ROUND FOUR 2012 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY MAY 20
CRUTCHLOW CONTINUES PODIUM QUEST – SMITH CELEBRATES 100TH GRAND PRIX
Team-mates Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith arrive at the fourth round the MotoGP™ World Championship on Sunday the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France with very different experiences at the legendary Le Mans Bugatti circuit.
Isle of Man–based Midlander, Crutchlow makes just his second MotoGP appearance at the 2.60 miles circuit after a superb start to his second season in the Championship. Twenty one year old Oxfordshire rider Smith celebrates his 100th grand prix appearance in the Moto2 race at the track where he secured his first ever grand prix podium five years ago.
Riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha, Crutchlow has pushed the factory bikes in the opening three rounds of the Championship after starting from the front row of the grid on two occasions. He is fourth in the Championship behind World Champions Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa and is two points in front of his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso. Two fourth places and a fifth represents an amazing start to the season.
Cumbrian James Ellison has found it much tougher on his return to MotoGP riding the Paul Bird Motorsport ART machine. The team issued a statement last week scotching rumours that he may be replaced and there will be no better way in paying back their support than by scoring his first points of the season on Sunday.
It’s also been a tough start for the three British riders in the ultra-competitive Moto2™ World Championship. Gloucestershire teenager Scott Redding is fifth in the Championship riding the Marc VDS Kalex machine. He’s started from the front row and led races but needs that podium finish to really kick start his season. Smith struggled to stay with the leaders on the Tech 3 machine but his consistency puts him just ten points behind Redding in ninth place. He is hoping for some new parts for his bike to push him nearer the leading group.
Gino Rea’s Federal Oil Gresini team makes a frame change at Le Mans. They switch from the Moriwaki frame that brought them the World title with Toni Elias two years ago to Suter that has tasted success this season with Marc Marquez.
Wiltshire teenager Danny Kent bounced back to a hard earned eighth place in the Estoril Moto3™ race following his crash the previous week in Jerez. Kent-based Danny Webb’s tale of woe continued in Estoril where he was forced out of the race with mechanical problems. He needs a change of fortune to score his and Mahindra’s first points of the season on Sunday.
“I was pretty happy with fifth place in Estoril but I would like to have been a bit closer to the top three like I was in Jerez. It was a good race with Andrea and we have carried on the momentum from the first two races and now we can look forward to Le Mans. That’s a massive weekend for Monster and Tech 3 Yamaha, so I’ll be determined to be back fighting for the podium again.”
MAKING A POINT AT LE MANS
Just a single point separates World Champions Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo as they prepare for battle at the fourth round of the MotoGP World Championship, the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France at the legendary Le Mans circuit on Sunday.
Australian Stoner, riding the Repsol Honda, leads the way after winning the last two grands prix . The current World Champion won at the 2.60 miles Bugatti circuit that forms part of the 24 hour car racing circuit last year. Lorenzo riding the factory Yamaha won the previous two years and so the battle between the two top motorcycle riders in the World looks set to continue in the 28 lap race on Sunday.
Their respective team-mates could play a major part. Dani Pedrosa who is third in the Championship, 14 points behind team-mate Stoner, has both 125 and 250 cc victories. Ben Spies has endured a tough start to the year and will be looking to get back on track at Le Mans where he finished sixth last year.
The main threat to those Championship contenders could come from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha duo of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso racing at their team’s home race. Crutchlow has made a sensational start to his second MotoGP season and lies fourth in the Championship while Dovizioso is just two points behind him and finished second at Le Mans last year.
Former 125 cc World Champion Alvaro Bautista has made a solid start to his career at San Carlo Gresini Honda. He’s sixth in the Championship just two points in front of the impressive MotoGP debutant, current Moto2 World Champion, Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda.
There was a glimmer of light for the beleaguered Ducati factory team in Portugal with nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi finishing seventh. The three times Le Mans winner is ninth in the Championship one point behind his team-mate the 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden. Ducati’s woes returned after the Estoril race when the vital MotoGP test on Monday was cancelled because of heavy rain.
The battle for CRT honours continues between the Power Electronics Aspar duo of Spaniard Aleix Espargaro and Frenchman Randy De Puniet. It’s a massive home race for De Puniet who is three points behind his team-mate.
Australian Chris Vermeulen makes a welcome return to MotoGP to replace the injured Colin Edwards on the NGM Mobile Forward Racing BMW. The American broke his left collarbone in a qualifying crash in Estoril and Vermeulen makes his return after injury problems to the track where he secured his only grand prix victory in 2007.
Both the Moto2 and Moto3 races provided fantastic finishes in Estoril and the fourth rounds on Sunday should carry on the tradition. The last lap duel in the Moto2 battle between the two Spanish rivals Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro was breath taking and they are separated by nine points in their Championship fight. Marquez has won two races this year and Espargaro the other. Both have won at Le Mans with Marquez securing his first Moto2 win last year. However, this will not be a two horse race and former Le Mans winners Toni Elias, Tom Luthi, Yuki Takahashi, Julian Simon and Mike Di Meglio are bound to have a say in the proceedings.
It was equally as fierce in the Moto3 battle between Sandro Cortese and Maverick Vinales in Portugal. German rider Cortese came out on top to take the lead in the Championship by two points. But once again it will not just be between these two with Luis Salom and Italian teenager Romano Fenati to name but a few who will make the sparks fly.
LE MANS FACTS AND FIGURES
The first French Grand Prix was staged in 1951 at the Albi circuit. Seven more circuits have hosted the grand prix with the Bugatti circuit at Le Mans staging the event for the 13th successive year on Sunday. The Bugatti circuit includes the start and finishing line for the legendary Le Mans 24 hour car race.
Circuit Length: 4.185 kms
Width: 13 m
Pole Position: Left
Longest Straight: 674m
Left Corners: Four
Right Corners: Nine
Pole Position Record:
TELEVISION TIMES BBC/BRITISH EUROSPORT2
Saturday 19 May
1250 – 1605 BBC Red Button & British Eurosport 2 – Live Qualifying Moto3, Moto2, MotoGP
Sunday 20 May
0950 – 1205 BBC Red Button & British Eurosport 2 – Live Moto3 and Moto2 race
1230 – 1400 BBC 2/BBC HD Live MotoGP race
15.15 British Eurosport MotoGP Action
Nick will be available at the circuit from Thursday lunchtime until Sunday night. Please note Nick will not be available to answer the phone during qualifying or the races.
A time schedule for the event is attached.
Media Office phone number (in the Media Centre): +33 2 43 40 38 71
Cal Crutchlow looking for a podium at his team’s home race
Scott Redding on board the Marc VDS Kalex