French Grand Prix

Le Mans, France

Sunday 21st May 2006



Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi’s unfortunate start to his MotoGP World Championship defence continued today as the Italian rider was hit by another bout of bad luck at Le Mans, where he was forced to retire from the lead with an engine problem. This time his team-mate Colin Edwards was also hit by the jinx, the American being pushed wide in the second corner of the race and running into the gravel traps. The silver lining to the day for the team on a cloudy day in France was that Edwards did manage to get back on track and charge through from last place to finish in sixth – arguably the individual rider performance of the race.


Rossi started the fifth round of the season in confident mood after finding a good set-up for his YZR-M1 machine during the dry practice sessions and he quickly translated that pace to the race, moving from seventh on the grid up to second place by lap three. After two laps behind early leader John Hopkins (Suzuki) the World Champion took control and opened out a comfortable advantage over Dani Pedrosa (Honda), who also got past Hopkins. With eight laps remaining Rossi looked on course to become the first rider this season to win two races but to his despair disaster struck, leaving Pedrosa to fight it out with Marco Melandri (Honda) for the win. Melandri made the decisive move for victory with five laps remaining before Pedrosa was also passed for second place by Loris Capirossi (Ducati).


COLIN EDWARDS (6th; + 11.519 seconds)

“To be honest I don’t quite know what happened at the start. I had my plan which was to run it around the outside like I did last year but things just went haywire from the start and riders were coming at me from everywhere. I got baulked by somebody – it might have been Dani Pedrosa but I’m not sure – and I couldn’t get to the outside so I had to move where the space was and go tight. Everybody was wide through the right and came across me as we went left into the chicane so I had nowhere to go but the gravel. Last year it would have probably been okay but the changes they made to the track played against me. I lost four or five seconds there and probably lost another four or five trying to get past people during the first six laps. I wanted to overtake on the exits but they all had so much grip at that stage of the race that it was impossible and I just had to wait for opportunities on the brakes. The setting of the bike was good – the only thing I was missing was a bit of rear grip at the end but with the pace I had we should have been on the podium today.”


“The team did a great job with the new chassis this weekend and I really enjoyed being able to ride so fast during the race, so it is a real shame that it ended like that and of course I am very disappointed. Everything was working really well, the bike and tyres felt perfect but then the engine went. A bike stopping on me like this has only happened to me a couple of times in my career, and never with a four-stroke, so for it to happen today is typical of our luck at the moment. Something seems to have gone wrong for us at each of the first few races of the season, apart from Qatar, and it has put us in a difficult situation with regards to the championship. We know that championship is a big challenge now but the last word has not been spoken yet.  Now we need to look at it race by race, maybe not think about the championship for a while and concentrate on trying to win as many races as possible from the remaining 12.”


“We are trying to smile but obviously we are all very disappointed – especially Valentino. Our engineers did a great job to get the bikes prepared for this race and both Valentino and Colin were ready to fight for a top result. It was great watching Valentino in harmony with the bike and it looked as though it was going to be a classic Valentino Rossi race, making his way to the front and then controlling his advantage over second place. Unfortunately the engine broke and we are analysing it now to find out why. I have to say Colin rode a great race after being forced wide in the first corner and in general we will take a lot of positives from this weekend, even if we don’t feel too great right now.  Today we should have had two riders on the podium, but we have 12 more chances to try!”


  1. Marco Melandri (ITA) Fortuna Honda, 44.57.369
  2. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Ducati Marlboro Team, +1.929
  3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team, +2.269
  4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Honda LCR, +5.494
  5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Repsol Honda Team, +5.709
  6. COLIN EDWARDS (USA) Camel Yamaha Team, +11.519
  7. Makoto Tamada (JPN) Konica Minolta Honda, +16.692
  8. Sete Gibernau (SPA) Ducati Marlboro Team, +18.142
  9. Toni Elias (ITA) Fortuna Honda, +23.645
  10. Chris Vermeulen (AUS) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP, +39.362


DNF: VALENTINO ROSSI (ITA) Camel Yamaha Team, Lap 21



Championship Standings

  1. Nicky Hayden (USA) 83
  2. Marco Melandri (ITA) 79
  3. Loris Capirossi (ITA) 79
  4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) 73
  5. Casey Stoner (AUS) 65
  7. Toni Elias (SPA) 44
  9. Sete Gibernau (SPA) 33
  10. Makoto Tamada (JPN) 33


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