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Milestone win for Rossi

Yamaha sweeps the podium at Le Mans

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 20, 2008
Valentino Rossi earned his 90th career victory May 18 at Le Mans, tying him with Ángel Nieto for second on the all-time MotoGP wins list behind Giacomo Agostini.

The Fiat Yamaha rider celebrated his achievement by inviting Nieto to share a parade lap on his Yamaha YZR-M1 with a victory lap. Nieto took the controls of the 800cc bike while Rossi sat behind him holding a flag reading “90 + 90”.

Rossi now leads the season standings with 97 points after winning his second race in a row.Valentino Rossi lets Ángel Nieto take the controls in a victory lap celebrating his 90th career victory.

“To arrive at 90 wins like this and equal Angel’s record is a dream for me. I had quite a lot of pressure because Angel was waiting with the special leathers to join me on the bike, so I really needed to win!” says Rossi. “180 victories together on one bike is quite impressive I think.”

The 29-year-old started the race in fourth position but dropped to fifth after the first lap. He then began his climb by passing first Nicky Hayden, then Colin Edwards and Dani Pedrosa to reach the second spot behind Casey Stoner. Rossi finally passed the Ducati Marlboro rider for a lead that he would not relinquish.

Rossi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo finished five seconds behind him for another podium spot for the MotoGP rookie. The second-place finish for Lorenzo, who continues to race despite two fractured ankles, gives him 94 points on the season, tying him with Pedrosa of Repsol Honda for second in the championship standings.

“I had some problems at the start and it’s clear that we need to work on these,” says Lorenzo, “but after a while I found my rhythm and once again I was able to make my way through the field and pass some riders”

Rounding out the podium was Colin Edwards of Tech 3 Yamaha to make it a sweep for the YZR-M1. Edwards, who started second on the grid, was quick on the Le Mans track all weekend, recording the top times in free practice and the warm-up.

Edwards had a good start but was soon passed by Stoner and Pedrosa.

“I wanted to get by them because looking at my lap times I know I had more in the locker, but I couldn’t pass. They just had the jump on me coming out of the corners with acceleration and it would have taken a risky move for me to do it,” says Edwards. “I’m an experienced rider and those guys are fighting for the world title while I’m in fifth, so I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. And when Valentino came blazing by like a cowboy with his guns shooting I knew he was going to push hard and that it would be tough for me.”

The sky opened up at lap 16 and the wet track slowed Pedrosa, while mechanical problems forced Stoner to switch to his second bike on lap 21, allowing Edwards to jump into third to complete a successful weekend for Yamaha.

MotoGP top ten standings

Pos. Rider Team Points
1. Valentino Rossi FIAT Yamaha 97
2. Jorge Lorenzo FIAT Yamaha 94
3. Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 94
4. Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 56
5. Colin Edwards Tech3 Yamaha 47
6. Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 42
7. Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 37
8. Andrea Dovizioso JiR Scot Honda 36
9. James Toseland Tech3 Yamaha 33
10. Shinya Nakano San Carlo Honda 28