2020 MotoGP Round Ten – Le Mans
Heading into the Catalan GP, four points covered four riders but now as we saddle up and head for Sarthe home hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) leads by eight-points. The Frenchman won in Barcelona to put himself back on top, staking his claim on the 2020 FIM MotoGP World Championship crown once again after somewhat losing his way during the previous few rounds.
By the final laps though, it was close, thanks to yet another late pace stunner from Suzuki. And this time, there were two: Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and team-mate Alex Rins took a close second and third as they churned through Quartararo’s advantage, and the scene is now set for a showdown of the sophomores at Le Mans. Quartararo 108, Mir 100.
For ‘El Diablo’, there’s home pressure but some home cheer too, and he’ll have to balance that at the same time as the never-ending see-saw of the Championship. Le Mans is a venue tamed to perfection on many an occasion by Yamaha, however, so the omens are good for Quartararo to come out swinging and win on home turf. Can he become the first Frenchman to take to the top step in the premier class at Le Mans and extend his advantage? Mir will be the first trying to stand in his way.
Incredibly, despite being second overall and having taken more consistent podiums than anyone this year, Mir is still yet to win. And the Mayorcan says he won’t be fully locked on to the title as his main target until he’s managed to do so. That’s a pretty clear statement of intent from the Suzuki rider, and if he can show the same form as we’ve now come to expect, he is to be expected in the fight at the front. With a little less work to do from a higher grid position, or even just a better shuffle of the dice at Turn 1, Mir could easily already have been a winner… and the home hero vs the hungry bridesmaid could make one awesome showdown come Sunday.
Rins will be hoping to keep his form rolling too – it was over a year since his Silverstone win and the last time he’d been on the podium – and his impressive ride through the field from outside the top ten gave Suzuki their first double podium since 2007. The Hamamatsu factory have also won a MotoGP race at Le Mans, although in the wet… in that same 2007.
Quartararo’s fellow Yamahas will be gunning to pin back the Suzuki charge, however. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) had a muted Catalan GP after getting shuffled back at Turn 1 and he lost ground, but he’s a man with serious form at Le Mans, having won in 2017 with an imperious performance. He’s only 18 points off the top too. His team-mate Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, will also be out for revenge after bad luck in Barcelona. The number 46 crashed out of second and will want to make amends, but like last time out, both he and Viñales will likely also have Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) for company in the Yamaha shootout. Bad news for each individual rider with that stiff competition, but great news for Yamaha.
For former points leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), however, the venue could be a little less welcoming: Ducati have never won at Le Mans. Now 24 points off the top after getting wiped out early on in Barcelona, the Italian faces a mountain to climb to get back in the hunt. He’ll want to start sooner rather than later, and rake in some solid points as a minimum.
Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia will want the same and to take the honour of top Borgo Panigale machine, as will Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team). And there’s a Frenchman on a Ducati to contend with too: Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing). The number 5 has known home glory at Le Mans, and he’ll throw everything at it to taste success again.
And what of KTM? The Austrian factory had a tougher time of it in Barcelona, although some bad luck also played its hand in that. How will they fare in France? Their impressive step forward in 2020 is illustrated by asking ‘what happened’ after only one race without a KTM on the podium.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will be aiming to put that right, and rookie team-mate Brad Binder will want to iron out some of his troubles since that stunner of a win at Brno. Styrian GP winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) can’t be counted out in the charge either, and what can his rookie teammate Iker Lecuona do?
Speaking of rookies, Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) is another who will want more in France. The number 73 seriously impressed in Misano before a more difficult race on home turf, where the more experienced Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) pulled well clear to finish the race as top Honda. Nakagami could be one to watch in France, with the Japanese rider now the only man to have scored in every race so far in 2020. And they haven’t been a run of 15ths – the number 30 is well up there most weekends, only just out the podium fight.
Teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) impressed on his return from injury as he gritted his teeth to a top ten too – will the Brit manage to make his way further forward in France? And can Aprilia Racing Team Gresini move up the board too? Another test for the Noale factory after Barcelona gives them more data, and they’ll want some more solid points as a minimum as they continue their push forward.
There’s no better way to head into your home race than off the back of a win, but there’s more at stake for Quartararo in the French GP than simply home glory. Another win now would extend that advantage into a little breathing space, and be a serious warning shot for his rivals – all whilst hearing the Marseillaise ring out across Le Mans. But Mir is a man on a mission; Viñales, Rossi, Rins, Morbidelli and more are waiting in the wings… and there are still six races to go in a rollercoaster 2020. Who will reign Le Mans? Place your bets – but be prepared for the odds to change again.
MotoGP goes racing in France at the slightly earlier time so even after those of us in the Daylight Savings States can tune in for the race at 2200 on Sunday night. Full weekend schedule further down this page.
MotoGP World Championship Standings
The time has come. After some stellar races at Jerez and Misano, the two final showdowns of the 2020 FIM Enel MotoE World Cup are now just around the corner and it’s the new – for MotoE at least – venue of Le Mans that plays host. With seasoned veterans taking on rookies in the fight for the crown, that makes for an interesting twist – with no one on the grid having any electric experience at the French track. Everything is on the line as the final 50 points of the year are in play, and after the drama we’ve seen already this season, it remains anyone’s game.
Heading in, it’s 2019 Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) on top. The Italian has been consistent as ever and keeps reeling in the points, putting him four clear of his nearest challenger, Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP). Ferrari, however, made his own mistake in Andalucia to dent the maximum he could have scored – whereas Aegerter lost the lead in Misano as he fell victim to another rider’s mistake. Will that change their approach heading into the finale? Aegerter needs to gain but four points isn’t much of a deficit – and he knows he’s been more than fast enough to have battled it out in every race, taking a podium or win every time he’s made it to the line.
In third there’s another fast rookie to contend with as well: Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40). The Spaniard took his first E-Pole in Misano and although he’s yet to win, he’s only seven points down. That’s not a mountain to climb with two races coming up and 50 points left, and he’ll also be pushing hard to take a victory to tick that box. How hard? He said he chose reward over risk last time out, so the wily veteran will be balancing that all weekend. Now it’s the finale, though, there’s no more long game left.
The final more likely candidate for the crown – although it’s a longer shot – is Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse). The Italian has been in the top five all season and he comes into the final round off the back of his best result yet: an impressive second place, after fighting for the lead. What can he do? He’s 15 points down, but with the twists and turns we’ve seen so far, he could even end up 10 points up by just the end of Race 1…
Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) is another interesting prospect. He’s technically still in contention as he’s on 43 points to Ferrari’s 86, but that would require a serious shockwave of events to rip through the races. Nevertheless, he could be playing a vital part as he took the first win of the year and has, barring any mistakes, been quick everywhere. What if Granado is the man ahead of the two or three riders right at the top? Do they attack or settle for the points? And will the Brazilian ride like he has nothing to lose?
Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team) and teammate Xavier Simeon are also still technically in contention, and the former has had a couple of impressive top five rides already in 2020. Simeon, meanwhile, has already been on the podium… before disaster struck as he fell victim to another rider’s crash and suffered a technical problem. Can he get in the mix at the front?
Home hero Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) is another who’ll be pushing hard – especially on home turf – and his two most recent top finishes were solid sixths, which puts him just on the cusp of that battle at the front. Can he move forward?
Australia’s Josh Hook will be aiming to finish the season on a high after struggling to perfect a set-up with the MotoE machine so far this season. Hook certainly knows the circuit better than most as he turned over 100 laps there on his way to victory with F.C.C. TSR Honda at this years Le Mans 24 Hour.
Last but by no means least, there’s also the new grid formation for Race 2 to contend with. The results from the first race are now pivotal as they decide starting positions for the second, so there’s a lot to be won – and lost – on Saturday. Who will come out on top in the final weekend of the season? Ferrari, Aegerter, Torres? Casadei? Or will drama flip the form book completely?
FIM Enel MotoE World Cup Standings
1 – Matteo Ferrari – (Trentino Gresini MotoE) – Energica – 86
2 – Dominique Aegerter – (Dynavolt Intact GP) – Energica – 82
3 – Jordi Torres – (Pons Racing 40) – Energica – 79
4 – Mattia Casadei – (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) – Energica – 71
5 – Eric Granado – (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) – Energica – 43
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|10||11 October||Le Mans|
|11||18 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|12||25 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|
Le Mans Schedule (AEST)
|0015 (Sun)||MotoE||Race 1|
|0040 (Mon)||MotoE||Race 2|