MotoGP: Sacré Bleu During Racing at the French GP

05/15/2011 @ 9:34 pm, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

To say that the French GP got off on the wrong foot might be the understatement of the season. Between the statements between riders about each other, and the Casey Stoner/Randy de Puniet punch incident, the pre-race antics were at a fever pitch in Le Mans. The off-track drama in MotoGP is clearly seeping into the on-track racing action, and accordingly the French GP was filled with several incidents that should give the pundits something to talk about for the coming three weeks before the Catalan GP.

Meanwhile qualifying showed that the Hondas ruled the roost, with the firm’s four factory supported bikes sitting in the top four spots on the starting grid. With Casey Stoner commencing from the pole position, Marco Simoncelli qualified just barely second to the Australian, while Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the front row.

Directly behind Stoner was Dani Pedrosa, who has had some tremendous starts from the second row in the past, and surely couldn’t be counted out of today’s race. Eyes were also on Randy de Puniet, who counted Le Mans as one of his least favorite circuits, despite it being in front of his home crowd.

Not to be uncounted with the Honda dominance, Jorge Lorenzo made his presence felt as the green flag waved for the start of the French GP, as the Spaniard mixed it up with the four Hondas, and took a fifth place position going into the first corner. With Pedrosa leading, Casey Stoner followed intently, with Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli in hot pursuit. Though the French GP had several moments that will be talked about in the coming weeks, the first happened on the second lap, as Simoncelli passed Dovi for third, leaving the Repsol Honda to fall prey to Jorge Lorenzo as well. Barging through the corner, the World Champion ironically dropped a move on Dovi that Lorenzo has criticized others in the past for making, yet no comment was made from Race Direction.

Meanwhile towards the end of the lap, Casey Stoner made a pass on Dani Pedrosa for the race lead, and the Australian never looked back. Though Stoner would have Pedrosa lurking on his tail for the next dozen laps, Stoner marinated some more secret sauce, and began gapping the Spaniard, effectively checking out from the racing action behind him.

Perhaps one of the best battles was for the 11th spot, with Hector Barbera, Toni Elias, Loris Capirossi, and Karel Abraham all mixing it up. Elias seemingly had the best stuff of the group, and rode a great race, before finally having a moment and losing all the ground he made on the other three riders. His result in the day’s standings certainly don’t justify the way he rode, which was refreshing to see from someone who was once such a promising star in MotoGP.

SuperSic moved into the third place position wit 25 laps to go, cleanly getting around Jorge Lorenzo, perhaps one of the most vocal riders of Simoncelli’s riding lately. Once free of the World Champion, it took Simoncelli 14 laps to catch Dani Pedrosa, and make his move on the pint-sized Spaniard. Passing him cleanly as well, Pedrosa answered back almost immediately, passing Simoncelli on the inside of the next turn. As both riders went to apex, Simoncelli made contact with Pedrosa, who had not fully passed by the Italian. The result saw Pedrosa crashing into the gravel trap, and grabbing his right shoulder (not the one that had previously been injured). He would learn later that he had sustained a broken collarbone.

In response to the incident, Race Direction levied Marco Simoncelli a ride through penalty for his illegal passing maneuver, essentially costing the Italian the podium with very little restitution once he came back to the pits. Pundits will have plenty to argue over in regards to whether Simoncelli a) deserved a penalty in the situation, b) if he deserved that harsh of a penalty, c) whether the penalty is a result of the other riders complaining about him earlier in the weekend, and d) why other riders making similar passes were not levied penalties like Simoncelli’s. We’ll let you decide in the comments which way you lean on this.

As for the rest of the race, the crash instantly put Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso, and Valentino Rossi into podium contention, which didn’t bode well for the reigning World Champion. Watching both his former teammate, Valentino Rossi, and the Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso squeak by him, Jorge Lorenzo had to satisfy himself with a fourth place finish. Meanwhile Dovi lurked behind Rossi, waiting to make his move.

Getting by The Doctor with three laps to go, Rossi answered on the penultimate turn before the final lap. His move wouldn’t stick though, as Dovi answered on the second apex, taking second place from Rossi and holding it through to the finish. Dovi was ecstatic after the race having beaten the G.O.A.T., and Rossi was equally pleased with his first podium on the Ducati Desmosedici.

Less emphatic was Randy de Puniet who crashed on the second lap. He would later be joined by teammate Loris Capirossi, as off-road excursions came in pairs this weekend. The Tech3 Yamaha team was not immune from this, as both Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards had falls, with both satellite Yamaha riders showing strong performances up until their crashes. Edwards would rejoin the field after fixing a broken footpeg, gaining a couple Championship points.

Racing comes in three weeks’ time, as MotoGP heads to Barcelona for the Catalan GP.

Race Results from MotoGP at the French GP in Le Mans, France:

Pos. No. Rider Nation Team Bike Time
1 27 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Repsol Honda Team Honda +14.214
3 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati +14.564
4 1 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +21.075
5 58 Marco SIMONCELLI ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +31.245
6 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha +31.609
7 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati +35.566
8 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda +51.502
9 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP Ducati +1’03.731
10 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati +1’03.885
11 24 Toni ELIAS SPA LCR Honda MotoGP Honda +1’04.068
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP Suzuki +1’04.192
13 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2 Laps
Not Classified
65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 7 Laps
26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 11 Laps
35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 22 Laps
14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 27 Laps

Source: MotoGP; Photo: Honda

  • Ben

    Stoner was a class above all weekend and rode like that in the race.

    It looked like a mistake from Simoncelli, but after watching all the footage and hearing about his data (claiming his braking point was the same as previous laps) and the fact that pedrosa stood the bike up and crashed into sic shows it wasn’t simoncelli’s fault, also if sic got a penalty why didn’t Rossi at Jerez ?!

    Puig needs to pull his head in too claiming it has cost them the championship like it was the second last race of say 2006 when pedrosa took out Hayden….

    Casey Stoner
    World Champion 2011

  • 76

    The Simo Pedrosa incident was unfortunate, never the less I really dont understand the explaination here. Simoncelli passed Pedrosa on the entrance of the last corner before the straight, he also exited that corner ahead of Perdrosa. It was the straight where Pedrosa took the inside line and passed bringing us to the entrance of the incident corner.

    To be fully honest, Simo could have done things differently, in my mind Pedrosa was going wide and possibly off track on his own, look how he screws up his turn in and braking, this was a direct result of taking the inside line in the attempt to pass and a bad drifting turn in becasue he was hot. Sucks that Simo got knocked again, hopefully he takes this with a grain of salt and keeps the heat on the front.


  • zipidachimp

    someone introduce simoncelli to H BARBERa ! lol!

  • Minibull

    Simoncelli should have been given a time penalty rather than a ride through. At least it can then be taken off if an inquiry finds he wasnt at fault. Even so, as far as I’m concerned, Dani was in front down the straight and leading into the corner so it should be up to Marco to give way/make his way around. And yes, Rossi should have got a penalty for what he did to Stoner.
    And why has nothing been said regarding Lorenzo’s overtake on Dovi?? That was just as brutal as some of Simoncelli’s moves…

  • Cpt.Slow

    Lets give everyone penalties!

  • Daniel Croft

    Simoncelli was behind at the start of the corner, Pedrosa was inside and in front. The *only* reason Simoncelli was able to put his nose in front of Pedrosa into that corner was by taking a line that cut Pedrosa off and gave him no room. The mechanics of a motorcycle are such that when the front wheel is pushed in one direction, the bike goes the other way – it’s called counter steering – when Simoncelli first hit Pedrosa, Pedrosa’s bike stood itself up and then he hit the back of Simoncelli’s bike again more directly resulting in more countersteering and subsequent crash. Simoncelli also couldn’t make the corner.

    For me, I think that Simoncelli is reckless. They say that discretion is the better part of valor, Simoncelli has none and this is reflected in his championship standings and lack of results. He’s super fast but hasn’t yet taken control of his red mist and is making poor decisions and unnecessary mistakes.

    I support his ride through penalty, especially in light of Pedrosa’s injury. I think Simoncelli needs to learn that a pass on a subsequent lap or different place would have meant more points for him and a better result over all. His behavior shows poor planning and a lack of strategic thinking.

  • Shaitan

    It’s like watching a bad reality show of whiny bitches. Grow up boys; you earn the big bucks, so act like it.

  • 76

    reality check, seems everyone is pointing out how serious this was esp because of the injury, newsflash everytime Pedrosa goes down this guy is snapping something, its like he is made of glass. Yeah he is tough as all hell, but has baby bones or something because please name a year where this hasnt happened? Pedrosa’s gonna win, big force look out , opps crashed broken collar bone out for 3, this is his story

  • 76

    My ruling
    1) Simo could have and should have left alittle more room but nothing illegal
    2) Pedrosa was Hot and out of line, about to run off on his own
    3) neither broke any rule
    4) Ride through penalty was due to politics not an actual Illegal Move
    5) Sucks for Simo but he will be back, Cat should be a track where he kills it

  • Cpt.Slow


  • DarN

    Anyone is watching GP 2? Passes like that are made on every lap…

  • luke

    it was certainly entertaining…

  • Mick

    Simoncelli: giant balls, tiny brain.

  • 76

    “if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing” Ayrton Senna

    I dont think Simoncelli is lacking in intelligence, its more less the experience to apply it as any young rider. Look at AMA, WSBK, BSB, Moto2 like someone said already the passing is cutthroat at times, its racing motorbikes, none of these guys go out there with a death wish, they go out to win, so with that please stop this insane notion motogp needs more rules and more penalties.

    I will tell you 2 things MotoGP needs, more riders, and 24 liters of fuel for each bike. Theres my new rules