Marquez claims Le Mans win – Miller 4th ahead of Rossi
It was a history maker of a day for reigning Champion Marc Marquez in France. The Spaniard converted pole into a dominant win clear at the front, and in doing so he took Honda’s 300th premier class victory – as well as equalling the premier class win count of teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Marc Marquez was stoked with his result, “Of course here in Le Mans it’s always difficult with the temperature and the weather, especially today. I think this is the first time I have had a race where I had the soft tyre in the front but it was the safest option. I was focused on being consistent until I saw the gap increasing, I pushed a little bit more and into the low 32s until I saw I had two seconds. I’m happy with today’s result and it is fantastic to be able to take Honda’s 300th premier class win!”
Behind him it was a Ducati duel for the podium, with Andrea Dovizioso just able to hold off teammate Danilo Petrucci over the line. ‘DesmoDovi’ equals the podium tally of MotoGP Legend Mick Doohan across all classes, Petrucci took to the rostrum for the first time for the factory Ducati Team.
Andrea Dovizioso saying, “I’m happy with my result because the conditions have been really tricky here all weekend and, nonetheless, we managed to seize second position in both the race and the championship. That said, we need to stay focused and try to make further improvements if we want to fight with Márquez until the end. I couldn’t keep his pace until the checkered flag because the rear tyre dropped a bit too much, and in the final laps I also had to fend off Danilo’s comeback. It was a good fight, and I’m not surprised by his speed, as I know him well. We scored the best possible result and the championship is still open. I can’t wait to race again in two weeks’ time at Mugello, a track we know quite well and on which we achieved important results in the recent past.”
Danilo Petrucci adding, “It was great race and I’m so happy to finally be back on the podium, exactly one year since the last time I stepped on it. In the past rounds I’ve been quite competitive, but not in qualifying, and this hindered my performance during the race. This time, we managed to start from first row but I made a couple of mistakes in the early laps and lost some ground. At one point I dropped all the way back to sixth, but I tried to stay calm and collected, pushing as hard as I could to close the gap. Towards the end, Andrea and I had a spectacular fight. He was stronger than me under acceleration, while I was able to recover some ground under braking, but I was never close enough to complete the maneuver and it also wouldn’t have made any sense to take huge risks among teammates. The double podium is a great result for the whole team, and now we’ll try to repeat that in Mugello.”
Jack Miller missed the podium but was still happy with his result, “I had a great time. The feeling with the bike was very good. Maybe I pushed too hard to try to stay ahead of Marquez. I have to admit that it was a good duel. We have to take a step forward.”
As the lights went out, poleman Marquez and second place Petrucci immediately went toe-to-toe into Turn 3, with the number 93 just getting the better of the Italian as everyone made it through the tricky left-right in one piece. It was the top three on the grid who held the top three positions in the race, and Marquez started to edge out a half-second gap on the field.
But Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was on the move. He forced his way past fellow GP19 rider Petrucci and immediately locked his radar on the back of Marquez’ Honda. And it wasn’t long before the 0.5 gap was bridged as Miller slammed in the fastest lap of the race before chucking it up the inside of Marquez at Turn 3 on Lap 5.
Two laps later Marquez went to return the favour and both riders ran slightly wide; Miller getting the cutback to lead but Marquez sweeping up the inside of the Ducati…as Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi joined the fray at the front.
With Marquez back in the lead though, he began to get into a rhythm. A tenth here and a tenth there slowly stretched the gap out to half a second as the Spaniard posted the fastest lap of the race and it was hammer down for the Championship leader.
The gap to Miller and Dovizioso kept on rising and as Marquez ticked Lap 14 off, it was over a second and it soon became a race for second between the three Ducatis, with Valentino Rossi not completely out of the equation but back in fifth. With 11 to go Marquez was two seconds up the road as Dovi made his move past Miller, the Australian running wide at Turn 7 as Petrucci began to build up his speed and close down the podium places.
A few laps later, the number 9 was past Miller and setting his sights on his teammate. With five laps to go Petrucci struck for P2 but ran wide and the duel would continue – but Dovizioso kept on getting it back. Meanwhile, Marquez had built up nearly a four-second gap as he cruised round to claim his third win of the season in dominant style, equalling teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s premier class win tally (47), which is joint fourth on the list. Although no match for Marquez on the day, Dovi took an important second for 20 more points and Petrucci returned to the rostrum for the first time since Le Mans last season.
Miller held off Rossi by a tenth to earn a solid fourth in France, ‘The Doctor’ not quite able keep tabs on the podium battle and coming home fifth.
Valentino Rossi saying, “I was hoping to be able to get on the podium today. Still, it was a positive weekend, better than in Jerez. We started the race well and the pace was good. In fact, I arrived at the finish very closely behind our main rivals. Unfortunately, we lost out on acceleration, and because of that it was very difficult to stay with the front-runners, out of the corners they’re very fast. But during the weekend we worked well, and our bike was fast. In the parts where you have to really ride hard, I was strong. At the end of the race I felt better, and I managed to stay together with Dovi, Petrucci, and Miller. I was hoping to overtake Miller, but I needed to be a bit faster to attack. Now, we immediately start thinking about Mugello. Let’s see if we can be a bit more competitive there.”
Just behind him, meanwhile, was a big contender for ride of the day: the best result of the season so far for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard had looked strong all weekend and he proved it in the race, taking an awesome sixth place and over a second ahead of the next man up, Franco Morbidelli.
Home hero Fabio Quartararo eventually crossed the line in P8, which won’t be what he wanted from the French Grand Prix but there was plenty to write about once again. Off to a bad start and dropping outside the points in the early stages, fast Fabio unleashed some searing pace to slice back through the field to only just over a second behind his teammate. Podium potential once again, the fight rolls on to Mugello.
Cal Crutchlow lost out to Quartararo in the latter stages, the British rider finishing ninth, with the top ten completed by Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins. A P19 start hampered the Spaniard’s French GP as he slips from second to third in the standings.
Jorge Lorenzo earns his best Honda result in 11th, with Aleix Espargaro, home favourite Johann Zarco and the two Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s of Hafizh Syahrin – the Malaysian’s first points of the season – and Miguel Oliveira completing the points. Oliveira was handed a penalty that dropped him below Syahrin in the standings, but both still scored – as did all four KTMs in a good day at the office for the Austrian factory.
Francesco Bagnaia collided with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and they crashed out together on Lap 7, with Takaaki Nakagami also crashing – riders ok. Andrea Iannone and Tito Rabat retired, and there was huge drama on the warm-up lap before the race had even begun. On the brink of his 200th GP start, Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s rookie Joan Mir both crashed – separately – heading into Turn 3. Mir was able to get back to the pits and get back out to join the race, but Abraham was black flagged for coming out of pitlane after the leader had crossed the line on Lap 1.
That’s a wrap, and the rain stayed away in the end as Marquez reigned over Le Mans for the second year running. However, his lead is only eight points over Dovizioso in the Championship as we move onto the latter’s home race: Mugello. Will the tables turn there? Tune in in two weeks.
French MotoGP 2019 Race Results
- Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team 41’53.647
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team +1.984
- Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team +2.142
- Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing +2.940
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +3.053
- Pol ESPARGARO SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +5.935
- Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT +7.187
- Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT +8.439
- Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL +9.853
- Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +13.709
Moto2: Alex Marquez flies to first win since 2017
It’s been a long time coming, but Alex Marquez was back on the top step at Le Mans to end a win drought stretching back to Japan 2017 – and he did it in style. Over a second clear over the line and untroubled for much of the race, it was heads and tails compared to his misfortune in Jerez. Behind the number 73, Jorge Navarro duelled Augusto Fernandez to decide the podium, with the Speed Up man eventually coming out on top as both once again showed some impressive form.
It was Tom Lüthi who took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Marquez just about getting the better of Navarro and Xavi Vierge attacking the Speed Up too. But Marquez didn’t leave it long, attacking at Turn 2 on Lap 4 and then starting to pull away – leading from that point on.
In the meantime there was big drama, however. Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri slid out when making progress – and Mattia Pasini was unable to avoid his stricken compatriot. The number 07 was taken to the Medical Centre and was diagnosed with a dislocated right shoulder and concussion so he’ll have to be passed fit to race at Mugello.
Back at the front, Vierge attacked Lüthi next as Navarro tussled for fourth with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and Simone Corsi was starting to look threatening behind too. From Row 6 the Italian was up into sixth and still making progress, sure enough making his way up into second and looking like the man to try and make a run at Marquez. Sadly it wasn’t to be, however, as the Italian slid out after a few laps on the chase.
That left Marquez with a sizeable gap back to Navarro and Vierge, with Fernandez up into fourth behind them – but he didn’t wait long to strike. As Marquez kept it calm and collected in the lead, the fight for second then lit up as Fernandez vs Navarro treated us to some classic racing around a classic venue. In the end though, it was Navarro who won out and was able to pull out a small gap, with Fernandez forced to settle for third.
Binder took fourth for a good haul of points, with Vierge dropping to fifth by the flag. And Lüthi, a four-time winner at Le Mans, faded back to sixth – unable to capitalise too much on the 0 scored by Baldassarri. Enea Bastianini came home seventh and was top rookie once again, ahead of Marcel Schrötter after a more muted weekend for the German. Iker Lecuona took a solid ninth, with second rookie Nicolo Bulega completing the top ten.
In 11th, meanwhile, was one of the rides of the race. Tetsuta Nagashima had a stunning Sunday as he sliced through from 31st on the grid, gaining a whopping 20 places over the 25 laps. Rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio took P12, ahead of Luca Marini.
American Joe Roberts took points for the first time this season in P14, ahead of a third consecutive points finish for the new MV Agusta chassis but this time in the hands of Stefano Manzi. There was some bad news for his teammate Dominique Aegerter, however, as the Swiss rider had to retire on the last lap as it looked like he’d run low on fuel.
That’s it from a dramatic Le Mans, and we hope to see Championship leader back fighting fit to challenge at the front again in two weeks’ time at Mugello – his first home race of the season, no less. Lüthi is only seven points off Baldassarri in the standings now, so they’ll be plenty to play for.
French Moto2 2019 Race results
- Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) 40’36.428
- Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +1.119
- Augusto Fernandez (SPA – Kalex) +1.800
Moto3: McPhee makes it five different winners in a row in France
John McPhee has taken his second Grand Prix win in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with the Scot fighting it out at the front and then able to defend the lead in the final sector to cross the line just over a tenth clear of Lorenzo Dalla Porta. That makes it five winners in five races so far this season, and ten different winners in a row. Aron Canet completed the podium despite a couple of last lap wobbles, and the Spaniard extended his Championship lead.
McPhee got a good start from pole, but it was Tony Arbolino and Tatsuki Suzuki who initially launched past the Scotsman to take over at the front, with Gabriel Rodrigo behind McPhee in fourth as the pack settled, and a small gap back to Andrea Migno, Canet, Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and Dalla Porta.
One name missing from the front early on was Ai Ogura, with the Japanese rookie unable to capitalise on his front row start as he crashed out – and caused some big drama. His bike moved back onto the track but it was safely avoided as the pack scattered, with the freight train then recouping and rolling on.
Suzuki was holding station in the lead as the laps ticked down and the Japanese rider consistently led over the line, but with only a handful of laps to go, heartbreak hit as he then suddenly slid out – and Arbolino couldn’t avoid him; the Italian also going down. That shuffled the order as the front group scattered and the second made up some big time, with race day pace man Kaito Toba first on the scene to make it a bigger scrap over the last laps. And he had company, with the battle heating up.
Two key moments decided much of the race: first, Jaume Masia was a little optimistic with an attempted move on teammate Migno and a gap opened up as they lost time, leaving Dalla Porta, McPhee, Toba and Canet at the front.
The second decisive moment came on the last lap as it was Canet’s turn to wobble. In full attack mode, the Italian overcooked it and only just stayed on – but he did head wide, and took Toba with him. That left McPhee defending from Dalla Porta for the win, and the Scotsman kept it cool to cross the line a tenth clear. His second win was also the team’s first.
Canet finished third and got a talking to from Toba on the cool down lap, with Rodrigo crossing the line fourth ahead of Migno. Toba eventually took sixth, just able to slot back in and beat impressive rookie Celestino Vietti to the line by 0.041.
After taking his first points of the year last time out in Jerez, Kazuki Masaki took his first top ten in France, two tenths ahead of Jakub Kornfeil. Second rookie Raul Fernandez, despite a 12-place grid penalty, completed the top ten and beat last year’s winner – teammate Albert Arenas – to the honour, with Masia classified in P12 behind Arenas after a time penalty for cutting a corner.
Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) took his first Grand Prix points of the year in thirteenth, ahead of Ayumu Sasaki, with Filip Salac finishing 15th. The Czech rider was hit by faller Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) on Lap 1 and ran off.
Niccolo Antonelli was a high profile crasher, the Italian losing ground in the Championship, and Ramirez was another to go down. Previously a Le Mans winner, Romano Fenati retired from the race.
That’s it from France and now we head for Tuscany and the unique Autodromo del Mugello, a stunning venue that puts on a serious slipstreaming show every season. Can Canet keep his advantage there? Or will the home heroes fight back? Find out on Sunday 2nd June.
French Moto3 2019 Race results
- John McPhee (GBR – Honda) 37’48.689
- Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.106
- Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) +0.757