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Masia produces final corner heroics for thrilling victory

It was disappointment for poleman Dennis Foggia as he missed out on the podium following a stunning last lap at a restarted French GP

In typical barnstorming Moto3™ fashion, fans were out of the seats at a restarted lightweight class race went down to the wire at the SHARK Grand Prix de France in Le Mans. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia earned victory after a thrilling final corner move past Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) while Izan Guevara stole the final podium place with another dramatic final corner manoeuvre past poleman Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing).

Early Red Flag drama

The threat of rain loomed large over Le Mans on Sunday, and we saw the effects just a few spits of rain can have on the asphalt as the Red Flags were waving by the end of the opening lap. Initially, Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) got a brilliant launch from the line to take the holeshot going into the Dunlop Curve, with a brilliant move on the outside seeing him take P1. Despite a good start, poleman Foggia had dropped to third behind teammate Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) while the Italian then had to contend with Masia, who recovered from a poor opening sector to move back into the top three places at the expense of his title rival.

Before we even completed the first lap, there was mayhem on track as the final corner Raccordement saw seven different fallers. Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) and Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) were the first to go before five riders went down in simultaneous but separate crashes. GASGAS Aspar duo Sergio Garcia and Izan Guevara were joined in the gravel by Sasaki, Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Riccardo Rossi (SI58 Squadra Corse) as the spits of rain began to play havoc.

On the second lap, Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Ajo) went down after making contact with Elia Bartolini (QJMotor Avintia Racing Team) at Turn 3 while at the front Suzuki had hit the lead, but that was that as the Red Flags began to wave due to the rain, and offering those fallers a reprieve as a full race start procedure was signalled.

Take two: A clean getaway

With a new race distance of 14 laps set, it was always going to be a tight affair with the sun shining again, and so it proved. In a carbon copy of the first race start, Moreira managed to push himself into the lead from the second row while a superb effort from Championship leader Garcia saw him move up into the podium places behind Foggia. Behind them, there was lots of chopping and changing as Suzuki battled with Migno and Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) throughout the first lap.

The race began to settle somewhat by the time the third lap rolled around, while Masia was finding his groove, picking off Suzuki at Garage Vert before getting the better of Foggia on the next lap at the Turn 3 chicane. The Italian tried to return the favour one lap later, but Aki Ajo’s prized asset was in control of the race and fended him off. The race had lost Scott Ogden by this stage, with the VisionTrack rookie crashing out at La Chappelle.

The race began to settle somewhat by the time the third lap rolled around, while Masia was finding his groove, picking off Suzuki at Garage Vert before getting the better of Foggia on the next lap at the Turn 3 chicane. The Italian tried to return the favour one lap later, but Aki Ajo’s prized asset was in control of the race and fended him off. The race had lost Scott Ogden by this stage, with the VisionTrack rookie crashing out at La Chappelle.

Behind Masia, Garcia had moved up to second after getting past the Leopard Hondas, while Öncü in P4 had entered the podium conversation. All the chopping and changing at the front brought the leader of the second group, Sasaki, into contention.

Back at the front, Foggia pushed himself back into second at the expense of Garcia. The GASGAS man tried to respond into the chicance, but got it wrong and was forced wide, costing him his drive out of the corner and dropping him the sixth overall. That gave Masia a couple tenths of breathing space out front, but it didn’t last long as he was soon reeled in by Foggia and Sasaki at S Bleu with just over three laps to go.

A pulsating race reaches a thrilling finale

La Musee is another hot spot for overtaking, and that’s where Sasaki picked off Foggia, relegating the poleman to third. Having bided his time all race, the Japanese rider looked like he would steal the win with just two corners to go, taking the lead on the flick back left at S Bleu. The drama was still far from over, with Masia producing a sensational last corner lunge up the inside to take the win, while Guevara had done something similar to Foggia to deny the pre-season Championship favourite a podium.

La Musee is another hot spot for overtaking, and that’s where Sasaki picked off Foggia, relegating the poleman to third. Having bided his time all race, the Japanese rider looked like he would steal the win with just two corners to go, taking the lead on the flick back left at S Bleu. The drama was still far from over, with Masia producing a sensational last corner lunge up the inside to take the win, while Guevara had done something similar to Foggia to deny the pre-season Championship favourite a podium.

The point scorers

Garcia recorded a P7 finish, meaning his title lead has been cut to 17 points as Masia took the maximum to move into second overall, leapfrogging Foggia. Suzuki finished fifth ahead of Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing Pruestel GP), whose teammate Xavi Artigas recorded a DNF with three laps to go. Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI) ended the day eighth, ahead of Öncü with Migno rounding out the top 10.

Holgado, John McPhee (Sterilgarda Max Racing), Riccardo Rossi, Diogo Moreira and Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) are your other points finishers

Next up for Moto3™ is a date in the rolling Tuscan hills of Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix.

1. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 14 laps
2. Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) + 0.150
3. Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.220
4. Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) + 0.322
5. Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing) + 0.529
6. Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing PrustelGP) + 1.594
7. Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) + 2.007
8. Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI) + 2.275
9. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 2.502
10. Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 2.917

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Aleix Espargaro tops Warm Up at Le Mans

As far as the other front row starters are concerned, Jack Miller was sixth on a 1:31.920, while pole-sitter and fellow Ducati Lenovo Team rider Francesco Bagnaia ended up 13th on a 1:32.176. On another Ducati, Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) had a spill at Turn 3 – rider okay – after setting a 1:31.955 which saw him finish eighth on the timesheet. The session ran in dry conditions but, with the threat of rain later in the day, Miller was among those who practiced a flag-to-flag bike change and some even briefly ran wet Michelin tyres.

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Pole-sitter Acosta sets pace in Moto2™ Warm Up

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta has gone quickest in the Warm Up session before his first ever pole position start in the Moto2™ class, at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. After topping Q2 at Le Mans, the Spaniard set a 1:36.343 to top the Sunday morning session for the intermediate class. Just like in qualifying, Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) was second-quickest and Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) third, on a 1:36.627 and 1:36.902 respectively.

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Masia fastest in Moto3™ Warm Up

Other notables were front row-qualifying Leopard Racing duo Tatsuki Suzuki in 10th on a 1:43.316 and poleman Dennis Foggia in 12th on a 1:43.390. They were split by World Championship leader Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), who went as quick as a 1:43.385. There was unfortunate news out of the CIP Green Power camp before the session, with Joel Kelso withdrawing from the event as he continues to feel the effects of the Warm Up crash he was caught up in a fortnight earlier at Jerez.

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Number 46 to be retired at Mugello

The retirement ceremony will take place on the main straight on Saturday, just ahead of qualifying. Rossi will be in attendance as his legacy is honoured and number retired, having raced the number 46 into the MotoGP™ Legends Hall of Fame over 26 seasons of success – creating one of the most recognisable calling cards in global sport.

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Zarco handed three place grid penalty for Q2 infraction

Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) has been penalised for his Q2 infraction where he disrupted the time attack of Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro. As a result, of being slow on the line and disturbing another rider in Q2, he has been given a 3-place grid penalty for the MotoGP™ race at the SHARK Grand Prix de France.

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10 things you should know before the French GP

5. Aleix Espargaro has qualified third for his fourth front row so far this season, along with Argentina (when he was on pole), Portugal and Jerez. On each of those occasions, he went on to finish on the podium, and if he can do that again this weekend, it will be the first time that Aprilia has scored podiums in three successive premier class races.

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Casadei fends off Zannoni for first MotoE™ win

The fight for victory came down to the final corners and it was Casadei who survived

Mattia Casadei (Pons Racing 40) has become an FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup race winner after he saw off a serious challenge from Kevin Zannoni (Ongetta SIC58 Squadracorse) in Race 1 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. Zannoni threw everything into his bid for victory, but hit the deck on the final lap when he asked too much of his front tyre at Turn 13.

Drama in the opening corners

There was drama as soon as the race started when Casadei’s team-mate Jordi Torres fell in the pack as the they exited the Turn 3/Turn 4 chicane. Torres’ leg was run over initially by Niccolo Canepa (WithU GRT RNF MotoE™ Team) and then Xavi Fores (Octo Pramac MotoE™), neither of whom were able to avoid the stricken Spaniard, before being stretchered from the scene. He was taken to the medical centre and initial reports are, thankfully, that he is not seriously injured.

A duel develops at the front

The net result of a hair-raising opening lap was that Casadei led Zannoni, Hikari Okubo (Avant Ajo MotoE™), and Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP MotoE™). Casadei looked like he might break away but was reeled in by Zannoni as the eight-lap contest reached its halfway mark.

After biding his time for a handful of laps, the SIC58 rider had a big look at the Pons pilot as they sped through the Turn 1/Turn 2 sweeper for the final time. Casadei fended off that attack but Zannoni did not give up, until his challenge came to an end when he folded the front of his Energica Ego Corsa at the penultimate corner of the race.

Casadei won by 0.8 seconds while Aegerter claimed second after passing Okubo at Turn 3 on the second-last lap. Okubo was a maiden podium finisher in third, just ahead of Matteo Ferrari (Felo Gresini MotoE™), Hector Garzo (Tech3 E-Racing), Miquel Pons, and Eric Granado. The latter two, team-mates at the LCR E-Team, had managed to stay upright despite contact exiting Turn 14 in the closing stages of the race.

Canepa made the chequered flag in eighth position, Andrea Mantovani (WithU GRT RNF MotoE™ Team) took ninth, and Alex Escrig (Tech3 E-Racing) was 10th all-told. Escrig had run as high as fourth in the early stages but lost three spots when he ran long at Chemin aux Boeufs (Turn 9/Turn 10) on Lap 2, then had to serve a long lap penalty for the shortcut. Fores ended up 12th and Zannoni was classified a finisher, but in 16th.

The World Cup standings tighten up

Granado won both races in Round 1 of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix, but his lead in the MotoE™ World Cup standings has now been cut to six points, with Aegerter second and Casadei 12 points further back in third.

Will they make up more ground, or can the Brazilian fight back? Tune in for Race 2 on Sunday at 15:30 (GMT +2).

MotoE™ Race 1 Top 5:

1. Mattia Casadei (Pons Racing 40) – 8 laps
2. Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP MotoE) + 0.826
3. Hikari Okubo (Avant Ajo MotoE) + 1.223
4. Matteo Ferrari (Felo Gresini MotoE) + 1.701
5. Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing) + 5.754

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Record-breaking Acosta takes his first Moto2™ pole

The Spanish rookie is now an intermediate class pole-sitter as the lap record fell again at Le Mans

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta has first pole position in the Moto2™ class after breaking his own, hours-old All Time Lap Record at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) qualified second-fastest for Round 7 of the season at Le Mans, and will be in a KTM Ajo sandwich on the front row given Augusto Fernandez was third-quickest in Q2. World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), on the other hand, could not escape Q1.

Pole position decided in two critical moments

Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was the early pace-setter in the second stanza of qualifying, before a nasty-looking highside at Garage Vert (Turn 8). The Briton appeared winded, taking some time to get to his feet before riding a scooter back to the paddock, as the 1:36.071 which he set on his second flyer looked vulnerable.

As it turned out, the front row lap times would all come in the 11th minute of the session. Fernandez was first to better Lowes’ marker when he set a 1:35.963, only for FP3 fast man Acosta to pip his team-mate with a 1:35.803 as he followed him across the line. Then, moments later, Dixon split the KTM Ajo duo with a 1:35.921.

Lowes on Row 2

No one else beat Lowes’ time, however, meaning the Briton is set to start from fourth position when lights go out on Sunday afternoon. Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar) qualified fifth on a 1:36.088 and they will be joined on Row 2 by Alonso Lopez, who has replaced Romano Fenati at MB Conveyors Speed Up, effective this weekend.

Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) took seventh, and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was eighth with the only flying lap which he could get in before crashing at La Chapelle (Turn 6). Rounding out the top 10 were Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), with FP1 fast man Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) 11th after he took a tumble at Chemin aux Boeufs.

Third time unlucky for Vietti in Q1

The story of Q1 was Vietti’s bid to rescue a good starting position. The Italian improved on each of his last three laps in the session, but every time, it was only good enough for fifth position. The last of those efforts was a 1:36.310 which was just six thousandths of a second slower than Jorge Navarro’s best lap, meaning Vietti will launch from 19th on Sunday. Navarro (Flexbox HP40) would go on to secure 12th on the grid in Q2.

Can Vietti get into the points and protect his World Championship lead? The Moto2™ field is back for the Warm Up on Sunday at 09:20 (GMT +2), before the grand prix itself at 12:20.

Moto2™ Q2 Top 10:
1. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 1:35.803
2. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.118
3. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.160
4. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.268
5. Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 0.285
6. Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors Speed Up) + 0.466
7. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 0.500
8. Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.506
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) + 0.538
10. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.548

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Bagnaia blasts his way to pole, Quartararo misses front row

The two rivals put on a show in Le Mans but it’s the Italian who takes Saturday honours with Jack Miller and Aleix Espargaro among the top 3

A magnificent performance from Francesco Bagnaia saw him secure consecutive MotoGP™ pole positions for the first time this season at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. The Italian set a new All Time Lap Record in the process, with his 1:30.450 the fastest two-wheeled lap seen around Le Mans. It’s double delight for the Ducati Lenovo Team, as Jack Miller will join his teammate on the front row, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro’s remarkable run of form continuing. The number 41 takes a third consecutive front row.

French favourites Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) have been consigned to second row starts at their home GP.

Title rivals set the early pace

Having missed the top 10 cut in Free Practice, Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) and Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) navigated through a perilous session to take their places in the battle for pole, but neither could make their mark in the early exchanges. Instead, the first runs gave us our first Bagnaia and Quartararo showdown of the weekend.

Both riders were keen to get a banker lap in early, and it was the Italian who struck first with an impressive 1:30.6 to sit on top. However, it didn’t take long for Quartararo to get the French fans on their feet as he responded by going 0.011s quicker on his next attempt. As the riders returned to their boxes, Round 1 had fallen the way of the reigning World Champion.

Round 2: New contenders entered the fray

As riders returned to the tarmac, they began to close the gap to the top. Zarco was the first to improve and put himself on the front row provisionally, while Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) had gone under Bagnaia’s pace-setting time in the first three sectors. Unfortunately for the two-time premier class race winner, his effort fell just short as he replaced Zarco in P3.

As the session clock ticked down, Bagnaia upped his game once more, posting a rapid lap to break the All Time Lap Record in Le Mans as well as towing teammate Miller into the top two. Moments later, Aleix Espargaro joined them on the front row after a blistering effort from the RS-GP, and all eyes were now on Quartararo.  

The pressure was on the Yamaha rider, and despite a clean two first sectors on his final time attack, he lost time in the third before losing it completely in the fourth, leaving him with a P4 start come lights out. He’ll be joined on the second row by compatriot Zarco, with Bastianini splitting the two in P5.

How does the rest of the grid look?

It proved a commendable salvage job for Joan Mir as he takes P7, and in a familiar sight, he has teammate Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company on the third row. Lining up beside the GSX-RRs is the other Q1 graduate, Jorge Martin.

It was frustration for the Repsol Hondas as Marc Marquez rolled out of his time attack while Pol Espargaro saw his interrupted by Zarco in a near miss incident. They will line up in P10 and P11 respectively, with satellite counterpart Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the top 12.

It’s all set to be a thrilling French GP, and with weather conditions far from certain, it’s set to make for unmissable viewing. Make sure you tune in for lights out at 14:00 CET.

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) – 1:30.450
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.069
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.159
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 0.238
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) + 0.261
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.413
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.493
8. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.527
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.618
10. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.698

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