As the track temperature was lower under overcast skies, every rider today chose the new soft rear slick alongside the harder front tyre. On just the fourth lap of the race, Stoner dipped under the lap record and proceeded to deliver a string of consistent laps in the 1m 33second bracket to set his fastest total race time. Marco Simoncelli also went faster than the existing lap record but it was Dani Pedrosa who was the fastest man overall, setting the new lap record at 1m 33.617 seconds to go some 0.6seconds faster than the previous benchmark.
Stoner led from the second lap and, after an intense battle with Repsol Honda teammate Pedrosa in the first half, pulled away from the field. Further back the sailing was not so smooth however. As Pedrosa slipped into the clutches of Simoncelli in third, the two came together entering turn nine and Pedrosa crashed, breaking his collarbone. Simoncelli was given a ride-through penalty for the incident that dropped him to an eventual fifth.
A battle for fourth was already raging between Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi and the demise of the two Hondas promoted this to a fight for second, which was ultimately claimed by Dovizioso in his best result of the season just ahead of Rossi in his first podium finish aboard the Ducati.
Taka Horio – General Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“Casey rode a fantastic race today and has shown remarkable pace all weekend, so many congratulations to him and the Repsol Honda Team. It is also good for the fans and the sport to see Valentino on the podium for the first time with Ducati. I’d also like to wish Dani a fast and uncomplicated recovery from his injury today and hope that he can return to the championship soon. It is good to see a record number of MotoGP spectators for Le Mans today which is a sign of the appeal and strength of the championship, and I am pleased Bridgestone can support such an exciting series.”
Masao Azuma – Chief Field Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport
“All weekend I have been pleased with the performance and consistency of our new soft rear tyre, and in the race it again showed its strength. Outright performance was good with the top three riders under the existing lap record, and durability and consistency were also satisfying. Eighteen of Casey’s laps were faster than the existing lap record, and in addition to his new total race time record, the top four riders were all faster than last year’s winning total race time.”
Casey Stoner – Repsol Honda Team – Race Winner
“I made a terrible start but I was pretty aggressive into the first corner so didn’t lose too much. At the start Dani was being conservative with the left side of his tyres but my tyres came up to temperature faster than his so I wanted to get past and make an advantage. Once I got past him I tried to stay consistent but Dani stayed with me so I had to keep lifting the pace and every time he matched my pace. Then I took a small advantage and was able to sustain those laptimes to the end. It’s been an awesome weekend and I’m really happy with the way the bike is working.”