News 1 Jun 2009

MotoGP: Yamaha stars strong with top 10 in Mugello thriller

Yamaha Racing PR:

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi took battling podium positions in the Italian Grand Prix today, after an action-packed afternoon saw the riders forced to swap bikes for the second race in a row due to changing weather conditions. Lorenzo recovered from a crash on the sighting lap to come home in second behind Casey Stoner, whilst Rossi finally surrendered the crown he has worn at his home track for the past seven years and had to be content with third.

The rain had stopped by 1.30pm but the track was still very wet and Lorenzo slid out on the penultimate corner just before he reached the grid. He managed to remount and made it back to the box to swap bikes, exiting for a second sighting lap just seconds before the pit lane closed and leaving his team facing a race against time to rebuild the damaged bike before the drying track forced a pit stop. The Spaniard had a shaky start and dropped as low as tenth on the first lap before crossing the line in sixth first time round. He made little progress in the opening laps, trading places back and forth with Marco Melandri and Dani Pedrosa, and it was not until riders started to come in to change bikes that he began to creep through the order. On lap ten he was in third behind Stoner and Rossi and it was time for a pit stop to change onto dry tyres, with Lorenzo lying fourth after the reshuffle. From then on the 22-year-old made a determined charge for podium, passing Andrea Dovizioso and Loris Capirossi to take a deserved second place, one second behind Stoner.

In the first, wet part of the race Rossi had looked his usual menacing Mugello self, stalking through the field from fifth after the end of the first lap to take the lead from Stoner on lap eight. He pitted at the same time as his team-mate on lap ten but a wrong tyre choice set him back and it was several laps before he had enough heat in his tyres to start really pushing and he lost several places in the process. In the final stages he was the quickest man on track and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 23, but by then it was too late to challenge for the lead and he had to make settle for fighting his way through to third, holding off a determined last-lap challenge from Dovizioso.

Lorenzo loses the championship lead to Stoner but the first three are still within ten points with the Australian on 90, the Mallorcan on 86 and Rossi close behind on 81. The next round of the championship is Lorenzo’s home race at Montmelo in Catalunya in two weeks time.

Jorge Lorenzo
Position: 2 Time: +1.001

“Honestly, this is as good as a win for me and I can’t really believe the race today, it was like a movie! This morning in warm-up I was quite worried because I was slow in the rain, then on the sighting lap I slid off into the gravel pit. All I could think about was making it back to the pits as quickly as possible in case there was still a chance to make the grid and luckily I made it just in time. My team had the second bike ready and I was able to still start from the pole position. On the grid I tried not to think about the crash, I just tried to focus. But then I had a big slide off the line and the first part of the race wasn’t so good for me. I have to say the biggest thank you to my guys today for getting the damaged bike ready in such a short time; it was a brilliant job and after I swapped bikes everything changed. From then on I had a great rhythm and I was able to stay on fighting to the end and take this second place. It’s a really amazing result because things could have been much worse today, so thank you again to everyone for making it possible. I’m really happy with this result.”

Valentino Rossi
Position: 3 Time: +2.076

“Of course I am disappointed not to win again in Mugello but seven times in a row is not so bad and the important thing is that I made it onto the podium. It’s a very special moment in Mugello, with all the fans below, and I would have been very sad to have missed that! It was a very hard race today and once again the weather was a problem for us, we’re very unlucky in these half-and-half races and I think this is my first podium in one. In the wet we were very fast because we had found a great setting, but then when we changed bikes we made a mistake and chose a front tyre that was too hard, so it took me a long time to be able to put enough temperature on it and I lost a lot of time. At the end I was able to ride better and I knew that I had to make it onto the podium, so I am happy for this. Of course after Le Mans this is a big improvement and these points are important because it’s very close between the three of us.”

Daniele Romagnoli
Team Manager

“We can consider this like a victory after crashing on the sighting lap; we were very lucky to be able to get back to the pit in time to change the bike and to still be able to start from the grid. The mechanics were incredible today and showed their ability when repairing the damaged bike in such a short time; without such a brilliant job from them our race would have been over today so I have to say a huge thank you to them. The team did a great job and that enabled Jorge to do his part to take a fantastic second place. Congratulations to everyone!”

Davide Brivio
Team Manager

“Of course this is not what we expect from Mugello, but we have taken an important podium and these 16 points are key for the championship. It is easy to say now that we could have done things differently, but we took a decision before the race based on the characteristics of our bike, on Valentino’s riding style and on our experience. You only know at the end of the race if the decision you took was the right one. Today we leave with a good points haul, we remain close to the top of the classification and we continue towards our goal: getting more and more points in order to make sure that we have more than everybody else at the end of the season!”

Brilliant wet and dry weather performances from Colin Edwards and James Toseland handed the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad a deserved double top ten finish in an enthralling flag-to-flag Italian MotoGP race in Mugello today.
In what turned out to be a carbon copy of the French MotoGP race in Le Mans two weeks ago, today’s 23-lap race started on a wet track, but a dry line quickly started to appear as Toseland and Edwards both fought on the fringes of the top ten on full wet Bridgestone tyres.

Unable to find confidence with rear grip as the track dried out, British rider Toseland gambled and pulled into the pits first to switch to his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine fitted with hard front and rear compound slick tyres on lap four. It was a decision that paid off handsomely as Toseland was able to lap over three seconds quicker than the rest of the field. He brilliantly carved his way through from 17th position to find himself embroiled in an exciting duel for sixth place with Frenchman Randy de Puniet from lap 12 onwards.
He was able to hold off de Puniet under severe pressure in the last three laps, but lost sixth place to hard charging team-mate Edwards, who in the dry had produced another fantastic fight back from outside of the top ten in front of 81,657 fans.

The American struggled with a small front-end set-up issue on full wet tyres and he didn’t pit for his dry YZR-M1 bike until lap nine. Once out on full slicks the 35-year-old surged through superbly from 14th to sixth, overtaking Toseland on the final lap to clock the sixth fastest lap of the race. Edwards is now just 12-points away from fourth place in the world championship standings, while Toseland’s best result of 2009 moved him closer to the top ten in the overall points.
Today’s result consolidated the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s position as the leading independent team in MotoGP, and the French squad trails Suzuki’s factory team by just four-points in the Team World Championship.

Colin Edwards 6th – 45 points
“That race was almost exactly the same as what happened in Le Mans where I was losing time in the wet at the beginning and then charging through from the back in the dry. I don’t know why, but when the track is damp or full wet, I’ve got no confidence with the front. And being a front-end guy, if I’ve got no feeling then I don’t go fast. When I enter the corner I get too much weight transfer to the rear and that makes the front feel really vague. I probably should have come in for my dry bike a couple of laps earlier than I did, but with the hard compound front and rear slick in, it took me a while to get temperature in them and I was having a few moments. I just put my head down and was able to get down to some decent times and to take the positive out of the race I at least came back to finish in the top six because I was way back. But I’ve got to get this bike fixed for me in the wet because I haven’t sorted out that particular puzzle yet.”

James Toseland 7th – 26-points
“That’s my best result of the season and I’m happy with that because I feel I should be fighting around the top six on a regular basis. I started the race with quite a hard spring in the rear shock and in the first few laps I was in trouble. I hadn’t planned on coming into the pits so early for my dry bike but I had no choice. I was losing a lot of time so it was definitely a gamble worth taking. The first couple of laps on slicks were eventful while I was trying to get the hard tyres to temperature, but once I’d got a rhythm going I felt pretty confident and I was pleased I’d decided to come in early. The section of track with the new tarmac was a bit scary because that never dried through the whole race, but you could ride the rest of the track pretty much flat-out and coming in when I did definitely helped gain me a lot of places once I’d picked up my pace. I had a really good dice with Randy and there were a few good overtakes. It’s the first race I’ve enjoyed for a while because for most of it I was fighting for the top six. That’s where I was a few times last season and that’s where this bike and team deserve to be. Hopefully I can push on in Catalunya.”

Herve Poncharal – Team Manager
“It might be hard for Colin and James and the team in a flag-to-flag race, but those kind of races are really exciting and fantastic for the show. You can see lots of different riders running at the front and this makes it very interesting and flag-to-flag is a big bonus for the racing. I’m really pleased with today’s result and I want to give special congratulations to James. He has had a very difficult year so far but he’s never given up and I’m pleased to see him back where he belongs and fighting for the top six. He was the first one to come into the pits and it was a good decision because for a few laps he was the fastest rider on track and this helped put him a position where he could fight for a good result. He showed a great fighting spirit to battle with Randy and this race will be a big confidence boost for him. It was another good weekend for Colin too. He qualified on the second row and he finished sixth and if he could have solved some of his issues in the wet I’m sure he could have been much higher. I’m convinced that Colin will be on the podium a few times before the end of the year.”