Dani Pedrosa has become the first rider to win two races in the 2013 MotoGP™ season, coming from sixth position on the grid in mixed conditions at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans. He now leads the championship from Repsol Honda Team teammate Marc Marquez, who fought to the podium after a poor start as Britain’s Cal Crutchlow finished a GP career-best second.
For the second year in succession, the field was presented with a wet track for the start of the race, with all competitors duly electing to fit the soft compound wet weather tyres for both front and rear wheels, although this resulted in an extremely difficult final laps as the tarmac dried out.
Pedrosa’s ride to a first victory at Le Mans in the premier class was a calculated but exciting one. Having crashed in qualifying, he stayed out of trouble at the start and passed Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo. The Honda rider then caught Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who had fought into the lead from a front row start and continually re-passed Pedrosa whenever the latter made a mistake. The final swapping of places came at half distance.
The weekend was a memorable one for Crutchlow. On Saturday the Englishman sustained a fracture to the top of his shinbone, causing immense pain in the knee, but from fourth on the grid he made the most of the mixed conditions and stormed passed old teammate Dovizioso in the closing stages. The Ducati rider led for a chunk of the race and ultimately just missed out on a rostrum result as Marquez fought back from a poor getaway and a selection of off-track moments. The Spaniard therefore maintained his 100% podium finish record for 2013.
Nicky Hayden confirmed Ducati’s strongest day of the campaign to date by finishing fifth from GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, but it was a somewhat disastrous afternoon for Yamaha Factory Racing. Lorenzo struggled to make an impression and slid down the order to seventh with major set-up issues, whereas Valentino Rossi – who had previously battled with his teammate – fell while under pressure from Hayden. The Italian recovered to 12th behind Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, whose temporary teammate Michele Pirro rose to eighth ahead of Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl finished tenth after suffering a small fall due to issues with his visor and general visibility. Aleix Espargaro again celebrated the top CRT spot in 13th, although the Power Electronics Aspar rider had to fight past Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci and took advantage of a crash for teammate and local favourite Randy de Puniet. Gresini’s Bryan Staring, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti, Came IodaRacing Project’s Lukas Pesek and PBM’s Yonny Hernandez also all retired, but no rider suffered injury.