May 17 ’09 : Lorenzo takes fantastic french victory on action-packed day in Le Mans

Date posted on May 18, 2009
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Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo took a stunning second win of the season in Le Mans today, negotiating varying track conditions and a change of bikes to lead from the first lap to the flag and take the championship lead. It was a doom-laden day for his team-mate Valentino Rossi however as the world champion slid off early on and then had a ride-through penalty to compound his misfortune.
With the track still wet from a rainy morning all riders started the race on rain tyres, with the mechanics readying the dry bikes in pit lane in anticipation of an early change as the track dried out. Lorenzo, starting from second, slipped a place at the start but had passed both Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa by the end of the first lap to take the lead. By lap five a dry line had begun to appear and a few riders chose to make early pit stops to change bikes. The 22-year-old Spaniard however was feeling comfortable and had an excellent pace on his Bridgestone wets and so he stayed out, constantly stretching his lead. In the end he was the last of the front-runners to pit, a gamble which paid off brilliantly as he was by then nearly 34 seconds clear and was able to rejoin the race in the lead on lap 13. Once he had bit of heat in his slick tyres the youngster put his head down and kept his nerve for the remaining 15 laps and he eventually took the chequered flag an impressive 17.710 seconds clear of second-placed Marco Melandri.

It was a day of stark contrasts on the opposite side of the garage, with Rossi forced to make an incredible four visits to pit lane. The Italian was in second behind his team-mate when he elected for an early bike
change, coming in to swap onto his second M1 on dry Bridgestones after just five laps. The change went smoothly but the track was still damp in places and he went down on the next lap whilst trying to warm his tyres up. He returned to the pits next time around to swap back onto his other bike, with the rules stipulating that he had to keep one wet tyre with the second bike change, but a problem with his pit-limiter meant he was penalized for speeding on exit and forced to return once again two laps later to perform a ride-through penalty. His final visit to the garage came on lap 11 when he changed once again onto a fully-dry machine, but by then he was some two laps adrift and he finished in 16th.

Lorenzo’s 25-point haul takes him into the lead by one point and he now has 66 points to Rossi’s 65. Stoner has the same points as Rossi but lies third as the Italian has more second places, and Pedrosa follow in the standings. With just nine points separating the top four the next round in Mugello is sure to be a thrilling spectacle.

From FIAT -Yamaha


1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 47’52.678
2. Marco Melandri (ITA) Hayate Racing Team + 17.710
3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda + 19.893
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda + 20.455
5. James Toseland (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 30.307
6. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team + 30.539
7. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 37.462
8. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 + 40.191
9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 45.421
10. Toni Elias (SPA) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 53.218
11. Alex De Angelis (RSM) San Carlo Honda Gresini + 53.550
12. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team + 56.647
13. Yuki Takahashi (JPN) Scot Racing Team + 56.688
14. Randy De Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP + 1’11.299
15. Niccolo Canepa (ITA) Pramac Racing + 1’15.385
16. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 2 Lap
Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Racing 17 Lap