Date posted on May 18, 2009
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) rode his heart out to score a brilliant podium finish at Le Mans today, grabbing third place from team-mate Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) on the very last lap.
The fourth race of 2009 was a fascinating encounter, with changing weather conditions forcing riders to change from rain tyres to slicks as the track dried following rainfall during the 125 and 250 races. Watched by 75,900 fans, the French Grand Prix was won by Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) whose second victory of the year puts him back in the World Championship lead.
The race started on a wet track with all riders using rain tyres, but it was obvious after the first few laps that the surface was drying and that riders would need to enter the pits and swap to their slick-equipped bikes if they wanted to be fast all the way to the finish. Pedrosa had started strong, completing the first lap in second, but then he started slipping
Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was the first man to change to slick tyres, at the end of lap five while lying second behind Lorenzo, but his decision proved precipitous and he crashed during his out
lap, the track still damp in places. Pedrosa had pitted the same lap and was following Rossi when he fell, the crash telling the Spaniard to take things steady until the track had dried out some more.
Down in 12th after seven laps, Pedrosa steadily got up to speed on his slicks and then started clawing his way back to the front. He made it into fourth place on lap 14, finally passing Dovizioso as they braked for the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane for the 28th and final time. The result puts Pedrosa fourth overall in the World Championship, just nine points behind Lorenzo.
Dovizioso was disappointed at losing out on his first podium finish for Repsol Honda but nonetheless the result was his best so far this year. The Italian was riding superbly, moving up to second place during the early stages of the race. He slipped to fourth after changing tyres but soon moved back into third place, holding that position until the final few
Team-mates Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) and Alex De Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) had a great duel for the final place in the top ten, Elias beating De Angelis by just three tenths of a second. Elias had been the last rider to change to his slick-equipped bike, the Spaniard coming into the pits just before half-distance. It was a heroic ride from Elias who has 30 stitches in his right arm, the legacy of a recent operation to fix ‘arm pump’ problems.
Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) didn’t have the home race he deserved, the Frenchman finishing 14th, just two weeks after his brilliant ride to fourth place at Jerez.
Rookie Yuki Takahashi (Scot Honda RC212V) spent much of the race dicing with former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden (Ducati), with De Angelis and Elias also in the group until the final few laps. At the finish Japanese crossed the line less than a tenth of a second behind Hayden.