Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow thrilled a large crowd of over 80,000 fans in Le Mans today, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders challenging for the podium in a rain-hit and exciting French MotoGP race. Both excelled in treacherous conditions at the start of the 28-lap race to provide the most intriguing battle on the legendary Bugatti circuit with nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi.
The trio exchanged numerous overtakes to the delight of a partisan French crowd who were willing Dovizioso and Crutchlow to claim a home rostrum for the Monster Yamah a Tech 3 squad. Both took it in turns to briefly head Rossi in third in a pulsating tussle before Italian Dovizioso took control of the fight on lap 13. He then delivered a masterclass of controlled aggression on a soaking wet track to lead Rossi until his compatriot fought back to snatch third on lap 19.
It was on the same lap that British rider Crutchlow’s fantastic bid for a maiden MotoGP came to a disappointing end. Crutchlow was right on the back of Rossi’s rear wheel when the front-end of his YZR-M1 slipped away at the second corner. The 26-year-old remounted and despite losing 34 seconds he was still able to finish comfortably inside the top 10 in eighth to retain his place in fourth position in the World Championship classification.
Dovizioso continued to relentlessly pursue Rossi in search of his first podium for Yamaha and third in a row at Le Mans in MotoGP. He was piling the pressure on Rossi when he too suffered a small crash on lap 25 at Turn 9. He recovered to finish seventh and remains fifth in the standings.
Andrea Dovizioso 7th — 44 points
“Although the conditions were far from ideal, it was a fantastic race and I really enjoyed it and I hope all the Tech 3 fans in the crowd did too. It was easy to make a mistake on such a wet track but I am really satisfied that I could make such a high pace. The battle with Cal and Valentino was hard but a lot of fun and it is a shame that I crashed while I still had a very good chance of my first podium for Tech 3 and Yamaha. I really wanted to achieve it here in the Team’s home race, and also an important race f or our sponsor Monster. The last 12 laps my front tyre kept closing but Valentino couldn’t escape from me and I could see we were catching Casey. I knew that I was pushing right on the limit with the tyres but I wanted to try and go with Valentino. It is a pity to crash but I’m really happy with my feeling with the Yamaha now. I was fast all weekend in the wet and dry and my Team did a great job, so we can look forward to the next races with a lot of confidence.”
Cal Crutchlow 8th — 45 points
“I’m not happy to have crashed while I was fighting for the podium, but the consolation is that at least I was battling for the top three again. Being quickest in the warm-up this morning meant I was confident going into the race but I wasn’t really aggressive at the start. It was a great battle with Andrea and Valentino though but I see med to miss out on a bit of speed on the straight compared to them. That meant I had to make up all my time in the corners. It was a shame I crashed because I was fighting with Valentino and he finished second. There was a chance of the podium today but at least I was there and I lost so much time after the crash that to still finish eighth is a bonus really. Now we go to Barcelona knowing it will be tough but I will looking to be battling for the podium again.”
Herve Poncharal — Team Manager
“That was a really exciting race and I don’t think the French fans can say that Andrea and Cal didn’t put on a spectacular show and do their best to get a podium in our home race. We were strong in the dry but when it rained we were also optimistic and it was a truly great fight between Andrea, Cal and Valentino. They showed tremendous r espect to each other, making hard but clean overtakes in really difficult conditions. It isn’t good for my health but certainly good for TV. At some point we thought both of them might have beaten Valentino today, but he picked up his pace and showed that he is still a class act. Cal was pushing hard to try and score his first podium and he crashed but he still managed to finish and credit to him for that. Andrea also wanted his first podium for Tech 3 and Yamaha and even though there was a big gap to Pedrosa behind him, he pushed to fight with Valentino and Casey and crashed. That can happen but I want to thank both of them for showing incredible fighting spirit. The final result wasn’t what we hoped, but we still scored some points and both of them showed in the wet and dry what a competitive package we have in 2012.”