While a controversial crash at Le Mans stopped Dani Pedrosa joining Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso in a Honda 1-2-3 on the podium, there was plenty else going on behind the scenes at MotoGP France, as Toby Moody explains.
Du pain, du vin, mais aucun chien
Le Mans is not the favourite of many who travel the world's paddocks, but for me each circuit has its ups and downs. Le Mans can be a downer, but when the sun is shining and it's dry, it's perfectly acceptable. The facilities weren't designed with much artistic merit, but they sure are functional and do the job to house a load of teams, riders and journalists. The run-off at turn one is gargantuan for the sports prototype racers used at the Le Mans 24 Hours race, but the car parks and attendants are lacking somewhat in space and logic. But hey, the wine and beer are good, the bread and pains-au-chocolat are even better and the sun shone for the entire weekend. Eighty-eight thousand people in the place on Sunday can't be wrong, although I was disappointed not to see the sprightly Fox Terrier with a red bandana on the way in as I had in previous years.
Who loves ya, baby?
Red Bull Yamaha 500cc GP winner Regis Laconi made an appearance in our commentary box for a few minutes on Friday while he prepared for the MotoGP session on Eurosport France. Laconi only does the MotoGP bits for the French so we hollered him in from outside the booth where he was enjoying the sun on his Kojak-style head...
May the fourth be with you
A new Red Bull winner was Marc Márquez, who followed his brother Alex in winning in 2011. Alex won in the Spanish 125cc Championship (CEV) the weekend before, while Marc finally got the Repsol Suter chassis to the finish of a race after crashing and being taken out of the three races up to Le Mans. Márquez has won in his fourth race of the season, just as he won the fourth race of the 2010 season in 125 last year. He then went on to win 10 races in total. The others are ahead in the points, but they must be worried now the guy has got back to his winning ways.
Photo from a booth
The view from the commentary booths up on the sixth floor overlooking the home straight was particularly spectacular on Sunday morning when I did the soundcheck for British Eurosport, with blue sky all the way. The new app on my iPhone caught the mood perfectly from up there. Thank you Photosynth…
Danny the champion (texter) of the world
Danny Kent in 125cc took me up on my offer of being a spotter from our commentary box should the weather be iffy for the race on Sunday. He still texted me in advance of the last few bits of prep to the bike. Good lad – use every bit of an advantage you can!
Dance in the early morning
Once more I opted with colleague Neil Spalding to take the train over to France even if it meant a 4am start from home in the English Midlands to get one to London, then one to Paris, the Metro across Paris, another one to Le Mans and then a tram to the circuit itself. The view out of the window instantly made me think of one of my favourite bands. Above is what it looked like even if the poles and the trees weren't quite in tune to the music…
Your team boss he is
As many of you know, the Ioda Racing Team in Moto2 is being run by the urbane Giampiero Sacchi, the former Piaggio/Aprilia boss who brought Valentino Rossi into 125cc GP racing in 1996. What he doesn't know about racing really isn't worth knowing. He likes monogrammed shirts and fine cigars of an evening, so I was amused to see this portrayal of him on the back of Mattia Pasini's pitboard, Giampiero/Yoda with cigar in mouth, Pasini/Luke Skywalker with light sabre. May the Force be with them this season!
Have a heart, Hoff
It's always a bit of a rush to get some lunch on board before being in the box by 12.30 or so, but thanks to Alpinestars there’s always a bit of grub for the TV commentators of various languages before they bolt into their offices for the afternoon. Saturday saw me having a bite with Alex Hoffman, the expert voice for Sport1 in Germany. Ivan, the larger-than-life chef, had something special lined up for The Hoff’s salad. Ah, how sweet!
It’s a load of pants in Le Mans
In town, my colleague Julian Ryder and I were slightly worried about this one particular shop next to a very upmarket restaurant. With pink underpants in the window, we decided it might fit in better in Rimini, near the Misano track – and also that the pink pants weren’t really our kind of thing!
- MotoGP race report from Le Mans
- Official MotoGP website at motogp.com
- Check out the Red Bull Rookies Cup homepage