Repsol Honda‘s Casey Stoner has closed the gap at the top of the championship after a dominating ride in the Monster Energy Grand Prix De France, a race that was action packed behind him. The only time Stoner had to worry about the win was when teammate Pedrosa grabbed yet another lightning start from the second row to take the lead, but it was only a few laps before Stoner took the lead back and ran off into the distance.
The main talking point from the race was the incident between Pedrosa and San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli. After losing ground to Stoner, Pedrosa fell into the clutches of the young Italian, who has been criticized recently for his aggressive riding style. A tussle ensued and as the riders approached the first chicane they were side by side. As they entered the braking zone, Simoncelli pull in front and as they turned in, cut in front of Pedrosa.
With nowhere to go, Pedrosa hit the rear tyre of the satellite Honda and was flung into the gravel. It later transpired that Pedrosa has broken his right collarbone, doubly unlucky as his left shoulder is the one that is currently causing him issues. Simoncelli was hit with a ride through penalty which took him from 2nd to his eventual finishing position of 5th.
Andrea Dovizioso claimed an impressive 2nd place finish after a race long scrap with Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. On the opening lap Lorenzo practically barged the Repsol Honda rider out of the way, but the young Italian fought back and several laps later passed the current world champion. While they were scrapping, Valentino Rossi was on the move, and with 5 laps to go passed Lorenzo, with Dovizioso following suit. Rossi couldn’t hold off the Honda rider and held on to claim his first Ducati podium, with Lorenzo scoring 4th place.
Lorenzo’s fellow Yamaha rider Ben Spies had a pretty lonely race in 6th, with only a late scrap with Ducati’s Nicky Hayden to contend with. Hayden finished in 7th ahead of the second San Carlo Honda Gresini machine of Hiroshi Aoyama in 8th, who may have had a better result had he not have run wide on the first lap.
Hector Barbera scored another points finish on the Mapfre Aspar Ducati after finishing in 9th, at the head of a race long 5 rider battle. Karel Abraham on the Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati in 10th with Toni Elias putting in a sterling ride to grab an 11th place finish on the LCR Honda with Ãlvaro Bautista, still recovering, finishing in 12th on the Rizla Suzuki. Colin Edwards was the last of the finishers in 13th, but the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider finished 2 laps down on everyone after taking a tumble and recovering to the pits to have a new footpeg fitted.
Randy De Puniet had a nightmare home grand prix, ditching his Pramac Ducati into the gravel after just one lap. It was a nightmare race for Pramac in general, with Loris Capirossi also failing to finish. The veteran Italian did well to keep up with the 5 rider battle at the rear of the grid, but after falling behind, he too ended up in the gravel, seemingly an unforced error.
The other main retirement of the race was that of Brit Cal Crutchlow. The series rookie suffered a lowside on Lap 6 and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider managed to get the bike going again, but retired a lap later.
So as the riders come away from France, it is now much tighter at the top, with Lorenzo still leading, but now with Stoner just behind.
|Casey Stoner||Repsol Honda||66|
|Dani Pedrosa||Repsol Honda||61|
|Andrea Dovizioso||Repsol Honda||50|
|Hiroshi Aoyama||San Carlo Honda Gresini||36|
|Marco Simonchelli||San Carlo Honda Gresini||22|
|Colin Edwards||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||21|
|Hector Barbera||Mapfre Aspar Ducati||21|
|Cal Crutchlow||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||21|
|Karel Abraham||Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati||18|
|Toni Elias||LCR Honda||17|
|Loris Capirossi||Pramac Ducati||9|
|Alvaro Bautista||Rizla Suzuki||7|
|Randy De Puniet||Pramac Ducati||6|
|John Hopkins||Rizla Suzuki||6|