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Casey Stoner clinched his second victory of the 2011 season in fine style at Le Mans this afternoon. The Australian initially lost his lead to Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the start, but he quickly recovered to reclaim the top spot and lead home Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi after a number of mid-race incidents.
The drivers were greeted by cloudy skies ahead of the race on Sunday, but the sun did its best to shine through when the lights went out. Pedrosa made a typically strong start, jumping to the front of the field from fourth on the grid, while just behind his Repsol Honda team-mates Stoner and Dovizioso were battling hard for second place.
Stoner ultimately came out of the first corner in second place, easing the concerns his team held after some last minute work was carried out on his Honda RC212V before the formation lap. In the meantime Pedrosa was pulling away at the front, edging ahead of the ferocious battles for position taking place behind. Randy de Puniet and Cal Crutchlow were early retirements, both falling off their respective machinery.
Simoncelli had work to do after slipping back to fourth, but quickly settled into a consistent rhythm and set about undoing the damage. On Lap 2 Stoner was right on the back of Pedrosa’s bike, biding his time before pulling off a fantastic move into S Bleu for the lead. He was in control from that point, despite some threatening lap times from Pedrosa later on.
As the race developed lots of mid-race battles intensified, with Simoncelli finding his way back up to second place after a poor start. Behind the San Marco Gresini rider, reigning Champion Jorge Lorenzo was embroiled in a battle with Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo ultimately came out on top, before Rossi jumped ahead of them both on his Ducati machinery.
Stoner left the rest of the field without an answer for his pace towards the end of the race, as the 2007 Champion posted a string of quick lap times. Team-mate Pedrosa saw his race ended with 11 laps to go after being squeezed into a fall at the apex of Chemin aux Boeufs by Simoncelli, leaving the Italian with a ride-through penalty.
Stoner in turn crossed the line with a comfortable victory, although the battle for second was not decided until the penultimate lap. Rossi had held second up until the final tour, but Dovizioso found a way past with relative ease. Jorge Lorenzo secured fourth for the works Yamaha squad, while Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies completed the top six.
Round 5 of the championship will be staged at the Circuit de Catalunya in three weeks’ time
Repsol Honda Team
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|1.||C. Stoner||Repsol Honda||44:03.955|
|2.||A. Dovizioso||Repsol Honda||+14.214|
|4.||J. Lorenzo||Fiat Yamaha||+21.075|
|6.||B. Spies||Fiat Yamaha||+31.609|
|9.||H. Barbera||Aspar Team||+1:03.731|
|10.||K. Abraham||Cardion AB||+1:03.885|
|Repsol Honda Team|
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