Pedrosa seals convincing victory under grey French skies

Spaniard takes second win of the year ahead of Crutchlow and Marquez

Dani Pedrosa secured a superb second race win of his 2013 MotoGP campaign today at the Monster Energy Grand Prix De France that was badly affected by rain and the Repsol Honda rider was followed home by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow who showed steely determination to grab second place while the race-winner’s teammate Marc Marquez sealed the third and final place on the podium despite being way off the pace early on.

I'm very happy, because I have earned an important victory. I've been trying to win at this circuit for many years in MotoGP.

Dani Pedrosa

The rain-soaked track proved very tricky early on with a number of riders failing to capitalize on their qualifying positions with Marquez falling back to 7th place while Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso grabbed the holeshot ahead of Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo while Pedrosa settled into third position with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl close behind. The Le Mans Bugatti circuit didn’t take long to bite back at the riders with GO&Fun Honda Gresini’s Bryan Staring crashing out early on.

Valentino Rossi got off to a good start with the Italian rider fighting off an initial attack from Ducati’s Nicky Hayden and Energy TI Pramac Racing rider Andrea Iannone to move up to fourth position within the first lap. Crutchlow was measured in his pace early on and was circulating in 7th place with Marquez for company but the British rider began picking up the pace after getting accustomed to the low grip levels of the wet French tarmac.

Pedrosa had gotten passed Lorenzo within the first five laps and set his sights on Dovizioso who was riding smoothly at the front and it was Lorenzo who looked to be having a harder time of it getting his YZR-M1 settled in the difficult conditions and it wasn’t before long that the reigning World Champion began to come under attack from Rossi. Behind these Bradl was leading Hayden, Crutchlow and Marquez with GO&Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista in 9th place and Energy TI Pramac Racing’s substitute rider Michele Pirro in 10th early on. The leading CRT machine was that of Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro.

Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Rossi passed Lorenzo within the first ten laps with Crutchlow also closing in on the Spaniard’s back wheel while Hayden also found the pace to close up on the top five. Pedrosa and Dovizioso were busy swapping the lead at this stage and the rider encountering difficulty in staying with the front group was Lorenzo who was now circulating behind Crutchlow and Hayden and he now had Bradl to contend with while Marquez was also catching up on this battle and it wasn’t before long that the rookie was on the back wheel of the factory Yamaha and passing Lorenzo to take 7th position. Lorenzo’s fate continued to worsen as within another lap Bautista was also passed his fellow countryman.

Halfway through the race there was misfortune for Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek who retired from the race while Power Electronics Aspar’s Randy De Puniet had even more misfortune crashing out in front of his home fans. The track conditions were even trickier in the second half of the race and Bradl was the first to fall victim to the drying lines while racing on wet rubber with the German rider crashing out and then re-mounting in a lower position. Soon after Bradl’s crash, Rossi sustained a similar fate with the Italian losing the front end of his machine and re-joining in 12th place.

The battle at the front had saw a number of further passes between the Ducati and Honda men but it was Pedrosa who had the extra pace to pull away and build a comfortable lead within a few laps and Dovizioso was beginning to get reeled in by Crutchlow who was intent on grabbing second place and he wasn’t going to be denied with the British rider passing the Ducati rider in the final few laps. Marquez was also closing in rapidly nearing the end of the race and the young rider showed great maturity in maintaining his pace to cruelly demote Dovizioso from third place while Pedrosa crossed the line for his second win of the season. Pedrosa now leads the championship with 81 points ahead of Marquez on 77 and Lorenzo with 66.

Pedrosa was delighted with having secured a MotoGP victory at the Le Mans track and said, “I'm very happy, because I have earned an important victory. I've been trying to win at this circuit for many years in MotoGP and it has always been a tough track for me. Today, the moment finally arrived, when I least expected it, and it is immensely satisfying. Conditions here are usually against me, because it is cold and I don't like riding in these temperatures, but today I got the best out of myself. The bike was also good, above all on the opening laps when the track was very wet. I made a few mistakes but I was able to recover from them, maintain the advantage and win the race. I'd like to thank all my team and also my supporters!”

Speaking after the race, Crutchlow said he was thrilled with second place and also for his crew, “I’m really happy to get my best ever result in MotoGP and the whole team did an incredible job and deserves this result. We showed our fast pace in the dry, we showed our pace in the wet and I think everybody is aware we are not here through luck. It’s even better and more important because this is the home race for Tech 3 and Monster Energy sponsors the event. So to be the best and only Yamaha on the podium feels really good. My start was not the best and it took me a bit of time to get temperature into the tyres. But once I managed that I felt really comfortable.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

When I saw Andrea and Dani opening a small gap to Valentino I had to make a move because I was afraid they would be too far ahead to try and catch later in the race. And when I saw Marquez recovering time on my pit board I had to pass Andrea otherwise he might have caught both of us during the last laps. I’m really happy with how things went, especially after the crash yesterday. The wet track obviously put less stress on my body but it was tough riding injured in such tough conditions. From now on I just hope we can be injury free and go to Mugello to put on the same show as we did here today,” Crutchlow added.

Securing third position in his first wet MotoGP race was very satisfying for Marquez as he explained afterwards, “This podium almost counts as a win as it was my first wet race in MotoGP and I wasn't expecting to finish in the top three. Also, bearing in mind that I had dropped quite far back from the front, third place and 16 points is an important achievement for the World Championship. We can say that this was a very good weekend; we had a good setting for the dry, but when it rained it was up to me to learn from the mistakes that I made at the start of the race. I need to improve, because I was finding it hard to ride with water on the track. It will be difficult to maintain our performance at Mugello, but we will go there and try 100%. I congratulate Dani on great race and victory and I'd like to thank the whole team!”

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Series MOTOGP
Article type Race reports
Tags crutchlow, featured, hatch, honda, le mans, marquez, pedrosa, repsol, yamaha