2011 MotoGP Rider Talk
Casey Stoner was unstoppable at Round 4 of the 2011 MotoGP Championship in Le Mans, France, Sunday afternoon.
After mid-race battle with Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, the Australian Stoner got out front and began distancing himself from the field, never to be challenged again.
But Stoner wasn’t the only Repsol Honda on the Le Mans podium; his teammate Andrea Dovizioso battled with Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi. Dovi took second off Rossi with three laps to go, holding the position to the checkered flag.
Rossi would finish third, delievering the first Ducati/Rossi podium of 2011.
As for Pedrosa, the Spaniard was bumped by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini), and crashed. During the MotoGP wreck, Pedrosa broke his right collarbone; last year at Motegi, Pedrosa broke his left collarbone.
Here’s what the MotoGP riders were saying following the 2011 French Grand Prix:
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro GP11 MotoGP) says: “We’re very pleased with this podium because we’re on the right path, and especially because I had fun today. I rode the Desmosedici well, I was fast in the technical parts of the track, I felt good from start to finish and I had good lap times.
“This morning we made a last change to the setting together with Jeremy and the guys from Ducati, and it helped cut another couple of tenths. I knew I could beat Lorenzo, so that was my goal. I also passed Dovi at one point, but I got a little confused and made a move on the penultimate lap instead of the last one. I lost my concentration momentarily, but in short, he got me again.
“Anyway, it’s fine like this; I’m happy for myself, for my team, for Filippo (Preziosi), and for all the boys at Ducati. This result boosts our morale. We still have to keep working and improving though, because there’s more to be done. I also have to improve and keep adapting my style to the Ducati, because I’m still not riding it as I should, but in the meanwhile, we’ll enjoy today’s nice race and podium.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro GP11 MotoGP) says: “We didn’t do ourselves any favors by starting 10th, but actually, we made a little step forward with the bike today. I got a decent start but was just really tight and lost some time.
“As the race got going, I was able to move up a bit and slowly bring back Spies and Colin. Colin crashed, but once I got in front of Ben, I wasn’t really able to get down in the 34s and get away like I needed to.
“Seventh isn’t a great result for us, but I would say that overall, it’s probably been our best weekend yet. When the track was cold, I was able to go quite fast-always in the top five in those conditions. I hoped for better in the race, but I’m looking forward to the next stretch; we’re about to really get into the season.”
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I was having a good race, the goal was to ensure another podium and I had it in my grasp. But it counts for nothing. Simoncelli overtook me, I passed him back and I had the better line, he just came into me releasing the brakes and I could do nothing.
“I leave here with a broken collarbone and he with a ride through penalty, good for him! Yet again I come out worse off. We only just recovered from the nightmare of the last operation and now I’m hurt again. It is very unfair, I don’t deserve it.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “I’m really happy with the second position today, it’s so important for the Championship and it arrives after a start of the season, where we didn’t get the results we expected. We did a very good job with the team since the beginning of the weekend and I knew I could fight for the podium, but I didn’t expect second place.
“I had a great battle with Valentino and to beat him always has a special taste, and it’s a good fun to get the podium after a hard fight. I was losing a lot in two areas but I was strong in braking, so I made a good strategy and once I overtook him, I pushed 100 percent not to have him too close especially in turns 10 and 11, where he was faster.
“Concerning the race, I had a good start, Lorenzo’s strong overtaking slowed me down a little, but then I pushed to recover the gap. We had good pace, but we need to be faster. We have to keep on working to reduce the gap to stay with the front riders from the beginning. Dani today was very unlucky and I hope he can recover soon.”
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “The whole weekend has gone so well for us, arriving here from the Portugal test with the bike almost the same and we have improved small things here and there and only needed to adjust the set up for this circuit.
“We went into the race confident, at the beginning of the race Dani was very fast and he was difficult to pass as he as being cautious. When I overtook him I thought I might be able to take some advantage but he was able to match my times and follow me for some laps, so I continued to push more than I prefer to and eventually I put a gap between us.
“From this point the race came to me and I was able to focus on my consistency and win.
A big thanks to the team and everyone for all their hard work, but my thoughts are with Dani at this moment, I hope he can recover soon as he is a very strong contender for this Championship.”
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V MotoGP) says: “I am unhappy about what happened, because a result that was within my reach was denied and above all because of the fact that Pedrosa is hurt.
“In my opinion the incident went like this: Pedrosa was having a bit of difficulty -I had pulled alongside him and passed him on the previous three laps. When he passed me back I was not intentionally trying to resist, and my telemetry shows that I got on the brakes at the same point as on previous laps.
“I think that he had hit the brakes well before the corner, and I found myself on the outside of him and in front on the entry to the corner. I didn’t want to back off, so I left him with a metre between myself and the kerb in order to go in.
“I saw that it was tight, so I tried to adjust my position. That was when he touched my back wheel and went down. I repeat that I am unhappy about it, and I want to avoid any controversy regarding penalization, but I believe that my ride through was a result of all the talk over the past few days. Now I have to focus on Barcelona.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “I think the race has been good in general for us and the results and points are good for the Championship. Obviously I would like to fight with Casey and the other best riders for victory but at this moment it’s really hard. What I can do is try to finish with the best result possible, take the maximum from our bike as it is now and wait for future improvements.”
Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing M1 MotoGP) says: “It was a pretty exciting race. I made two mistakes on the first two laps and lost touch with Colin and Valentino. I tried to ride as hard as I could and was reeling in Colin until unfortunately he crashed; his bike slid across the track so I had to avoid it which allowed Nicky to get up to the back of me. We diced around a bit then I was able to get around him and go on my way. We got a sixth place result which is good for the points.”
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “I got one of the best starts I’ve had in a long time and I just flew off the line but it was the usual jostle for position at the first corner.
“I got a bit of clear track in front of me and I could see Valentino was coming back to me a little bit and Dovizioso and Lorenzo were also just in front of him. I rode at my absolute maximum to try and stay with them because I really wanted to get a top six for Tech 3 and for Monster.
“I was losing four of five bike lengths though coming onto the back straight and then I’d also lose a bit more time at the next chicane because I wasn’t that fast through there. I could see the gap was staying at 1.5s and there was nothing I could do. I wasn’t making mistakes but neither were they, so I could see them but just not get close enough.
“When I crashed it didn’t feel like I was doing anything too stupid. I was on the same line and I didn’t get in there too hot. Normally you get a bit of warning when the front is going to tuck, but I had nothing. I was already looking through at the next corner and then I was down. I broke the footpeg off but came back to the pits and went out again and salvaged a couple of points, which might prove valuable at the end of the year.”
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1 MotoGP) says: “I’m pretty disappointed because looking at how the race panned out I could have been in sixth place because when I crashed I was having a good battle with Ben. I’d caught him quite easily and was looking forward to a good race when I made a stupid little mistake in Turn 6.
“I touched the kerb and I lost the front. I literally fell off the side of the bike and that was it. It is disappointing because I had the pace to get another top eight, but these things can happen when you’re pushing so hard in a competitive class like MotoGP. I managed to get back on the bike but there was a problem with the throttle, so it was impossible for me to carry on. I showed my raw speed all weekend so I’m not going to be too hard on myself, though I was desperate to get a good result for Tech 3 and Monster.”
Alvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP) says: “This is my first race this year because in Estoril I raced alone, but today I was able to fight with other riders! We managed to finish the race and get more kilometers under our belts, but I did not have the same feeling today as we had yesterday.
“I felt like I had no good rear grip in the exit of the corner and the bike was spinning a lot and I struggled to stay with the group going for places in the top-10. I made a mistake when I tried to pass Abraham later on as I touched the gear lever and went into neutral and lost some time, and I also had a bit of an incident with Loris and Hector.
“I tried to catch the group at the end, but it was very difficult to get past them. This is another race completed and I felt more competitive than in Estoril. This race was good for getting the racing feeling back and being able to overtake other riders and fight with them. I did many overtakes under braking and enjoyed the race very much – but not the result! I think if my rhythm had been better I could have finished in the top-10.
“I want to thank all my team, because it has been a difficult weekend with some strange weather conditions, we tried to do the best we could and make a good bike for these conditions.”
Toni Elias (LCR Honda RC212V MotoGP) says: “We have been afraid about the warm up of the tyres because the track temperature was colder compared to the practices but at the end it was not so bad. Our rear traction problem is not solved yet but now I can see progressive improvements and I want to thank the team for their good work.
“When I was leading the small group in the back I thought that I could catch Aoyama but suddenly I have suffered a bike shaking banging my feet on the fairing. My leather security airbag activated and I could not ride properly for a couple of laps till it went down. After that I pushed to catch the group again but could not finish in the top ten. Anyway it has been a positive week end and I hope to see a further improvements at my home GP.”
Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “So much, so much bad luck today. I was waiting for the end of the race to attack the group, I had the chance to recover some positions.
“Then Bautista has slowed suddenly as he was fighting as well with another rider and I couldn’t avoid to touch him and this made me fall. There is always something wrong, unfortunately. Now there is little to say, this race has to be soon forgot. Next round at Barcelona, hoping that luck will assist us.”
Randy De Puniet (Pramac Racing Team Ducati GP11 MotoGP) says: “I do not know what to say, I do not understand how I managed to fall like this. It’s been very strange, the front has suddenly lost the grip and I slipped.
“I’m disappointed, I am angry: I wanted to do well in this race. Tomorrow I’ll only have in mind the next GP in Barcelona, but now I cannot forget what happened today. I’m sorry about what happened this morning with Casey. I was adjusting the brake, thinking that I had no one behind. Then, suddenly, I saw Casey coming behind me at full speed, I tried to leave the road to him, but unfortunately I went where he was pointing. I’m sorry and even if his reaction was not the best, for me it’s all put in the past and I have nothing wrong against him.”