2011 Le Mans MotoGP Race Analysis


The MotoGP field fell to a hail of bullets sprayed by a manufacturer named Honda this weekend. HRC riders made an authoritative stamp on the timesheets while others were playing catch-up including the reigning champion, Lorenzo. Honda’s time and again showcased it’s got the bike to beat this year.

With Stoner on pole and RC212V under him, it was not surprising to see him getting off to a good start. But it was Pedrosa, who, unsurprisingly, lead at the first corner and he did pit his skills against Stoner but his relegation to second place was a matter of time. Frankly, there’s nothing to write about Stoner’s race performance as he ended up doing what he does best – get the lead, put the head down and set a fiery pace till the chequered flag thereby ticking off Le Mans to 2011 victory tally.

With Stoner slowly opening a sizeable gap, a relentless Simoncelli was in hot pursuit of Pedrosa. We expected a pitched battle between the top three, though only for the fateful and headline-grabbing incident of the weekend to flare things up on lap 17. Marginally having a superior pace, Simoncelli approached Pedrosa with his habitual ferocity and a move was imminent, but what followed few moments later could more aptly be termed another blow in Honda’s hopes of winning the crown. Having recently come under a spate of criticisms for dangerous riding, Super Sic championed his aggressive-rider cause by attempting  a foiled outside-line pass on Pedrosa that left Pedrosa tumbling down and was later seen scampering to the marshals pointing at his right shoulder.

It was a shame that the accident broke Pedrosa’s right collarbone and has added another injury to the list of injuries to take care. This could potentially pose a threat to his championship chances as he’s left despairing at this uneventful happening.

Some riders drive you crazy and some are crazy with Super Sic eventually falling into latter category. With this move, Sic has clearly incurred the wrath of Puig, another face of HRC. Everybody knows Honda wants results and it doesn’t care about who gets it. Anyone who jeopardizes the chances could face dire consequences and this incident could be no exception. While at Jerez, Rossi took Stoner down, this time, the protagonist was well within the HRC enclosure. HRC has, till now, lost 50 critical points for no mistake of theirs. Whether HRC would issue a caveat to the Italian needs to be watched out.

We honestly expected a conscience-smitten Sic to pay his apologies to a ravaged Pedrosa as the Spaniard could do nothing about the move. Expectedly or unexpectedly, Simoncelli not only brushed aside this as a racing incident but rather bewailed the penalty imposed on him. His apology, due or undue, could have soothed an anguished crowd but instead he’s only fanned the flames at Pedrosa’s side of the garage.

Race directions wasted no time in deeming Simoncelli’s move as illegal and rewarded him with a ride-through penalty. This means another opportunity lost and he needs to put his podium aspirations on hold for another three weeks. On the racing front, despite the penalty, Simoncelli’s pace was hot enough to secure fifth position.

What was forgotten amid Le Mans action was Lorenzo’s eyebrow-raising move on Dovizioso during the early laps. This move had all the ingredients to stir controversy had Lorenzo taken Dovizioso down over the course of the manoeuvre.  Having crashed his M1 during warm-up and injuring his finger fourth is indeed a decent result as he managed to get a good points’ haul to still sit at the pinnacle of standings. A small mistake on lap 24 meant he’d forfeited the scrap for second position to Rossi and Dovizioso.

Le Mans would remain in the memories of Yamaha for its 2008 run for an all-Yamaha podium and this year would surely be one to forget for obvious reasons. Spies was evidently off-colour all weekend and his performance on race-day was no different. His factory career has not gotten off as expected and four races have gone by with sixth place being his best finish. He’s yet to justify the factory he’s conferred with, although getting the better of his compatriot Hayden could be taken as a little consolation.

Dovizioso resumed where he left off last race with the Italian again locking horns with Rossi and held the spectators in tenterhooks all the way to the flag. Just like in Portugal, until the final corner it was uncertain who’d come off best. It was, again, Dovizioso, who had the last laugh. The sheer power of the Honda was enough to keep a crafty Rossi on the not-so-sorted Ducati at bay. Despite being denied second position, Rossi was ecstatic in claiming his first podium on a Ducati.

All in all, controversies and aggression of riders momentarily overshadowed the supposedly dull nature of the 800s. MotoGP heads for a brief hibernation with the action set to resume at Spanish soil in Barcelona on June 5.  Spanish round means MotoGP carnival as Spanish heroes try to capture the attention of the local crowd, which means increased pressure on Lorenzo to fend off the Honda threat. Adios until then.