In his 299th Grand Prix appearance Valentino Rossi led the Le Mans race for several laps and secured his 150th premier-class podium in second place.
Rossi pushed hard from the start of the fifth race of the year, getting into the lead in the early stages from fifth on the grid, capitalizing on a mistake from eventual race winner Marc Marquez.
The experienced Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider would later make a small error of his own to let Marquez through as the young MotoGP World Champion fought back from 10th on lap one and eventually got ahead of Rossi to push on for the win.
Nonetheless Rossi’s tenth premier-class podium at Le Mans delighted the nine-time World Champion after he had announced last Thursday that he wants to stay with Yamaha in MotoGP for two more years. Rossi has now stepped on to the rostrum at three of the opening five races of 2014.
“I’m very happy about the race and the result,” he reflected afterwards. “I did a very good start and when I saw (Andrea) Dovizoso and (Stefan) Bradl in front I knew I could go faster than them and I overtook them. I felt good with the bike, I got in front and I tried and tried. Today was a little bit more difficult with the front maybe because the track was hotter. I tried the maximum and my pace wasn’t bad.”
“I was waiting for Marc or for Jorge (Lorenzo) or Dani (Pedrosa) to arrive, especially Marc. When he arrived I tried to push harder and make his job more difficult, but unfortunately at the crucial moment I made a mistake and I broke a little bit too deep. I went wide and it’s a great pity because that made it too easy for Marc. If not we would have been able to fight for longer because today I was not too bad. I want to try next time out in Italy in Mugello to have a good weekend and to fight with him again.”
On reaching the milestone of 150 top class podiums, with 186 to his name in all categories, Rossi stated, “I’m happy because 150 is a lot and I’m not far from 200 podiums overall in 300 races. I’ve had a long career but I’m working really hard to still be here.”