FIM MotoGP World Championship
Bugatti Circuit, Le Mans, France
May 8, 2016
Race Results (all on Michelin tires):
1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 28 laps, 43:51.290
2. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), -10.654 seconds
3. Maverick VIÑALES, Spain (SUZUKI), -14.177
4. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), -18.719
5. Pol ESPARGARO, Spain (YAMAHA), -24.931
6. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (SUZUKI), -32.921
7. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (DUCATI), -38.251
8. Hector BARBERA, Spain (DUCATI), -38.504
9. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (APRILIA), -48.536
10. Stefan BRADL, Germany (APRILIA), -54.502
11. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (DUCATI), -62.677
12. Loris BAZ, France (DUCATI), -67.658
13. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), -1 lap, crash
14. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), -9 laps, DNF, crash
15. Jack MILLER, Australia (HONDA), -11 laps, DNF, crash
16. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), -13 laps, DNF, crash
17. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), -17 laps, DNF, crash
18. Tito RABAT, Spain (HONDA), -21 laps, DNF, crash
19. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (HONDA), -22 laps, DNF, crash
20. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (DUCATI), -22 laps, DNF, crash
21. Scott REDDING, UK (DUCATI), -23 laps, DNF, mechanical
World Championship Point Standings (after 5 of 18 races):
1. Lorenzo, 90
2. Marquez, 85
3. Rossi, 78
4. Pedrosa, 53
5. Vinales, 49
6. Pol Espargaro, 47
7. Aleix Espargaro, 42
8. Barbera, 39
9. Laverty, 33
10. Iannone, 25
11. TIE, Dovizioso/Bradl, 23
13. Bautista, 21
14. Smith, 20
15. Redding, 16
16. Michele Pirro, 12
17. Rabat, 11
18. Petrucci, 9
19. Baz, 8
20. Crutchlow, 5
21. Hernandez, 3
22. Miller, 2
More, from a press release issued by Aspar Team:
Laverty narrowly misses out on top ten at Le Mans, remains ninth in championship
Aspar Team rider takes eleventh in a crash-strewn race that claimed Yonny Hernández
Jorge Lorenzo showed his intentions in the Grand Prix de France with the fastest ever lap of the Le Mans circuit by a MotoGP bike yesterday and today he backed it up with his second victory of the season, his first since the opening round in Qatar. His rivals dropped away until only Valentino Rossi was left upright, Andrea Iannone the first to slide out of second place before Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez both went down in the same corner. Maverick Viñales picked his way through the carnage to claim his first MotoGP podium in a race that saw just thirteen riders make the finish, with seven of the top nine coming from Spain. Márquez picked himself up from his crash to claim thirteenth, with Tito Rabat the only other Spaniard outside that top nine.
Aspar Team rider Eugene Laverty continued with his points-scoring run, which now stretches to five races. The Irishman’s consistency has taken him to ninth in the championship, even after a race today that saw him suffer a technical problem in the early stages of the 28 laps. Laverty produced a similar pace to Petrucci, who finished seventh, and has cited his qualifying performances as the key to better results in future. Yonny Hernández’s race ended on the seventh lap when he was lapping in twelfth place. The Colombian had shown strong pace in this morning’s warm-up but was unable to convert it into a good result and is now focused on turning his misfortune around in the next race at Mugello in two weeks’ time.
11th Eugene Laverty: “I made a decent start and I was up there with Petrucci and Barbera and then I started to feel there was something wrong with the bike. From that point it was just a case of bringing it home. My good fortune in a way was the misfortune of other riders because I was still able to come through and pick up five points. Looking to the future we need to improve our performance over one lap in qualifying, to be in that top ten or twelve. Our race pace today was the same as Petrucci but he made it into Q2 and that makes a big difference. It seems this year I’m a Sunday man but I need to be a Saturday man too.”
Yonny Hernández (DNF): “In general it was a crash-strewn race. In my case I don’t know exactly what happened but we have looked at the telemetry and it seems I hit a bump and lost grip on the rear, which caused me to lose the front. I wasn’t expecting the crash because I wasn’t over the limit and I was just setting the same pace as in warm-up. The set-up of the bike was good and I felt comfortable. I could have finished with a good result and I was lapping twelfth when I crashed, so that is upsetting. So far this season has been tough but I am hoping to get out of this rut as soon as possible. We have been fast in testing and in practice but so far we have not been able to show it in a race. Now I am looking towards Mugello, leaving what happened here behind us and working hard with thirteen races still remaining.”
More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:
PHENOMENAL DOUBLE FRENCH PODIUM FOR MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP
After dominating the pace in most free practice sessions and qualifying for pole position at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo rode his YZR-M1 to a flawless victory today at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France to take over the lead in the championship standings. Teammate Valentino Rossi followed up his strong win in Jerez with a brilliant race on French tarmac, crossing the finish line in second place to collect twenty vital points.
Le Mans (France), 8th May 2016
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi repeated their 1-2 performances from Jerez at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, this time finishing in reversed order.
Lorenzo started the 28-lap sprint exactly as he had planned. As the lights went out he had a lightning start from pole position and took the holeshot to create 0.4s lead after the first lap. Followed by Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, he put his head down and dropped quick laps to keep a consistent gap of little more than half a second until, with 23 laps left, it was time to break away.
With clear track in front of him and behind him, the triple premier class World Champion rode consistently fast lap times in the 1’33s to manage the gap to his pursuers that had rapidly grown to more than two seconds.
Lorenzo was in a league of his own and remained unchallenged for the rest of the race. Leading the race from start to finish, the freshly turned 29 year old marked his birthday by securing a perfect victory, with a more than ten second margin, and to top off the celebrations he also took over the top spot in the championship standings.
Teammate Rossi brought the heat to the racing action today, fighting his way up the order from his seventh place grid position. The Doctor had a challenging start from third row but quickly moved into sixth position before getting involved in a scrap with Pol Espargaró and Bradley Smith in the opening laps.
After muscling his way past his fellow Yamaha riders with strong but fair passes, he quickly went on to take fifth place from Aleix Espergarò after the third lap. The nine-time World Champion then set his sights on Marc Marquez and increased his pace as he closed down the 1.3s gap, posting a 1’33.293s, the fastest lap of the race.
With 20 laps to go Rossi moved up to fourth place as Iannone crashed out, which spurred him on to fight for a place on the podium. Having saved his tyres, he lined up his Spanish rival and under loud cheering from the fans he made his move in the Garage Vert corner on the next lap.
Now in his element he overtook his next target, Andrea Dovizioso, up the inside in Musée corner. Though he was unable to stretch his lead when in second place, he kept pushing his YZR-M1 to the limit until Marquez and Dovizioso got caught out in turn seven while trying to keep up with his pace. With twelve and a half laps left to go, Rossi was no longer under pressure. Unable to close in on his teammate, who had a gap of more than 5.2s, he focused on managing his advantage over Maverick Viñales in third place and landed a second consecutive podium finish, taking the chequered flag 10.654s behind his teammate.
Lorenzo’s first place earns him 25 points, while Rossi adds 20 points to his score. These results put the Mallorcan in the lead in the championship standings on 90 points, five points ahead of his closest rival. Rossi stays third in the rankings with a 78-point total, seven points from second place.
It was a perfect race day for us. After yesterday’s qualifying we were feeling confident that Jorge and Vale would be able to take home a good result, but it‘s not until Sunday that the points get distributed. Both the team and the riders worked harmonically together and kept focused on getting the results we needed to achieve when it really matters. Similar to last year, Jorge rode a flawless race that started with a perfect launch off the line and finished with him taking over the lead in the championship standings. Vale lost some time at the start of the race, but still managed to repeat his brilliant performance from the previous year and rode a very strong and clever race to take a well-deserved second place. I want to say a big thank you to the whole team. Thanks to their hard work we head to Mugello, our home race, in a strong position in the championship.
I‘m very happy with this victory, because everything has been almost perfect. In the race I knew Marquez had the chance to fight for the victory with me, or if he wasn‘t very fast, he would have been second or third and that would have meant he would still have kept his first position in the championship, but he crashed. Now in the championship three riders scored zero or very little points in one race, so in some way we are starting the championship from zero again after those races, but with us being five points ahead.
I started quite badly from the third row so at the beginning it was very complicated. I had a quite good pace so I was able to push and I was quite fast, but you have to stay quiet because it was very easy to make some mistakes. Step by step I arrived to the back of Marquez and Dovi and at that moment I was a bit faster. I‘m so happy, because when you start from seventh position and you take twenty points it‘s very good, also because they are twenty very important points. In the championship I‘m twelve points behind Jorge and seven behind Marc. This means that between us three the championship is wide open and we have to concentrate. I‘m just third at this moment, so I have to think race by race and especially think of Mugello and try to be competitive there.
More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:
Stunning Petrux: 7th at Le Mans after a fantastic race. Scott forced to retire
Danilo Petrucci is the hero of Le Mans. His seventh place finish is a fantastic result especially if won exactly five months later his last race in MotoGP (Valencia, 8 November 2015). For Scott Redding a bad day due to a technical problem after 6 laps.
These are the high lights of Octo Pramac Yakhnich Team in the Grand Prix de France. If the return of Danilo Petrucci and the good sensations during free practice and qualifying already represented a success for the team, no one could possibly imagine that Petrux could impress finishing 7th under the checkered. Danilo has gritted his teeth for 28 laps, also weakened by a slight bout of flu. Danilo managed to ride fast, gaining positions for the many crashes which characterized the #FrenchGP. In the last lap he was protagonist of an awesome battle with Barbera who passed Petrux after a long chase but the rider from Terni replied immediately to protect his 7th position. The ovation of his team and the applause of so many fans out of the garage were the reward for a fantastic race.
Scott Redding got a great start, gaining soon two positions and then getting to 10th place thanks to a brillant race pace. In the first part of the race Scott was lapping with the same lap-time of the riders in front, showing to have found a good feeling with his Ducati Desmosedici GP. The pace was good and would allow him to fight for a place close to the fifth position. After six laps a technical problem unfortunately forced him to retire.
Danilo Petrucci wins his first 9 points in the world championship standings. Scott Redding remains at 16 in 15th position.
Octo Pramac Yakhnich Team goes in eighth place in the team standing with 37 points, -9 from the Top 5.
DNF – SCOTT REDDING
I am very sorry for how things went. It is not an easy moment, but certainly I can not think what would have happened in Argentina and in France without these problems. At the same time I must admit that the feelings in the first six laps were good. I had a good race pace and the feeling was good even during the warm up. I want to restart from these sensations, with the knowledge that we were on the right direction and it was only bad luck.
7th – DANILO PETRUCCI
I’m very happy. Now I can say I feel really better. It has been a difficult period and I thank all those who helped me. I did not know if I would be able to finish the free practice and now I can enjoiy this beautiful seventh place. I’m happy but I do not want to stop here. At Mugello I hope to be able to lap a little closer to the leading group. Thanks to a little luck I managed to gain the seventh place but I can do better. Meanwhile, however, is now time to celebrate, especially with my team who as usual did a great job.
More, from a press release issued by Avintia Racing:
Top ten finish for Barbera, Baz gets four points at his home race
After a difficult qualifying session for the Avintia Racing riders, the Grand Prix of France ended in a positive way for the Spanish team. Both riders did their job on Sunday and were able to keep on their bikes in a chaotic race with a lot of crashes. After 28 laps on the demanding Le Mans circuit, Hector Barbera and Loris Baz saw the chequered flag, which will give both of them a boost for the next Grand Prix in Italy.
Hector did a good start from the fifth row of the grid, but he had a contact in the first corner and dropped back to last place. He recovered his pace lap by lap to finish eighth, fighting until the last lap for seventh position. After the first five rounds of the MotoGP World Championship, Barbera and Avintia Racing are eighth in the standings.
Loris was not so happy at the end of the race, because he has not been comfortable on the bike at his home race. Altogether, it was one of the worst weekends of his career. He got four points, but his feeling was not good at all at Le Mans.
Hector Barbera | P8
“To be honest I have to be happy with eighth place. Le Mans has been always a difficult track for me, basically because it features multiple changes of direction and as we could see at Austin, it’s hard to make this bike turn. But as I said, the position is good and we keep scoring points in every race. The race was really hard fought, and it was a shame losing the battle for seventh in the last lap. I had a contact at the beginning of the race and I moved back to the last place, so I had to recover lap by lap. There were many crashes and for sure that helped us today, but the track conditions were the same for everybody and I was more conservative and waited for my moment to attack. The team did a great job this weekend, we have been patient and we got the best possible result with our package. Overall I’m happy because we were able to fight during all the race.”
Loris Baz | P12
“This was one of the worst race weekends of my life, because I can’t remember ever having had a problem with no solution in my career; we tried everything and nothing worked out. The start was quite good and I passed a lot of people, but I realised immediately that it was impossible to keep the pace and I went back again. So, there’s not much to say, I’ve been very lucky with all the crashes today and I got some points. Yes, we finished 12th, but this not a real result as eight riders crashed during the race. We finished way back and the bike was impossible to ride. I wish I had a different tyre at Mugello. If not, we’ll keep trying to find a solution, but right now we have no more ideas to test.”
More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:
CONSISTENT PERFORMANCE REWARDS APRILIA AT LE MANS
ALVARO BAUTISTA AND STEFAN BRADL IN THE TOP 10
At Le Mans Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl rode both of the Aprilia RS-GP machines into the top 10 thanks to shrewd performance that allowed them to capitalise on various crashes. After avoiding pointless risks on a treacherous first corner, both riders focused hard on the track and set a rather incisive pace, especially in the middle portion of the long French race.
Bautista in particular made up quite a few positions after finding himself in 21st place, both due to a few of his rivals crashing and thanks to a series of fast laps. The Spanish rider remained calm despite a crash in the warm up that conditioned the final tweaking operations, able to use the bike in the best possible configuration at the start thanks to the hard work of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini mechanics in the garage. The ninth place finish is to Alvaro’s merit on a track that proved to be rather demanding throughout the weekend.
After a good start, Stefan Bradl lost a few seconds during the tenth lap due to contact with another rider. The German rider skilfully recovered, staying behind his teammate until the chequered flag came out, crossing the wire in tenth place. This is a result that places him in an excellent twelfth position for the overall rider standings.
ROMANO ALBESIANO – APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“This was a weekend where we ran into a few difficulties with the setup, a situation that pushed us to try some new things in terms of the chassis and electronics. This is a positive aspect in certain respects, since this is an entirely new project. Despite a few problems, we achieved a good result in the race, partly to the credit of our mechanics who repaired the bikes that were damaged during warm up in record time. Our work goes on and we’ll do whatever we can to give Alvaro and Stefan an increasingly higher performance RS-GP”.
FAUSTO GRESINI – TEAM MANAGER
“In the race today consistency was rewarded and in terms of points, a result like this in an extremely high level championship is very positive. It was a difficult weekend, but despite this the bike continued to respond positively. We did not find any particular weak points, but quite simply the need to develop all the various aspects – something that is not easy to do during the weekend with so little available time”.
“This morning we tried something different and, despite the crash, we noticed an improvement. Unfortunately, in the race the instrument cluster signalled some errors during the first laps so I started off cautiously. Then everything sorted itself out and I was able to find my pace. In terms of performance, the race was the best session of the weekend. Starting from behind I was able to recover positions and, to be honest, I did not expect to finish ninth. I’m very pleased and I must really thank the mechanics for fixing the bike after the crash during warm up and Aprilia for their continued work on the RS-GP”.
“I’m obviously happy about the final result, but not so much about how the race went. I had a great start and I followed my strategy of pushing hard in the first laps. Then, unfortunately, contact with Barbera as I was overtaking him bent my brake lever and I had to fix it on the fly twice as I couldn’t find the ideal position. Without this problem I would have been able to stay in the group of riders that were making a play for a better position, and that would have changed my race, although toward the end I was forced to slow down because I was struggling to maintain my pace. It was a difficult weekend, but we are finishing it with a good result anyway”.
More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:
Pedrosa fourth, Marquez recovers from crash to earn 3 points
The French GP was a tough race for Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, who nevertheless showed grit and determination to overcome their difficulties and bring home as many points as the situation allowed.
Pedrosa started from 11th on the grid and struggled at the beginning to get a good pace, but remained focused and recovered as much ground as possible. With some assistance also from other riders crashing, he finished in a solid fourth position and earned 13 important points to maintain fourth place in the championship standings.
One of the aforementioned crashes unfortunately involved his teammate Marquez on lap 7, while he was fighting for second position with Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi. Marc re-joined the race in last place and finished 13th, earning three championship points.
Marc currently lies second in the overall standings, five points down on Jorge Lorenzo.
“I cannot feel satisfied with today’s fourth place because obviously I would prefer be much higher up the order and have better races. I give my all, but the conditions are not always there to do well. We are also making some mistakes, and one that is hurting us most is in qualifying, because starting far back makes things more difficult in the race. At the beginning of the race today we did not have good grip and it was hard to get enough of a feeling to go a little faster. The second part of the race went better, and there were some laps in which I even rode quicker than Rossi’s pace, but it was too late. What makes a difference is starting well, starting high up on the grid and putting in good opening laps.”
“It was a pity about the crash today. I was having a good race, but these things can happen when you’re at the limit on every lap. I could have opted for a more conservative race, but here you can end up far back if you do that, so today I had to take risks. In the race I saw that I was losing ground under acceleration, and I had to make that back with my braking. Finally I lost the front and crashed. The positive is that I managed to get three points and I’m only five off Jorge Lorenzo in the standings, which isn’t a lot. Now we have a run of tracks that we found a little tough last year, but they’re quite different to Jerez and Le Mans, so I hope to be fast and have some good races.”
More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:
CRUTCHLOW CRASHES OUT OF NINTH IN FRANCE
A crash out of ninth place for Cal Crutchlow in the French Grand Prix meant that the LCR Honda Team left Le Mans hoping for better fortunes. The British rider had been making positive steps forward with his factory spec Honda RC213V, but in choosing a hard front tyre option, he suffered the same fate as the other Honda riders who elected the same.
Lucio Cecchinello and the Team remain focused on continuing to support Cal, with the steps forward during practice showing that positive things can be drawn out of the weekend.
Next on the MotoGP calendar is the Italian Grand Prix at the sumptuous Mugello circuit in two weeks’ time, a favourite for Crutchlow and a huge home race for the LCR Honda Team and many of its supporters.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – DNF
“Obviously I’m very disappointed again today, no points is tough for myself and the team. I think everyone could see today though that just finishing the race was a hard job. We chose the harder front tyre, and thought this was the best choice with the temperature of the track. I still stick to my decision to go with the tyre though, it’s just difficult to follow the lines of other riders on the other manufacturers’ bikes.”
“We have to look at the positives and I felt that we worked well this weekend. We have to continue to work and we know Honda are working hard for us too. We’ll continue to give them the best information and we will try to work together to fix the problems we have.”
More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:
Espargaro completes Le Mans challenge in fifth
Pol Espargaro concluded the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France with an impressive run to his best result of the season, with a 5th place finish, in front of 99,000 thrilled fans. The young Spaniard began the day by surging to third in the morning warm up which left him fully confident for the afternoon battle. Here, the former Moto2 World Champion launched into action from the head of the second row and met the first corner in third whilst determinedly battling with the leading factory MotoGP bikes. He built up his speed and despite running wide and getting shuffled back to 8th on lap 4, he remained focused plus maintained his consistent pace. Later in the race, on lap 21 he lunged past Aleix Espargaro and then comfortably opened a gap before crossing the finish line in 5th. This result sees him clinching the top independent position for the third time this season at the Tech3 team’s home Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the garage, Bradley Smith suffered bad luck and unfortunately fell on lap 20 in the round 5 battle. The young British rider started the 28 lap sprint from the rear of the second row and bolted forward when the lights went out. He finished the first lap in 8th as he duelled with Valentino Rossi and then quickly set into his race pace. At just over half race distance he was running in 7th whilst maintaining his rhythm as he hunted down his teammate. However, several laps later the 25 year old fell at the 5th corner. Nevertheless, after the improvements made throughout the weekend in France, Smith aims to bounce back strongly at the next round at Mugello and challenge for the top independent rider honours.
Position: 5th Championship: 6 Points: 47
“Of course I’m pleased to conclude the weekend once more as the leading satellite rider and inside the top 5, yet after our strong performance in all the sessions I hoped to be a bit closer to the leading guys. However, after the Moto2 race, the track became really greasy and the bike slid so much especially during acceleration so it was quite tricky to ride. Moreover, I was not fully comfortable with the brakes during the whole race and I made several mistakes like running wide a couple of times. It’s a pity because we worked really well in the morning warm up, but finally in the race, my feelings just weren’t quite the same like in the practice sessions, so we could not repeat our pace. Anyway, we did the best job that we could at the Tech3 team’s home race and after the positives of the event we will try even harder in Mugello. Unfortunately, I dropped a position in the championship standings, but I’m still 6th and everything is really tight as I am only points behind Maverick. Next up for us is Mugello which is a circuit that I really enjoy, so i’m looking forward to getting back on the Yamaha soon in Italy.”
Position: DNF Championship: 14 Points: 20
“It goes without saying that it’s a frustrating end to the weekend, especially because it’s clear to see that it was the best weekend that we’ve had so far this year. I started well and the first ten laps or so were positive, but then I experienced a bit of a tricky period as I had a coming together with Pedrosa and I lost some time as I ran off track. However, after that, I felt that I was getting a second wind. I felt that my rhythm was getting stronger, plus I was able to improve my lap times so I focused on being as smooth as possible. At that moment, I saw that I was catching Aleix as well as Pol, yet I went too close to the limit as the front tyre was starting to drop away and I carried a bit too much corner speed so I rolled off the side of the tyre. I am very disappointed but more for the team than myself because they have put in a lot of effort and it would have been nice to celebrate with a strong result at our home GP. Nevertheless, I have to remain optimistic because until the race, it was a much better weekend than what we have experienced so far this season. At least we are back on track and next we go to Mugello, which is one of my favourite circuits on the calendar, with a MotoGP bike that I feel confident with. There is a lot of data that we can take from today’s race plus, there are a few adjustments to make because we always want to improve and I still feel that we can make a better bike. This will be the plan when we go to Mugello and we will see how we get on there.”
Hervé Poncharal – Team manager :
“In all honesty, I have mixed feelings about today’s result at our home Grand Prix, but I know that the guys really went for it and did their best. We were proud about having both the riders on the second row of the grid for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. This was almost like a dream, plus the warm up went very well, especially for Pol, so we were confident that a strong result was possible. Pol did a great job all weekend long, put his head down and pushed all the way until the end of the race, so I want to thank him for once again being the top independent rider in the race plus, strengthening this position in the championship. He is really having a good season so far this year. On the other side of the garage, this Grand Prix looked like it was going to be the best for Brad since the beginning of 2016 and his qualifying was incredibly promising. Then, his race pace was consistent and looking good but I’m a little bit disappointed that he pushed that hard because the gap to the rider behind him was big and as a team manager I want to see both riders finish and secure some strong points. Nevertheless, Brad will bounce back and the most important thing is that both riders are fit and Mugello is approaching so hopefully we can have two good results there. Anyway, regarding the event this weekend, I want to give a big congratulations to Claude Michy for his organisation, plus to Yamaha for their result of 1st and 2nd, and I also want to say thanks to the incredible number of spectators who came which altogether made it a memorable weekend for MotoGP in France. Thank you.”
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Lorenzo produces perfection in crash filled French GP
Jorge Lorenzo ran away with the French GP, taking a flag-to-flag victory as former championship leader Marc Marquez fell. Rossi and Viñales joining him on the podium.
Tension hung in the air ahead of the 28-lap Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as riders in the MotoGP™ World Championship sat patiently on the grid. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had pole ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and potential podium challenger Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team). Gusts of wind blew across the track as they departed for the Warm Up lap.
Lorenzo made a perfect start as Marquez wheelied off the line, the Yamaha rider leading through the first chicane with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) behind him. Marquez was soon up to fourth as he charged past Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) attempted to follow him through but found himself swamped by the likes of Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
As they crossed the finish line for the first time Lorenzo’s lead stood at half a second with Dovizioso and Iannone behind. It was not the start Rossi had wanted, able to make up just a single place from seventh on the grid as the second lap began. Dovizioso, who had seemingly banished his recent bad luck, remained strong in second.
Having started last on the grid, home rider Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) was up to 17th by the fourth lap of the race. Local fans cheered him on with each pass, urging the Frenchman forever forward.
Lap four saw Rossi improve his pace, going half a second quicker than his rival Marc Marquez who was just ahead. The pair weren’t the only ones closing up, Iannone also making significant progress on his teammate. His charge would be halted on lap seven when Iannone fell at Turn 8. Iannone’s fall was followed soon after by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who suffered his fourth race crash of the year. One lap later, fellow satellite Honda rider Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) came off at Turn 6. Iannone would re-join the race but eventually retired.
Lap 13 saw Rossi slip past on Marc Marquez, making it a three-way battle for second as Lorenzo continued to run away at the head of the race. Just a few corners later Rossi was up into second place and matching Lorenzo’s times.
A thrilling battle for second was brewing until on lap 16 at Turn 7 both Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez crashed at the same time. There was no contact between them, the pair both simultaneously losing the front. Now Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was on course for his first MotoGP™ podium and Lorenzo on the cusp of taking the championship lead.
The falls continued and soon Marc Marquez was up in 13th place, despite missing a large section of his side fairing. Lorenzo, 7.8 seconds clear with five laps to go, was having no such issues as he calmly ran his own race. With gaps of at least three seconds splitting the top three, each eased their pace to guarantee a finish in the clearly difficult conditions.
For the second time in 2016, Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line in first place after dominating the French GP. Over ten seconds would separate him from Rossi as the race came to an end. It was a day of celebration for Suzuki and Viñales, the Spaniard taking his first podium finish in the premier class. Viñales’ podium is the first for Suzuki since the 2008 Czech GP, making amends for his mistake in Argentina.
Victory sees Lorenzo move to the top of the championship with 90 points, Marquez forced to concede his advantage after the crash. Rossi stays third and is 12 points behind Lorenzo. Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi now have a mistake each to their name and with only 12 points between them in the championship; the season is only just getting started. The MotoGP™ World Championship now heads to Mugello, Rossi’s home round but one where Lorenzo has been the man to beat in recent years. Once again it looks set to be a thrilling weekend in the Tuscan hills.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was unable to close the gap to Viñales despite his best efforts and settled for fourth. Pol Espargaro was once again the fastest Independent Team rider as he ended Tech 3’s home round in a credible fifth ahead of his brother.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten. Of the 21 riders on the grid, 13 finished the race.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) retired from the race early on, followed by Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) who crashed from the race on lap seven.
While running inside the top ten, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered a fall, the French GP a war of attrition. Turn 7 claimed yet another victim as Bradley Smith crashed out of his team’s home race.
Rins withstands race-long pressure for second win of 2016
Try as he might, Simone Corsi was unable to get past a perfect Alex Rins in France, while Luthi recovered from issues for third. Rins now has the championship lead.
Just after Qualifying it was announced Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) had had his best lap time cancelled due to a technical infringement. As such the Italian’s front row start became a seventh place start, promoting Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) to the front row. Clouds blotted out the sun but there was little chance of rain as riders in the Moto2™ World Championship revved their engines for the race start.
Pole setter Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) made a great start with Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) shooting into second from fifth. Championship leader Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) were shuffled back down the order in the opening corners.
As the field came through Turn 6 for the second time, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) suffered his second race crash of the year. He was unhurt, but his championship hopes took a significant blow. Many had expected the German to do well with his future secure.
Luthi worked hard to break away from his pursuers but Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was right with him and briefly grabbed the lead on lap five. Three Italians chased them, Corsi keeping his third place as Morbidelli and Baldassarri gave no quarter in the fight for fourth.
Rins and Luthi continued to swap positions, until lap seven when Luthi began to fade back. Corsi and Baldassarri were quickly past the Swiss rider as well. It was later revealed that Luthi’s shift light was not functioning properly, adding an extra level of challenge to the race. Lowes, like Luthi, was also unable to match the pace of the leaders as the Brit ran in a lonely seventh place for much of the race.
Corsi made sure Rins was unable to break away, working his Speed Up hard to stay with the Spaniard. Rarely was the gap ever over half a second, Corsi cutting the distance as the laps went by. Meanwhile Luthi began to recover after his brief dip in performance and pressured Baldassarri as they passed half race distance, Luthi moving back to third on lap 17.
It had already been a difficult race for reigning World Champion Zarco, his Sunday turning from damage limitation to disaster as he crashed at Turn 14 on lap 18. He remounted down in 24th, where he finished.
Luthi’s third place finish became a certainty as Baldassarri fell at Turn 3, getting back on his Kalex after the spill but outside the points.
Three laps from the end Rins was able to break Corsi, opening up a lead of almost a second as the penultimate lap began. Rins would cross the line 1.8 seconds ahead of the Italian for his second win of the season with Luthi securing third.
Franco Morbidelli managed an important fourth place ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) who put on a late challenge.
Sam Lowes, Axel Pons (AGR Team), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Luis Salom (SAG Team) and Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top ten.
With Lowes taking sixth, Alex Rins takes control of the Moto2™ World Championship with 87 points, five ahead of Lowes who slides back to second. Tom Luthi moves up to third in the standings thanks to his podium finish as Zarco goes to fourth with 56 points.
Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) slid off at Turn 6, like Folger. For the fourth time in five races, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) failed to finish due to a crash at Turn 7.
Binder bags back-to-back wins after race long brawl
A tense four-rider battle raged for the entirety of the French GP, Binder coming out on top with Fenati and Navarro settling for the podium.
Unlike in many previous visits to the Le Mans circuit, there were no signs of rain as the Moto3™ World Championship lined up on the grid for round five of the 2016 season. The majority of the field opted for medium slicks front and rear, apart from Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who ran a soft front and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) who elected to run a soft rear Dunlop.
From pole Antonelli made a perfect start as the grid swept through the fast Turn 1, Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) had a great run off the line and slid in behind Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as they filtered through the first chicane. Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) was the first faller of the race, crashing at Turn 4 after contact with another rider.
As the second lap began Binder took the lead, five riders involved in the battle for victory. His lead wouldn’t last long as Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) grabbed the advantage at the Dunlop chicane as the front group continued to grow. Binder and Fenati continued to spar throughout the race, the Italian strong through the first sector.
Each rider was able to lead at various stages, opening up a small gap when they did but neither could break away. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was a man on a mission, the rookie getting ahead of his teammate Navarro on lap 12 and tapping his bike, urging Navarro to stay behind him. The gesture was justified as Canet put in 1’42 after 1’42, the rest of the field in the 1’43s.
An equally fierce battle raged behind, local rider Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) working hard to hold off the attacks of Sky Racing Team VR46 duo Nicolo Bulega and Andrea Migno. Their chances of a podium were over as the leading four had an advantage of three seconds for the majority of the race.
In true Moto3™ style it all came down to the last lap, Binder leading the quartet as they crossed the line. Each corner saw Binder defend his line from Fenati, the Italian looking for a way through everywhere but to no avail. A perfect final lap saw Brad Binder take his second career victory and once again extend his championship lead. Fenati finished in a solid second place while Navarro was fortunate to seal third after an aggressive move by his teammate in the penultimate corner.
Nicolo Bulega emerged victorious in the battle for fifth ahead of Fabio Quartararo with Andrea Migno, Niccolo Antonelli, Jakub Kornfeil and Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) completing the top ten.
Binder remains atop the championship with 102 points, now 24 points ahead of Jorge Navarro. Romano Fenati is third with 67, in front of teammate Nicolo Bulega with 47 points.
Both Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) were given ride through penalties for jump starts.
Home rider Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) fell on the first lap at Turn 7, ending what had been a promising weekend. Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate) fell not long after on the second lap.
Lap four saw Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) slide off at Turn 14. Five laps later Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) crashed at Turn 3. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) suffered a crash on Lap 16 at Turn 8.
Oettl sustained a fracture to his right wrist in the fall, all other riders avoided injury.
More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:
Double DNF for Ducati Team riders in French GP at Le Mans
The French Grand Prix failed to produce much satisfaction for the Ducati Team riders, who were both forced to retire from the race following two crashes.
The day had started off well for the Italian squad, and in the morning warm-up Andrea Iannone set the quickest time overall, demonstrating an excellent competitive level, just like his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, in fifth.
Dovizioso powered away well at the start and crossed the line on the opening lap in second place, behind the race leader Jorge Lorenzo. The Italian kept this position until lap 6, when he was passed by Iannone, who then crashed on the next lap. On lap 13, Dovizioso was overtaken by Rossi and he stayed in third place ahead of Marquez for the next two laps, before going down at Turn 7 in a crash that brought an end to his race.
Iannone, who started from the front row after setting third-quickest time yesterday in qualifying, concluded the opening lap in third place and then passed his team-mate on lap 6. Unfortunately on the following lap, the Italian, who was making up the gap on Lorenzo, lost the front at Turn 8 and had to retire.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – DNF
“It’s a real pity because we had guessed the right strategy and managed to start the race well. I was in the group following Lorenzo and trying to understand where it was possible to try and attack Rossi, but at the entry to Turn 7 the front tyre lost grip and I found myself on the ground. After analyzing the telemetry, we saw that I had a lean angle that was only two degrees higher than the previous laps, but, even without taking this into account, the tyres were working quite well this weekend. Unfortunately it is a characteristic of theirs to not give any warning when they lose grip, and I crashed. Today’s performance gave us some important feedback for the future, because it proved that we can be quick, but not for the entire duration of the race. Now we have to work to be more consistent, and then go on to find pure performance.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – DNF
“I am very disappointed because crashing in the race, especially after a weekend in which we were always competitive and performing well, really hurts. What happened is very strange, because I pushed harder in the early laps to overtake Dovi under braking than when I was behind Lorenzo and trying to reduce the gap. But the behavior of the front tyre is always difficult to predict and you never know how much confidence you have. Despite the crash we proved that we were quick, even though we were unable to bring home any points: now we really have to improve some aspects that are not allowing us to be constant throughout the whole race.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager)
“A double retirement is always tough to accept, especially on a weekend in which the Desmosedici GP and both our riders demonstrated an excellent competitive level. If we want to find something positive however, we can say that after a very difficult Spanish GP at Jerez, here at Le Mans we finally got back to fighting for the top positions both in practice and the race. Now we have to quickly put behind us today’s disappointment and focus on our home race, the Italian GP at Mugello, where we will do our best to give some satisfaction to all our fans and enthusiasts.”
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:
VIÑALES & SUZUKI SCORE SENSATIONAL LE MANS PODIUM!
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales put in a stunning display of riding to score the first podium of his MotoGP™ career at Le Mans in France this afternoon, ending the race in third position and the Suzuki Factory’s first for the new GSX-RR since 2008 as team-mate Aleix Espargaró had some trouble in the race but managed a positive sixth place.
Viñales, who started from eighth on the grid, chased team-mate Espargaró through the opening laps until moving ahead and then into third position with 11 laps to go to bring home Suzuki’s first MotoGP podium since Loris Capirossi at the Czech GP. The young Spaniard had been struggling the whole weekend with his machine’s set-up, but a further improvement on the bike allowed him to find more efficiency in the warm-up. His crew took the best from his feedback and worked hard during the night to apply important improvements, which finally proved to be effective. His determination in the race and his consistent pace allowed him to control his advantage and get this historical result.
Espargaró had some issues with the front tyre and couldn’t perform at his best. His weekend showed solid progress and his expectations for the race were high, but he had to give up the chase to the podium pretty soon and control his advantage from the followers. This allowed him to score sixth place, which is a positive result for the Team.
Ironically, Suzuki’s first and last victory of the modern MotoGP™ World Championship was recorded at Le Mans by Chris Vermeulen in 2007.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:
“We finally got this so awaited podium and we are all very happy, it is a result that pays back all the jobs we did and are doing, and is also something that gives us further hope. Maverick had some difficulties in finding a good feeling with his machine in previous days here at Le Mans, but finally we found some good solutions which proved to be effective in allowing him to feel confident. His pace in the race was very good, and although we took benefit from a couple of crashes ahead, we are proud because his race was wise and consistent. This is what we were aiming for. We are working hard, this is a good reward, and I believe that if we continue to work hard we could soon aim for the victory. Unfortunately, Aleix had some more troubles, but he finished in sixth which is a good result. The most important is that he is finding his confidence back and his last races were positive for him.”
“Le Mans must be my lucky track because here I hit my first victory in the World Championship in 2011 and today I got the first podium in MotoGP™. I like it very much and I was so sorry when I saw I could not push as hard as I wanted in previous days. Of course I am very happy for this result, to be the first rider to take Suzuki back on the podium and for the job we have done. Until yesterday I was very worried about the race, but I must thank my crew and all Suzuki’s engineers who didn’t give up and developed a solution during the night that proved to be effective. We are doing a very intense job and this podium is a reward for my efforts and those done by the whole crew and Company.”
“At the end of the day I can’t be satisfied but I’m happy, for the whole weekend we did many improvements and could be faster and faster. I did a good start and could keep a good pace for the early laps, then I felt something strange on the front tyre and couldn’t push as hard as I wanted. I saw the board with the gaps and I decided to conduct a wise race, holding the place and getting home safe with some championship points. My crew and the whole Suzuki team is doing a great job, we did big improvements and today’s podium from Maverick is evidence. My compliments to him, but also this is a good sign of what our potential is.”
More, from a press release issued by Michelin:
LORENZO TAKES VICTORY AND CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD WITH NEW REAR TYRE AT MICHELIN’S HOME GRAND PRIX
Michelin’s first home race since its return to MotoGP™ saw Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo power to an impressive start to finish victory at the historic Le Mans circuit in France today.
After qualifying on pole yesterday – where the Spaniard recorded the fastest-ever two-wheeled lap of Le Mans – Lorenzo got a good start and led in to the first corner, he extended his lead over the first lap and continued to push hard for the whole 28-laps. He eventually crossed the finishing line more than 10-seconds ahead of his nearest rival to show his dominance in today’s race.
Joining Lorenzo on the podium was nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Yamaha mounted rider rode a calculated race to pick off his opponents, after starting from seventh on the grid. The Italian moved up to second on lap-14 and held the position to the chequered flag. Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales took the final podium place and the first top-three finish of his MotoGP career. The 21-year-old Spaniard also fought his way through the field after starting from eighth, his third today was also Suzuki’s first podium since 2008.
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took fourth place, with Pol Espargaro coming home in fifth to secure the position of First Independent Team Rider. Aleix Espargaro was sixth for Suzuki, with a pair of Ducatis ridden by Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera finishing seventh and eighth respectively. The top-ten was rounded out by Alvaro Bautista in ninth and Stefan Bradl tenth, both on Aprilias. Previous championship leader, Honda’s Marc Marquez, crashed out while pushing hard to catch the leader, he remounted unhurt and brought his bike home safely in 13th. All riders today – with the exception of Yonny Hernandez – used the new less stiff construction soft compound rear tyre, which was available for the first time this season and developed especially for Le Mans after riders requested to have less spinning on the rear following the last race at Jerez, which was only two-weeks ago.
Today’s race was staged in warm, but overcast conditions, with air temperatures at a pleasant 22°C, and track temperatures reaching 35°C. A huge crowd of 99,053 packed the circuit, making it the biggest Le Mans race-day crowd of the MotoGP era.
Michelin and the MotoGP field now goes to Italy for round six of the MotoGP World Championship, when they all head to the picturesque Mugello circuit in the heart of Tuscany.
Jorge Lorenzo – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP:
“The bike was great and so were the tyres, I think Michelin made a great job to improve the tyre since Jerez. I am very happy with the work of Michelin, they have worked very hard and responded quickly, so they need to keep working like that to keep bringing us the best rear tyre and we will go a long way together.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“Today was a great demonstration from the Yamaha guys, especially from Jorge. He dominated all weekend, including the lap-record in qualification and performed very consistently in the race, doing easily ’33s. It was also a good recovery from Valentino from the third row to get on to the podium and get the fastest lap of the race. I would also like to congratulate Maverick on his first podium.
“What was very good was that the new rear tyre we developed between Jerez and here worked very well in qualifying and in the race. Not only was it fast in qualifying with the lap-record, but it was very consistent on race day. It was a success for us and we will capitalise on that success in the next races.”