Kel Edge, Andy Rixon
Find it Fast! Bikes Babes
Fiat Yamaha Team's Hopes
Black clouds gathered ominously over the MotoGP grid and a few spots of rain just before 2pm meant the race was declared wet. Despite this the riders chose to start the race on slick tyres, with the option of making a pit-stop to change bikes if the weather worsened. Edwards started from pole but was uncomfortable from the start and had dropped to the back of the field by the end of the first lap, before becoming the first to make a pit-stop and change bikes on lap four. Rossi meanwhile pounced from fourth on the grid and took the lead at turn two, holding it until he was passed by Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet on lap six as the track became wetter. Rossi was one of the last five riders to come in and change after ten laps and things looked promising at first as he fought back to third but, having opted for a harder-compound wet tyre, he was unable to keep up the momentum as the rain grew heavier and slipped back through the field. Sixth place nonetheless gained him ten important championship points and he holds on to second in the standings. Unfortunately things did not improve for his team-mate; Edwards persevered to the flag but continued to struggle throughout the race and now slips to ninth in the championship.
MIXED FORTUNES FOR KAWASAKI AFTER THRILLING RACE AT LE MANS
The French Grand Prix ended in disappointment for Kawasaki rider, Randy de Puniet, when he crashed out on the eighth lap, having taken his first ever lead in a MotoGP race in front of his home crowd.
After a difficult start from eighth on the grid, de Puniet was pushed down the order but soon fought back, ploughing his way through the field in the early laps to take a confident lead, much to the pleasure of his countrymen, who were cheering him around the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans.
The race was officially declared wet but de Puniet, like the rest of the riders, began on slick tyres. The weather worsened as the race progressed and, just he was about to pull into his pit garage to change bikes, the 26-year-old Frenchman lost control of his 800cc Ninja ZX-RR and ended up in the gravel. It was hugely disappointing, especially as he’d been dicing with fellow countryman, Sylvain Guintoli, at the front of the pack, delighting their home fans in the process.
Fonsi Nieto, the World Superbike rider who’s been standing in for the injured Olivier Jacque this weekend, rode heroically in what was his 100th Grand Prix race. He completed the race despite the horrendous conditions and lack of familiarity with Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR. Numerous riders crashed out during the 28-lap race, enabling Nieto to finish in 11th place, with a total time of 51’50.572 and earning him five championship points!
Due to his crash, Randy sustained a minor injury to his shoulder but otherwise came out unscathed. Unable to improve on his 19 championship points, he moves down the leader board to 14th place, overall.
After a testing weekend at Le Mans, the team are looking forward to going to Italy in a fortnight, when MotoGP returns to Mugello for one of the biggest races in the calendar.
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MotoGP World Championship, LeMans, Round 5 of 18
His first MotoGP Victory and Suzuki's fist win in 7 years!
Alice Grande Prix de France, LeMans, May 18-20th - Rain proved to be the great equalizer this weekend as Chris Vermeulen raced to his and Rizla Suzuki MotoGP’s first Grand Prix win at a rain-soaked Le Mans today. Vermeulen rode an almost faultless race in the wet after heavy rain started to fall over the 4.180km French circuit. He entered pit-lane at the end of lap nine to change to his wet-weather prepared Suzuki GSV-R. Within two laps he hit the front and never looked under threat all the way to the chequered flag, the impressive Australian finishing the race over 12 seconds in front of the second-placed man Marco Melandri. World Championship leader Casey Stoner finished third to give Bridgestone tyres a clean sweep on the podium.
Vermeulen now moves up to fifth place in the MotoGP World Championship with Rizla Suzuki MotoGP going up to third in the team’s championship.
John Hopkins looked like he was going to follow up his podium at China last time out with another one today. He produced a number of stunning laps – including the fastest lap of the race – to move into first place on lap nine. After he entered the pit-lane on the next lap to change to his wet bike, he was unable to sustain his momentum and also suffered with a few issues with the set-up of his GSV-R.
The fastest lap of the day came somewhat out of the blue, as Casey Stoner had looked all but certain of his first pole of the season. The championship leader was less than a tenth of a second slower than Edwards, and has not been off the front two rows this season.
A rider who has more experience of the Le Mans circuit than most put his knowledge into practice in the afternoon outing, as Carlos Checa returned to the front row on the LCR Honda. He was joined by five time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi as part of the four-rider group who went round in under 1’34.
John Hopkins and Toni Elias completed a top six split equally between Michelin and Bridgestone riders, ahead of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden and home rider Randy de Puniet. The latter will be hoping for better luck than he had at his maiden MotoGP race in France, in which he was involved in a collision on the opening lap and forced to retire.
The 2006 racewinner and poleman rounded off the fastest ten riders of the day. Marco Melandri was unable to match his timesheet-topping achievement from yesterday and ended up ninth, whilst Dani Pedrosa never looked like troubling the frontrunners onboard the Honda RC212V in tenth.
Special mention must go to the second French rider competing at this week’s Alice Grand Prix de France, Sylvain Guintoli. The Yamaha satellite rider had his best ever MotoGP qualifying session, and at one point was even the fastest rider of the day – much to the delight of the fans gathered at the historic Le Mans circuit. He will start from eleventh place tomorrow.
Combined Free Practice Times
Chris wheelies his Suzuki down the flooded track towards the finish line to the cheers of his team.
With rain threatening, the lights on the grid went out and a crowd of 74,000 watched with some trepidation as the field barreled into turn one with specks of moisture dotting the competitors’ visors and screens. Stoner got the jump into the turn followed by American John Hopkins (Suzuki), but it took only four more corners before Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) took the lead.
This would be a difficult race over 28-laps of this 4.180km track in conditions that worsened as the laps clicked down. The first half of this race was frenzied affair with riders pitting to change machines (and with them tyres) and pole-man Colin Edwards (Yamaha) was the earliest visitor to pit lane on lap four.
As Rossi led the opening lap across the start/finish straight (a scant 450m of it) conditions were plainly difficult. And it was the riders with the least to lose and the most to gain who put the power down early and gambled their way to the front. Alex Barros (Ducati) lay third with Sylvain Guintoli (Yamaha) and Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) both, as dutiful Frenchmen, giving it everything in the treacherous conditions.
The race was an incredible display of the competitive nature of MotoGP, and provided fans with the sight of a number of first time leaders as the riders negotiated the changeable weather conditions and bike change choices. The opening laps saw proud moments for Randy de Puniet and Sylvain Guintoli, who led their home race with amazing rides. The French duo showed no fear amongst former winners and World Champions, and the sight of Guintoli at the head of the field on his own merit was a memorable one for his countrymen and Yamaha satellite team. Unfortunately the two both crashed as their gamble on staying out ahead of the majority of the field just failed to pay off.
Championship leader Casey Stoner slams into the Ducati pits mid race to swap bikes from dry to wet weather tires as the rain started to come down harder. All the riders made pit stops to change bikes.
With Edwards swapping bikes Rossi held a 1.8 second advantage over Barros, who was giving it everything in second. The Brazilian was followed by Stoner, de Puniet and Guintoli. But the native riders were restless and by lap six Guintoli led from de Puniet with Rossi losing momentum and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) moving up the order to fifth.
On lap seven Carlos Checa (LCR Honda RC212V), who was holding seventh from a front row start, crashed and this unleashed a torrent of activity at the front with Guintoli going down on the next lap, Toni Elias (Gresini Honda RC212V) on the eighth, and de Puniet shortly after the Spaniard.
By this time the red and yellow striped flags were out to signal a significant deterioration in adhesion as John Hopkins led the pack. Those who had not pitted earlier now did so, including Hopkins and Pedrosa and this second tier of tyre swappers tended to do better (in the final analysis) than the first wave.
By lap 10 the track was completely wet, meaning that the riders were effectively obliged to change bikes in order to remain competitive. Carlos Checa and Toni Elias hit the deck before there was a chance for them to make the switch, and a chaotic pair of laps followed as the pack rearranged themselves. Some semblance of order was established when all the riders had moved to their wet bikes, with Vermeulen making the best of the situation to lead all the way to the end after a battle with previous flag-to-flag racewinner Marco Melandri.
By lap 12 it was Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) who held second place before overhauling Hopkins for the lead. Melandri then blasted past the American to take second with Rossi now third. Guintoli had nursed his machine back to pitlane to exchange his battered bike for a straighter version and he rejoined the fray in 13th spot, while Vermeulen led Marco by 1.6 seconds.
Things were very wet now. Melandri was giving his all to reduce Vermeulen’s advantage and by lap 14 he had shaved the Aussie’s lead to 1.1 seconds. It was Vermeulen and the Italian first and second with Rossi and Stoner some ways behind in third and fourth, with Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) fifth, Alex Hofmann (Ducati) sixth and Dani seventh.
If the early laps were a maelstrom of activity, the second half of this contest was enlivened only by Melandri’s enthusiasm to catch Vermeulen. By lap 18 the tenacious Italian had carved the gap down to 0.5 seconds. Stoner in third was a considerable 15 seconds adrift of the protagonists, having taken advantage of Rossi’s difficulties in maintaining an economical line out of the turns in the deluge.
Shinya Nakano (Konica Minolta Honda RC212V) crashed and splashed down at the Flip-Flop on lap 21 as his predecessor in the Konica Minolta seat, Makoto Tamada, now riding for Yamaha, was lapped. There was standing water on track now and Hayden was a man who made the most of the slippery tarmac taking Rossi, who ran wide again, for fourth on lap 22.
Vermeulen though was clearly in charge. It took him a mere five laps to re-establish his authority on the event by giving Marco a 2.3 second hole to fill. Barring disasters he was going to take the flag. The disaster fell to Nicky. On lap 26 he crashed heavily while holding fourth.
The Aussie Suzuki man took his first MotoGP win in style, wheelying over the line with Marco having settled for second. Championship points leader Stoner rode to a neat third place here at Le Mans, only the fifth round of an eighteen race series. Dani (who many believe finds racing in the rain a bother) took an eager fourth. The all-Bridgestone podium all had comfortable gaps between each other, and also from fourth placed rider Dani Pedrosa. Although not a fan of wet weather racing, the Spaniard certainly had a good ride from low down on the grid to add more points to his championship tally.
Rossi (46) on Michelins, once again found himself at a disadvantage both on dry and later wet tires, to the Bridgestone riders like Vermeulen and Stoner (27) who gets by here on lap 5.
Rossi lost ground in the overall classification courtesy of a sixth place finish, having strayed wide in the difficult conditions on a pair of occasions. The Italian was passed by Pedrosa, Hofmann and Nicky Hayden as he struggled on the right hand corners of the Bugatti circuit, although the American’s crash with two laps to go effectively bumped up his rival to a top six place.
Meanwhile, Hayden rode an impressive race after getting a bad start and finishing the first lap in 10th position. But the Kentucky native put his head down and worked his way through the pack to finish in seventh place. "I got a terrible start," he said after the race. "I'm not sure what was going on. I almost stalled it and that pushed me back a little bit. I felt like I was just working my way up in the pack for the whole race. That start really killed me. Hopefully, tomorrow we can make a few improvements and get a better start and finish up a little closer to the podium."
One of the early beneficiaries of the bike change, John Hopkins ran wide whilst battling with Melandri and could not get higher than seventh, ahead of Loris Capirossi on the second factory Ducati.Makoto Tamada took ninth in his best result for Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha, ahead of his outstanding team-mate Guintoli who also achieved the same.
Results MotoGP: Race Classification MotoGP : (28 laps = 117.04 km)
Pole Position: Colin EDWARDS 1'33.616 160.741 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
Lorrenzo Increases 250cc GP Lead
On the opening laps he had to contend with 125cc World Champions Alvaro Bautista and Thomas Luthi, the latter having tasted victory in France in 2005 and 2006 when riding in the lower cylinder category. Neither were quite up to the task of following in the Spain’s No1 Aprilia rider’s footsteps, with both running off-track when challenging Lorenzo.
One man who has proven that he can hang with the champion is Andrea Dovizioso, the only other rider to have won a 250cc race this season. The Italian led the way during a tense battle that also involved Alex de Angelis, although eventually Lorenzo played his trump card on the fast first section to power away from the duo, who completed the podium spots.
Hector Barberá finished fourth after losing a few tenths due to tyre problems, ahead of countryman Julian Simon on the Repsol Honda. Marco Simoncelli, Mika Kallio and Alvaro Bautista completed the top eight, with the latter coming back from 19th after his off-track excursion to overtake Shuhei Aoyama and A
250cc Race: (26 laps = 108.68 km)
Pole Position: Jorge LORENZO 1'37.934 153.654 Km/h
World Championship Positions:
Playboy Playmate and FastDates.com Calendar Kitten Tamara Witmer warms things up at our Bike Show's Queen Mary venue with the Roland Sands KR 5-Cylinder MotoGP Board Track Racer. Tammar will be hosting this year's Show and will be featured in all 3 of our Calendars! Yeow!
$70,000 in Cash and Awards at the
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Ah let's see.... Mladin, Spies, and somewhere behind them, DuHamel. I guess we can still keep running this same photo every AMA Superbike race weekend.
2007 AMA Superbike Championship. Round 4 of 11
"It was a good race for us," said six-time AMA Superbike Champion Mladin. "I'd like to thank my Yoshimura Suzuki crew who've worked really hard in the off-season and in testing to try and get the number-one plate back."
The previous day, defending AMA Superbike Champion Spies picked up his 11th career pole position, posting a track record-breaking lap time of 1:34.991. This accomplishment also marks Spies' fourth consecutive pole position of the season. Spies actually crashed after turning his fastest lap and went out on his back-up bike in Saturday's qualifying session to focus on race set-up.
"The Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 is working really good," said Spies of qualifying first. "I'm really happy with it. Today, we went out on race tyres and ran the same pace as yesterday. It was good to get my confidence up and work on race set-up after the crash yesterday. I couldn't tell a difference between the two bikes."
Today's race winner Mladin was second-fastest in qualifying with a lap time of 1:35.128, while Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates qualified third with a 1:35.875 lap time. Hayden rounded out the second row of the grid with a 1:36.860 lap time. In the 28-lap Superbike race, Mladin got the holeshot and led from beginning to end. The result is that Mladin now trails Spies in the overall championship standings by only five points.
"It was a good race for us," reiterated Mladin. "We got a good start and we just put our head down and tried to go as quick as possible. I just tried to reel off some good laps and keep it as clean as possibleâ€¦ I lost a little bit of rhythm, but it seems like everybody else did too. It was a good day for us and hopefully we'll get another win tomorrow."
Spies tucked in right behind Mladin and pursued his team mate for all 28 laps. The young Texan rode as hard as possible and brought home an impressive second place, maintaining his championship lead. "I got my butt kicked," laughed Spies. "I guess I forgot how to ride a motorcycle. But I rode as hard as I could and Mat rode a great race. I did everything I could and even ran off the track on the second lap. I just tried to get as many points as I could today. It's a long season and this is just one race. Hopefully, we'll come back strong for tomorrow."
AMA Superbike Top 10 Finishers: