Dani Pedrosa (26) became the first repeat winner of 2013 while teammate Marc Marquez (93) kept his perfect podium record intact. Dani Pedrosa (26) became the first repeat winner of 2013 while teammate Marc Marquez (93) kept his perfect podium record intact. Photo courtesy Repsol Honda

Pedrosa wins dramatic French Grand Prix

Written by  on Sunday, 19 May 2013 13:59

Dani Pedrosa became the first rider to win two races in the 2013 MotoGP™ season, coming from sixth position on the grid in mixed conditions at Le Mans on Sunday. He now leads the championship from Repsol Honda Team partner Marc Marquez, who fought to the podium after a poor start as Britain’s Cal Crutchlow finished second.

For the second year in succession, the field was presented with a wet track for the start of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. All competitors duly elected to fit the soft compound wet weather tires for both front and rear wheels, although this resulted in an extremely difficult final handful of laps as the tarmac dried out.

Pedrosa’s ride to a first victory at Le Mans in the premier class was a calculated but exciting one. Having crashed in qualifying, he stayed out of trouble at the start and passed Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Honda rider then caught Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who had fought into the lead from a front row start and continually re-passed Pedrosa whenever the latter made a mistake. The final swapping of places came at half distance.

“It was a very good race for me,” the new championship leader said in the post-race press conference. “I’m so happy with this one because I lost some position sliding at the start but recovered at the first turn. I had no grip on the rear, but tried to stay in front with Dovvy (Dovizioso) and Lorenzo. I started to have some good feeling in the wet, so I tried to push but made a couple of mistakes and almost went off twice.

“I was able to hang on and just keep up the rhythm, so I could escape out in front and ride with good pace. The bike was working well; the tires were spinning a lot with the drying line in the last laps, but I was able to manage the gap and bring home this victory which is so special.”

The weekend has been a memorable one for Crutchlow. On Saturday the Englishman sustained a fracture to the top of his shin bone, causing immense pain in the knee, but from fourth on the grid he made the most of the mixed conditions and stormed passed old teammate Dovizioso in the closing stages.

"I’m really, really pleased," Crutchlow said after the race. "It’s great to be up here with the Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha team as it’s their home race and the Monster Energy (sponsored) event, so we are pleased to be able to do it for the team.

"I had a big crash yesterday and I think it was going to be a difficult race if it was dry; I had confidence I would be there in the top five but maybe the podium would have been difficult. I was remembering what happened here last year, when I crashed out, and it was the same guys again; me, Dovvy (Dovizioso) and Vale (Valentino Rossi) were all together again at one point, so I knew I needed to make amends from last year and we finally got the podium. Marc (Marquez) was coming at the end and I was a little scared [laughs] and had to keep pushing on.

"I think we did a good job and we definitely deserve this podium. We have been fast all year and have finally managed to reach it."

Crutchlow’s previous rostrum finishes came in the Czech and Australian Grands Prix of 2012,

Dovizioso led for a chunk of the race and ultimately just missed out on a rostrum result as Marquez - championship leader heading into the day - fought back from a poor getaway and a selection of off-track moments. He therefore maintains his 100 percent podium finish record for 2013.

"It was so difficult, especially in the beginning with that water on the track," Marquez recalled. "I had only ridden a few laps in the wet, at Jerez. First I made a big mistake with wheelspin at the start, so I’ll take a lot of experience from that! In the beginning I maybe tried to push too much and made many, many mistakes and lost lots of time.

"I took the feeling I had had in the warm-up and came back through. I didn’t expect to finish on the podium, if I’m honest, but I was just focused on my race. I saw Cal was there on the last lap but I said, ‘Okay, after this race the podium is enough!’ These 16 points are so important because this was my first MotoGP™ race in the wet and to start the championship with four podiums in a row is quite important."

Nicky Hayden confirmed Ducati’s strongest day of the campaign to date by finishing fifth from GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, but it was a somewhat disastrous afternoon for Yamaha Factory Racing. Lorenzo struggled to make an impression and slid down the order to seventh, whereas Valentino Rossi - who had previously battled with his teammate - fell while under pressure from Hayden. The Italian recovered to 12th behind Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, whose temporary teammate Michele Pirro rose to eighth ahead of Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.

Pedrosa’s win makes him the championship leader, as the 2012 runner-up is now up to 83 points and six ahead of teammate Marquez.

Britain’s Scott Redding triumphed in Moto2™ for the first time, winning a rain-affected Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. It was a one-two finish for the Marc VDS Racing Team as Mika Kallio finished second, but there was disaster for numerous championship contenders who slipped out of contention.

Redding’s emotional victory makes him the first British rider to win at Le Mans since Alan Carter took the chequered flag in the 250 race of 30 years ago; his own previous career win had been in the 125 class, at Donington Park in 2008. Sunday’s success it was no easy feat, as at the start the 20-year-old had plummeted to ninth position off the wetter, right-hand side of the track following heavy rain overnight.

Takaaki Nakagami led in the early stages from Pol Espargaro. Unbelievably, both Espargaro and championship-leading Tuenti HP 40 teammate Esteve Rabat fell in harmony at Musee corner, dropping down the order on lap three. Nakagami was left with a three-second advantage, but the Italtrans Racing Team man lost control at the same corner just four laps later as sprinkles of rain made for a greasy track surface.

A strong recovery ride from Redding saw him rise to the front on lap eight, passing Johann Zarco. Redding’s teammate Kallio looked to threaten as he typically grew stronger and pushed on in the second half of the race. Heavier rain towards the end threw a spanner into the works for Redding, but red flags flew on the 24th of 26 laps. As the result was declared at the end of lap 22 (the last which all riders had completed), Kallio inherited second position despite being overtaken by Xavier Simeon before the stoppage. Nevertheless, the Belgian Desguaces La Torre Maptaq rider still achieved a first ever podium finish.

Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter and Came Iodaracing Project’s aforementioned Zarco were fourth and fifth from NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini.

Moto2™ has now witnessed four different winners from as many races at the start of the 2013 season. Redding retakes the championship lead and is 24 points ahead of Rabat.

Maverick Viñales won Sunday’s Moto3™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France from pole position, thus becoming the first two-time race victor of the 2013 season. The well-judged ride at Le Mans saw the Team Calvo rider head up an all-Spanish podium from previous race winners Alex Rins and Luis Salom.

Rain had been forecast for the race, but ultimately no drops would fall over the course of the 24 laps. Viñales enjoyed a clean start but it was Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger who - from a front row start - swept into the lead under braking for turn three.

It took Viñales two attempts to make the move stick, but he eventually edged back past Folger on the ninth tour. The German would soon drop to fourth place, behind Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Rins and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Salom, as he overshot the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane.

Viñales’ triumph sees him extend his championship lead to 13 points over Salom, with Rins a further 16 in arrears. The season continues in a fortnight’s time with the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM at Mugello.

MotoGP Race Results

1

Dani Pedrosa

49'17.707

SPA

HONDA

Repsol Honda Team

2

Cal Crutchlow

+4.863

GBR

YAMAHA

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

3

Marc Marquez

+6.949

SPA

HONDA

Repsol Honda Team

4

Andrea Dovizioso

+10.087

ITA

DUCATI

Ducati Team

5

Nicky Hayden

+18.471

USA

DUCATI

Ducati Team

6

Alvaro Bautista

+23.561

SPA

HONDA

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

7

Jorge Lorenzo

+27.961

SPA

YAMAHA

Yamaha Factory Racing

8

Michele Pirro

+40.775

ITA

DUCATI

Ignite Pramac Racing Team

9

Bradley Smith

+41.407

GBR

YAMAHA

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

10

Stefan Bradl

+1'00.995

GER

HONDA

LCR Honda MotoGP

11

Andrea Iannone

+1'05.110

ITA

DUCATI

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

12

Valentino Rossi

+1'16.368

ITA

YAMAHA

Yamaha Factory Racing

13

Aleix Espargaro

+1'24.200

SPA

ART

Power Electronics Aspar

14

Danilo Petrucci

+1'25.726

ITA

IODA-SUTER

Came IodaRacing Project

15

Karel Abraham

+1'32.111

CZE

ART

Cardion AB Motoracing

16

Colin Edwards

+1'40.602

USA

FTR-KAWASAKI

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

17

Michael Laverty

+1 lap

GBR

PBM

Paul Bird Motorsport

18

Hector Barbera

+1 lap

SPA

FTR

Avintia Blusens

19

Hiroshi Aoyama

+1 lap

JAP

FTR

Avintia Blusens

20

Yonny Hernandez

DNF

COL

PBM

Paul Bird Motorsport

21

Randy De Puniet

DNF

FRA

ART

Power Electronics Aspar

22

Lukas Pesek

DNF

CZE

IODA-SUTER

Came IodaRacing Project

23

Claudio Corti

DNF

ITA

FTR-KAWASAKI

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

24

Bryan Staring

DNF

AUS

FTR

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

MotoGP Point Standings

1

Dani Pedrosa

83 pts

SPA

HONDA

Repsol Honda Team

2

Marc Marquez

77 pts

SPA

HONDA

Repsol Honda Team

3

Jorge Lorenzo

66 pts

SPA

YAMAHA

Yamaha Factory Racing

4

Cal Crutchlow

55 pts

GBR

YAMAHA

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

5

Valentino Rossi

47 pts

ITA

YAMAHA

Yamaha Factory Racing

6

Andrea Dovizioso

39 pts

ITA

DUCATI

Ducati Team

7

Alvaro Bautista

38 pts

SPA

HONDA

Go & Fun Honda Gresini

8

Nicky Hayden

35 pts

USA

DUCATI

Ducati Team

9

Aleix Espargaro

20 pts

SPA

ART

Power Electronics Aspar

10

Andrea Iannone

18 pts

ITA

DUCATI

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

11

Bradley Smith

17 pts

GBR

YAMAHA

Monster Yamaha Tech 3

12

Stefan Bradl

17 pts

GER

HONDA

LCR Honda MotoGP

13

Michele Pirro

13 pts

ITA

DUCATI

Ignite Pramac Racing Team

14

Ben Spies

9 pts

USA

DUCATI

Ignite Pramac Racing Team

15

Hector Barbera

7 pts

SPA

FTR

Avintia Blusens

16

Randy De Puniet

6 pts

FRA

ART

Power Electronics Aspar

17

Danilo Petrucci

4 pts

ITA

IODA-SUTER

Came IodaRacing Project

18

Michael Laverty

3 pts

GBR

PBM

Paul Bird Motorsport

19

Yonny Hernandez

3 pts

COL

PBM

Paul Bird Motorsport

20

Colin Edwards

1 pts

USA

FTR-KAWASAKI

NGM Mobile Forward Racing

21

Karel Abraham

1 pts

CZE

ART

Cardion AB Motoracing

22

Hiroshi Aoyama

1 pts

JAP

FTR

Avintia Blusens

--from motogp.com

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John Hopkins

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