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May 18, 2014 - 01:48 PM
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Espargaro Blazes To 4th At Le Mans
Posted by: newsla on May 18, 2014 - 01:46 PM
MotoGP
Espargaro Blazes To 4th At Le Mans


Rookie Pol Espargaro completed an exceptional weekend at the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s home Grand Prix in Le Mans by finishing in 4th position and clinching his most competitive points scoring finish in his first ever MotoGP season. The highly attended premier class competed in front of a crowd of over 88,000 enthusiastic supporters today with brilliantly sunny weather providing perfect conditions.

 

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The reigning Moto2 World Champion qualified on the front row of the grid in 2nd and as the lights turned to green, he took a phenomenal start to cross the line inside the leading pack for the first lap. The 22-year-old Catalan set into a formidable and consistent race pace to match the experienced leading riders before brilliantly surging through to 2nd, joining the battle at the front. He then became embroiled in a fierce fight with Stefan Bradl but saw off the Honda rider to expertly maintain the third position during the latter stages of the 28-lap sprint. Eventually the Spanish rookie who is only in his fifth MotoGP race aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 crossed the line in a well-deserved 4th. Espargaro’s superb performance was tantalisingly close to Alvaro Bautista in third who was only half a second in front. The competitive result has seen Espargaro elevated to 7th in the world championship standings and improving the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team’s best finish of the season so far.

Bradley Smith hoped to battle for the accolade of the leading satellite bike at the tight and twisting French circuit today yet struggled with some slight grip issues again and met the chequered flag in 10th position. Having qualified at the front of the fourth row, Smith undertook a storming start to impressively climb up to 5th by the second lap. He ran a steady rhythm and attempted to make further advances up the field to the top four riders but unfortunately got shuffled back to 8th. At the latter stages of the race, Smith became involved in a battle with Dovizioso and Espargaro, with the outcome being 10th at the finish line. The 23-year-old Britain’s hard work permitted him to collect six valuable championship points, which aided the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team to reach 3rd place in the team standings with 72 points.

Race : 4th Championship : 7th Points : 38

Espargaro - Le Mans - 2014 “This weekend has actually been like a small dream. I was sure we improved after the test in Jerez but I would have never expected to be that competitive. Already after the qualifying I thought things couldn’t get better but luckily I was also able to perform well over the whole race distance. Nevertheless it was hard to believe that I found myself in third position halfway through the race, but at this stage I started to be more confident about a top5 finish and when I heard the noise of Dani’s engine as he was catching up during the last laps, I just kept my head down aiming to take the fourth position over the line. I want to say a big thank you to the team because they did an amazing job guiding me without pressure to adapt as quickly as possible to this incredible category, but of course we have still so many things to learn and I’m already excited to get back on the bike in Mugello. However, this result is a huge boost for our confidence and I’m happy and proud to give the team’s French fans something to cheer for.”

Bradley Smith Bradley Smith

Race : 10th Championship : 9th Points : 34

Smith - Le Mans - 2014 "I made a great start and managed to go around the outside of the first corner and recover several positions. But already by turn three I knew that my lack of side grip would probably affect my race. I have been struggling all weekend with grip issues so we decided to take a gamble for the setup of the rear tyre. Unfortunately, we still weren’t able to completely get rid of it. Also having modified the bike massively it took me quite a while to adjust myself to the changes. However, I still gave it my all during qualifying and the race, but all weekend we have not been as strong as we hoped to be. I am still pleased that I finished the race, collecting valuable points and look forward to Mugello, which is one of my favourite tracks where I hope to get higher up the field.”

Hervé Poncharal

"Today was super end to the weekend in France. The good weather we have had was a real bonus, and we enjoyed having every practice session dry and uninterrupted by the weather. After the Jerez test, both riders, especially rookie Pol, now understand a lot more. During the week he called me and said I can’t wait for Le Mans because he knew it would be better than the previous races. The test was very important to him and the knowledge he has gained has helped him to qualify really well and ahead of everyone but Marquez, which is a huge achievement. We were a bit unsure about how the race would go but Pol got a beautiful start and unfortunately couldn’t catch Bautista at the end but 2nd in the qualifying and 4th in the race is very good and ahead of both Lorenzo and Pedrosa. It’s was a tough race, but we can be really proud of the how Pol did and all the team’s work. Other side it was a bit more difficult, but as usual Brad showed determination and never gave up. The Friday morning crash didn’t help him, as he didn’t have the whole weekend. In the end, both riders finished in the top ten, so we will take the positive’s from this week, and go to Mugello where I am sure both Brad and Pol will be strong."

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