MotoGP: 2010 Le Mans Results

It's Lorenzo, Rossi, and everyone else - except Casey Stoner

Heading into Round 3 of the 2010 MotoGP world championship at historic Le Mans, Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner knew it was time to do or die trying. After an unforced crash at Qatar and a nondescript fifth at Jerez, he came to France trailing the Fiat Yamaha duo of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi by 30-some points each. One more mistake would mean the effective end of his 2010 season and, possibly, his tenure with team Ducati.

The pressure, it appears, was too much for the Australian, as he lost the front end on Lap 2, in a turn my late Aunt Frannie could have navigated with relative ease, were she still with us. He spent the rest of the race in his garage, head in heads, watching as Jorge Lorenzo once again asserted his will on teammate Rossi and the rest of the field and won the Grand Prix de France going away, leaving the last remaining vestiges of Stoner’s 2010 championship dreams shattered on the French tarmac.

Jorge Lorenzo is on a roll, winning his second consecutive race to lead the MotoGP Championship by nine points over Valentino Rossi.

The worm, it seems, has now turned in all four factory garages. At Fiat Yamaha, it appears that Lorenzo has officially surpassed rival Rossi as the number one rider on the planet. Today, Andrea Dovizioso tracked down teammate Dani Pedrosa and took him out on the race’s last lap, signaling a changing of the guard at Repsol Honda. While Stoner has been busy accumulating a total of 11 championship points for the factory Ducati team, running mate Nicky Hayden recorded his third consecutive fourth-place finish, coming achingly close once again to a podium on his way to fifth place in the championship standings. Over on the other side of the tracks, Rizla Suzuki’s woes continued unabated today as former champion Loris Capirossi crashed out on Lap 7, while rookie teammate Alvaro Bautista was unable to qualify or start the race after breaking his collarbone in training two weeks ago. Capirossi and Bautista now sit together at the bottom of the MotoGP heap, with 13 championship points between them; there is no joy tonight in Mudville Hamamatsu.

Casey Stoner already has two DNFs this season, equalling the total number he had in the previous three seasons combined.

Un-American Activities

The season, which started so full of promise for the three American riders, is beginning to look less rosy. While Nicky Hayden’s rise from the ashes has been a joy to behold, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Colin Edwards and Ben Spies has become a disappointment in progress. Spies started the season with a surprising fifth place finish at Losail, but retired with mechanical problems at Jerez and experienced his first MotoGP crash today, exiting the race on Lap 7, after crashing in practice on Saturday and dinging an ankle.

With all the pre-season talk about Ben Spies joining Colin Edwards to form Team Texas with Yamaha, Nicky Hayden has emerged as the top American racer, currently sitting fifth in the standings with his third consecutive fourth-place result.

Meanwhile, it appears that veteran Colin Edwards has lost a step, having followed up his eighth place finish at Losail with twelfths at both Jerez and Le Mans. Today, he was mixing it up all day with rookies Marco Simoncelli, Hector Barbera and Hiroshi Aoyama, and all three rooks finished in front of him. Despite being one of my favorite riders, it’s no secret that Edwards is getting a little long in the tooth. One hopes he has the good judgment to retire before he becomes, well, the next Loris Capirossi.

Elsewhere on the GridHiroshi Aoyama (7) and Aleix Espargaro (41) are among the promising rookie talents from the 250cc class.

Riders having a pleasant day today included the studly Hector Barbera, pushing his yellow Ducati from the 15 hole on the grid to an eighth place finish, and Aleix Espargaro, who picked up seven points today in a ninth place finish after earning a single point in the first two races of the season.

Rookie Marco Simoncelli’s 10th place finish today vaulted him into the Top Former 250cc Rookie spot for the season, a hair ahead of Barbera and Aoyama, with the injured Bautista bringing up the rear. Meanwhile, my imaginary Division 3 now includes non-factor Mika Kallio, Stoner, Spies, Espargaro and the Rizla Suzuki team.

The Bigger Picture

Lorenzo has established himself as the favorite to win the 2010 world championship, followed by the inimitable, if suddenly mortal, Rossi. It would be foolish to expect Lorenzo to run the table from here on out, but it appears likely that the torch at Fiat Yamaha has been unwillingly passed.

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are once again on top of the MotoGP standings, but this time it looks like Lorenzo's got the edge.

Fighting it out for the third spot on the 2010 podium are Team Repsol Honda and Nicky Hayden. Pedrosa, again today with Dovi, looked unwilling to mix it up in the corners late in the race, a carbon copy of his getting de-pantsed at Jerez by Lorenzo. In fact, today he went so wide to avoid contact with Dovi that he allowed Hayden through as well, dropping two spots on the final lap. One suspects that his bosses at HRC are mightily displeased, although Stoner is doing nothing to heighten their interest in replacing the sub-compact Spaniard with the compact Australian.

For Those of You Keeping Score at Home

Frenchman Randy de Puniet made it three for three today, qualifying sixth and finishing seventh on his LCR Scot Honda in front of his home fans. His publicity machine keeps serving up great heaping helpings of optimism, and Randy keeps doing very little with what is arguably a pretty fast bike. Monsieur de Puniet, today’s English lesson explores the word “courage”, derived, ironically, from the French word for heart, coeur. When applied to the sport of motorcycle racing, it results in riders finishing higher than they qualified, such as Marco Melandri (qualified 11th, finished sixth) and Andrea Dovizioso (qualified seventh, finished third). To the casual observer it appears the Italian and Spanish riders have more coeur-age than does de Puniet. (Of course, this comes from someone who never rode over 50 mph on anything larger than an 80cc Yamaha.)

We wanted to run a photo of M. De Puniet but first, a word from Grand Prix de France title sponsor Monster Energy ... What were we talking about again?

Next Stop: Mugello

The Italian Grand Prix, or one of them, at least, is on the schedule for two weeks from now, and Casey Stoner will have to be, as they say in Texas Hold ‘Em, “all in.” His upset victory there last year put an end to a seven year (!) win streak for Rossi, and put him at the top of the leader board for the season, for awhile. While his win there last year was helpful, this year it’s critical. Stoner may, in fact, be like one of those octopi they serve you at some Korean restaurants that, although technically dead, keep moving around on your plate. Suffice it to say that unless he starts winning regularly and soon, the only attention that will remain focused on him will concern which team he’ll be racing for next season – Repsol or Marlboro.

Moto2: Elias Makes It Two in a Row

Toni Elias followed up his breathtaking win at Jerez with a solid win at Le Mans, avoiding another big early pile-up and holding off Julian Simon and Simone Corsi. A total of 11 bikes left the race today, including Shoya Tomizawa, who held the number two spot in the series heading into France, and hard-luck Alex de Angelis, one of five riders caught in the action when then-leader Jules Cluzel lost the front of his bike while leading the race on Lap 6. The Top Six riders for the Moto2 season thus far:

2010 Moto2 top six standings (after three rounds)
Pos. Rider Motorcycle Points
1st Toni Elias Moriyaki 63
2nd Shoya Tomizawa Suter 45
3rd Simone Corsi Motibi 35
4th Julian Simon Suter 28
5th Sergio Gadea Pons Kalex 26
6th Thomas Luthi Moriwaki 25

So far, de Angelis is the early favorite for the “Best Moto2 Rider Not to Have Scored a Single Point All Season” award.

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