Team Suzuki Press Office – May 17th
The difficult weekend at Le Mans resulted in a hard race overall as Team SUZUKI ECSTAR experienced the polar opposite feelings of motorcycle racing today.
After the hard crash he suffered yesterday, Aleix Espargaro struggled in the morning to find a good feeling with his machine, due to the pain he suffered in the crash which injured his right hand and lower back. Unfortunately this prevented him from approaching the race in a confident mood, but his will to race meant he was eager to compete. His start was good, as was the first lap, but unfortunately he had to retire on the second lap due to clutch issues, which are now under further investigation.
Maverick Viñales exploited the warmer weather and the sunshine this morning in Le Mans to perform a very positive warm-up session, with the Spaniard being consistently near the top of the timesheets. In the race he had a positive start, but unfortunately dropped several positions at turn two, so he needed to make progress through the field. He had a consistent – and yet fast – pace for the whole race, gaining positions lap-after-lap, finally ending his race with an excellent ninth place.
Satoru Terada – Project Leader:
“This has been a hard weekend as both riders crashed on Friday and then a major crash for Aleix on Saturday, which of course affected his whole weekend’s performance. Unfortunately we had a technical issue at the very beginning of the race with Aleix’s bike, which resulted in a retirement. It is a pity because Aleix was fighting against the pain and he deserved a positive race. We are now investigating the possible cause and we’ll see from the data how to improve.
“For Maverick the weekend has been more positive. He was consistent in practice as well as with race-pace and this finally gave him a good position at the end. His pace was very similar to his competitors who finished in sixth and seventh place so I believe that if we learn how to better perform in qualifying he can fight for a better position in the race itself. We still have to work to do on his GSX-RR to find a better set-up, and I think that if we can fix these two aspects we will gain a better position at the end of the race.”
“Of course I’m really disappointed for the weekend, when something has a bad start it usually ends up bad as well! I had a minor crash on Friday and then the huge crash on Saturday; nothing broken but I didn’t really feel well and finally I had the technical issue on my machine on Sunday. I had a good start, but I immediately felt the bike was not performing as well as it usually does and finally I had to retire at the very beginning of the race because it was impossible to go beyond the second lap. Apparently we had an issue with the clutch, so now the engineers are checking everything. It’s a pity because I felt good on my GSX-RR: it was maybe the best set-up we’ve had since the beginning of the season but it finally turned out to be a bad weekend. Tomorrow in Barcelona I will make some further investigations on my hand because it hurts a lot during hard braking, but we need to look ahead to Mugello and be positive.”
“At the end of the race I’m happy on how it went and ninth place is a good performance; the same I did in Austin and the one we deserve at the moment. For sure our potential says that we should be in better positions, but we need to improve how we work through the practice sessions and we still have some lack-of power. As we see from the race I always struggle in the middle of the pack but my lap-times are better than my competitors, therefore it is a matter of starting further towards the front, so the riders ahead are not slowing my progress. I’m not complaining for being in the position I am, as I am also a rookie, but when you see a potential it is hard to accept a result for yourself which is not the best.”
GP of France – Final classification:
1. Jorge LORENZO, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - 43'44.143
2. Valentino ROSSI, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP - +3.820
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team - +12.380
4. Marc MARQUEZ, Repsol Honda Team - +19.890
5. Andrea IANNONE, Ducati Team - +20.237
6. Bradley SMITH, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - +21.145
7. Pol ESPARGARO, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - +35.493
8. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Pramac Racing - +39.601
9. Maverick VIÑALES, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR - +41.571
nc. Aleix ESPARGARO, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR
Riders World Championship after GP of France:
1. Valentino ROSSI - 102
2. Jorge LORENZO - 87
3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO - 83
4. Marc MARQUEZ - 69
5. Andrea IANNONE - 61
6. Cal CRUTCHLOW - 47
7. Bradley SMITH - 46
8. Pol ESPARGARO - 35
9. Aleix ESPARGARO - 31
10. Maverick VIÑALES - 27