Rossi takes emphatic first win in dramatic Le Mans race

france le mans moto3 race rossi
Sunday, 20 May 2012

At an extremely wet Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans it was Frenchman Louis Rossi who kept his nerve to take his first ever win in treacherous conditions in front of his home crowd.

In a race that started in very wet conditions, it was Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales who got away best, with AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin also making a tremendous start from 10th into second. JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vázquez, who was second on the grid, suffered mechanical issues on the out-lap and was unable to start the race.

There were crashes early on as RW Racing GP’s Brad Binder took out TT Motion Events Racing’s Niklas Ajo, which was followed up shortly after with IodaRacing Project’s Jonas Folger and local rider, Caretta Technology’s Alexis Masbou, sliding off into the gravel.

Back at the front it was Bankia Aspar Team’s Héctor Faubel and RW Racing GP’s Luis Salom that went into the lead, as Viñales dropped off the pace slightly. However the conditions continued to take their toll, as Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati suffered a similar fate to last race as he also lost control of his bike, putting an end to his first French race. Technomag-CIP-TSR’s Kenta Fujii repeated his morning warm-up crash, rounding out a less than ideal day for the Japanese rider.

With 18 laps to go, a five-some of Faubel, Salom, Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil, Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira and Viñales were involved in an entertaining battle for podium positions. In the following laps, further casualties of the weather were Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Danny Kent, Mahindra Racing’s Danny Webb, Ambrogio Next Racing’s Simone Grotzkyj and Caretta Technology’s Jack Miller, while Fenati’s teammate Alessandro Tonucci had to retire to the pits with a mechanical problem.

As Viñales was pushing to challenge Faubel and Oliveira for the lead he had a scare as he was almost bucked off his bike, whilst Salom was slowly dropping off the pace after Racing Team Germany’s Rossi went past him into fifth.

With 11 laps to go there was drama at the front as Faubel crashed out of first position, with Kornfeil crashing out of third a few seconds later, handing the first three places to Oliveira, Viñales and Rossi. Half a lap later, Salom followed suit as he slid off into the gravel in ever worsening conditions.

As a thrilling fight for fourth ensued between Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese and Khairuddin, there was further drama at the front as the surging Oliveira crashed out of the lead, handing the reigns to Viñales, who was being hunted down by Rossi.

This lasted for a lap only, as Viñales threw himself of his bike in the final corner, followed shortly by Khairuddin. The Malaysian managed to keep his bike going, while the race was over for the Spaniard. This left Frenchman Rossi in the lead by over 20 seconds, much to the delight of the home crowd, with Cortese and Bankia Aspar’s Alberto Moncayo in podium positions.

Three laps before the end Cortese lost the front going into the first chicane, yet managed to keep the bike going to re-join in sixth, with Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins slipping into third with San Carlo Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli on his tail.

In the end it was Rossi who made the Le Mans grandstands cheer with delight as he took his first ever victory by a margin of 28 seconds in front of Moncayo and Rins, taking his first ever podium. Antonelli could not quite challenge for the podium finishing fourth, in front of Red Bull KTM Ajo duo of Arthur Sissis and Cortese and Moto FGR’s Jasper Iwema. Technomag-CIP-TSR’s Alan Techer made it two Frenchman in the top ten finishing eighth, with Andalucia JHK Laglisse’s Iván Moreno and Ambrogio Next Racing’s Giulian Pedone rounding out the top ten.

TAGS France

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