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PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Persevere in France

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team Persevere in France

11th for Valentino Rossi at Le Mans; Franco Morbidelli 16th despite crash.

PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s MotoGP riders soldiered on during a complicated FrenchGP today, the first flag-to-flag race since Brno in 2017. Valentino Rossi ended the race at Le Mans 11th and Franco Morbidelli was 16th, despite a first lap crash.

A good start from ninth on the grid saw Rossi gain two positions on the opening lap and a battle with his team-mate, before he was forced to take avoiding action at Turn 11, which dropped him to 13th. With heavy rain starting to fall, the Italian came into the pits to swap to his wet setup bike at the end of lap 5, rejoining the race in 12th. Valentino was able to lap at a good pace and had moved himself into tenth on lap 12, before gaining another position one lap later. As the conditions changed and the track started to dry, he was unable to maintain this pace and ultimately crossed the line 11th. Rossi now has a total of nine points and moves up to 19th in the championship.

The FrenchGP didn’t begin with the best of getaways for Morbidelli, who found himself eighth at the first corner, after starting the race from fourth on the grid. Franco then found himself swapping positions with his team-mate Rossi during the opening lap. Contact with another rider at Turn 11 pushed Morbidelli wide and into the gravel. With rain starting to fall and riders coming into the pits to change bikes, Franco took advantage of the situation to rejoin the race in the hope of being able to pick up some valuable points. Despite a valiant effort, he just missed out on being rewarded for his perseverance and took the chequered flag in 16th. Franco remains in eighth place in the World Championship with 33 points.

Morbidelli and Rossi can now look forward to their first home Grand Prix of the season, the ItalianGP, which will see the pair in action around Mugello at the end of this month (28-30 May).

Valentino Rossi

"This weekend has been a positive one, compared to the previous races so far this year. We were able to confirm the improvements made during the test at Jerez, so I feel better with the bike. I have been able to fight for better positions and be within the top-ten. It’s a shame that we had the conditions we did today because I was competitive in the wet and not so bad in the dry, but I suffered in the mixed conditions. The race was confusing and difficult, but it is Le Mans and has been like this since Friday. Maybe I could have done better with the medium rain tyres, but it’s easy to say this after the race. I’m looking forward to being in Mugello next, although it is a shame that there will be no fans because they are always great there."

Franco Morbidelli

"Unfortunately I had a crash in the gravel on the first lap and my knee isn’t in the best shape at the moment and it twisted again when I went to put my weight on it. When I saw it was raining I decided to return to the pitbox, so thank you to the team for helping me to push the bike back. I restarted the race with the hope of picking up some points, but it was not possible. We were close though and I wanted to show my appreciation to the team. I will now get some treatment on my knee, to make sure that we arrive at Mugello in the best shape possible. I’m looking forward to going back and I hope that our bike continues to go well there and we will see what happens."

Razlan Razali

Team Principal

"That was one difficult, unusual and complicated weekend! It wasn’t the best MotoGP race for us overall. Valentino was on the pace and was just inside the top-ten mid-race, but after that his pace dropped off a bit. We also had Franco crashing out within the first lap. Although he continued hoping to get some points, he unfortunately finished 16th. The most important thing now is to make sure that his knee is okay for the next round at Mugello."