Valentino Rossi made another historic step in his incredible career today when he took his 90th career victory in Le Mans, equalling the record set by the great Angel Nieto, to move into second in the all-time winners list behind Giacomo Agostini. It was an outstanding display from the Fiat Yamaha Team rider and he celebrated in fine style when Nieto joined him on his slow-down lap, the Spaniard taking charge of the bike with Rossi riding pillion behind him.
It was a superb day for Yamaha in general as Jorge Lorenzo once again defied his injuries to ride into an astonishing second place behind his team-mate and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards joined the pair on the podium in third place.
Rossi had an average start and was tailing the lead group in fifth at the end of lap one. It was soon clear how well his Yamaha-Bridgestone package was working however and he picked off first Nicky Hayden then Edwards and Dani Pedrosa to move into second behind Casey Stoner, before passing him too on lap eight. From then on Rossi was too strong for the chasing pack, stretching his lead lap after lap until some spots of rain forced him to slow slightly in the last third of the race.
The sun soon came back out however, allowing the riders to continue without changing bikes and the Italian to cross the line 4.997 seconds in front to take his first back-to-back victory since 2006.
The 29-year-old's 90th win moves him two points clear at the top of the championship with 97 points, whilst Lorenzo and Pedrosa are just behind him with 94 points each. Rossi will now stay here for two days of testing to ready himself for his home race at Mugello in Italy in two week's time, when he will be looking for his 7th consecutive win at the track.
Valentino Rossi 1st 44'30.799; "To arrive at 90 wins like this and equal Angel's record is a dream for me. I had quite a lot of pressure because Angel was waiting with the special leathers to join me on the bike, so I really needed to win! It was great to ride with him - I think maybe with some practice he can be as fast as us! 180 victories together on one bike is quite impressive I think!
Honestly I didn't expect to be so fast today but together with Jeremy and my guys we decided to make some small modifications this morning and in the race my M1 and my Bridgestone tires worked brilliantly from start to finish. When is started to rain a little bit I thought "oh no!' and so I steadied a bit and tried to ride very sweetly; I had such a good rhythm and I really didn't want to have to change bikes. Luckily the rain soon stopped and I was able to continue in the same way. It's great for Yamaha to have the first three and I want to congratulate Jorge especially for doing such a good job in his condition. Thanks to everybody in the team; the job that Yamaha has done in three months is incredible. I enjoyed myself so much today, the atmosphere in our garage is perfect and now we will make two important days of testing, try to improve even more and then head to Mugello."
Jorge Lorenzo 2nd +4'997; "Firstly I want to say congratulations to Yamaha because it's fantastic to have three on the podium and it demonstrates how strong our bike is. After the weekend I have had, with the crashes and so much pain, I can't believe I'm here! All last night I worried about this race because I really thought it might be too hard. It was a dream to finish sixth or seventh, especially when I could only manage 11th in the warm-up. I knew I had to try however and on the grid one of my mechanics reminded me that my rivals were just the same ones as in Portugal; this was a good motivation! I had some problems at the start and it's clear that we need to work on these, but after a while I found my rhythm and once again I was able to make my way through the field and pass some riders. I think the rain helped me for the first time in my life because everyone was a little bit slower for a few laps, but second is unbelievable and I think I look a bit happier this afternoon! Now we have to work as hard as possible to heal my injuries and improve my physical condition, so that we can be back to our best in Mugello."