Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) roared to his third consecutive MotoGP victory at a sun-soaked Le Mans to boost his quest for a fifth MotoGP World Championship crown in his sixth season in the premier-class.
This latest success for the 25-year-old Spaniard is his 38th MotoGP victory, which moves him to fifth equal in the all-time winners list, alongside Honda’s 2011 MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, with only Jorge Lorenzo, Mick Doohan, Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi ahead of him.
Although this race, the fifth round of the 19-round 2018 MotoGP series, was run in perfect weather conditions, it was far from straightforward. A rash of crashes during Friday and Saturday illustrated that it was easy to make a mistake here and end up on the ground. Indeed, two of Marquez’s greatest rivals crashed out of the race – first Andrea Dovizioso, then pole-sitter Johann Zarco.
Marquez made a steady start to the race, completing the first lap in fifth position, then waited until his tyres were delivering optimum performance before he began pushing towards the front. He took the lead from Lorenzo at one-third distance, opened a small lead, then set the fastest lap of the race on lap 17 of 27 to give him a winning advantage over Danilo Petrucci, who finished second, 2.3 seconds behind the winner. Marquez now holds a 36-point championship lead over Maverick Vinales, who won last year’s French GP but finished seventh today.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team RC213V) rode a dogged race to fifth, only two seconds off the podium. The 32-year-old Spaniard raced in some discomfort from the hip injuries he sustained at Jerez a fortnight ago, when he was the innocent victim of a three-man pile-up. Pedrosa was ninth after the first lap and spent the last half of the race stalking Lorenzo, who he finally passed with seven laps remaining.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) was arguably the hero of the race, after suffering a nasty fall yesterday, a vicious highside exiting turn eight during the Q1 qualifying session. The 32-year-old Briton sustained no fractures but was taken to Le Mans hospital for observation, where he spent the night. He was released this morning, underwent a medical check at the circuit and was passed fit to race. Despite all this Crutchlow rode to an eight-place finish, ignoring the pain as he fought his way through from 13th on the first lap.
This is a challenging track for all riders, especially for rookies like Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) who can be happy with his 13th-place finish which followed a tumble yesterday. The reigning Moto2 World Champion had a lengthy tussle with Hafizh Syahrin and Bradley Smith, eventually finishing between the two to collect three championship points. This was his fourth points-scoring result from his five rides in the premier-class.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) finished the race just behind Smith to collect the final World Championship point. The 26-year-old was still hurting from a heavy crash during Friday practice but rode bravely to record his fourth consecutive points score.
Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) was the victim of a two-rider pile-up during this morning’s warm-up session, which didn’t help his preparation for his fifth race in MotoGP. He finished the race just one place outside the points-scoring positions.
Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) rode a race of pure perfection to take his third Moto2 victory from five races and further extend his lead in the Moto2 World Championship. The 21-year-old Italian started from pole, led into the first corner and never relinquished the lead, despite race-long pressure from Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), who only eased his pace in the final few laps to finish 2.7 seconds behind at the flag.
Bagnaia didn’t make a single mistake during the 25 laps and never let Marquez get close enough to mount an attack. Their duel pulled them well clear of the pursuing pack, with remarkable rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) taking his first podium in the Honda CBR600-powered class, after winning a long battle with Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter), who rode another brave race despite lingering injuries from previous falls. Reigning Moto3 World Champion Mir crossed the finish line just over two seconds behind team-mate Marquez, bettering his previous best of a fourth-place finish in the USA.
Bagnaia had the ride of the race but Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) was also worthy of consideration for the accolade. The 21-year-old Spaniard qualified on the front row but had to start from the back of the grid after encountering a minor technical issue before the start. Showing great skill and daring, Vierge passed 30 riders on his way to his fifth-place finish, one tenth of a second in front of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) who came through from tenth on the grid. Oliveira’s latest result moves him into second overall in the championship, between Bagnaia and Marquez.
Oliveira staged a great comeback during the race, his last victim rookie Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Kalex), who scored by far his best Moto2 result in seventh. The former Moto3 race winner’s previous Moto2 best was 16th at the Americas round.
The Moto2 top ten was completed by Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up Racing Speed Up), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM) and Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team Kalex)
Jerez Moto2 winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) was battling with Mir when he slid off at one-third distance, the no-score dropping him from second in the World Championship to fourth, just ahead of Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex), who also crashed, before remounting to finish 18th, outside the points. Vierge is next in the standings, in sixth place.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) seemed to have won his first Grand Prix victory when he took the chequered flag at the end of the Moto3 race. But he was penalised three seconds for running wide through a chicane, which relegated him to fourth place in the results, just ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW), who was docked 1.8 seconds for a similar mistake.
Di Giannantonio’s sanction was not the only drama of the first event of the day. The Italian teenager had taken the lead from compatriot Marco Bezzecchi at the penultimate corner, a move that was immediately followed by Bezzecchi falling and collecting Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), who had battled for the lead throughout with Bezzecchi.
This was another blameless disaster for Martin, who had won two of the first three races to lead the World Championship, only to get knocked down at Jerez two weeks ago and again today. He now stands fourth in the World Championship, immediately behind Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW), Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi.
Canet also had a dramatic day. The 18-year-old Spaniard started from the back of the grid, due to a sanction imposed following the Spanish GP. He worked incredibly hard throughout today’s 22-lap race to finish eighth, one place behind Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW) and ahead of 20-year-old Japanese Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW).
Seventeen-year-old Japanese Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) rode a heroic race to 16th place, just 0.062 seconds outside the World Championship points, despite suffering the effects of a big crash during Friday practice. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) finished 17th, 1.589 seconds behind Sasaki.
Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) had been in the midst of the thrilling lead battle until he fell at the last corner of the penultimate lap.
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 1st
“I’m particularly happy with this win here in Le Mans, as it’s one of the most difficult tracks for us! Today I was the only one on a hard rear tyre, and that made my approach to the race a bit different because I knew it would take a little more time to reach the right temperature. But during the warm-up, I had the opportunity to verify that once the tyre was ready, it was very constant, and I was able to keep a very good rhythm. To be honest, things were a bit challenging at the beginning of the race: Zarco touched me in the second corner and I went a bit wide, then Iannone crashed and nearly hit me, so I lost some more positions. I decided to cool down for a while. When I saw that Dovi and Johann were out, my approach to the race again changed a bit. At a certain point, I had one big moment in turn three, where I had already crashed in FP3, which is why I was being extremely careful there; I think that helped me to avoid a crash in that moment. I’m currently experiencing a very ‘sweet’ period with my bike, and when you’ve got that kind of feeling, you also work better; then you ride better, and the bike works better. Things don’t exactly become easier when you get into this zone, but they’re more ‘natural.’ Of course it’s a very long season, and not all the races will be the same, so we’ll just try and keep the momentum.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team: 5th
“Fifth is a decent result considering the weekend and my physical potential. Looking at the positives, we recovered five positions after starting from 10th place, which isn’t so easy at this track. Today it was also important not to crash, and we managed to finish the race, which in turn lets us approach the next race with some more confidence. And finally, our rhythm at the end of the race was consistent, even if it’s not yet as fast as we would’ve liked. We were able to improve our bike setup over the weekend, and I’d like to thank the team for that. Now we’ll see what my physical condition is like after next week’s test in Catalunya. Hopefully it will be better, and then we’ll try and keep improving our performances.”
Francesco Bagnaia, Sky Racing Team VR46: 1st
“I’m really happy: winning the race at one of my favourite tracks is a great result that repays me and the whole team for the work done after the bad crash in FP1. We have continued to work and made a step forward in every session, especially in qualifying. The race was tough, I tried to impose my pace, but without forgetting to manage the consumption of the rear tyre in the first laps to be competitive at the end of the race. I’ve won three of the five GPs so far and I’m 25 points in front of the rider in second place, but we must not lose concentration.”
Alex Marquez, EG 0,0 Marc VDS: 2nd
“The race was good for me but I am not 100 percent satisfied because I could not fight for the win in the final laps. But overall a good weekend, we did a lot of positive work and I was able to put pressure on Bagnaia for most of the race. This is a valuable 20 points and I’m looking forward to next race at Mugello.”
Joan Mir, EG 0,0 Marc VDS: 3rd
“This podium confirms the pace that I had all weekend and I am very happy to get my first Moto2 podium in just my fifth race. With a better start I have the feeling that I could have been fighting with the top two guys on the podium. Now I want to keep this rhythm for the next race in Mugello.”
Fabio Di Giannantonio, Del Conca Gresini Moto3: 4th
“I can honestly tell myself that I won this race. The incident with Kornfeil was a strange one, because we got into the chicane at the same time and he touched me whilst trying to get past – a manoeuvre that forced me to cut the corner. Moreover, I got back on track in the same position I was before, so I can’t even say I had any gain from this. We had a perfect weekend and an outstanding race. The team has done an amazing job, so thank you to them and my family.”
Niccolo Antonelli, SIC58 Squadra Corse: 5th
“I judge it a positive race. We achieved what we could and I am satisfied. I think the 1.8 second penalty in unfair, as exceeding the track I didn’t gain any seconds. On the contrary I gave back one position. Anyway it was a good race which made us clear that we can achieve high results and be faster.”
Tony Arbolino, Marinelli Rivacold Snipers: 7th
“I had a lot of fun staying there, in the group ahead. At the last two races we found the right way with the set-up and now we can always fight for important positions. In the final part of the race I lost grip and the contact with the group. Anyway, I am happy with the steps we’ve made and now we go to our home track at Mugello.”
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2018 – Round 05: France
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Danilo PETRUCCI (Alma Pramac Racing)|
|3||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|4||Jack MILLER (Alma Pramac Racing)|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|6||Jorge LORENZO (Ducati Team)|
|7||Maverick VIÑALES (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|8||Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda CASTROL)|
|9||Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|10||Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|11||Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|12||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|13||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|14||Bradley SMITH (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)|
|15||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)|
|16||Thomas LUTHI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|17||Karel ABRAHAM (Angel Nieto Team)|
|18||Xavier SIMEON (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|19||Scott REDDING (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|20||Tito RABAT (Reale Avintia Racing)|
|21||Johann ZARCO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|22||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)|
|23||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Angel Nieto Team)|
|24||Andrea IANNONE (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|1||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|2||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|3||Joan MIR (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|4||Marcel SCHROTTER (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|5||Xavi VIERGE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|6||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|7||Romano FENATI (Marinelli Snipers Team)|
|8||Fabio QUARTARARO (Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing)|
|9||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|10||Stefano MANZI (Forward Racing Team)|
|11||Hector BARBERA (Pons HP40)|
|12||Andrea LOCATELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|13||Sam LOWES (Swiss Innovative Investors)|
|14||Simone CORSI (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)|
|15||Khairul Idham PAWI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|16||Bo BENDSNEYDER (Tech 3 Racing)|
|17||Steven ODENDAAL (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|18||Mattia PASINI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|19||Joe ROBERTS (NTS RW Racing GP)|
|20||Jules DANILO (Nashi Argan SAG Team)|
|21||Danny KENT (Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing)|
|22||Niki TUULI(SIC Racing Team)|
|23||Lukas TULOVIC(Kiefer Racing)|
|24||Corentin PEROLARI(Promoto Sport)|
|25||Tetsuta NAGASHIMA (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|26||Xavi CARDELUS(Team Stylobike)|
|27||Cedric TANGRE(Yohan Moto Sport)|
|28||Federico FULIGNI (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2)|
|RT||Hector GARZO(Tech 3 Racing)|
|RT||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI (Pons HP40)|
|RT||Iker LECUONA (Swiss Innovative Investors)|
|RT||Jorge NAVARRO (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|RT||Eric GRANADO (Forward Racing Team)|
|RT||Luca MARINI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|RT||Isaac VIÑALES (SAG Team)|
|1||Albert ARENAS (Angel Nieto Team Moto3)|
|2||Andrea MIGNO (Angel Nieto Team Moto3)|
|3||Marcos RAMIREZ (Bester Capital Dubai)|
|4||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|5||Niccolò ANTONELLI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|6||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox PruestelGP)|
|7||Tony ARBOLINO (Marinelli Snipers Team)|
|8||Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|9||Tatsuki SUZUKI (SIC58 Squadra Corse)|
|10||Jaume MASIA (Bester Capital Dubai)|
|11||Darryn BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|12||John MCPHEE (CIP – Green Power)|
|13||Makar YURCHENKO (CIP – Green Power)|
|14||Dennis FOGGIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|15||Philipp OETTL (Sudmetal Schedl GP Racing)|
|16||Ayumu SASAKI (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|17||Kaito TOBA (Honda Team Asia)|
|18||Kazuki MASAKI (RBA BOE Skull Rider)|
|19||Alonso LOPEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|20||Nakarin ATIRATPHUVAP (Honda Team Asia)|
|21||Livio LOI (Reale Avintia Academy)|
|RT||Marco BEZZECCHI (Redox PruestelGP)|
|RT||Jorge MARTIN (Del Conca Gresini Moto3)|
|RT||Adam NORRODIN (Petronas Sprinta Racing)|
|RT||Enea BASTIANINI (Leopard Racing)|
|RT||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA (Leopard Racing)|
|RT||Nicolo BULEGA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|RT||Gabriel RODRIGO (RBA BOE Skull Rider)|