
"Before the race I was a little bit worried about the front tyre on the right side, because it was close in some corners. Sometimes that's worse in the race on Sunday, because it's hotter at two o'clock and you have more fuel in the tank and push more on braking. On the third or fourth lap it started closing, and I started worrying that I had an ever worsening tyre in the next laps, but luckily for us the tyre stayed more or less the same. It was close in the whole race, but not becoming worse. I was pushing the whole time and when the fuel tank ran low I pushed a little bit less. So this time we have been lucky. I know that other riders also struggled with the front. I could improve in some areas because I lose out in some corners. It was important to be second and overtake Marc at the start and Dovizioso in the first corner. This is the way I prefer to ride, because with nobody in front I can brake perfectly, keep the corner speed and try to increase the gap, so that is what happened. It was difficult because Andrea kept a gap of under a second for a long time, but finally I could stay ahead by 1,2 or 1,4s. Then, when I saw Valentino in second place and in some place close in a little, I had to try to push so much, especially on braking, I could brake later and later and rode a 1'33,004, which gave me the advantage I needed to win this race. Winning two races in a row after finishing outside of the podium in three Grand Prix is a big contrast. These are much better results, but you have to keep your feet on the ground and not hesitate, because things can change very quickly and I can have bad results in the future. Mugello is a good track for Yamaha and especially for me, because it's my favourite track, but Valentino is also very fast there, so who knows what's going to happen."
2nd / +3.820s / 28 laps
"I'm happy but we struggled too much to find the right setting in the practice, so we decided to risk and modify the bike before the race. I have to say thank you to my team because they worked very well, my bike today in the race was fantastic and I was able to push, recover and overtake and I was especially able to enjoy riding a lot. I started from the third row and Jorge is always very fast at the start. I had a small gap but I enjoyed the race a lot, because I could overtake and ride at the maximum. Around half way through the race I arrived in second place behind Jorge. He had around two seconds so I wasn't so far behind him and I tried the maximum, because I felt good, but he was in a perfect situation. He was in front and concentrated and he was in his 'hammer time'. When hes like that it's very difficult to come close to him. This weekend he was stronger than us and was better prepared for the race, so he deserved to win, but I'm happy, also for Yamaha because this year our bike is very strong. These twenty points are very important for the championship. We arrived late at the front, but we arrived and it was another great race. We struggled in the practice, I think that's also due to our bike a little bit, because Jorge also struggled, while he's always great at putting out one fast lap. That's our weak point, but on the other side, in the race our bike is fantastic, it's very balanced and you can push every lap and this is important. I arrive in Mugello with this great condition I'm in and that makes me very happy. The problem is that it's also Jorges favourite track! Today was a great result for our team, a Yamaha 1-2, and we hope that in Mugello we can reverse the order!"
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Manager
"We couldn't ask for a better finish today, a Yamaha one-two finish is always the ultimate goal. Following Saturday's qualifying we were quite confident of our performance, but honestly after this morning's warm up we still had some question marks. The end result of the race is down to the commitment and hard work of both the team and the riders who never gave up and retained 100% focus all weekend. Jorge rode an incredible race, in control from the beginning and never letting up to take his second consecutive well deserved victory. Vale also rose to the occasion, despite not qualifying in the best position he showed again his skills as a fighter to be reckoned with, cutting through the competition to finish behind his teammate in second. I have to say a big thank you to the whole team for their hard work, we leave Le Mans in the best possible way, with a one-two victory and leading the championship in the same way."
Smith shines on Tech3 home turf to finish as leading satellite rider
Bradley Smith completed a notable weekend at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in 6th position aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. As the 28 lap battle commenced under glorious sunshine at the legendary Le Mans circuit, Smith undertook a strong start and fought his way through an intense first lap to hold on to his qualifying position of 6th. The young British rider tailed the leading riders before successfully catching and overtaking Marquez on lap five and then opening a gap on him. Smith's formidable race rhythm and consistent lap times kept him in a fast pace and with half race distance reached, the 23 year old was running in 5th position. With 8 laps remaining, Smith had impressively closed the deficit to Andrea Iannone and was involved in a memorable and fierce fight for 4th position. Smith stayed right in the hunt and eventually finished the race in 6th but just a hair's breadth back from Marquez and Iannone. This result puts him as the leading satellite rider at the round five battle and sees him now only one point behind 6th place in the riders championship standings.
Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro rode a strong race to overhaul five riders and finish in 7th position after a challenging qualifying which saw him start the 28 lap race from 12th on the grid. The young Spaniard undertook a solid start to clinch 9th at the close of the first lap at the Le Mans circuit. He pushed onwards and continued to clock fast and continuous lap times and was running in 8th with five laps completed. The 2014 MotoGP rookie of the year remained focused and at half race distance was in 7th place having scored some competitive lap times to gap the chasing riders. He met the chequered flag in this position, marking a positive close to a tricky weekend. Espargaro now looks positively on to Mugello for round six of the MotoGP World Championship where he will intend to battle for the leading satellite position.
6th / + 21.145 / 28 laps
"I am happy and it was a great way to end the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team's home race! The track conditions really warmed up today, which meant that we all went a bit into the unknown as it was much cooler on the other days. Therefore our setting was slightly limited at the beginning of the race because it resulted in me tucking the front a few times in the opening laps. However, to end up fighting with the reigning MotoGP World Champion and with another factory rider is where we want to be so I have to be happy with finishing as the leading satellite bike. We've also gained some championship points on Cal, so we have accomplished what we set out to achieve. Of course, it would have been even better to reach 4th but at one point I thought that Marc and Andrea may collide, so I gave myself enough space in case they did! Anyway, it was useful for me to watch this battle as I learnt a lot and I can use this knowledge in future races."
7th / + 35.493 / 28 laps
"After the race that we had here last year, I came to Le Mans with high expectations, so today can just be considered as damage limitation. We had a tough weekend from the word go and my feelings with the bike were never at their best. Yet, this morning in warm up we modified the setting of my M1 completely and to be honest things improved considerably for the race. My start was ok and I was able to follow the riders at the front during the opening laps, but then I had to sustain the gap to the riders behind me, due to another, non bike related issue. So to leave France with nine additional points in the championship is not too bad, although it's definitely not what we aim for. We now have to think about the next steps to take in order to improve our performance in Mugello in two weeks time."
Second place in the Open class for Baz in home race
The French Grand Prix ends up with a smile on the face of Loris Baz and the Athinà Forward Racing team. The Frenchman, racing at home in the premier class of motorcycle racing for the first time, made the most of this Sunday, crossing the line in 12th position as the second Open Bike just behind Hayden.
Baz, racing with a special livery, was very consistent in the race and was able to stay close to the group in front of him to chase points.
His teammate Stefan Bradl withdrawn prematurely due to a fall on the second lap. The German, who started from 16th place, lost the front at turn six and ended up on the ground.
12th / + 1'00.617 / 28 laps
"I'm really happy with this result. I did not think I could be so fast in the race and so consistent. I made a good start, I immediately went hunting for the other Open and managed to maintain a good pace until the end. We did a great job with the guys, we're going in the right direction and I am happy with this second place. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the home race other than this."
DNF / -27 laps
"It was not an easy weekend for me. I had a good start, the pace was really good and I could regain several positions. Unfortunately, the race ended earlier than expected: on the second lap I lost the front while braking at turn 6. Too bad, we have worked to be ready for the race and I can say that we managed to make a good step forward. We ara analyze the data and get our motivation back for Mugello."