FIAT YAMAHA TEAM HOPES DASHED IN FRENCH WASHOUT

Torrential rain in Le Mans today doused the hopes of the Fiat Yamaha Team as Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards struggled in the wet conditions and splashed home to sixth and twelfth respectively. An action-packed race, which saw seven riders crash out, was eventually won by Australian rider Chris Vermeulen, who took his first win in MotoGP.

Black clouds gathered ominously over the MotoGP grid and a few spots of rain just before 2pm meant the race was declared wet. Despite this the riders chose to start the race on slick tyres, with the option of making a pit-stop to change bikes if the weather worsened. Edwards started from pole but was uncomfortable from the start and had dropped to the back of the field by the end of the first lap, before becoming the first to make a pit-stop and change bikes on lap four. Rossi meanwhile pounced from fourth on the grid and took the lead at turn two, holding it until he was passed by Yamaha rider Sylvain Guintoli and Randy de Puniet on lap six as the track became wetter. Rossi was one of the last five riders to come in and change after ten laps and things looked promising at first as he fought back to third but, having opted for a harder-compound wet tyre, he was unable to keep up the momentum as the rain grew heavier and slipped back through the field. Sixth place nonetheless gained him ten important championship points and he holds on to second in the standings. Unfortunately things did not improve for his team-mate; Edwards persevered to the flag but continued to struggle throughout the race and now slips to ninth in the championship.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI: Position: 6th   Time: +53.563

“Of course I’m very upset about this result because I had a very good feeling in the dry at the start. We made some good modifications to the bike, it was working very well and I thought I was going to be able to fight for the victory. Unfortunately the weather ruined it for us today! We made the pit stop and started the second part of race with hard rain tyres, because we thought it was only going to be light rain. Sadly we were wrong and when the rain got heavier my tyre was too hard for the conditions and I couldn’t push. I was very slow from then on and didn’t have any grip from the rear. In the last five laps it was quite dangerous as it was very hard to stay upright and I think I lost five or six seconds per lap at the end. We had hoped that this would be a track at which we could gain some ground on Stoner and it’s going to be a very hard battle from here because he is very fast, not just on the straights but everywhere! I want to congratulate Chris Vermeulen today because he rode a great race, I think he’s a bit of a magician in the rain!”

 

COLIN EDWARDSPosition: 12th   Time: +3 Laps

“We encountered some problems that I’ve run into before – in Australia last year when I crashed in the rain and at the Jerez test this year. It’s hard to explain, but to me it feels like it’s related to the engine braking – when we’ve got less traction from the tyres in the wet it just seems to appear. I think even yesterday’s crash was down to something similar. Basically I try to put it into the corner but the rear comes round on me and it slides. Valentino and I have quite different styles – he holds the clutch in there a lot longer whilst I just kind of dump it and today it was a big problem for me. To be honest that wasn’t really rain racing for me, it was more like ice racing and it was impossible. At the start it was at its worst because being on a slick tyre with a damp track just exacerbated the problem. I came in early because in the circumstances I thought I’d gamble and hope it was going to chuck it down with rain, but a few laps out there on rain tyres when it wasn’t that wet wasn’t fun either. I came back in again, thinking maybe the tyre was too hard, and we tried a softer rain tyre and that was better in the end. I’m really sorry to the team and to everyone involved; I don’t like wasting my first pole and I had hoped for great things today.”

DAVIDE BRIVIO: Team Director

“Today’s race was run in very difficult conditions, which is a pity when we had high hopes for both riders. Valentino was running well but when it started to rain we chose a tyre for light rains and then, unfortunately, the rain came down very heavily and very hard and it just wasn’t the right tyre for those conditions. This is why after he changed bikes he was very good but as the rain got heavier he started to go backwards. He did well to finish the race in this situation and get some points. For Colin, we don’t really know what to say but the conditions of today and the lower temperatures made it difficult for him and it was a day to forget after his great pole position. I think in the dry he could have had a good race but this sadly wasn’t to be. He was uncomfortable with the bike and from the start he wasn’t going well. All we can do now is move on from Le Mans, put it behind us and look forward to Mugello.”

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