Melandri claims victory in French GP

An unexpected victory was claimed today by Marco Melandri at the Alice Grand Prix of France held on the Bugatti circuit of Le Mans, the fifth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Ducati's racer Loris Capirossi and...

An unexpected victory was claimed today by Marco Melandri at the Alice Grand Prix of France held on the Bugatti circuit of Le Mans, the fifth round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP). Ducati's racer Loris Capirossi and poleman Dani Pedrosa completed the podium places.

Lap 22nd was the key of the race when the comfortable leader Valentino Rossi, who was on road to his second season victory and the resurge of Yamaha, retired with an engine failure in his M1.

From that point, Melandri pushed hard helped by the steady pace of his Fortuna Honda to take the victory four laps before the chequered flag over Pedrosa, who suffered with tyres problems halfway through the race and ended up third place on his Repsol Honda.

"It was an incredible race! Obviously I am very satisfied as I was not expecting it. At the start the weather conditions were very changeable and I put on a hard rear tyre for the race after talking to the Michelin mechanics", the winner stated with the happiness.

About the development of the competition, the Italian explained: "I got away well and that allowed me to lead on the first lap. Hopkins then overtook me as my bike was suffering a bit due to the hard tyre, but after a few laps it began to work better and better and I was able to lap near the front.

"As the laps went by I started to think about winning and I overtook Loris and then, when the time was right, Pedrosa as well. I want to thank the whole team for the great job they did", finished Melandri.

It was second victory for the Italian rider this season, his first came in Istanbul for the Turkish GP. Melandri added his fourth career race wins in his 50th start in MotoGP.

Capirossi took second place and put a Ducati Marlboro bike back on the podium after some hard races in Turkey and China for the team. The Italian, who had ran most of the race in fourth position, was instantly promoted to third when Rossi`s machine stopped.

The Jerez event winner this season pushed hard in the last laps to attack Pedrosa`s second position and was able to take it on the final lap of the competition in Le Mans.

"When I was riding with Marco I saw that Valentino was out, so I thought that I would be on the podium right then. Then I saw Marco catching Dani, so on the last few laps I tried to keep with him and see if it was possible to overtake Dani on the last lap. I did it and kept him behind me, so this second position is very good for me", Capirossi commented.

The pace of the Ducati was one of the keys for Capirossi to add his third podium of the year after five rounds: "I used the tyre we tested yesterday and I knew I could keep a pace in the high 1'35s, and I maintained this pace all through the race, and never gave up".

Pedrosa seemed to be able to catch his second MotoGP victory in seven days, but a wrong tyre election put him out of the fight in the final part of the race to end up in third.

"I`m happy with the result because I had luck today. We are in the podium, which is good for me and the team and the race has been in dry conditions. I start really strong but then I realised that Valentino was faster every lap and I tried not to loose him", mentioned Pedrosa about his dispute with the reigning World Champion.

After Rossi`s retirement, Pedrosa grabbed the lead, a situation the Spaniard knew it wasn`t going to last. "When I took first place, I knew the rest was catching me and that I would only be on top for a couple of laps. Then I made two laps in one la, so I decided that I didn`t want to fall like in Turkey and just finish the race. Is a good result and now must learn of this".

The third place meant for Pedrosa his third podium of the year after second place in Jerez and victory last week in China.

Aussie rider Casey Stoner crossed the line in fourth followed by Nicky Hayden, who holds the lead in the standings. The American was complicated with a cold during all the weekend. "It`s been a hard weekend. Fifth is not great, is not the result we wanted, but we keep as leaders in the championship", said Hayden.

Hayden leads with 83 points over Melandri and Capirossi, who each have 79. Fourth place belongs to Pedrosa, ten units from his teammate Hayden.

Rossi`s retirement today deserves a paragraph apart. The Italian started the fifth round of the season in a confident mood after finding a good set-up for his YZR-M1 machine during the dry practice sessions and he quickly translated that pace to the race, moving from seventh on the grid up to second place by lap three.

After two laps behind early leader John Hopkins, who later had a fall on his Rizla Suzuki, the World Champion took control and opened out a comfortable advantage over Pedrosa.

With eight laps remaining Rossi looked to become the first rider this season to win two races but an engine failure in the Camel Yamaha bike left him alongside the road and eighth in the standings, 43 points from the lead.

"The team did a great job with the new chassis this weekend and I really enjoyed being able to ride so fast during the race, so it is a real shame that it ended like that and of course I am very disappointed", expressed Rossi.

"A bike stopping on me like this has only ever happened to me a couple of times in my career, so for it to happen today is typical of our luck at the moment," he continued. "Something seems to have gone wrong for us at each of the first few races of the season, apart from Qatar, and it has put us in a difficult situation with regards to the championship".

At least the Yamaha team has found the lost pace. The challenge is now to add in some reliability and the results like the good old days should return.

The`Gran Premio D` Italia Alice` is the next stop for the Continental Circus on June 4th, in Mugello circuit.

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , John Hopkins , Marco Melandri , Casey Stoner , Dani Pedrosa