Motorsports Update – May 21, 2012
Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, Le Mans
In the worst conditions seen all season, it was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa who got off to one of his trademark starts followed by teammate Casey Stoner. Their lead was short lived, as Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo charged past the pair and instantly pulled out a gap. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow also made a good start in fourth, followed by a surging Rossi in fifth.
It was heartache for the French fans from the beginning as Power Electronics Aspar’s local rider Randy de Puniet dropped his bike on the grid, and had to head out on his spare one. Near the front, Rossi soon moved past Crutchlow to take fourth, with Dovizioso following suit almost instantly.
With Lorenzo building a three second lead, Stoner pushed past Pedrosa to chase down his championship rival. Pedrosa seemed to struggling on the wet surface, with Rossi capitalising on this to take third with 21 laps left. The Tech 3 pair passed Pedrosa even further down the order as they looked to hunt down Rossi.
As Lorenzo was maintaining his lead around the three second mark ahead of Stoner, it was the ensuing tussle for third between Crutchlow, Dovizioso and Rossi that was providing some breath-taking overtaking in horrific conditions. Ten laps before the end it was misery for Crutchlow as he lost the front in the first chicane, leaving the two Italians to fight it out for the final podium spot, with Rossi taking third just two corners later. The Brit managed to restart his bike and re-join in eighth. Meanwhile, Lorenzo had extended his lead to six seconds at the front with Stoner a further four seconds ahead of Rossi.
The last three laps gave MotoGP fans a racing delight, as old adversaries Stoner and Rossi swapped positions throughout. It was however Rossi who looked back to his old self as he passed Stoner in the first chicane on the last lap, after which he pulled out a lead big enough to secure second. This is the highest result both Rossi and the Ducati team have had in the past two season.
It was however Lorenzo who took the chequered flag to take an eight point lead at the top of the championship ahead of Stoner, who came home in third. Pedrosa managed fourth, while LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl recorded his best ever result in fifth, ahead or Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden. Dovizioso, who managed to re-join after crashing finished seventh ahead of his teammate Crutchlow, while Pramac Racing’s Héctor Barberá and San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista completed the top ten. Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison put in a great performance to finish as top CRT in 11th. De Puniet suffered yet more misery in front of his home crowd as he crashed on his spare bike towards the end.
AMA Pro Racing
Next race: Miller Motorsports Park, May 26-28
GRAND-AM Road Racing
Next race: Chevrolet GRAND-AM 200, Belle Isle Park, June 1-2
American Le Mans Series
Next race: The American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix, Lime Rock Park, July 6-7
Next race: Formula 1 Grand Prix De Monaco, Monte Carlo, May 24-27
Next race: Indianapolis 500, May 27
Sprint All Star Race, Charlotte Motor Speedway
Jimmie Johnson joined an elite club on Saturday night. In beating Brad Keselowski to the finish of the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway by .841 seconds, Johnson won the exhibition event for the third time — tying Dale Earnhardt and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for most victories in the event.
Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified for the event by winning the preliminary Sprint Showdown.
The All-Star Race win and accompanying seven-figure first prize ended a spectacular eight days for Johnson, who delivered victory No. 200 to owner Rick Hendrick May 12 at Darlington and on Thursday night cheered his crew to its first victory in the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge.
Dollar General NHRA Summernationals, Topeka, Kansas
Jack Beckman raced to his first Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at the Dollar General NHRA Summernationals at Heartland Park Topeka.
David Grubnic (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Next race: Miller Motorsports Park, May 28
Sources: series websites, press releases and various independent motorsports websites