MotoGP Info 2012: Greatest MotoGP™ rivalry continues at historic Le Mans

2012-05-14 08:13
MotoGP™ returns this weekend at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, where Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner will look to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings.

He will face stiff competition from his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who have been the only three racers to stand on the podium this season. They have already cemented themselves as one of the greatest rivalries in the 64-year history of the sport, having shared the podium a record 16 times – four more than any other trio in the past.

Le Mans, which will host the Grand Prix for the 55th time this weekend, also sees Stoner chasing his 19th successive podium. Having won the last two races, and showing clear signs of recovery from his arm pump problem, he remains the man to beat. Lorenzo, only one point behind the Australian in the standings, has been the most consistent challenger so far and will be looking to get one over on the current World Champion at a track where he has won twice already in the premier class.

Pedrosa on the other hand, who recorded his 100th podium finish last time out at Estoril, will be looking to get his first win of the season at a track where he has not yet won in the top category. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso have so far provided some great inter-team battles and will be aiming to not only out-do one another once again, but to find that extra bit of pace to catch up to the front three.

Ducati Team pair Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who both had mixed fortunes last time out, will be heading to the French track with optimism after Rossi recorded his best Ducati result this season in seventh. Having finished 26 seconds behind race winner Stoner, this was the closest any Ducati rider has finished to the race winner since Rossi’s seventh place finish at Misano last year. The Italian will also hold fond memories of the French track, as Le Mans was the setting for Rossi’s sole podium last year.

Honda satellite riders, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s rookie Stefan Bradl will look to build on their solid performances so far this year, while Pramac Racing’s Héctor Barberá on-board his satellite Ducati will look to improve on his 10th place at Estoril. Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham has not finished a race this season so far and will hope to turn his fortunes around.

After suffering a broken left collarbone in Estoril qualifying, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will be replaced by 2007 Le Mans race-winner Chris Vermeulen, making his first MotoGP appearance since 2009. Power Electronics Aspar pair Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró will be gunning for top CRT honour once more, with de Puniet having the added motivation of Le Mans being his home track.

San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro and Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci will once again hope for a solid performance, while Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Avintia Blusens pair Yonny Hernandez and Iván Silva will look to reverse their fortunes this time out and complete the race.

World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1- Casey Stoner
AUS
Honda
66
2- Jorge Lorenzo
SPA
Yamaha
65
3- Dani Pedrosa
SPA
Honda
52
4- Cal Cructhlow
GBR
Yamaha
37
5- Andrea Dovizioso
ITA
Yamaha
35

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s Marc Márquez will continue his quest at the top of the Moto2™ championship at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans this weekend, a track where he took his first ever intermediate-class victory last year, as Toni Elías makes his 200th GP start.

Márquez, who has so far won two out of three races, will once again be looking to hold off the challenge from Pons 40 HP Tuenti compatriot Pol Espargaró, who has been in tremendous form this season, providing one of the most thrilling last-lap battles ever with Márquez last time out in Estoril.

Hot on their heels will be Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi, who has been consistently on the pace, yet not quite able to pip the Spanish pair to a win. However, all eyes will be on JiR Moto2’s French rookie Johann Zarco, who has shone since entering the class this year. His performances in the wet, and a fourth place finish at Estoril will no doubt have the crowd hoping for that next step onto the podium.

One Frenchman who knows about winning at Le Mans in S/Master Speed Up’s Mike Di Meglio, who was the last French winner at the track in 2008 aboard a 125cc Derbi machine. After crashing out in the last race, Di Meglio will be hoping to recapture some of that 2008 form.

2010 Moto2 World Champion, Mapfre Aspar Team’ Toni Elías, will be setting a significant milestone this weekend, as the race marks his 200th GP start, while Tech3 Racing’s Bradley Smith will reach 100. Both riders have not been as high up the order as they had hoped so far this season, but with a seventh for Elías and a 10th place for Smith at Estoril, both will be looking to build on those results.

Others to watch will be Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone, who has had mixed performances since his close second at the opening round in Qatar, as well as Marc VDS Racing Team pair Scott Redding and Mika Kallio, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Alex de Angelis and Tech3’s Xavier Simeon.

World Championship Standings Moto2™
1- Marc Márquez
SPA
Suter
70
2- Pol Espargaró
SPA
Kalex
61
3- Thomas Luthi
SWI
Suter
43
4- Andrea Iannone
ITA
Speed Up
33
5- Scott Redding
GBR
Kalex
28

After taking KTM’s first ever win in the Moto3™ class last time out at Estoril, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese will look to increase his lead at the top of the championship with another strong showing at this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans.

Having been the strongest qualifier this season, and having come off best in a fairing to fairing contest with title rival Maverick Viñales, Cortese is in buoyant mood ahead of the French round. However, Blusens Avintia’s Viñales will look to snatch back the lead at a track where he took his first ever Grand Prix win in the 125cc class last year.

RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom, who has finished twice on the podium this year, equalling the number of podium finishes in his 43 previous race starts, will once again be setting out to stay with the leading pack, and perhaps secure his first race win. He will most likely have another strong rider to compete with in the form of Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, who after starting the season with a second place and a race-win, failed to finish in Estoril due to a crash.

AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who made Malaysian motorcycle racing history with his fourth place in Estoril, will once again be looking to take his career to the next step and secure that first ever podium finish. Having only missed out on third place by a fraction, he is no doubt in a confident mood.

JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, who finished third at Le Mans last year, has been in solid form, and will be hoping to repeat his previous feat. San Carlo Gresini Moto3´s Niccolo Antonelli, who has improved significantly throughout the season will be one to watch after his sixth place at Estoril, while the French contingent made up of Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou, Racing Team Germany’s Louis Rossi and Technomag-CIP-TSR’s Alan Techer will look to put on a show in front of their home crowd.

World Championship Standings Moto3™
1- Sandro Cortese
GER
KTM
57
2- Maverick Viñales
SPA
FTR Honda
55
3- Luis Salom
SPA
Kalex KTM
49
4- Romano Fenati
ITA
FTR Honda
45
5- Zulfahmi Khairuddin
MAL
KTM
29

Source: MotoGP

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