Fiat Yamaha Team hopes dashed in washout at Le Mans

21.05.2007: Fiat Yamaha Team hopes dashed in washout at Le Mans

Torrential rain in Le Mans today doused the hopes of the Fiat Yamaha Team as Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards struggled in the wet conditions and splashed home to sixth and twelfth respectively. An action-packed race, which saw seven riders crash out, was eventually won by Australian rider Chris Vermeulen, who took his first win in

Black clouds gathered ominously over the MotoGP grid and a few spots of rain just before 2pm meant the race was declared wet. Despite this the riders chose to start the race on slick tyres, with the option of making a pit-stop to change bikes if the weather worsened.

Edwards started from pole but was uncomfortable from the start and had dropped to the back of the field by the end of the first lap, before becoming the first to make a pit-stop and change bikes on lap four. Rossi meanwhile pounced from fourth on the grid and took the lead at turn two, holding it until he was passed by Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet on lap six as the track became wetter.

Rossi was one of the last five riders to come in and change after ten laps and things looked promising at first as he fought back to third but, having opted for a harder-compound wet tyre, he was unable to keep up the momentum as the rain grew heavier and slipped back through the field.

Sixth place nonetheless gained him ten important championship points and he holds on to second in the standings. Unfortunately things did not improve for his team-mate; Edwards persevered to the flag but continued to struggle throughout the race.

Valentino Rossi - position 6th;

"Of course I'm very upset about this result because I had a very good feeling in the dry at the start. We made some good modifications to the bike, it was working very well and I thought I was going to be able to fight for the victory.

Unfortunately the weather ruined it for us today! We made the pit stop and started the second part of race with hard rain tyres, because we thought it was only going to be light rain. Sadly we were wrong and when the rain got heavier my tyre was too hard for the conditions and I couldn't push.

I was very slow from then on and didn't have any grip from the rear. In the last five laps it was quite dangerous as it was very hard to stay upright and I think I lost five or six seconds per lap at the end.

We had hoped that this would be a track at which we could gain some ground on Stoner and it's going to be a very hard battle from here because he is very fast, not just on the straights but everywhere! I want to congratulate Chris Vermeulen today because he rode a great race, I think he's a bit of a magician in the rain!"

 

Colin Edwards - position 12th;

We encountered some problems that I've run into before - in Australia last year when I crashed in the rain and at the Jerez test this year. It's hard to explain, but to me it feels like it's related to the engine braking - when we've got less traction from the tyres in the wet it just seems to appear. I think even yesterday's crash was down to something similar.

Basically I try to put it into the corner but the rear comes round on me and it slides. Valentino and I have quite different styles - he holds the clutch in there a lot longer whilst I just kind of dump it and today it was a big problem for me.

To be honest that wasn't really rain racing for me, it was more like ice racing and it was impossible. At the start it was at its worst because being on a slick tyre with a damp track just exacerbated the problem. I came in early because in the circumstances I thought I'd gamble and hope it was going to chuck it down with rain, but a few laps out there on rain tyres when it wasn't that wet wasn't fun either.

I came back in again, thinking maybe the tyre was too hard, and we tried a softer rain tyre and that was better in the end. I'm really sorry to the team and to everyone involved; I don't like wasting my first pole and I had hoped for great things today."

 

Davide Brivio - Team Director;

"Today's race was run in very difficult conditions, which is a pity when we had high hopes for both riders. Valentino was running well but when it started to rain we chose a tyre for light rains and then, unfortunately, the rain came down very heavily and very hard and it just wasn't the right tyre for those conditions. This is why after he changed bikes he was very good but as the rain got heavier he started to go backwards.

He did well to finish the race in this situation and get some points. For Colin, we don't really know what to say but the conditions of today and the lower temperatures made it difficult for him and it was a day to forget after his great pole position. I think in the dry he could have had a good race but this sadly wasn't to be. He was uncomfortable with the bike and from the start he wasn't going well. All we can do now is move on from Le Mans, put it behind us and look forward to Mugello."

In front of the home crowd of the Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 Team, the Grand Prix of France was a truly momentous affair as Makoto Tamada and Sylvain Guintoli both scored top ten results as they finished ninth and tenth respectively raising the bar in what was another stellar performance for the team. Both Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 riders rose to the wet weather circumstances with Sylvain creating his own piece of personal history as he overtook seven times world champion Valentino Rossi to lead a MotoGP for the first time.

Unfortunately he was caught out by the worsening conditions as he tried to extend his lead causing him to crash but quickly remounted. Makoto was able to stay out a few more laps on slicks before his enforced pit-stop. He rode a steady and sensible race in the atrocious conditions that saw many other riders crashing out also attain his best result of the season so far.

The scene had been set for a magnificent weekend during qualifying when Sylvain was on top of the time sheets with 10 minutes to go, finally missing the top spot by just 0.8 of a second.

This weekend has given the team a tremendous boost with the Italian Grand Prix in two weeks time but in the meantime will remain at Le Mans for two days of testing to further improve performance of the Dunlop tyres and Yamaha machines.

 

Makoto Tamada - position 9th;

That was a very different race. I am happy to finish but I am not overly happy because I had the potential to go faster but I have no complaint with anything as we raced in such severe conditions. We also learnt many things in this race as when it was just a little bit wet I lost too much time and it was hard to decide at what time was best to come in.

When it became very wet the lap times became a lot better and I felt very comfortable and in those conditions we had a lot of grip with the Dunlop tyres. Now we are here to test for a couple of days so it is important for us to work a lot on the bad points we have when the track is not dry but not all wet.

 This is a good result for the team and I know now that we are making many improvements that will help us for the rest of the year.

 

Sylvain Guintoli - position 10th:

That was a pretty funny race but I am extremely happy with the entire weekend. This is something special for me to do what I did in front of my home crowd with my good qualifying and the race. I got a very bad start as I wheelied off the line.

I felt very confident passing everybody as I was trying to find a rhythm and the next thing I know I am in front with no one to chase. When I was in front for that one lap I didn't think about it, I just went for it. I was very surprised when the rear came around and made me crash as it didn't seem that wet. If I hadn't crashed I would have stayed out for a few more laps as it was not really wet enough to change bike.

10th is my best result so I have to be very happy even with a crash but the entire weekend has been brilliant. We can take a lot out of this weekend as we got rid of any doubts about how competitive we can be. I am now very confident with the bike and my riding and I am looking forward to Mugello to continue my progress.

Herve Poncharal - Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 Team Manager

This has been a very weird French Grand Prix. We had a really good qualifying session and a strong warm-up this morning. It was an incredible start to the race. Sylvain was exceptional as he said to me before the start that it would be good to lead for just one lap and he did it!

It didn't look too good for him at the start as he was 13th at the first split but he fought his way through. When I saw the rain coming harder I thought it wasn't looking too good but we were ready for a crash and he was prepared to take the chance. Everyone around the track enjoyed seeing Sylvain in front and after he crashed he showed very good fighting spirit to pick the bike up and continue.

I would also like to thank Makoto as he showed great fighting spirit too to finish in 9th place and to have our two riders in the top ten is a sensational result.

This weekend has been a huge step forward for the team and I think now we can be fighting for top ten finishes at every race. We have two days to test more things here at Le Mans and feel that we can make some more steps before the next race in Italy.

 

Circuit Length: 4180
Temp: 13
Weather: Wet

 

2007 MotoGP France - Le Mans 20/05/2007 Race 1 - 28 Laps

1 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 50'58.752

2 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0'12.599

3 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 0'27.347

4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0'37.328

5 Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 0'49.166

6 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0'53.563

7 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 1'1.073

8 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1'21.241

9 Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN -1 Laps

10 Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA -1 Laps

11 Fonsi Nieto Kawasaki ESP -1 Laps

12 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA -3 Laps

 

Rider Standings 20/05/2007

1. Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 102

2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 81

3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 62

4. Marco Melandri Honda ITA 61

5. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 55

6. John Hopkins Suzuki USA 48

7. Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 38

8. Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 35

9. Toni Elias Honda ESP 35

10. Nicky Hayden Honda USA 30

11. Alex Hofmann Ducati GER 30

12. Alex Barros Ducati BRA 27

13. Carlos Checa Honda ESP 20

14. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 19

15. Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 15

16. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 12

17. Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 11

 

Team Standings 20/05/2007

1. Ducati Marlboro Team 140

2. FIAT Yamaha Team 116

3. Rizla Suzuki 103

4. Honda Gresini 96

5. Repsol Honda Team 92

6. Pramac D'Antin 57

7. Kawasaki Racing Team 28

8. Tech3 Yamaha 23

9. Honda LCR 20

10. Konica Minolta Honda 15

11. Team Roberts 4

Manufacturer Standings 20/05/2007

1. Ducati 102

2. Honda 89

3. Yamaha 81

4. Suzuki 71

5. Kawasaki 28

6. KR212V 4

 

 

- Yamaha Racing , Amsterdam -

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21.05.2007 / MaP

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