Casey Stoner hampered by tyre issues in Le Mans MotoGP race
|By Sam Tremayne||Sunday, May 20th 2012, 14:56 GMT|
Casey Stoner said he was happy to have simply picked up a podium finish on a sodden Le Mans circuit after struggling badly with tyre issues.
The reigning MotoGP world champion admitted Honda had struggled to get on top of the conditions, afflicted by issues switching the tyres on at the start and with heavy degradation at the end.
"That was a tough race, not the best day for us," Stoner said after finishing third behind Jorge Lorenzo's Yamaha and Valentino Rossi's Ducati. "The bikes weren't working, and both myself and Dani [Pedrosa] had the same problems: from the start we couldn't get heat into the tyres and get the rear to work.
"Jorge used that opportunity perfectly to pull a huge lead, and then I was just trying to stay in second, getting pressure from behind [while] just waiting to get grip.
"Then I got grip I started to push and close [on Lorenzo], and everything was looking good, and then the rain stopped, the water levels went away and we just overheated the rear tyre. We couldn't get any traction and were spinning the rear in every gear, from first to sixth."
As a result, Stoner said it had been almost impossible to hold Rossi at bay as the seven-time champion closed rapidly and surged into second on the final lap.
"Valentino had the pace over us at the end. I tried to hold on, to do everything I could, but he had a much higher pace and I couldn't even stay with him on the last lap, I think he pulled 1.5 seconds on me.
"It was nice just to be on the podium, it wasn't looking so good for us halfway through the race."
Pedrosa too said he had been afflicted by traction issues, and had realised almost immediately that the race was not going to go his way.
"I had no traction out of the corners, especially in first and second gear, and I wasn't able to advance," Pedrosa explained. "We made a few changes to the configuration of the bike after warm up hoping to improve it a bit, in the end it was other way around, but these things can happen.
"In the race I immediately realised it was not my day, not a day to take any risk and it was important to simply reach the best position. I was lucky, after the crashes of both Tech 3 Yamahas I finished fourth."