Bittersweet Le Mans Victory For Casey As Dani Is Injured

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The French Grand Prix concluded with mixed feelings for the Repsol Honda Team. The magnificent and indisputable win of Casey Stoner, and the second place for Andrea Dovizioso were the good side of the race. But there was also a bad side, and that was for Dani Pedrosa, who fractured his right collarbone when riding second due to a heavy crash caused by the bad manners shown by Marco Simoncelli on track, as he cut Dani’s line when braking.

The fourth round of the World Championship began with a start in Dani Pedrosa distinctive style, as he took the first position in the first corner from the fourth place of the grid. Andrea Dovizioso also had a good start and was able to take full advantage of the first metres to take the second position until a precise Casey Stoner overtook him and followed Pedrosa closely. The Italian was also overtaken by Marco Simoncelli and, a lap later, by Jorge Lorenzo.

After dominating all the free practice sessions and even the warm-up, it did not take long before Casey Stoner showed that he wanted to lead the race and in the second lap he took the first position. Setting a very fast pace, the Repsol rider tried to get some margin in front, but Dani Pedrosa kept the pace and they both took turns breaking the track’s record in each lap and widening their margin over the rest of the group.

The two Repsol Honda Team riders led the race until, a dozen laps later, the Australian was able to open a gap from Pedrosa, who was losing ground with each passing lap and rode at a pace slower than the one he was keeping before. That allowed Marco Simoncelli to catch up with Pedrosa in lap 16. A lap later, Simoncelli put an end to the race for the Spaniard.

The Italian caught up with the Repsol rider at a very fast pace and without giving it a second’s thought, he tried to overtake Pedrosa on the outside of corner 9, just before one of the chicanes of the French track. However, Simoncelli was too aggressive and, whenhe closed the gap at the entrance of the corner, he left no space for Pedrosa, who hit the Italian’s rear wheel and crashed.

With the impact, Pedrosa fractured his right collarbone (the other side of the one he broke last October in Japan) and later Simoncelli received a ‘ride-through’ penalty. Meanwhile, Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi were battling for the other two podium positions. They overtook each other several times until Lorenzo had an off five laps before the end and fell out of the battle.

Three laps before the end, Andrea Dovizioso overtook Valentino Rossi, who was second after his duel with Lorenzo and, although he was able to pass again the Repsol Honda Team rider, he lost the battle just under the chequered flag. In front, Casey Stoner had a wide margin over the rest and took his second win of the season with an advantage of more than fourteen seconds.

After this result, the Repsol rider takes the second position of the Championship, 12 points behind Jorge Lorenzo and 5 ahead of Pedrosa –third with 61 points- while Andrea Dovizioso’s 50 points leave him in fourth.

Casey’s View…

“The whole weekend has gone so well for us, arriving here from the Portugal test with the bike almost the same and we have improved small things here and there and only needed to adjust the set up for this circuit.
We went into the race confident, at the beginning of the race Dani was very fast and he was difficult to pass as he as being cautious. When I overtook him I thought I might be able to take some advantage but he was able to match my times and follow me for some laps, so I continued to push more than I prefer to and eventually I put a gap between us. From this point the race came to me and I was able to focus on my consistency and win.
A big thanks to the team and everyone for all their hard work, but my thoughts are with Dani at this moment, I hope he can recover soon as he is a very strong contender for this Championship”.