MotoGP riders reflect on French fracas at Le Mans

2020 MotoGP Round Ten – Le Mans


Rider and Team Manager Quotes

Danilo Petrucci – P1

“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.”

Danilo Petrucci
Alex Marquez – P2

“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!”

Alex Marquez
Pol Espargaro – P3

“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.”

Pol Espargaro
Andrea Dovizioso – P4

“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.”

Andrea Dovizioso
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.”

Johann Zarco
Miguel Oliveira – P6

“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.”

Miguel Oliveira
Takaaki Nakagami – P7

“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.”

Stefan Bradl – P8

“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.”

Stefan Bradl
Fabio Quartararo – P9

“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 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.”

Fabio Quartararo
Maverick Vinales – P10

“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.”

Maverick Vinales – P10
Joan Mir – P11

“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.”

Joan Mir battling Brad Binder
Brad Binder – P12

“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.”

Brad Binder
Pecco Bagnaia – P13

“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.”

Pecco Bagnaia
Aleix Espargaro – P14

“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.”

Iker Lecuona – P15

“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.”

Jack Miller – DNF

“Well … what can I say about that? I felt like that was maybe a win that got away … I’d done everything more or less how I wanted it to, was in position to do something in the final seven laps, and then we had a mechanical. It’s pretty tough to swallow after a couple of races back at Misano when I had Fabio’s (Quartararo) tear-off get stuck in the airbox and ended that race. Just unbelievably bad luck.

Jack Miller

“We had an issue with the engine that sprung up in the warm-up, so we swapped to the second bike for the race. But then when it rained just before the start, we had to switch back to the original bike with the wet set-up, we didn’t have time to fix anything, so we just had to cross our fingers. And then the inevitable happened and it died on me. Just one of those days …

Jack Miller chasing Dovi and Petrucci

“It was a day to score big points too – I spent most of the race chasing Danilo (Petrucci) and ‘Dovi’ (Andrea Dovizioso), and then (Alex) Rins joined in later on. The only one of those ahead of me in the championship was ‘Dovi’ – Fabio was struggling, so was (Joan) Mir, Maverick (Vinales) too. Luckily I didn’t drop too many points to Fabio and I only lost one place in the championship so with five races left I’m still close enough to maybe do something with these races being so unpredictable … but we can’t afford another one like this the rest of the way. Two no-scores from the last two times I’ve been on the front row, neither of them anything to do with me … yeah, it sucks.

Miller chasing Petrucci and Dovizioso

“I don’t want to turn this into a weather report each week but it is becoming a factor now in October in Europe – normally we’re in Japan, Malaysia and home at the Island this month but here we are in Le Mans, we have Valencia coming up, it’s not normal for us to be racing on these sorts of conditions in Europe so it’s been an adjustment. The tracks are so cold even when they’re dry that they’re telling you to be cautious but I find that the harder I push – with some margin of course – but the harder I push straight away, the safer I find it probably is because you get temperature into the tyres straight away. If you go out and you wobble around or you’re not 100 per cent convinced, that’s when I feel it’s more dangerous. There’s no real explanation why I go well in those, let’s call them sketchy, conditions – it’s not just one thing. Bit of feel, bit of courage, bit of disconnect the brain most probably. We have a lot of cold races coming up, so I think that’s going to be pretty important to try to get that right for the rest of the season.

Alex Rins and Jack Miller

“Saying that, it doesn’t work every time … it can definitely bite you on the bum and that’s what happened to me on Saturday in FP3, you guys probably all saw it. That’s the second big highside I’ve had in three race weekends, so I’m getting a little bit over those. My neck and back were a bit stiff on Saturday night and I probably took a few years off my life but other than that I was alright – I was more thinking about Sunday, because this looked like being the best chance we had for a win since, say, Austria. I’ve always liked Le Mans for some reason – I’d finished fourth here the last two years and I had a victory here back in the Moto3 days – so I’ve always felt strong here. I’d been in the podium battle but never actually made it – still haven’t. So today was one that definitely got away.

Jack Miller had a hefty tumble during FP3

“We’ve got Aragon next Sunday (and the one after that too), but some of us went to Portugal before we got to France to check out the circuit where we’ll do the last race in a few weeks. I’d actually never even ridden anything in Portugal before, so to go there, a brand-new track for me … it’s always fun learning a new track, especially a place like that with so many elevation changes and so many corners. I can see why it gets called a rollercoaster, I don’t reckon there’s a corner on it that isn’t blind so I was definitely a little lost the first few laps, wondering exactly where on the track I was! Even just getting out to do some extra riding on the superbike was fun, because the compact season we’ve had means it’s been hard to do much outside of a race weekend. So Portugal is going to be a lot of fun when we go back there, that’s for sure. Hopefully we can get the Ducati to work there – there’s a lot of tight corners which don’t usually suit our bike, but we’ll give it a good crack anyway.”

Jack Miller was looking certain for a podium and even likely for a win before a technical problem
Alex Rins – DNF

“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!”

Alex Rins
Tito Rabat – DNF

“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.”

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.”

Valentino Rossi – DNF

“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.”

Valentino Rossi
Franco Morbidelli – DNF

“I had a good start but unfortunately I was caught up in the incident with Valentino , 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.”

Bradley Smith – DNF

“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.”

Team Managers

Luigi Dall’Igna – 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.”

Petrucci and Ducati celebrate victory
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.”

Red Bull KTM
Hervé Poncharal – Red Bull KTM Tech3 Team Manager

“When we saw the rain coming on the starting grid, we thought it’s going to be a tough race with an unpredictable result. We didn’t know if it was going to be a flag to flag, but finally, it rained hard enough to keep the track wet all race long. Miguel had not such a great start, because he was slowed down by Rossi’s crash in the first turn, but recovered really well. We could see he had the speed and he was passing riders every single lap. He went up to the group with Alex Marquez and Pol Espargaro. We were really close, quite a lot of times fastest in the group and we thought it’s going to be a fight until the end. Then Dovizioso slowed down quite a lot, Pol managed to pass him, we passed him, he repassed us and we lost a lot of time behind him. Pol was gone for the podium and following Dovizioso was enough to slow us down and to be within the reach of Johann (Zarco), who was on the medium rear, that were in a much better shape by the end of the race. We lost the position, not only we didn’t catch fourth, but we lost fifth in the very last corner. That can happen, anyway, it’s only one point between fifth and sixth. Miguel has shown today that he is a very fast and steady rider in the wet. Our bike was well prepared. Congratulations to KTM for another podium with Pol. Altogether this was a positive weekend, although it’s always a bitter feeling to lose a place in the very last corner. Big congratulations to Miguel, he rode really, really well and I think we can only be proud of him. Iker was lost, honestly. The first race in the wet with the MotoGP is never easy. We told him before the race ‘try the best you can, learn, finish the Grand Prix, get information, get feedback, get experience’ and this is what he did. It was good enough to finish in the points. To get one point for 15th position is not something glorious, but this is a reward for the hard work of the weekend. He is a rookie, he is learning and feeling that in these conditions there is still a lot to learn. But we are quite positive and happy with this weekend in Le Mans for the French Grand Prix. Let’s pack everything and move to the next one, which is Aragon.”

Razlan Razali – Petronas SRT 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.

Ken Kawauchi – Suzuki 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.”

Davide Brivio – Suzuki 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.”

Massimo Meregalli – Monster Yamaha 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.”

Piero Taramasso – Michelin

“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.”


MotoGP Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 45m54.736
2 Alex MARQUEZ Honda +1.273
3 Pol ESPARGARO KTM +1.711
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati +3.911
5 Johann ZARCO Ducati +4.31
6 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM +4.466
7 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda +5.921
8 Stefan BRADL Honda +15.597
9 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha +16.687
10 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha +16.895
11 Joan MIR Suzuki +16.98
12 Brad BINDER KTM +27.321
13 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati +33.351
14 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia +39.176
15 Iker LECUONA KTM +51.087
17 Alex RINS Suzuki +1’14.190
Not Classified
DNF Jack MILLER Ducati 7 Laps
DNF Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 8 Laps
DNF Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 9 Laps
DNF Tito RABAT Ducati 12 Laps
DNF Bradley SMITH Aprilia 18 Laps

MotoGP World Championship Standings

Pos

Rider Bike Points
1 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 115
2 Joan MIR Suzuki 105
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 97
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 96
5 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 81
6 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 77
7 Jack MILLER Ducati 75
8 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 73
9 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 69
10 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 64
11 Brad BINDER KTM 62
12 Alex RINS Suzuki 60
13 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 58
14 Alex MARQUEZ Honda 47
15 Johann ZARCO Ducati 47
16 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 42
17 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 24
18 Iker LECUONA KTM 18
19 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 13
20 Bradley SMITH Aprilia 11
21 Stefan BRADL Honda 8
22 Tito RABAT Ducati 8
23 Michele PIRRO Ducati 4

2020 MotoGP Calendar

Rnd Date Circuit
1 08 March (Moto2/Moto3) Losail International Circuit
2 19 July Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto
3 26 July Circuito de Jerez-Ángel Nieto
4 09 August Automotodrom Brno
5 16 August Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
6 23 August Red Bull Ring-Spielberg
7 13 September Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
8 20 September Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli
9 27 September Barcelona – Catalunya
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

Source: MCNews.com.au

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