The bare results – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa won the French Moto GP race going away, followed by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow and Repsol Honda’s wunderkind Marc Marquez – hide a dramatic race.
New Ducati factory guy Andrea Doviziso not only gathered a front-row starting position, he led much of the first half of the race, swapping positions with Pedrosa on several occasions. When Pedrosa finally got ahead to stay and started to eke out a lead, attention swapped back to Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, who chased down and finally ate Dovi for second.
In the meantime, rising Repsol Honda star Marc Marquez, who’d taken pole but had a lousy start, managed to ride off four times without crashing and was closing up on the leaders. While all this was going on, Valentino Rossi was a close fourth for some time, then under pressure from former team-mate Nicky Hayden, crashed out, but managed to restart, eventually finishing 12th.
Hayden held on for an excellent fifth behind Dovi., while Alvaro Bautista, Jorge Lorenzo (a seriously bad day at the office for the defending world champion), Ducati test rider Michelle Pirro in a wild-card ride, Bradley Smith and Stefan Bradl (also recovering from a crash) filled out the top 10.
Pedrosa said, “It is cold and I don’t like riding in these temperatures, but today I got the best out of myself. The bike was also good, above all on the opening laps when the track was very wet. I made a few mistakes but I was able to recover from them, maintain the advantage and win the race.” No doubt it didn’t hurt his attitude to have taken over the lead in the world championship.
Crutchlow said, “I’m really happy to get my best ever result in MotoGP and the whole team did an incredible job and deserves this result. We showed our fast pace in the dry, we showed our pace in the wet and I think everybody is aware we are not here through luck.”
After a hard race and a heart-breaking just-at-the-end pass to miss a podium, Dovizioso said, “It’s always nice to be at the front of the pack! I’m really happy with my feeling with the bike, and as long as the tires were decent, I was able to manage the situation well. Dani had more than I did, but I was still able to keep a good pace. We had good grip, which helped us to have a nice race, but as the track dried, the tires began wearing a lot. I couldn’t keep the pace in the last six or seven laps, and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the podium.”
World Championship Point Standings (after 4 of 18 races):
1. Dani Pedrosa, Spain, Repsol Honda, 83 points
2. Marc Marquez, Spain, Repsol Honda, 77
3. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain, Yamaha Factory Racing, 66
4. Cal Crutchlow, U.K., Tech 3/Monster Yamaha, 55
5. Valentino Rossi, Italy, Yamaha Factory Racing, 47
6. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy, Ducati Team Racing, 39
varo Bautista, Spain, Go&Fun Honda Gresini, 38
8. Nicky Hayden, USA, Ducati Team Racing, 35
9. Aleix Espargaro, Spain, Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia,. 20
10. Andrea Iannone, Italy, Power Electronics Aspar Ducati, 18
Next race, June 16, Spain, Catalunya.