Round 4 France - Retiring, but not shy
Moto3 - 24 laps
Moto2 - 26 laps
MotoGP - 28 laps
The Le Mans results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), 49 mins 39.743 secs (race average speed 141.571 km/h)
2. Valentino Rossi (Ducati), 9.905s behind
3. Casey Stoner(Honda), 11.298s behind
PP Dani Pedrosa (Honda), 1:33.638 = 160.896 km/h • FL Rossi, 1:44.614 = 144.015 km/h
1. Tom Lüthi (Suter), 50 mins 02.816 secs (race average speed 130.449 km/h)
2. Claudio Corti (Kalex), 6.354s behind
3. Scott Redding (Kalex), 12.162s behind
PP Marc Marquez (Suter), 1:37.710 = 154.190 km/h • FL Corti, 1:53.855 = 132.326 km/h
1. Louis Rossi FTR Honda), 49 mins 12.390 secs (race average speed 122.471 km/h)
2. Alberto Moncayo (Kalex KTM), 27.348s behind
3. Alex Rins (Suter Honda), 28.899s behind
PP Maverick Viñales (FTR Honda), 1:55.865 = 130.030 km/h • FL Jakub Kornfeil FTR Honda), 2:01.056 km/h = 124.454 km/h
MOTOGP: Retiring, but not shy
Casey Stoner stunned the motorcycle world by announcing his retirement, scheduled for the end of the season, before Sunday’s French race, then relinquished his World Championship lead when he finished third behind race winner Jorge Lorenzo and a revitalised Valentino Rossi in a rain-soaked, treacherous 28-lap race. It was the Australian’s 19th consecutive podium finish. “It’s been coming for a few years,” Stoner said of his decision to quit. “I thought last year I might be able to get my passion back, but it didn’t happen.”
While pole-sitter Danio Pedrosa, Stoner’s Honda team-mate, struggled with no traction and fell back through the field, Lorenzo’s Yamaha surged into the lead from the start and stayed there. “My plan was to stray in first position,” said the Spaniard, “because I prefer staying alone!” Lorenzo’s second win of the season carried him 12 points clear of Stoner, 90-82, with Pedrosa third on 65 after finishing a somewhat lucky fourth.
Valentino Rossi claimed his best finish yet after joining Ducati last year. Le Mans was the scene of his only podium last year; the Italian quipped “I want to race in places where it rains a lot!” after fighting a race-long duel with the Tech 3 Yamaha duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow and catching Stoner in the closing stages. Rossi, who says he will be racing for at least another two years, is now sixth in the standings after securing only his second podium with the Italian bike.
Rossi was only the fourth man to make it on to the podium this year after Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa dominated the first three rounds, but Pedrosa took advantage of falls to the Tech 3 Yamaha riders to pounce for fourth place. Crutchlow dropped his machine at the chicane on lap 19 but picked it up to finish eighth, while Dovizioso went down three laps from home but also recovered to finish one place ahead of his team-mate.
Germany’s Stefan Bradl scored his best finish of the year in fifth place on the LCR Honda ahead of Rossi’s team-mate Nicky Hayden, with Ducati rider Hector Barbera and Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista completing the top 10. Australia’s Chris Vermeulen, standing in for the injured Colin Edwards on the Forward Racing Suter, struggled for pace and had to pit for a helmet change on his way to 17th place.
After looking likely to be replaced for the French round, British rider James Ellison came home best of the CRT entries in 11th place on the Paul Bird ART. Local favourite Randy de Puniet endured an embarrassing moment right at the start, dropping his Aspar ART off the line on the wettest part of the track, as 18 riders made it to the race finish. Yet again Karel Abraham was not among them and remains the only rider still looking for his first point of 2012.
Moto2: Lüthi at last
Swiss former 125cc World Champion Tom Lüthi (Suter) claimed his first win of the season to elbow his way firmly in among the title contenders after keeping a cool head in a dramatic 26-lap Moto2 race. Twice a Le Mans winner on 125 machines, Lüthi led with 16 laps to go and stayed there as all around him were losing their way. Second was Claudio Corti on a Kalex, claiming his first World Championship podium, while Britain’s Scott Redding on another Kalex took his own first podium in 22 starts in third place.
Spain’s Marc Marquez – tipped to succeed Stoner on the Repsol Honda in the senior class – missed the chance of a third win of 2012 when he parted company with his Suter midway through. His demise cost him the title lead as sixth was good enough for Pol Espargaro (Kalex) to move ahead, 71 points to 70.
As ever, Aussie Ant West excelled in tricky conditions: qualifying down in 28th, the QMMF Morowaki rider stormed through the field to finish an outstanding seventh. French hope Johann Zarco had an eventful race, knocking Gino Rea’s front wheel out from under him after seven laps then crashing out himself with four laps to go. A gutsy effort by Julian Simon saw the Spaniard push his Suter, stricken by an electrical problem, over the line to claim 13th spot.
Moto3: Another Rossi on the top step
It was left to local hero Louis Rossi, from Le Mans itself, to cheer the French fans on a miserable day with his maiden victory on his FTR Honda in the 24-lap Moto3 event – but it owed something to fortune and the fickle conditions. As race leaders Hector Faubel (Kalex KTM), Miguel Oliveira (Suter Honda) and Maverick Viñales (FTR Honda) all crashed out of first place, Rossi was ahead with eight laps to go and won by almost 28 seconds as the chasing Sandro Cortese (KTM) also came off with just two laps to go.
Cortese got back on to finish sixth and retain the Championship lead on 67 points to Viñales’ 55. Second place in France elevated Alberto Moncayo (Kalex KTM) to the top six, while another unfamiliar name, Alex Rins, was third on his Suter Honda and moved up to fifth overall. Aussie Arthus Sissis kept his nerve well to come home in a strong fifth place on the Red Bull KTM, but compatriot Jack Miller (Honda) joined half the race field in failing to finish in the soaking conditions.