MotoGP: More From Le Mans

MotoGP: More From Le Mans

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French GP. Spectacular victory for Danilo Petrucci at Le Mans. Andrea Dovizioso closed in fourth position

The Umbrian rider took his second MotoGP success at Le Mans in a race made difficult by the wet conditions, giving Ducati their first victory on the French race track; Andrea Dovizioso ended fourth after a race spent fighting at the front, as he was held back by the tyre drop in the final stages.

Danilo Petrucci took an extraordinary victory at the MotoGP French Grand Prix, held today at the historic Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. The Ducati Team rider secured his second success in the premier class, bringing the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike for the first time on the higher step of the podium at the French race track.

It was a very challenging race, that was postponed after that the rain had started to fall only a few minutes before the start. As he got off from the third spot on the grid, from the front row, Danilo was able to take the lead immediately, followed by teammate Andrea Dovizioso and the Pramac Racing Team Ducati bike of Jack Miller.

The Ducati trio occupied the top three position for almost two-thirds of the race, but it was then joined by Alex Rins, who engaged a strong duel with Miller, the latter forced to retire due to a technical problem during lap 19. Rins also crash out of contention in the following lap, while Andrea Dovizioso, who was already suffering from the tyre wear, had Alex Márquez and Pol Espargaro closing in. Both riders managed to overtake him, pushing back Dovizioso into the fourth place where he then finished the race.

Petrucci, who was then alone leading the race, continued to manage his gap on his rivals, crossing the finish line in the first position with a 1.2 second lead over Márquez.

Thanks to today’s success, Danilo climbs to tenth place in the overall standings, while Andrea is now in third position just 18 points behind championship leader Quartararo. Ducati is second in the manufacturers’ championship, while the Ducati Team is third in the teams’ standings.

 

Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1st

“It was an incredible race. As of this morning, I knew I could have done a good performance with the dry conditions, but when I saw the rain on the grid, I knew it was going to be a difficult race. I thought I had nothing to lose and that maybe, I could be equally strong even in the wet. In the past, I had managed to get podiums in those conditions, but never a win. I’ve waited a long time before getting back on the top step of the podium, and it’s nice to do it here at Le Mans, a track where I’ve got some good results in the past. I want to dedicate this win to all the people who have continued to believe in me even in this difficult time.”

 

Andrea Dovizioso (04) leading Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Andrea Dovizioso (04) leading Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 4th

“I’m a bit disappointed because today I thought I could get a better result. Danilo was very fast, and he was riding really well. I managed to stay with him for most of the race, but at the end maybe, we paid for a wrong tyre choice. I was riding with soft tyre both at the front and the rear, and in the last laps, I couldn’t turn the bike properly. In these conditions, it is always difficult to make the correct choice, because you never know if the track will remain completely wet or if it will start to dry up in the end. Anyway, today we earned valuable points for the championship, and I am happy for Danilo’s victory. Now we’re already focusing on the next race in Aragón.”

Luigi Dall’Igna (General Manager of Ducati Corse)

“It was a tough race in so many ways, and the difficulties increased at the end when the tyres started to have a drop in their performance. Danilo did really well today, and he was able to do better than anyone else, so he fully deserves this victory. Andrea also had a good race and narrowed the gap from the championship leader. Too bad for Jack, because he too was riding really well in these difficult conditions.”

The Ducati Team riders will be back on track already this weekend, from 16th-18th October for the first of two consecutive races scheduled at the MotorLand Aragón (Alcañiz), in Spain.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Oliveira fights to sixth in rainy Le Mans – Lecuona scores point

Miguel Oliveira showed a strong home race for Red Bull KTM Tech3 at the French Grand Prix. In the rain of Le Mans, Oliveira had to avoid a crash on the first lap, making him going back from 12th to 17th. But the Portuguese star recovered quickly to 13th on lap two and started his chase for glory from there, passing one rider by another. After a hard fight for fourth on the final laps, he eventually ended up sixth, bringing home important 10 points for the championship.

At the same time, Iker Lecuona experienced his first premier class race in the wet. The MotoGP rookie took it cautiously in the beginning and improved his lap times towards the end while trying to adapt to the conditions more and more. While gaining experience, the Spanish youngster finally scored a point with 15th on the line following 26 demanding laps at the French venue.

 

Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Miguel Oliveira

Position: 6th

Championship: 9th

Points: 69

“The sixth place is a good result for us and it was my first full wet race in MotoGP at the same time. Overall, it was a good performance, we had a decent race, which was very long. It’s just a pity not being able to finish fourth, because I think it was there for us. On the last corners, I prepared to overtake Dovizioso and Zarco was more than a second per lap faster, I even checked on my pit board, but I was not expecting this. At least the fifth place was our result today. Just going again next week, trying to continue like this, finish all the races. Five races to go, there are still many points up for grab, so we are focused on what we can do.”

 

Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Iker Lecuona

Position: 15th

Championship: 18th

Points: 18th

“It was a very difficult weekend for me. My goal was just to finish the race, as I realized that my pace was not very strong. Normally I like wet conditions, but I struggled a lot on this track from Friday on, so I just tried to bring it home safely. I’m not happy, but I hope I can improve next week in Aragon.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:

ALEIX IN THE POINTS AT LE MANS, BRADLEY CRASHES OUT AFTER AN OUTSTANDING START

The final surprise of weekend at the French Le Mans circuit came just a few minutes before the race start, with a downpour that forced teams and riders to drastically change their plans. So, it was a wet race, with Bradley getting off the grid extremely well at the start and Aleix skilfully avoiding Valentino Rossi’s crash and getting into the top 10.

First seventh and then ninth, Bradley confirmed his feeling in the wet before falling victim to a violent high side on the ninth lap. Aleix, on the other hand, complained of poor grip, maintaining his pace all the way to the chequered flag, where he finished fourteenth.

 

Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“This was not a race to be pleased about. We know that we struggle with grip at the rear and that becomes particularly clear on a cold and wet track. At the start, I managed to maintain a decent pace after a good start, but when there began to be less water on the track, I simply did not have grip. I was constantly at risk of making a mistake, so at a certain point, I set my sights on finishing the race. Now we’ll think about Aragón, a track that I like a lot. Hopefully we’ll find better conditions there.”

 

Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia.
Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia.

 

BRADLEY SMITH

“Unfortunately, our difficulties got the best of us in the race too. We need to work on the electronics, because in conditions like today, we are too close to the limit. I’m very disappointed because when I crashed, I wasn’t pushing. I had found my pace and was already thinking about how to manage the tyres which, with less water on the track, were beginning to overheat. In any case, I am pleased with what I was able to do. I took advantage of every possible opportunity this weekend to best express the potential of the RS-GP.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

DRAMATIC FRENCH GP ENDS IN 10TH PLACE FOR VIÑALES

Le Mans (France), 11th October 2020

GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE

RACE

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales secured a hard-fought tenth place at today‘s eventful Grand Prix de France. Valentino Rossi’s challenge came to an abrupt halt due to a crash in the opening stages of the race.

10th MAVERICK VIÑALES +16.895 / 26 LAPS

NC VALENTINO ROSSI – / – LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales showed great character in today‘s drama-filled Grand Prix de France, recovering from a provisional 20th place to take tenth at the chequered flag. Valentino Rossi‘s luckless streak continued in Le Mans. He suffered a crash on lap 1, ending his challenge prematurely.

Drama started early on in the French GP, when five minutes before the start the heavens opened. This started the Rain on Grid Procedure, allowing the riders to return to the pit box. A Quick Start Procedure followed at 13:05, with the pit-lane exit opened for only 60 seconds ahead of the sighting lap. The race was declared wet and shortened by one lap to 26 laps in total.

Viñales began his 100th premier class Grand Prix with a less than ideal start from P5 on the grid. Matters were made worse when he had to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid the chaos that ensued in Turn 3 when his team-mate took a fall in the middle of the track.

The Spaniard ended the first lap in 20th position, but all was not lost. With relentless focus he rode a faultless race, despite the tricky conditions, and gradually moved up the order. In the final five laps he was part of a group of four riders fighting for eighth place. The Yamaha man pushed to the max and finished in tenth place, 16.895s from first.

Rossi started from tenth on the grid. He had a good start but found himself in the busy mid-pack in Turn 3 when disaster struck. The Italian got caught out by the slippery track conditions and crashed. He was quickly back up on his feet and tried all he could to get his bike restarted but was unable to rejoin the race.

After today‘s race Viñales is fourth in the championship rankings, 19 points from the top. Rossi drops to thirteenth place, with a 57-point gap to first. Yamaha remains first in the constructor standings, but the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team lost a place in the team classification and are now fourth.

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will next travel to Spain for the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragón, held from 16 – 18 October at the MotorLand Aragón track.

 

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

We can‘t help but feel disappointed about what happened today. We knew this race was going to be difficult, but the rain was an unexpected twist that didn‘t work in our favour. It was going to be a hard race for Valentino anyway, starting from 10th on the grid, but his crash ended any chance early. It‘s a great shame. Maverick‘s start wasn‘t ideal, and it didn‘t help that he had to avoid Valentino and some other riders in Turn 3. But he deserves credit, because he salvaged tenth place. It was realistically the best he could do in the wet conditions, especially considering the setbacks he faced earlier in the race. All in all, it‘s a day to forget. We now move on to the two rounds in Aragón, where it will be all hands on deck to improve our position in the championship standings.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

I tried something different on the start, but it didn‘t work. I tried to start on my own, without electronics. During the weekend this went really well, I started very fast. But then during today’s race, with all the noise coming from the other bikes on the grid, I couldn’t hear my bike and wasn’t able to be precise. So, for the next race we will go back to electronics and try to improve starting that way. I hope the bad luck is finished, because in the first corners I got involved in Vale‘s accident. To avoid the crash I had to go straight, and I was last. Then I started to fight a lot with the other riders, but I couldn‘t find a good rhythm. But in the end we were fast. I‘m happy that the bike was working well in the wet. Usually we struggle a little bit. It was a shame the race wasn‘t one lap longer, because I was catching up with Fabio one second per lap. But it is like this and we need to feel positive, because somehow we saved a little bit of the race. We only lose one point in the championship to the leader. This is important. Next race is for sure going to be much better. Aragón is a track that I really like, and I will go for everything there.

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Yamaha.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI

It was a great shame, because a crash like this on the first corners is easily done in half-and-half conditions. You don’t understand your potential yet, if you’re fast with the bike, how you’re feeling with the bike – nothing. But I started well, and I was already in a good position. I entered the second corner very slowly, like everyone else. We were all taking it easy, because these were very difficult conditions. It was very cold with the rain. Unfortunately I lost the rear. It’s a shame and I’m also a bit unlucky in this period, because we didn’t take any points in these last three races, whilst my speed and potential weren’t so bad. So, we need to try again next week in Aragón, and we will see.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Quartararo extends championship lead at rain-affected home GP

Quartararo ninth at Le Mans and extends championship lead; Morbidelli retires after crash

The Grand Prix de France proved to be a difficult one, with rain delaying the start and mixed conditions during the 26 laps. PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo rode a smart race around the Le Mans circuit and managed to increase his championship lead, crossing the line ninth. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli was forced to retire after a Turn 4 crash on lap 19.

Quartararo struggled on the race start, which had been delayed, and found himself dropping through the field to fourth in the opening corners. With the championship in mind, the Frenchman kept his head and rode his own race. Although he found himself eleventh at the halfway point, Fabio made sure to keep his closest championship rivals behind him. Ensuring no mistakes were made in the final stages of his home GP, Quartararo crossed the line ninth and increased his championship lead to ten points.

Team-mate Morbidelli didn’t have the best opening lap, which was hampered by having to avoid another rider’s crash in the first corner, leaving the Italian 17th at the end of the first lap. Struggling to make progress in the wet conditions, Franco slipped down to 19th as the rain started to fall again. Unfortunately, a Turn 4 crash on lap 19 brought the French GP to an early conclusion for Morbidelli, who was forced to retire after due to a mechanical problem.

There will be no rest for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, who have increased their lead in the teams’ standings, as they head to Spain to prepare for their tenth race of the year: the Gran Premio de Aragón (16-18 October).

Razlan Razali

Team Principal

That was unexpected; it was more about damage control for Fabio today. He is still leading the championship, increasing the gap to ten points. It was the best we could do today in very tricky conditions. When it is like this I think the best thing the riders can do is to stay on the bike and do the best they can.

Unfortunately Franco had to retire with some mechanical problems after a crash. We go to Aragon still leading both the riders’ and teams’ championships, although we know that the two races there are going to be even tougher for us, but we will be fighting every lap.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Fabio Quartararo

9th (+16.687)

We were all on the grid about to start the race and then it started raining, which was disappointing. We knew dry conditions would have been better for us. It was a hard race but I’m happy because we never gave up fighting; on the last lap when Joan [Mir] overtook me I was able to get straight back past him. It was important to score as many points as possible and actually we were able to extend our lead slightly. We will see what will happen in Aragón but I’m really pleased with my first race in these tricky conditions. Being on pole position at home with the fans was really special, there were only 5,000 of them here but they really helped me.

 

Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Franco Morbidelli

DNF (+8 laps)

I had a good start but unfortunately I was caught up in the incident with Valentino [Rossi], which lost me a lot of positions. From then on it was a really hard race, I had to take it step-by-step and find my rhythm. In the last ten laps when I decided to push a little bit more, to try to catch the group in front, I made a mistake in Turn 4 and lost the front end. It’s a shame because I think eighth or ninth position could have been possible, but the mistake was my fault and I haven’t scored any points. Apart from this mistake it has been a positive weekend and I was super fast, especially this morning. Now we need to take this speed to Aragón.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Storm the field! Alex Marquez conquers the wet for debut MotoGP podium

The Repsol Honda Team achieved their best result of the season to date, Alex Marquez stunning with second place from 18th on the grid as Stefan Bradl makes it a double top ten.

It was another cold start to the day in France for round 10 of the MotoGP World Championship. Forecasts had predicted it to stay dry throughout, but the French sky had other ideas just moments before the lights went out. A delayed start our to rain on the grid saw  the race declared wet and had the entire field switch to wet tyres, the race distance reduced by one lap.

With only first practice on Friday as true wet experience on a MotoGP bike, Alex Marquez shot forward from 18th on the grid and made up eight places in just a few laps. Settling into his rhythm and gauging the conditions, Alex progressively got faster and was a full second quicker than the leaders throughout the middle of the race. This pace saw the rookie cut through the field, passing the likes of Dovizioso and Crutchlow as he moved ever closer to the podium.

On lap 20 Alex moved into third and took just five laps to move past Dovizioso and up to second. The gap to eventual race-winner Petrucci proved too big, Alex Marquez crossing the line in front of a delighted Repsol Honda Team. With 47 points, Alex jumps to 14th in the championship and  is now 15 points behind Binder in the Rookie of the Year Championship.

Stefan Bradl returned to the points and the top ten with an impressive ride, the German also making an incredible start to move through the field in the early laps. Having sat out the wet FP1 session, Bradl stayed calm in the middle of the race to understand the conditions and charged forward in the closing laps. A strong final lap saw the HRC test rider pass Quartararo for a well-earned eighth place.

The MotoGP paddock now make the short trip to Aragon for two more races in the coming two weeks. Back-to-back races have so far been a positive for Alex Marquez, the rookie able to make the most of the track time to improve in the second outing.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Alex Marquez

2ND

“A great day. It wasn’t easy starting 18th on the grid but I was feeling really good on the bike. We lost some time fighting with Cal and Pol and Dovi but apart from this I did a good race and it’s a great result for the Repsol Honda Team. I want to say thank you to them for always believing in me and working so hard. Myself and the team never gave up. I felt good even in the dry Warm Up this morning so I think we have managed everything well. It’s been a great weekend and we go to Aragon for two more races. Now we just need to make this result in the dry!”

 

Stefan Bradl (6) leading Maverick Vinales (12) and Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Stefan Bradl (6) leading Maverick Vinales (12) and Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Stefan Bradl

8TH

“It’s a big relief to get this result today, I’m really happy with it. It’s been a busy year and it’s an important result for me and the Repsol Honda Team. The forecast didn’t predict this so after missing FP1 in the wet I was a little worried honestly! But I said to myself to just try and enjoy the race and feel the bike. The team and I went with the medium tyre, which was the right choice and the feeling improved as the race went on. Also a big congratulations to Alex on his podium, it’s a great result for him and the team as well.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

DRAMATIC DAY OF DAMAGE LIMITATION FOR SUZUKI IN FRANCE

Joan Mir: 11th (+ 16.980)

Alex Rins: DNF

Team Suzuki Ecstar approached the French Grand Prix after a tough couple of days on track at Le Mans and after finding some solutions during morning warm-up, the riders were feeling more confident ahead of the 26 lap race and they impressed the team and fans with their determination.

The commotion started earlier than usual when the Grand Prix was delayed due to a heavy rain shower just moments before the race was due to start. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders made a quick change from slick soft tyres to medium wets and maintained their composure as the lights went out.

Joan Mir had to take serious evasive action on the opening lap after Rossi suffered a crash in front of him; the run-off cost him some positions and disturbed his early race rhythm.

Alex Rins managed to miss the melee; he quickly found himself in seventh place and feeling confident on his GSX-RR in the wet. Rins then set about impressively carving his way through the field, and once in fourth place he set the fastest lap of the race on laps 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12. He was soon on the back of the leading trio, having taken more than three-and-a-half seconds out of them. An exciting battle then began which saw him make an outstanding overtake and found himself in second place on lap 18 after his incredible charge from 16th on the grid. However, an unfortunate crash saw him unable to finish the GP.

Meanwhile, Mir was getting to grips with his GSX-RR on the cold and wet track, having never ridden a MotoGP race in these conditions before. Gaining confidence on every lap and recovering from the scare and lack of grip at the start of the GP, he was determined to score as many points as possible. On the final lap of the race he had made his way into a remarkable ninth place, and at the chequered flag he crossed the line 11th. This result was crucial for Mir, as he managed to maintain his second place in the title standings, where he now sits 10 points from the top.

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“Honestly, right up until this morning we were struggling a lot, then the rain came and it was another story. It was a shame for Alex because he did an amazing effort and in the end he couldn’t get the reward. But we’re very impressed with his job today. Joan struggled at the start of the race but he recovered very well and managed to catch some good championship points, which was very important and we’re pleased for him.”

 

Joan Mir (36) leading Maverick Vinales (12) and Aleix Espargaro (41). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Joan Mir (36) leading Maverick Vinales (12), Aleix Espargaro (41), and Franco Morbidelli. Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“We have to be pleased with how our riders reacted to such a difficult race. It was a real pity for Alex as he had a great recovery from 16th place and he was fighting for the win. But unfortunately he crashed, which is very easy to do in these conditions. Joan did a good race, especially as he doesn’t have experience in the rain in the MotoGP class, he learned a lot today and he managed to get some decent points at the end. Overall, today showed a lot of promise so we actually leave Le Mans in good spirits despite the crash. We like Aragon as a track, and we’re looking forward to next weekend.”

Joan Mir:

“I lost a lot of time at the start of the race where I avoided the crash and then I began struggling a lot for grip. After that I started to get into a rhythm and I was feeling really good with the bike despite the conditions. By then it was too late to catch up to the front
riders but it was a nice race to try and get the maximum points, so I’m happy about that. I was 9th heading into the last chicane but then I lost the ideal line when Fabio did an overtake and sent me wide, but this is racing. I’m hoping to get a strong result next weekend in Aragon.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Alex Rins:

“It was unfortunate to have that crash, but I’m actually feeling OK because there were a lot of positives today; I managed the pressure of the race delay and the bad grid position, and I felt very comfortable on the bike. I recovered a lot of positions and a lot of time and I was feeling good up with the leading group. I did a double over-take on the Ducatis and it felt incredible! But in the end I had a crash and couldn’t get the podium. Anyway, Aragon is like another home race for me so I’m happy to go there and I hope for a better qualifying!”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:

FIFTH MOTOGP™ PODIUM OF THE SEASON FOR RED BULL KTM AS ESPARGARO FINISHES 3RD AT LE MANS

MotoGP 2020 – Round 09, Le Mans (France) – Race

A wet and difficult Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France was the stage for Pol Espargaro to charge to his third top three result of 2020 on the KTM RC16 as all four KTM riders finished in the points at Le Mans. KTM also celebrated their sixth win from ten races in Moto3™.

Espargaro fights to 3rd place and takes his third trophy of the season

Red Bull KTM now have five podiums so far in 2020

Celestino Vietti uses his RC4 to win in Moto3 as Albert Arenas leads the championship again for KTM

The French Grand Prix pushed the 2020 MotoGP calendar up to nine rounds for the season (10 for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes) and took place at the historic Le Mans circuit for the 33rd FIM World Championship race at the venue. After a weekend of changeable and cool weather conditions, race day dawned cloudy and wet with heavy showers falling as the riders lined-up on the grid.

Pol Espargaro got away strongly on his KTM RC16 and slotted into the top five of the running. As position swaps, crashed and technical problems occurred through the 26 laps Espargaro maintained his pace and closed up the fight for the rostrum. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira also pulled along behind his brandmate as both riders sensed a strong chance of silverware. At the checkered flag Espargaro had overtaken Andrea Dovizioso for 3rd and was just 1.7 seconds from winner Danilo Petrucci. Oliveira was demoted to 6th through the last tight corner section at Le Mans.

Brad Binder took the first half of the race to gain optimum feeling with the wet surface but then set impressive lap-times to move up from the depths of the top twenty and take 12th. Fellow rookie Iker Lecuona secured the last point for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 squad with 15th place.

 

Pol Espargaro on the podium at Le Mans. Photo courtesy KTM Factory Racing.
Pol Espargaro on the podium at Le Mans. Photo by Polarity Photo, courtesy KTM Factory Racing.

 

Pol Espargaro: “I enjoyed that so much. It was a very tough race. When I saw the rain coming I said to myself ‘I’ve got nothing to lose, so let’s send-it and try it’. On the last laps I was spinning and sliding a lot but I was super-pumped to see the podium was in reach, so I pushed. It was a great ending.”

Miguel Oliveira: “Sixth place is a good result for us and it was my first full wet race in MotoGP at the same time. Overall, it was a good performance, we had a decent race, which was very long. It’s just a pity not being able to finish fourth because I think it was there for us. We’ll go again next week and try to continue like this and finish all the races. Five to go, there are still many points up for grab, so we are focused on what we can do.”

 

Brad Binder (33). Photo by Polarity Photo, courtesy KTM Factory Racing.
Brad Binder (33). Photo by Polarity Photo, courtesy KTM Factory Racing.

 

Brad Binder: “Mixed emotions today because at the beginning of the race I was incredibly slow for the first ten-fifteen laps. Then, all of a sudden, I found two seconds on one lap and started to understand a lot more about how much grip there was available. It was disappointing that I wasted so much time in the beginning and I learnt today how incredible the tires are; I’ve never been able to do things like that in the wet and it’s quite amazing to see what you can do with the bike in those conditions. So today was a learning day because I was much, much better at the end than the beginning. The next time it’s wet we will be better-off.”

Iker Lecuona: “It was a very difficult weekend for me. My goal was just to finish, as I realized that my pace was not very strong. Normally I like wet conditions but I struggled a lot on this track from Friday, so I just tried to bring it home safely. I’m not happy but I hope I can improve next week in Aragon.”

Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Race Manager: “A good day with our fifth podium of the season and in some race conditions that were far from easy. Pol did a great job and pulled back a lot of time at one stage. It was pretty exciting to watch him move into the podium positions. Miguel was also very strong and was unlucky to lose that top five right at the end. Both Brad and Iker had some positives to take from today, they are both rookies and do not have much wet weather time on the race bike. We had all four RC16s in the points today which not only showed the excellent potential of the bike when the track is tough but also that the team worked really well. I think we can go to Aragon looking for more.”

Moto2 & Moto3

SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti claimed the Moto3 checkered flag for his second career victory and the second in 2020 with the KTM RC4. The young Italian held off Jaume Masia and Albert Arenas; the latter giving KTM a double top three result on the day with 3rd. He clinched his ninth rostrum of the season and reclaimed the lead in the Moto3 World Championship standings by six points from Ai Ogura. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez classified 7th and just over a second away from the winner.

Celestino Vietti: “A strange race because I did not expect this result, we were fast but I didn’t hope for much today. I think we chose the correct rear tire and in the last part of the race we had a bit more speed than the others. In the last three laps I tried to get to the front but all the riders were braking very hard. It was difficult to overtake but I’m very happy: we managed the race in a good way. I’m also happy for the team because we struggled with some crashes this weekend. This is for them.”

In Moto2 Jorge Martin crashed out early exiting Turn 10. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Tetsuta Nagashima reached the finish in 21st position.

MotoGP ploughs ahead with the 2020 fixtures and will now travel back to Spain for a double weekend residence at MotorLand Aragon for the Grands Prix of Aragon and Teruel on October 18th and 25th.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued LCR Honda Idemitsu:

CONSISTENT TAKA CLAIMS SEVENTH AT RAINY LE MANS

11 October 2020 | French GP Race

Takaaki Nakagami rode a determined and measured race to claim seventh position in the French Grand Prix on Sunday. Starting from 13th on the grid, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider had to show patience during a wet race at Le Mans before he picked his way through the field, ending strongly to finish just six seconds behind eventual winner Danilo Petrucci.

With heavy rain just before the start forcing riders to switch from dry to wet set-ups, Nakagami made a solid start and had forced his way up to tenth by lap six. He continued to make progress throughout and finished well clear in seventh as he registered yet another top-10 finish which leaves him in fifth place overall in the riders’ championship.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30) . Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 7th

“It was such a difficult race. We had prepared for the race and then the rain came and there was a delay and after a few minutes the track was fully wet. Then we prepared for the wet set-up on another bike and it was so tricky. But the main thing is that we managed to finish such a difficult race, so I’m quite happy. We had good pace especially at the end of the race, we struggled when the track was drying out but we were faster and so close to the top group. At the end, the last three laps, the rear tyre was overheating a lot and spinning a lot on the main straight so it was difficult to keep the position. It’s another top-10, P7 is really good in these tricky conditions and I want to thank the team. Our performance was not good enough over the whole weekend, but in the end in the race we were quite competitive. Now we are looking forward to two races in Aragon and it’s good to see we are fifth in the championship, it’s another positive energy.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

UNFORTUNATE FINISH FOR CRUTCHLOW IN FRANCE

11 October 2020 | French GP Race

After a weekend that had promised so much, the French Grand Prix ended in frustration for Cal Crutchlow as he crashed out of a wet race with eight laps remaining. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider – who had qualified in fourth – made a blistering start at Le Mans and was battling for the lead into the first corner, but was ultimately unable to secure the result his performance over the weekend had merited.

The Briton again demonstrated his pace at the French venue as he was third quickest in the morning warm-up session. He then got away superbly in the race proper as he competed for the leading places throughout. He was lapping in seventh with eight laps left when he lost control into turn two, ending his race and hopes of a second successive top-10 finish.

 

Cal Crutchlow (35) . Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Cal Crutchlow (35). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Cal Crutchlow – DNF

“Today we had a great start to the race and we were in not a bad position and I didn’t really want to leave the race with how the conditions were. The first five laps of the race I struggled to get heat into the tyres and was not able to push as much as I wanted. But then I got in a good rhythm, the pace was good and at one point we were catching the leader. Unfortunately with eight laps to go I crashed in turn two, but the previous five laps I was struggling on the right-hand side in the last corner and turn two. It just seemed that I was not able to lean the bike and when I did lean the bike I crashed. Obviously not a great result, but a better weekend and it was nice to be able to be up there in the wet and the dry and we now look forward to Aragon in a week’s time.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Michelin:

MICHELIN AND PETRUCCI MASTER THE WET OF LE MANS

Michelin’s home MotoGP™ was disrupted by a heavy rainstorm as the bikes lined up on the grid leading to the first wet race of the season as Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) used his MICHELIN Power Rain tyres to the maximum to secure victory at today’s SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France at Le Mans.

The weekend saw very changeable weather with heavy rain on Friday leaving the asphalt extremely wet and the MotoGP field used the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres with impressive effect, which resulted with fast times and no crashes, despite the extremely tricky and slippery conditions caused by the wet surface. Friday afternoon the track dried allowing the riders and teams to work on set-up ahead of today’s race and these conditions continued on Saturday as the sun shone over the 4,185m circuit. As the start-time loomed ahead of the 27-lap race, so did the rain clouds and drops started to fall, leading to the bikes leaving the grid and a wet race being declared. As the riders returned for the new start-time, the race was reduced to 26-laps and all the bikes lined-up with MICHELIN Power Rain tyres in a mix of soft and medium compounds on their respective equipment.

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was on pole at his home Grand Prix, but Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) got the holeshot and led into the first corner. The first laps saw the riders come to terms with the difficult conditions, as they searched for the maximum adhesion as the rain continued to fall. There then followed an exciting affair which saw the lead change hands a number of times before Petrucci took control at the front and used the full grip of his tyres to take victory and become the seventh different winner of the season from the nine races completed so far. Following him home was Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), as he produced a stunning ride from 18th on the grid to take second place in his first race using MICHELIN Power Rain tyres. The podium was completed by Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), to give a trio of manufactures in the top-three positions.  Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was next over the line in fourth, he also set a new Event Best Maximum Speed record as he used the drive of his MICHELIN Power Slick tyres in a dry Warm-Up to record a speed of 319.6Km/h. Home favourite Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) took fifth, along with the First Independent Rider position and the accolade of the fastest lap of the race. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was sixth, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) seventh and Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) – who is deputising for injured World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – recorded his best result of the season so far in eighth. Quartararo finished in ninth, a result that strengthened his position at the top of the championship standings and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top-ten

Today’s race was held in the cool conditions that have affected the Le Mans circuit all weekend, but with the added difficulty of the rain, the low temperatures did not deter the French fans that filled some of the grandstands at the track though, after a number of spectators were allowed entrance to today’s event after following strict protocols to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Michelin and MotoGP now travel directly to Motorland Aragon in Spain for a double-header which will see the staging of the Gran Premio Michelin® de Aragón on Sunday 18th October and then seven-days later the inaugural running of the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel.

Michelin closes another MotoE season as Torres takes the title

This weekend’s FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup had similar conditions to the MotoGP field with rain on Friday, which gave the Energica Ego Corsa riders the first taste of a full wet session and the grip generated by the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres gave the riders the confidence needed to ride to the limits in the damp conditions. The rain gave way to a dry track for Saturday’s E-Pole, which saw Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40) take his second consecutive pole position. The seven-lap race got underway on Saturday afternoon and Matteo Ferrari (TRENTINO Gresini MotoE) got the holeshot, but another rider crashing caused a red flag and a restarted race that was reduced to five-laps. Ferrari again got to the first corner ahead of the pack, but crashed and was forced to retire unhurt, leaving Torres at the front. The Spaniard rode a smooth and controlled race to take his first MotoE victory and move to the head of the title standings. Following him across the line were home rider Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in second, with Niki Tuuli (Avant Ajo MotoE) third, as the pair made their first visits to the podium this season.

Race two gave Torres the pole start following his victory the day before – the second race grid is decided by race positions from race one in MotoE – but it was Tuuli that got the start and led into the first corner. He was joined at the front by Di Meglio and the pair produced one of the most exciting races of the season as the two changed places throughout the seven-lap race, pushing their MICHELIN Slick MotoE tyres to the limit to set the fastest lap-times – quicker than yesterday – as they fought for the win. Eventually it was Tuuli that came out victorious with Di Meglio in second. Australian Josh Hook (OCTO Pramac MotoE) took his first podium of the season in third. Torres crossed the line in sixth to secure the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup title.

This season saw the introduction of a new range of  MICHELIN Slick MotoE tyres, as the French manufacturer produced a redesigned rear slick, new compounds and the whole range featured biomaterials and regenerated materials. These new tyres have led to close and exciting racing and taken MotoE on to a higher level of performance. Race and lap records have been broken from the benchmarks that were set in the first season of all-electric motorcycle racing and the extra grip produced by the MICHELIN Slick MotoE tyres has helped to improve the whole package available to all the riders. Michelin will now analyse the data from this season’s racing and use the information to translate the performance from the track to the street and make further improvements ahead of the 2021 MotoE season.

Danilo Petrucci – Ducati Team:

“The race was very difficult because in the beginning we had a lot of water, fortunately the Michelin guys said to me that the best choice was to put the medium front in the bike, even if we hadn’t tried it and the tyre gave me a lot of confidence. There was a big variation in the water on the ground, first it was very wet, then dried a bit, rain again and at the end there was a light line with some dry, but I was always able to pick up the bike and accelerate very good. I also felt very good under braking, both in the rain and the dry. I was really pleased with the feeling I had from the tyre and despite the cold temperatures they worked perfectly and I am very happy.”

Jordi Torres – Pons Racing 40 – Race One Winner:

“In the race I did not feel any drop from the tyres. On Friday in the practice  I felt a very little change in the tyre after six-laps, but for the race there was nothing. I tried to keep my pace, but I felt that Mike (Di Meglio) had more information because he was quicker than me in the last laps and I am sure he must have used more tyre to do that, but I had no problem at all from the front or the rear and am very happy with this result.”

Niki Tuuli – Avant Ajo MotoE – Race Two Winner:

“I didn’t have any moments with the front tyre at all, on the brakes it is really good and I don’t have any closing, also with my riding style I don’t put a lot of weight on the front, but I feel I can turn well and use a lot of lean. In the rear the grip was even better than yesterday, it was really smooth from the first lap until the last. It was more-or-less the same through the whole race and performed really well.”

Jordi Torres – Pons Racing 40 – FIM Enel MotoE World Cup Winner:

“All I have to say is that the performance of the Michelins is perfect. For this kind of bike it is not easy to do a great tyre, but the best thing about the bike is the tyres. The bike is fast and you can turn, brake late and open the throttle earlier, but this is because you have a good tyre, and we certainly have it.”

Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:

“This has been a weekend where we have had a mix of weather, from very wet, through to dry and sunny, but the one constant was the cold track conditions. We knew it was going to be a weekend of low temperatures, so we brought the softest tyres we could that would still allow the riders to have the durability for race length. The dry practice proved that this was the correct decision, but with the extremely cool temperatures if the race had been in the dry all the riders would have used the soft front and rear configuration to give them the grip needed to perform. As it was the rain fell as the race was due to start and the MICHELIN Power Rain tyres were used by all. The tyres again showed their performance in wet conditions and both the soft and medium compound for the front and rear were used in the race and they all produced excellent results. We had three different manufacturers on the podium, so the rain tyres showed our ethos of producing tyres that work for all.

“MotoE has given us another great season and the title went all the way to the final race and I would like to congratulate Jordi Torres on winning the World Cup. We have learnt a lot this season and have been really pleased with the way the new tyres featuring the regenerated material have performed, the lap-times have improved and the overall performance and confidence for the riders has increased. We will now work on what we have achieved this year and come back even stronger, with more innovations in MotoE for 2021.

“We now move to Spain for two races at Aragon, including the Michelin Grand Prix, it is a very demanding track and we are going there later in the year than usual, but we have picked a tyre range that we expect to work in the conditions, so we are looking forward to the challenge.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

French GP – Difficult day for Pramac Racing, Pecco ended P13 and Jack didn’t finish the race due a technical problem

 

Francesco "Pecco" Bagnaia (63) . Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Francesco “Pecco” Bagnaia (63) . Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

 

Difficult sunday for Pramac Racing on the wet asphalt of Le Mans. Pecco Bagnaia closed in thirteenth place, a technical problem prevents Jack Miller to finish a race when  he was running for victory. Pecco makes a mistake in the first corner and slips in the last positions compromising the outcome of the race. The Italian rider didn’t  give up and after some overtaking closed in thirteenth position. Jack Miller  has been since the beginning in the leading group but he  had to raise the white flag seven laps from the end when he was in second position due a technical problem that killed all hopes of a certain podium.

Pecco Bagnaia

I am not very happy, after the first corner I found myself last and afterwards it was really complicated to recover during the race. I still managed to overtake, the pace was fast but from the position I was in it was impossible to do better. From this weekend I have however learned a lot and next time we will do better.

Jack Miller

This is the painful face of racing, I am very sorry because we did well all weekend, the feeling with the bike during the race was great, I was doing everything well and then the technical problem forced me to return to the pit. The whole team had worked very well and when these things happen to you you are even more sad.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Avintia Esponsorama Racing:

JOHANN ZARCO FINISHES HIS HOME GRAND PRIX IN FIFTH POSITION

 

Tito Rabat (53) . Photo courtesy Avintia Esponsorama Racing.
Tito Rabat (53) . Photo courtesy Avintia Esponsorama Racing.

 

Johann Zarco finished the race of the French Grand Prix in fifth position while Tito Rabat is forced to retire after suffering a fall without consequences.

After a difficult Saturday where things did not go as expected, Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco started the race from twenty-second and ninth position respectively.  Minutes before the traffic light went out, it began to rain on the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans, forcing the start to be delayed.

The race started in wet conditions although the rain stopped.  With 12 laps remaining, Tito Rabat crashed at Turn 4 while riding alone.

On the other hand, Johann Zarco as the race progressed, he improved his feelings on the track, managing to set the fastest lap of the race on lap number X with a time of 1 ….  After a great end to the race, the French rider finished in fifth position just X seconds from the podium.

The next appointment will take place at the Motorland Aragon Circuit on October 16, 17 and 18.

JOHANN ZARCO – P5

“I am happy with today’s race in which I finished in fifth position.  At the beginning of the race we lost time as we had the medium rear tire, but at the end of the race, with the track drier, it gave a great performance.  At the end of the race I had a higher pace than the leading group, which allowed me to regain positions and finish fifth a few seconds from the podium.  In general, I am very happy with the weekend we had at Le Mans.”

TITO RABAT – NC

“The weekend did not end in the best way, although we added laps in wet conditions.  I would have liked to be able to finish the French Grand Prix race after such a difficult weekend we have had.  Now I am with my mind set on the next races in Aragon where we will continue to learn and improve. “

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