In French thriller
Bridgestone stormed back to the MotoGP podium today with Loris Capirossi calling on all his experience to claim a fantastic second place in a dramatic French GP at Le Mans.
The Italian produced a clinical attack on Dani Pedrosa, passing the Spaniard
on the last lap to register his 32nd premier class podium that keeps him firmly in contention for the MotoGP world championship.
Capirossi's third podium in the opening five races sees the 33-year-old trailing series leader Nicky Hayden by just four-points going into his home race in Mugello early next month, where he finished third in 2005. Fourth throughout much of the 28-lap race, Capirossi was elevated to third position on lap 20 following the shock retirement of leader and reigning world champion Valentino Rossi.
With eight laps to go, Capirossi trailed Pedrosa by close to two seconds, but taking advantage of the much improved consistent grip over race distance from the latest generation Bridgestone tyres, four of Capirossi's final six laps were in the 1.35 bracket as he piled on the pressure in the race for second.
Capirossi's podium showed a marked improvement for Bridgestone at the famous Le Mans circuit, where the Japanese factory scored a best result of seventh position a year ago. Ducati team-mate Sete Gibernau suffered a stroke of bad luck as he finished eighth after he was the innocent victim of a first corner melee.
Suzuki's John Hopkins finished 15th, but can take great heart from a stunning start to the race, run in under grey and gloomy skies in front of 76,200 fans. The American led for the opening four laps and a maiden podium seemed on the cards until he crashed out of third on lap ten.
Loris Capirossi – Ducati Corse Team – 2nd position
“This was a fantastic race for me. I want to say a really big thanks to the Bridgestone guys because they never stop working. We know during the season we can have a lot of difficult moments but now we are so strong. This track is not one of the best for us but we go home with second position and for the championship this is so important. This morning when I woke up and saw the rain I was very happy because I thought our potential was much better in wet conditions. I made a great job in the warm- up but I watched the 125 and 250 races and saw they were dry, and knew it was going to be a dry race for us. I knew my feeling in the dry wasn't as good in the rain, so I just decided to try and do my best. The tyres stayed constant during the whole race and on the last two laps I could see Dani was having some problems and I overtook him on the last lap. Second place is amazing for us. When I saw Valentino stop I thought ‘well the podium is mine'. I could see Dani slowing down a little so I just pushed really hard in the last six laps. When I caught Dani I could see in some points I was a little bit faster than him. I braked so late to pass and he also braked very late. We ran a bit wide but it was enough for second. Now we look forward to Mugello and go there in great shape.”
Junichi Kawajiri - Motorcycle Racing Tyre Development Manager – Bridgestone Motorsport
“A big thanks and congratulations to Loris and the Ducati team. Second place on the podium here is a fantastic result, and I'm glad that all the hard work we all put in this weekend produced good results. Our race tyre stayed consistent throughout the whole race, and for sure we have made a big improvement compared to last year. Overall we also saw that our qualifyers and rain tyres performed well with 4 bikes in the first 2 rows of the starting grid, and having the top 5 in the wet warmup session, so that is very positive. On the other hand it was unfortunate for our other riders as Shinya, John, and Randy all started from good grid positions, but had some bad luck. That's all a part of racing though, and we're still behind them 100% so I'm sure they will all bounce back in the next race at Mugello.”