2012 French GP Results
Spoiler Alert: 2012 MotoGP Championship results from Le Mans listed below
The French Grand Prix at Le Mans opened up with some surprises well before the race.
First, Valentino Rossi laid some rumors to rest that he was done with MotoGP, the nine-time World Champion reporting at Thursday’s pre-race conference that he will remain in the series for an additional two years, though not specifying if he will remain with Ducati.
But the more shocking news arrived later at the press conference when the reigning MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner announced his retirement at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Stoner said MotoGP changed to the point where he’s “not enjoying it,” the Australian sounding much like his compatriot Mat Mladin when the seven-time AMA Superbike Champion retired from AMA Pro Racing at the conclusion of the 2009 season.
But this didn’t change Stoner’s determination to put in yet another brilliant performance at a rain-soaked Le Mans MotoGP, although he didn’t take the win. Stoner would finish third, just behind the man who would create yet another shocking news story at Le Mans – Rossi; this would be Rossi’s best finish on the Ducati, bettering his previous best of third that occurred last season at the same circuit.
And the winner? Not so shocking…Yamaha Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard, who started from fourth on the grid, got into the lead on the first lap and ran in typical Lorenzo style – smooth and consistent – to take his second win of 2012 MotoGP, and also regain the championship lead.
With minimal setup in the rain, the 28-lap race at the 2.57-mile Bugatti Circuit containing 13 turns proved to be very difficult for the riders. The entire race was held under soaking rain conditions, which caused drama from the outset; when the race went green, many bikes were squirming, and the top CRT qualifier, Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, dropped his Aprilia-powered bike, though was able to quickly rejoin in last. But the home favorite CRT rider would retire from the race with six laps remaining.
The pole man, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, got to the front first, followed by Stoner, Lorenzo, Monster Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizoso and Rossi. By the mid-point of the opening lap, Rossi passed Dovizioso for fourth, and Lorenzo took Pedrosa for the lead. When the second lap opened, there was more drama when Avintia Blusens CRT’s Ivan Silva crashed out. Lorenzo began gapping the grid, and Stoner soon took second from Pedrosa.
Meanwhile behind, Rossi began placing much pressure on Pedrosa, and finally made a pass stick on the third lap to slip into third. A half lap later, Dovizoso passed Pedrosa, then Dovi’s teammate Cal Crutchlow did the same. Behind, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl was already in seventh, running very solid and consistent laps.
With 22 laps remaining, Lorenzo already had more than four seconds on Stoner, who was stalked closely by Rossi. Stoner set the fastest lap so far with 20 laps remaining, and then one lap later Rossi would do the same.
As Lorenzo was dominating up front, his teammate Ben Spies wasn’t having much luck. The American got off the line sloppy, and then ran off the track. Spies was forced into the pits for some issues he experienced, but returned to the track in 18th.
Also forced into the pits was Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham, who retired with 17 laps to go, with Colin Edwards’ NGM Mobile Forward Racing replacement, Chris Vermeulen, also forced into the pits; Vermeulen reportedly needed to change his helmet.
With 15 laps to go, Rossi was passed by Dovi on the Dunlop Turn, and then a turn later by Crutchlow, dropping the Ducati rider back into fifth. But Rossi responded a lap later, passing Crutchlow for fourth.
Rossi and Dovi began battling for third, seeming to run the exact same line. Crutchlow came from behind, passing Rossi, but the Italian quickly responded. Shortly after, the Brit low-sided while coming through the chicane, but was able to rejoin the race in eighth.
Rossi went on to pass Dovi to retake third, and set a new fastest lap of the race with eight to go – a 1:44.614. Up front, though, his former Fiat Yamaha teammate Lorenzo was over eight seconds ahead of the grid. While riding in fourth, Dovi crashed with three laps to go.
The action thickened when the two men who hold 11 world titles between them began a back-and-fourth battle for second – Rossi and Stoner. With two laps to go, Rossi closed in, passed Stoner on the chicane, but ran wide on the exit, giving the position back to Stoner.
But Rossi passed Stoner on the beginning of the final lap, and began blocking every move Stoner made. Rossi was able to hold off Stoner for second, making the French crowd loud as he crossed the line.
Up front, Lorenzo took the win by 9.905 seconds over Rossi. Pedrosa would take fourth, with Bradl in fifth, which was the reigning Moto2 rider’s best finish in the premier class.
Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden ran consistent to finish sixth, followed by Dovi and Crutchlow. Completing the top 10 were Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, respectively.
With his second win of the season (the other arriving at the season opener in Qatar), Lorenzo regained the lead in the championship. The 2010 MotoGP Champion now has 90 points, and his followed eight behind by Stoner, who won at Jerez and Estoril. In third with 65 points is Pedrosa.
The 2012 MotoGP Championship will now take a two-week break before resuming at Catalunya for round 5 of 18.
2012 Le Mans MotoGP Results:
|1.||25||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||141.6||49’39.743|
|2.||20||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||141.1||+9.905|
|3.||16||1||Casey STONER||AUS||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||141.0||+11.298|
|4.||13||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||140.2||+29.361|
|5.||11||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||140.0||+32.477|
|6.||10||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Ducati Team||Ducati||140.0||+32.842|
|7.||9||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||138.8||+59.759|
|8.||8||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||138.5||+1’05.152|
|9.||7||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Pramac Racing Team||Ducati||138.4||+1’07.846|
|10.||6||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||Honda||138.2||+1’13.193|
|11.||5||77||James ELLISON||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||ART||137.6||+1’26.663|
|12.||4||54||Mattia PASINI||ITA||Speed Master||ART||137.5||+1’27.633|
|13.||3||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||135.8||1 Lap|
|14.||2||51||Michele PIRRO||ITA||San Carlo Honda Gresini||FTR||135.4||1 Lap|
|15.||1||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Avintia Blusens||BQR||135.0||1 Lap|
|16.||11||Ben SPIES||USA||Yamaha Factory Racing||Yamaha||133.1||1 Lap|
|17.||7||Chris VERMEULEN||AUS||NGM Mobile Forward Racing||Suter||131.3||2 Laps|
|18.||22||Ivan SILVA||SPA||Avintia Blusens||BQR||126.8||2 Laps|
|9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Came IodaRacing Project||Ioda||137.3||4 Laps|
|14||Randy DE PUNIET||FRA||Power Electronics Aspar||ART||130.5||6 Laps|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Ducati||133.1||17 Laps|
2012 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (after four of 18 rounds):
|14.||Randy DE PUNIET||ART||FRA||6|