Jorge Lorenzo scored more championship points today at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit by taking victory over his Fiat Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi. The Spaniard now holds a sight edge of nine points for this year's run to the MotoGP title. With three rounds now in the books, it looks like once again the two Yamaha riders will fight it out to the end. Qatar's season opener went to Rossi and Lorenzo has now taken back to back wins in Spain and France.
"I am so happy to win for the second race in a row, it's the first time for me in MotoGP and it makes me feel very confident in myself." said Lorenzo. "I have had a good time in Le Mans since I joined Yamaha; one second and two victories, so I think I can say I enjoy racing here in France! It is fantastic to be leading the championship but there is a long way to go and now we go to Mugello, a track that I love but where my rivals are very strong. Thank you to my team and everyone at Yamaha for this great weekend."
In qualifying yesterday the pair battled for the pole, which Rossi nailed down. Yet in the race the Italian could not keep up to the pace of Lorenzo after a gallant effort. The two put on a show starting on lap seven, trading the lead until Lorenzo made his final push and built up a gap that saw him win by nearly six seconds.
According to Rossi his recent shoulder injury wasn't much of a problem, raw pace is what lost the lead to Lorenzo, "I got a very good start but I knew from the beginning that we lacked some pace compared to Lorenzo and we had some unexpected problems in the race, mainly to do with grip on exit and acceleration from the corners. I expected to be faster but it wasn't the case today. I tried to stay in front of Lorenzo but it wasn't possible and I couldn't go with him once he was past, congratulations to him because he was very strong today!"
Nearly two seconds adrift of Rossi was Andrea Dovizioso. The Repsol Honda rider put in a good run today for third, having started back in the third row. The Italian also had his own fight with a teammate, in this case Dani Pedrosa, to take the final podium spot. The pair battled to the final lap when Dovizioso made his move.
"I'm so happy to have made the podium here," said Dovizioso. "It was very important because I wanted to confirm that the result in Qatar was not a one-off. We have improved a lot during the winter, so this is another important step forward. I wanted a good result for the team, to thank them and also because of last year when Dani came from 10 seconds behind to overtake me on the very last lap. Also, I'm very pleased to be going to Mugello third in the championship."
American Nicky Hayden got in front of Pedrosa on the final lap as well for fourth. Hayden carried the flag for Ducati today after Stoner crashed out on the third lap, "I'm about as happy with fourth as you could wish to be because I've struggled this weekend and once the race got started I went backwards pretty quickly. I just dug in and started going a little faster. I was pushing so hard to try and get those guys and finish on the podium but I couldn't get close enough. As we say in America 'close only counts in horseshoes and washers' but I know I couldn't have ridden any harder today and the team did a great job, so my heartfelt thanks go to them."
Going from third to fifth had to put a sinking sensation in Pedrosa's stomach, "Well of course I'm not satisfied to have finished in this way because we were able to stay near the leaders for the first part of the race and then dropped back. Losing two places on the final lap is not a good feeling.
"I had a bit of a rear brake issue which meant I couldn't get the bike into the turns as I wanted and I was fighting the bike a bit. Andrea rode well and pushed very hard at the end, so congratulations to him on the podium finish. It's an important part of the season coming up with many races in a short time, so we must work hard and do better in Mugello," added Pedrosa.
As for the ace Ducati rider, going down on the third lap does a lot more damage to a man's gut, "I'm really disappointed because the bike has felt great all weekend, I've been pushing the front wherever I wanted but for some reason when the race has come around it felt like it was going to fold. It's something we have to get to the bottom of and we need to do it soon because it is not good to start the season with only one finish from three races."
Next up is the Italian GP in Mugello coming this first weekend of June. Rossi will have a major confidence boost with the support if his love struck fans. The Urbino native will be looking to equal his teammate's win record and claw back his nine point deficit. Meanwhile Lorenzo will have plenty of time to make more celebration swims before relaxing in the glory of back to back wins.