MotoGP: Weather Changes Leaves Riders Out to Dry in Le Mans

05/17/2009 @ 1:41 pm, by Jensen Beeler3 COMMENTS


As we mentioned yesterday, Le Mans is known for its rapidly changing weather patterns, and a mixture of both rain and sunshine is not uncommon for the French track. The weather gods being unappeased, they decided to bring both the rain and the sun for MotoGP fans in France today. From the very beginning of the French GP things were interesting: with the GP run on a dry track, but riders leaving the grid on rain tires. With teams having to make the call on whether to stay out on rains, or sacrifice time and pit in, there were some interesting results from the choices being made. Continue reading for the spoilers.

The story of the first place winner is perhaps the least interesting story of today’s GP. Jorge Lorenzo grabbed the lead on the first lap, and left the rest of the field behind. Lorenzo easily won the day, with over 17 seconds between him and second place winner Marco Melandri, and he was never in trouble of being caught.

Exstatic about his win, and also his new lead in the overall standings, Lorezno commented on swapping bikes mid-race for the first time in his career:

“It was very difficult because I am not used to changing bikes in the middle of the race and this was the first time in my life that I have done it. I am grateful for the victory because I was fast with the wet tyres and also with the dry ones. I knew it would be so hard because you have to change bikes at the right moment, if you do it one lap too late you could lose. We changed at the perfect point and we are back on top.”

The day was a big day for the Hayate Team as well, scoring their first podium of the season. The success seemed to rest on the fact that Marco Melandri stayed out on the rain tires for a long time, whereas riders who entered into the pits earlier, payed dearly for their decision.

Riders who pitted early for slicks soon regretted their choice. The pitting process takes a long time, it took the riders a while before their slick tires could do times to match the fading wets. Valentino Rossi took the brunt of today’s punishment for his early pitting strategy. The Fiat Yamaha rider went into pit lane on four separate occasions today at Le Mans, three times to change bikes and once for a ride through penalty.

Rossi was first into the pits, and crashed almost immediately after changing to slick tires. He got back on his crashed Yamaha M1, making it back into the pits for another bike. Because his swapped bike didn’t have a pit-limiter, the Italian had to perform a pit ride through penalty for speeding in pit-lane. Rossi would then re-return to the pits later and take another bike. SOL, Rossi ended the day two laps behind Lorenzo, with his focus looking two weekends from now at Mugello.

“I had difficulties from the start and I really could not ride my bike to its best. By the fourth lap I felt that I was quite slow and that I couldn’t ride as I wanted. I decided to change bikes early because usually this strategy pays off. I knew that I had to warm the tyres up a little bit but I crashed anyway in that corner because at that point the track was still wet and I just didn’t ride into it in a calm enough manner.”

Dani Pedrosa caught team mate Andrea Dovizioso on the last lap, then passed to snatch up 3rd place.

Race Results from the MotoGP’s stop at Le Mans for the French GP: 

199Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA47’52.678 
233Marco MELANDRIKAWASAKI48’10.38817.710
33Dani PEDROSAHONDA48’12.57119.893
44Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA48’13.13320.455
527Casey STONERDUCATI48’23.21730.539
67Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI48’30.14037.462
75Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA48’32.86940.191
865Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI48’38.09945.421
952James TOSELANDYAMAHA48’42.98550.307
1024Toni ELIASHONDA48’45.89653.218
1115Alex DE ANGELISHONDA48’46.22853.550
1269Nicky HAYDENDUCATI48’49.32556.647
1372Yuki TAKAHASHIHONDA48’49.36656.688
1414Randy DE PUNIETHONDA49’03.9771’11.299
1588Niccolo CANEPADUCATI49’08.0631’15.385
1646Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA49’28.6852 laps
Not Classified
 36Mika KALLIODUCATI20’47.30217 laps