|Pedrosa dominated in wet conditions
Photo: Repsol Honda
Just half an hour before the MotoGP race the rain finally came in France and riders went out on wet tyres for just the second time this weekend. It was factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso who led into the first corner following storming start from the front row for the Italian, closely followed by Jorge Lorenzo. All 24 riders were safely through the Dunlop chicane with championship leader Marc Marquez back in eighth position.
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa didn’t stay back in third position for long, after setting the fastest time on lap three of 28 and passing Lorenzo to take second position. Valentino Rossi was back in a battle for forth with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl ahead of Cal Crutchlow, who was setting faster lap times than Dovizioso in the lead. By lap four Pedrosa was up behind Dovizioso’s Ducati and made his pass for the race lead stick whilst reigning champion Lorenzo began to slip down the order, reportedly suffering from a steamed-up visor. Crutchlow continued to set fast lap times and the Brit was up with the top five after just six laps, behind his fellow Yamaha riders Rossi and Lorenzo who were fighting for third position.
Looking comfortable in the lead Pedrosa had a ‘tank slapper’ on lap 7 which allowed Dovizioso to cruise past in front of the Spaniard, where he stayed for three laps before Pedrosa re-claimed first position in daring move under the Italian. The 27 year old Spaniard then pulled the pin and went unchallenged for the remainder of the race.
Jorge Lorenzo continued to struggle in a race he has won three times since moving up into MotoGP, and slipped down five places in just four laps, sitting behind Marquez in seventh with 17 laps to go. On lap 13 Cal Crutchlow passed Rossi at the Dunlop chicane, riding through the pain to secure a podium position. Former teammate Nicky Hayden was then all over the back of Valentino Rossi until Rossi lost the front of his Factory Yamaha with 11 laps to go, rejoining in 12th position and staying there for the remainder of the race. Rossi wasn’t alone crashing at Le Mans, home hero Randy De Puniet crashed out just one lap before the Italian, which was followed by German Stefan Bradl skidding off at the Dunlop chicane.
The race went from bad to worse for Lorenzo, who was passed by Go&Fun Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista for eighth position, whilst compatriot Marquez continued to climb up the order and was sitting in fifth position with nine laps to go. Meanwhile Crutchlow was sitting behind his former teammate Andrea Dovizioso, who cracked under the pressure as Cal sailed into second position. Continuing to impress, Marquez managed to reduce a 5 second gap to Dovizioso and secured the final step on the podium, behind Crutchlow and Pedrosa. Yamaha Tech 3 rider Brit Bradley Smith finished an impressive ninth in his first wet MotoGP race, following a wobble on the start line.
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