Gilera’s historic podium double at Le Mans

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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Marco Simoncelli’s win and Roberto Locatelli’s third place at Le Mans produced a Gilera rostrum double for the first time in more than 50 years.

The first win of 2009 for 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli and the third place achieved by his veteran team-mate Roberto Locatelli at the Grand Prix de France made it a historic result for the Gilera factory brand at Le Mans.

Even the oldest members of the World Championship paddock are unlikely to remember the last time two riders representing the Italian firm stepped on to the rostrum at the same time, given that it was back in 1957.

Indeed, when Libero Liberati and Geoff Duke did so for Gilera in first and second places respectively in the 500cc race at the Grand Prix of Nations at Monza on 1st September of that year, they were joined by a third Gilera rider on the podium - as Alfredo Milani took third place to complete a clean sweep.

Rather than focus on the historic significance of the result, however, Simoncelli was thinking about what his win means to his title defence, which has started slowly. “I hadn’t won since the last race of 2008,” said the Italian star. “My start to the year has been tough, but after the Jerez podium I’ve finally scored a victory and it was perfect. It’s a great feeling going up onto the podium and I’ve kept my spirits up even when I was unable to score points at the first two rounds. Japan was particularly frustrating because I could have got a podium result there.”

“Now after two good results I hope we can keep things going like this. It’s nice to have two Gileras on the podium and it’s great to taste victory again. Hopefully I can do it again at Mugello,” Simoncelli added. He now trails championship leader Álvaro Bautista by 26 points in the standings.

For Locatelli, who had not been on the podium since 2006, it was a particularly emotional experience. He stated, “I want to thank everyone who has helped me so much in the last two years. That means Giampiero Sacchi and Gigi Dall'Igna, Piermario Donadoni from Metis, Dr Costa and Clinica Mobile, who helped back from my big crash at Jerez in 2007.”

“This result has given me a big boost when I think about what I can achieve over the course of this season,” concluded the former 125cc World Champion.”

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