Stoner Wins Drama-Filled French GP

Cycle News Staff | May 15, 2011

MotoGP never ceases to amaze and today was no different as Casey Stoner dominated the French Grand Prix for his second victory of the season while drama unfolded behind him.For Stoner the race was a cakewalk, the Australian taking the lead from fast starting teammate Dani Pedrosa early and pulling away from that point forward, the Repsol Honda man eventually winning by 14.2 seconds over his other teammate Andrea Dovizioso.Although no one could match Stoner’s pace, his cause was made even easier by what occurred behind him. With Pedrosa trailing Stoner by 3.1 seconds on the 17th lap, things went badly as San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli came across the front of Pedrosa’s front wheel, sending the Spaniard sprawling into the gravel trap and holding his right shoulder. Simoncelli had second to himself at that point – almost eight seconds behind Stoner – but that would change.

Race direction reviewed the incident as the race progressed and determined that Simoncelli would be penalized with a ride-through. The Italian served the penalty on the 25th lap, falling from second and nine seconds adrift of Stoner to 7th and 35 seconds behind.Simoncelli would pass both Yamaha’s Ben Spies and Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden to eventually finish fifth.The battle for second was then fought out between Dovizioso and Marlboro Ducati’s Valentino Rossi with Dovizioso taking the spot by .350 of a second on the run to the flag. It was the first podium finishes of the year for both Italians.Fourth place went to World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, the Spaniard on his own after having crashed during the morning warm-up session.Simoncelli was fifth, barely besting Spies by just .364 of a second. Then came Hayden, some four seconds adrift of the fight ahead of him and 16 seconds clear of Hiroshi Aoyama.

Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham rounded out the top 10. Toni Elias was 11th followed by Alvaro Bautista and Colin Edwards.Stoner’s win and Lorenzo’s fourth allowed the Australian to close to within 12 points of the Yamaha man, 78-66. Pedrosa is third with 61 points, though the Spaniard is reported to have suffered a broken right collarbone in the crash.Stoner was also fined $5000 for smacking Randy de Puniet during morning warm-up when he was angered at the Frenchman for baulking his progress in the session.”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,” Stoner said in a team release. “We went into the race confident, at the beginning of the race Dani [Pedrosa] 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.”


1.                  Casey Stoner (Honda)

2.                  Andrea Dovizioso (Honda)

3.                  Valentino Rossi (Ducati)

4.                  Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)

5.                  Marco Simoncelli (Honda)

6.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha)

7.                  Nicky Hayden (Ducati)

8.                  Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)

9.                  Hector Barbera (Ducati)

10.                  Karel Abraham (Ducati)