After scoring points in the opening three rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, the Penrith-based PBM MotoGP team of Yonny Hernandez and Michael Laverty couldn't manage to add to their tally at a damp and dismal round four held at Le Mans in France.
With wet conditions greeting the riders, it was always going to be a difficult task but a great start by Hernandez saw him up to 17th with Laverty in 22nd which is where they stayed for the opening half dozen laps before Laverty moved up a place.
Before long, the two PBM machines were circulating in formation with Hernandez, from Medelln, dropping to 18th but just one place ahead of team-mate Laverty, from Toome, as they scrapped it out in the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) class.
Each rider moved up a respective place to 17th and 18th on lap 16 as they homed in on the points but on lap 20 of the 28 laps, Hernandez suffered a technical problem causing him to retire to the pits. That left Laverty to battle on alone and despite getting lapped for the first time this season, he brought the machine home to its fourth finish in as many races to continue his 100% finishing rate as he claimed a battling 17th on a drying track.
Despite not adding to their points score, both Laverty and Hernandez remain tied on points in 18th place in the MotoGP World Championship and equal fifth in the CRT standings going into the next round at Mugello in Italy next month. PBM remain in seventh place in the Constructors Championship in their debut season with their brand new British-built machine.
Michael Laverty: "I'm disappointed with the result; we had a good pace in the dry but today was a big learning experience as I hadn't ridden the Bridgestone wet tyres or the PBM bike properly in the rain. I felt like a fish out of water in warm up but the team improved the electronics for the race and I got more comfortable as the race went on. Once I understood the tyres I was actually lapping as fast as the top CRT guys but I had lost so much time in the early laps that a good result was impossible. The main positive from today is that I know we can be competitive when the rain arrives in future."
Yonny Hernandez: "It was a difficult weekend for me as I never found a good rhythm with the bike in the dry. In the wet warm up session I was happier and was much more competitive but in the race there was a different feeling and too much spinning. I thought there was a problem with the tyre and it was not safe so I retired. I am sad because I think I could have had a good result if the feeling had been the same as the warm up."
Phil Borley, Technical Director: "It has been a frustrating weekend as our potential in the conditions of the race is better than our results. With Michael, his times in the dry improved during the weekend as he became more familiar with the circuit and as the bike setting developed. In the wet condition his speed increased as the race progressed, setting the second fastest CRT time, but it was too late to challenge for some points. Yonny was struggling in the dry but he was very fast in the wet conditions so it was especially disappointing that he retired with a lack of rear grip. We will check the data to try and understand why his bike felt so different between the warm up and race."
Round five of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Mugello in Italy on Sunday 2nd June.