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MotoGP riders reflect on crazy qualifying at Le Mans

2021 MotoGP Round Five Le Mans Qualifying

Rain, shine, or something in between? Saturday at the SHARK Grand Prix de France presented quite a challenge for the MotoGP grid, but the final few minutes of Q2 eventually delivered a stunning shootout for pole on a dry track. And who came out on top? Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the Frenchman taking back-to-back poles at Le Mans to pip teammate Maverick Viñales to the top and make it a factory Yamaha team 1-2 on the grid for the first time since 2017. Third went to Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), the Jerez winner just a tenth off pole.

Fabio Quartararo has qualified on pole for the first time in three successive races since he did it four times in a row from Malaysia 2019 to Andalucia 2020. This is his 13th overall premier class pole, equalling Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi.

MotoGP Rider Quotes Qualifying

2021 French GP Qualifying MotoGP front row
1 Fabio Quartararo – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – 1:32.600
2 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.081
3 Jack Miller – Ducati Lenovo Team – Ducati – +0.104

Fabio Quartararo – P1

“I think this was the qualifying I was the most nervous for. Not because it’s in France, but I was supposed to go out with a soft front and medium rear wet tyre combination, and I never tried the medium. In mixed conditions we are bad, but I saw it was dry and said, ’It’s time for slicks.‘ And then on the last lap I was like, ’Okay, now is my time to send it and do my best. I either get front row or I crash.‘ There were some wet patches in the last sector. I was sideways everywhere, but we made it. The goal was front row, but pole position is even better.”

This is the second successive premier class pole for a French rider at Le Mans and the fourth overall: Fabio Quartararo (2020/2021), Johann Zarco (2018), and Christian Sarron (1987) (since 1974 when pole started to be officially recorded).

Maverick Vinales – P2

“It went quite well today. We’ve secured a good starting position, and this is important. But I made many mistakes during the lap, and this cost us the pole position. Anyway, I have a good rhythm, which is good for tomorrow, and in FP4 I just kept running with used tyres to see how that would work for us, and it actually went quite well. So, I’m very happy, and let’s see if we can improve to be faster for the race.”

Maverick Viñales, who won the MotoGP race at Le Mans in 2017, has qualified second for his best qualifying result since he was also second in Aragon last year. This is the first Yamaha factory team 1-2 in qualifying since Mugello in 2017.

Jack Miller – P3

“Just before Q2, the sun came out, so we decided to keep one of the bikes in full dry configuration. I went out first on wet tyres, but I soon realized that the track was almost dry, so I came back in as quickly as possible to change my bike. The conditions here are really unpredictable, and you have to try and make the most of all the opportunities. In fact, just before I set my fastest lap, it started raining again! Starting from the front row is really important, considering that it will probably rain tomorrow. Anyway, we’re ready to face the race in whatever weather conditions”.

Winner at the Spanish GP, Jack Miller has qualified third for his third successive front row start at Le Mans. He will be aiming to become the first Australian to win back-to-back MotoGP races since Casey Stoner in 2012 (Jerez and Estoril).

Franco Morbidelli – P4

“I’m happy with this fourth position. It has been a difficult day with tricky conditions, but we were able to overcome them and had a good strategy in qualifying. We were rewarded with this place at the head of the second row, so I’m happy about that. My knee is okay and Clinica Mobile has been helping with some treatment for it. It feels alright while I am riding. It’s going to be a tough race and we know that it will be important to start it from the front two rows. Let’s see what we can do, we’re ready to fight for the podium tomorrow.”

Franco Morbidelli has qualified fourth which is his best qualifying over his four visits to Le Mans in the premier class. He will be aiming to stand on the podium for the first time in back-to-back races since Valencia and Portugal last year.

Johann Zarco – P5

“I am happy, I cannot complain. The track conditions were strange, so we started out with rain tyres with the aim to test them in case of wet conditions tomorrow. As soon as we set up the dry tires, I was able to play the game my way. I set a good time and I feel I am ready for tomorrow.”

Johann Zarco has qualified fifth as the second Ducati rider, which is the fifth successive time he starts from the front two rows of the grid. He will be aiming to become the fifth different French rider to win in the premier class so far.

Marc Marquez – P6

“This morning in the wet I was feeling more ‘normal’, because it’s less demanding on the physical side. I was riding well in FP4 and also in Qualifying, but the conditions weren’t perfect and the grip was low which meant slower lap times. When it’s like this I am riding better but when you have to really push to the limit, that’s when it is harder with my physical condition. It was a bit of a shame in Qualifying as I was the first rider to take the flag and it looks like one more lap could have been a big help. But I am pleased with what we have accomplished today.”

A crash for Marquez on Saturday

 

And a save…

Takaaki Nakagami – P7

“Qualifying was very tricky as we always had to keep checking the track condition. There was some wet, some rain and some sunshine. It went really quickly from wet to dry and our strategy was really good as we waited at the start of the session and then realised we could go with slick tyres. Lap by lap we tried to develop the lap time and I felt really good on the bike. In the last minutes I slightly misread the conditions as I felt some rain drops and slowed down and missed the opportunity to improve the lap time. Anyway, P7 is good and we are ready for the race and have good confidence, I’m really looking forward to it.”

Takaaki Nakagami

Pol Espargaro – P8

“I’m disappointed with myself. After some hard races, we had a chance to fight for the top three or even pole. I was taking it easy two laps from the end because it started to rain but these two laps cooled the tyre a bit too much, then when I asked more from the tyre it couldn’t take it and I went down. I was two tenths faster than Fabio and Jack through the first sector and they ended on the front row. We showed the potential we have, which is good, but it’s also a shame because there was a lot on offer today. Tomorrow is a new day and a lot can happen in the race.”

Third last year at the French GP, Pol Espargaro, who crashed at the end of Q2, has qualified in eighth place, which is his best qualifying result since he joined Honda this season.

Valentino Rossi – P9

“We did the right strategy, going with the slick tyre, in qualifying and it gave us a small advantage. Unfortunately I had a moment in the second lap because I touched a damp patch, and I could not be at 100% in the final two corners without taking too much risk and I did not have complete confidence after this. This weekend though we have improved the pace, compared to the first few races, and the feeling. We will see tomorrow what happens because the weather is really unpredictable. The race is about 42 minutes long and in that time today it changed from wet to dry three times, this will make it very difficult. Personally I would prefer it to be a dry race, because this is where I feel more comfortable. Starting from the third row we have to try to have the best race possible.”

Valentino Rossi has qualified ninth which is his best qualifying result since he was fourth at the opening race of the season in Qatar (this was also the last time he scored points). He has qualified ninth twice at Le Mans in the premier class (2011 and 2018) and both times he went on to finish third.

Miguel Oliveira – P10

“It was a good day overall and I was competitive in every condition. It was a bit chaotic and strange day for the weather but we could be competitive. In qualification it was a shame to crash but I got to the first sector to find it was raining there! The marshals were not showing the rain flags and by the time I realised it was fully wet it was too late. It was unfortunate because I think I could have done much better than I did but we have good pace for tomorrow and I’m confident. I’m having fun on the bike and everything is coming easy. For sure we are optimistic for the race.”

Miguel Oliveira

Lorenzo Savadori – P11

“I am incredibly happy with these qualifiers, especially because it honours Aprilia’s hard work and the trust this team has always placed in me. In these conditions, with the bike moving around a lot, I am able to find a good feeling because the sensations come close to the ones I’m used to coming from the factory derivative categories. In fact, in the dry, where it takes a lot of precision and stability, I am still lacking the experience to ride the way I’d like to. As for tomorrow, above all, we need to be ready and reactive to the changing weather. Managing the race will be fundamental.”

After passing through Q1, Lorenzo Savadori joined Q2 for the first time and qualified 11th as the first Aprilia rider for his best qualifying result in MotoGP.

Luca Marini – P12

“With the whole team we did a great job to better manage the mixed conditions on the track. It was important to make the right decisions and not make mistakes. We reached Q2 and I must say that I have a good feeling in the wet. It is a kind of condition in which to continue working because it opens up more possibilities. In the dry it would have been impossible to think about getting into Q2, but on wet asphalt the bikes are more similar and the slopes are different. In the dry, we fight more, I lack confidence, experience, we only rode a little here, but the difference from the beginning is not bad at all. For tomorrow I don’t think we will change much on the bike even if we are not at 100%, but the Warm Up is very early in the morning and probably in the wet. We continue to work on the data to take a step forward in the race”

Luca Marini

Aleix Espargaro – P13

“A pity about the qualifiers. Unfortunately, I made a mistake not boxing to put on the medium rain tyre. With the track drying out, the soft tyres got too hot and the bike moved around a lot, especially at the front. I tried to do a slow lap to let them cool, but it wasn’t enough. The position definitely does not reflect the feeling I had. If it’s a dry race tomorrow, I think we’ll be fast, despite not having much data. In the eventuality of a wet track, things will be less predictable but I’m comforted by the fact that the 2021 RS-GP works well in any conditions.”

Joan Mir – P14

“Overall it hasn’t been a bad day, but this isn’t the best track for us, and I feel that 14th place on the grid is not showing my real potential – I felt quite strong in both conditions, in wet and dry, and my pace was quite nice. I lost a couple of laps at the end of qualifying, I think maybe I overcooked the tyres or something because the track dried out quickly. But anyway, it’s all useful experience and lessons that I will use in the future, and I am pleased because I’ve already improved my performance in the wet compared with last year. The team have done a really great job with the bike. Starting 14th on the grid is manageable as long as I stay focused; it’s not so different to other recent grid slots, so I’m optimistic.”

Suzuki riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins are P14 and P15

Alex Rins – P15

“It’s been a difficult day ‘at the office’ and I have quite a bad grid position for tomorrow. I made a mistake with my strategy; I chose the medium front and soft rear tyres to start, and I think with the medium rear I would’ve been able to push more and then maybe my grid place would have been better, but there was no time to stop. Let’s see what the weather is like tomorrow, we could have wet, dry, or mixed conditions and for sure it will be a big show. If the race is dry I think I have a chance for the podium because I feel good in the dry and my base settings and confidence are good. If it’s wet or mixed I will flow with the bike, work with a good strategy – prepared for all scenarios – and give my best.”

Francesco Bagnaia – P16

“After a good session in the wet this morning, I wasn’t able to repeat myself in Q1 this afternoon. In qualifying, we made a wrong tyre choice and unfortunately, I didn’t have time to come back in and change it. Today it went like this and, as always, tomorrow we will try to fight for the best possible result in the race”.

Francesco Bagnaia

Danilo Petrucci – P17

“It was a crazy Qualifying and I needed to recover from a difficult setup from yesterday. To be honest, with the weather today we couldn’t really do anything, but at least we managed to close the gap to the front. For sure, it’s not the place we want, but at least we understood the way to follow. We need to continue like this. Tomorrow it would be very, very good to score some points and be in the mix. It won’t be easy, but I’m happy about the work the team did today.”

Danilo Petrucci

Iker Lecuona – P18

“It was a difficult day. This morning in wet conditions I felt really good and very fast. In dry FP4 I was well inside the top 10, so I felt pretty good and strong to make it to Q2, but it started to rain a few minutes ahead of Q1 and that made our life difficult. Finally, I was struggling a lot and it’s definitely not the position we wanted and we deserved because we have been working very well throughout the weekend. Tomorrow we try to push!”

Iker Lecuona

Álex Márquez – P19

“In the morning in the wet we were not bad; we had a good shape and I was happy with that as I had a good feeling. Then in FP4 it was half and half conditions, but I felt we took a step in the dry compared to yesterday and I was feeling ok with the lap time. Then in Q1 it started raining and it was a good opportunity for us to go to Q2, but it seems that whatever I try this year, goes wrong. I’m sad for me and sad for the team, but tomorrow we have another chance and I will try again.”

Álex Márquez

Tito Rabat – P20

“The track conditions are not easy, I am trying to do everything possible and tomorrow I will give my all. I would like to have a good race tomorrow. I slipped in turn six, but I didn’t hurt myself. There were not any consequences.”

Tito Rabat

Brad Binder – P21

“Difficult, difficult day. I haven’t had the speed this weekend. I haven’t been uncomfortable…but I haven’t been fast! I need to translate the good feeling tomorrow into speed. Qualifying was a bit of a disaster because there were yellow flags for two laps and I had to sit up and not cook the rear tyre and then just ran out of time. Not the best scenario. Tomorrow we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure we can do a far better job.”

Brad Binder

Enea Bastianini – P22

“It was a great chaos and I wasn’t lucky, because they gave me the checkered flag and I couldn’t finish the last lap well because there were yellow flags and I would have done 1’44.5 that they canceled me. It would be a better starting position but in the end we started on the 22nd. For tomorrow I would like it to be the dry race because already in FP4 I had a good rhythm that has positioned me 12 and only improve T4 which is where I lose a bit. In case it has to rain tomorrow that I’m not yet comfortable with this bike, I prefer the Warm Up to also be in the wet to pick up the pace and ride the bike better in these conditions.”

Enea Bastianini

French GP Qualifying Report

In Q1, a drying track made it anyone’s game and there were a few spills, some thrills and definitely a couple of surprises. Crashing early on despite his impressive pace in a damp FP3, Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was jogging back to the pits as the rest got down to really testing out the conditions… but there was a real phoenix moment on the way.

As the track improved more and more, so did the laptimes at the top. But none more than Savadori. The Italian was back out and flexing his wet weather prowess once again as the clock ticked down, and crossing the line the Italian topped the session by a whopping eight tenths of a second. From whom? Fellow rookie Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia). Tagged on to the back of Championship leader and compatriot Francesco Bagnaia, Marini improved and then improved again on his final push to top the session, just before Savadori’s final wonder.

Fabio Quartararo has qualified on pole for the first time in three successive races since he did it four times in a row from Malaysia 2019 to Andalucia 2020. This is his 13th overall premier class pole, equalling Sete Gibernau and Loris Capirossi.

The two rookies moved through then, leaving Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just knocked out by his teammate, as well as reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) next up and his teammate Alex Rins. Championship leader Bagnaia? He’ll be 16th on the grid…

And so Q2 began, with no more rain having come down. Decisions needed to be made for the Q2 runners at the beginning of the pole position fight, and we witnessed Valentino Rossi and Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli gamble on slick tyres.

It looked like the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad had made the right call as Miller, Quartararo and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) pulled straight back in to switch. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Savadori were also all on slicks, but Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) wasn’t and was soon on his way back to pitlane for a tyre change – as was Viñales.

Rossi was on a good lap before visiting the gravel trap

By then, the riders on slick tyres were lighting up the timing screens. Rossi was out of the seat at the final corner; his lap was ruined and Morbidelli eclipsed Zarco’s best wet tyre lap, but then Miller demolished them all to go 1.2s quicker than anyone. Pol Espargaro slotted into an early P2 as Quartararo and Savadori clocked into P3 and P4, Morbidelli next to improve to move back up to second. Incredibly though, Miller then cut his best by a second again, and Pol Espargaro once more came through as the Aussie’s closest challenger.

It was far from over. Everyone was constantly improving, and Zarco briefly went provisional pole, Miller beat him by nine tenths and then Pol Espargaro finally demoted Miller to second by 0.157s. Marc Marquez then joined his teammate on the front row with four minutes to go, and Nakagami made it three Hondas in the top four for the time being.

Winner at the Spanish GP, Jack Miller has qualified third for his third successive front row start at Le Mans. He will be aiming to become the first Australian to win back-to-back MotoGP races since Casey Stoner in 2012 (Jerez and Estoril).

Morbidelli hit back next for second, but not for long. Marc Marquez beat teammate Pol Espargaro by 0.113s, before Nakagami split the two to make it a Honda 1-2-3… and rain then started to fall at Turn 1. It looked like the three HRC men had timed their laps to perfection, but no. Suddenly, Viñales and Zarco set red sectors, before Quartararo did too.

Viñales was the first to cross the line and break Repsol Honda hearts to grab provisional pole position off Marc Marquez, Zarco then took second and Morbidelli also got the better of the number 93’s time.

Quartararo was the rider to watch though and, laying it all on the line in the final sector, it was going down to Yamaha vs Yamaha for pole. Could he hold on? he could. El Diablo beat his teammate’s time by 0.081s, and a shadowing Miller came through to snatched a late front row as well.

Yamaha 1-2 on the grid

The first factory Yamaha 1-2 since 2017, when a certain Viñales went on to win, joined by the most recent race winner? Another stellar Saturday that – for the third time in a row – belonged to Quartararo. Arm pump surgery to home GP pole is the story of his last couple of weeks, that’s two in a row for Quartararo at Le Mans to boot.

Morbidelli and Zarco’s final flying laps ensure they have solid grid positions for the French GP, in fourth and fifth, with Marc Marquez left down on the outside of the second row by the end of the shuffle. Nakagami and Pol Espargaro – who suffered a late crash at Turn 7 – will also have to settle for les than it seemed had been promised, taking P7 and P8 respectively.

Rossi was able to better his time on the last lap to earn P9 and his best grid position since the season opener with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the top 10, despite a crash, ahead of Q1 graduates Savadori and Marini. With Bagnaia and the Suzukis looking for quick progress too… Sunday promises plenty.

Marc Marquez, who has won three times in MotoGP at Le Mans, has qualified in sixth equalling his best result since he came back from injury in Portugal earlier this season. This is, however, his worst qualifying in the class at the track.

MotoGP Combined Qualification

Pos Rider Bike Q Time/Gap
1 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA Q2 1m32.600
2 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA Q2 +0.081
3 Jack MILLER DUCATI Q2 +0.104
4 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA Q2 +0.166
5 Johann ZARCO DUCATI Q2 +0.277
6 Marc MARQUEZ HONDA Q2 +0.437
7 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA Q2 +0.520
8 Pol ESPARGARO HONDA Q2 +0.550
9 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA Q2 +0.791
10 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM Q2 +1.267
11 Lorenzo SAVADORI APRILIA Q2 +1.658
12 Luca MARINI DUCATI Q2 +1.665
13 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA Q1 (*) 0.868
14 Joan MIR SUZUKI Q1 (*) 0.872
15 Alex RINS SUZUKI Q1 (*) 0.973
16 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI Q1 (*) 0.980
17 Danilo PETRUCCI KTM Q1 (*) 1.307
18 Iker LECUONA KTM Q1 (*) 1.774
19 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA Q1 (*) 2.596
20 Tito RABAT DUCATI Q1 (*) 3.040
21 Brad BINDER KTM Q1 (*) 3.361
22 Enea BASTIANINI DUCATI Q1 (*) 3.573

MotoGP Championship Standings

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 66
2 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 64
3 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 50
4 Joan MIR Suzuki 49
5 Johann ZARCO Ducati 48
6 Jack MILLER Ducati 39
7 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 35
8 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha 33
9 Alex RINS Suzuki 23
10 Brad BINDER KTM 21
11 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 19
12 Enea BASTIANINI Ducati 18
13 Jorge MARTIN Ducati 17
14 Pol ESPARGARO Honda 17
15 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 16
16 Stefan BRADL Honda 11
17 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM 9
18 Alex MARQUEZ Honda 8
19 Danilo PETRUCCI KTM 5
20 Luca MARINI Ducati 4
21 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 4
22 Lorenzo SAVADORI Aprilia 2
23 Iker LECUONA KTM 2
24 Tito RABAT Ducati 0

Moto2

There’s something about Red Bull KTM Ajo rookies in 2021! Moto2’s Raul Fernandez clinched his maiden intermediate class pole position thanks to a 1:50.135 in a damp Q2 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France, beating Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) to the top by over two tenths. Q1 graduate Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) completes the front row, the American pulling some pace out of the bag on Saturday after a difficult Day 1.

2021 French GP Qualifying Moto2 front row
1 Raul Fernandez – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – 1:50.135
2 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex – +0.240
3 Joe Roberts – Italtrans Racing Team – Kalex – +0.379

A dry Q1 saw Roberts, Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Simone Corsi and MV Agusta Forward Racing teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri earn themselves a shot at pole position in Q2, but a spanner was thrown in the works before the green light. Rain once again started to fall at Le Mans, but once more, it didn’t stay around for long. It was in the air and the surface was damp but tyre choice was far from cemented.

Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was out on slick tyres at first and his closest Free Practice challenger Raul Fernandez initially went out on wet tyres, then got a box call, but the Spaniard went straight back out on the wets. Roberts ran straight into the gravel at Turn 8 in some early drama too, as then Lowes pulled into pitlane for… wets.

On track meanwhile, Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the early pacesetter from Ogura, but there was plenty of drama to come. Ogura crashed unhurt on the exit of Turn 7, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) went down at Turn 14 shortly afterwards and then Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) was the next to crash at Turn 8. Raul Fernandez was just behind his compatriot and ran straight on too. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Corsi were the next riders to crash as the field tried to find the limit.

All that while at the top, Roberts was provisional pole, but it didn’t last too long. Raul Fernandez pulled out 1.2s on the American with four and a half minutes to go, but the number 16 soon returned the favour to go back to P1 by 0.6s. Roberts improved his lap again thereafter to go a second clear of the competition, but Gardner was on a charge and was next to take over. Lowes, back out on the wets, moved himself into third in the meantime… but Raul Fernandez was lighting up the timing screens. This time round, it was seventh tenths in his pocket at the top.

With conditions continually improving, Roberts then slotted back into P2 as Gardner made a mistake in the third sector to end his hopes of a pole position. No such mistake came from his teammate. Raul Fernandez pulled out even more time to take over at the top once more, with Bezzecchi then shooting up the timesheets to slot into second. Roberts was demoted to third, but holds on to an impressive front row after a tougher Friday. And Raul Fernandez? No one had an answer for the Moto2 rookie sensation and the young Spaniard claimed his first intermediate class pole position.

Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) left it late to claim P4 in qualifying, his best of the year, and the Spaniard is joined by compatriot Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) on the second row. Gardner slipped down to P7 in the closing stages and was over a second adrift of his teammate after running wide at Turn 8 on his last lap.

Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40) recovered from his big Friday crash to pick up a best Saturday result of the season in eighth, just ahead of his teammate Stefano Manzi. And Lowes? There’s work to do for the man second in the Championship after his worst Q2 of the season, the Brit starting down in 10th.

That’s it from a tricky Saturday at Le Mans, with the weather likely to change again on Sunday! Can the rookie hold on, or will it be another shuffle come race day?

Raul Fernandez has qualified on pole position for the first time in Moto2, becoming the first rookie to do so in the class since Aron Canet at the Styrian GP last year. Only one rider has won a Moto2 race from pole at Le Mans, however: Francesco Bagnaia in 2018.

Moto2 Combined Qualification

Pos Rider Bike Q Time/Gap
1 Raul FERNANDEZ KALEX Q2 1m50.135
2 Marco BEZZECCHI KALEX Q2 +0.240
3 Joe ROBERTS KALEX Q2 +0.379
4 Aron CANET BOSCOSCURO Q2 +0.647
5 Augusto FERNANDEZ KALEX Q2 +0.661
6 Bo BENDSNEYDER KALEX Q2 +0.997
7 Remy GARDNER KALEX Q2 +1.011
8 Hector GARZO KALEX Q2 +1.080
9 Stefano MANZI KALEX Q2 +1.225
10 Sam LOWES KALEX Q2 +1.896
11 Nicolò BULEGA KALEX Q2 +2.088
12 Xavi VIERGE KALEX Q2 +2.138
13 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI   ITA MV AGUSTA Q2 +2.452
14 Marcel SCHROTTER KALEX Q2 +2.618
15 Fabio DI GIANNANTONI   ITA KALEX Q2 +3.263
16 Ai OGURA KALEX Q2 +4.301
17 Simone CORSI MV AGUSTA Q2 +5.274
18 Jorge NAVARRO BOSCOSCURO Q2 +6.571
19 Tony ARBOLINO KALEX Q1 (*) 0.483
20 Somkiat CHANTRA KALEX Q1 (*) 0.520
21 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA   ITA KALEX Q1 (*) 0.560
22 Marcos RAMIREZ KALEX Q1 (*) 0.567
23 Thomas LUTHI KALEX Q1 (*) 0.615
24 Cameron BEAUBIER KALEX Q1 (*) 0.840
25 Albert ARENAS BOSCOSCURO Q1 (*) 0.885
26 Jake DIXON KALEX Q1 (*) 0.893
27 Hafizh SYAHRIN NTS Q1 (*) 1.005
28 Celestino VIETTI KALEX Q1 (*) 1.287
29 Barry BALTUS NTS Q1 (*) 1.479
30 Tommaso MARCON MV AGUSTA Q1 (*) 1.818
31 Alonso LOPEZ BOSCOSCURO Q1 (*) 2.483

Moto2 Championship Top Five

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Remy GARDNER Kalex 69
2 Sam LOWES Kalex 66
3 Raul FERNANDEZ Kalex 63
4 Marco BEZZECCHI Kalex 56
5 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO Kalex 52

Moto3

Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) pulled out an incredible two seconds on the field in a damp qualifying session at the SHARK Grand Prix de France, the Italian getting into the groove on slicks and the clock proving his only rival by the end of the session. 2.001 is the gap back to a career best qualifying for Riccardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) in second, with Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the front row. The gap from Migno back to Rossi is the largest margin for the rider on pole in Moto3 history.

2021 French GP Qualifying Moto3 top three
1 Andrea Migno – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda – 1:47.407
2 Riccardo Rossi – BOE Owlride – Honda – +2.001
3 Jaume Masia – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – +2.204

All eyes were on Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in Q1, with the Championship leader not moving through on Friday – and FP3 then dawning wet. The bad news continued as well, with the number 37 not quite able to make it happen and left a little out of position on the grid outside the top 20. Polesitter in Jerez, it was Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who topped the session from Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) to move through, the two joined by Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3). And then the rain came down…

A few drops at first saw many head out early, but they soon scuttled back into pitlane as it became a very real, although brief, downpour. Suzuki was the first to set a real time once riders headed back on track, before Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) took over. Early drama struck for Rossi and Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) as they both tumbled out at Turn 11, but riders ok and able to get back out. The rain wasn’t coming back either, so it seemed like whoever went last could well be first..

Masia took to the top three minutes later, but the Spaniard was soon deposed by Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3). And then came Migno. Fastest and then improving a couple of minutes later to go even faster as he got the slicks in the zone, the Italian was on a roll. So too was compatriot Rossi, however, and the BOE Owlride man was able to take over on provisional pole in an impressive bounce back from his earlier crash. But Migno remained on track, and the red sectors were lighting up the timing screens…

Incredibly, as he rounded the final corner and gunned it to the line, the Italian had over two seconds in hand, taking his second pole position of the season in stunning, if damp, style to start the SHARK Grand Prix de France from the front with the largest margin ever. Rossi retains second for his best ever qualifying, with Masia locking out the front row.

Former Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) heads up Row 2, joined by Rodrigo and Antonelli despite the crash for the latter early in the session. Salač, despite a highside at the final corner, is another whose damage control was on point as he takes seventh, up and back on track right after the incident. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Moto3) and Suzuki complete Row 3.

Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) and Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP) lock out the fourth row, ahead of Öncü, Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) after a crash for the latter dented his Q2.

That leaves Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) down in P16 and the South African will be joining Pedro Acosta on the charge forward on race day. Will it be wet, will it be dry? Will there be yet more drama waiting in the wings?

Andrea Migno has qualified on pole position for the third time in his GP career along with Valencia in 2019 and Portugal earlier this year. Over his last two poles, he went on to finish on the podium, second in Valencia and third in Portugal.

Moto3 Combined Qualification

Pos Rider Bike Q Time/Gap
1 Andrea MIGNO HONDA Q2 1m47.407
2 Riccardo ROSSI KTM Q2 +2.001
3 Jaume MASIA KTM Q2 +2.204
4 John MCPHEE HONDA Q2 +2.233
5 Gabriel RODRIGO HONDA Q2 +2.277
6 Niccolò ANTONELLI KTM Q2 +2.487
7 Filip SALAC HONDA Q2 +3.187
8 Sergio GARCIA GASGAS Q2 +3.379
9 Tatsuki SUZUKI HONDA Q2 +3.520
10 Romano FENATI HUSQVARNA Q2 +3.555
11 Stefano NEPA KTM Q2 +3.738
12 Ryusei YAMANAKA KTM Q2 +3.896
13 Deniz ÖNCÜ KTM Q2 +3.968
14 Jason DUPASQUIER KTM Q2 +4.103
15 Ayumu SASAKI KTM Q2 +4.925
16 Darryn BINDER HONDA Q2 +5.104
17 Jeremy ALCOBA HONDA Q2 +6.627
18 Dennis FOGGIA HONDA Q2 +6.938
19 Kaito TOBA KTM Q1 (*) 0.270
20 Carlos TATAY KTM Q1 (*) 0.283
21 Pedro ACOSTA KTM Q1 (*) 0.356
22 Maximilian KOFLER KTM Q1 (*) 0.373
23 Yuki KUNII HONDA Q1 (*) 0.616
24 Andi Farid IZDIHAR HONDA Q1 (*) 0.643
25 Takuma MATSUYAMA HONDA Q1 (*) 1.264
26 Izan GUEVARA GASGAS Q1 (*) 1.415
27 Lorenzo FELLON HONDA Q1 (*) 1.764
28 Adrian FERNANDEZ HUSQVARNA Q1 (*) 4.061
29 Xavier ARTIGAS HONDA

Moto3 Championship Top Five

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Pedro ACOSTA KTM 95
2 Niccolò ANTONELLI KTM 44
3 Andrea MIGNO Honda 42
4 Romano FENATI Husqvarna 40
5 Jaume MASIA KTM 39

MotoE

Eric Granado (One Energy Racing) is two from two on Saturdays so far in 2021, the Brazilian ultimately coming out on top in a wet, delayed and difficult E-Pole at Le Mans. If the session is declared wet it’s a maximum of six laps each, including in and out laps, with all riders on track in a shortened session. So after a delay, a number of crashes and then plenty Yellow Flag infringements, the number 51 takes it… and that despite his first MotoE highside! Second went to impressive rookie Miquel Pons (LCR E-Team), with 2019 Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Indonesian E-Racing Gresini MotoE) emerging in third.

But let’s rewind back to the start. Just before most of the MotoE riders were about to head out, there was an almighty downpour and the Red Flags came out, with those who had headed out quickly making it back. The rain didn’t stay around long but it was certainly still wet, wet, wet on track by the time the session restarted, and it was Dynavolt Intact GP’s Dominique Aegerter’s 2:03.417 that proved the first benchmark time.

Lukas Tulovic (Tech3 E-Racing) then hit the deck at Turn 3 on his second flying lap, before Yonny Hernandez (Octo Pramac MotoE) crashed at the final corner. Granado next pulled out three seconds on his second lap to take over at the top with a real stunner, before the Brazilian was next to crash as he highsided at Turn 3. Thankfully he was back up on his feet quickly, but in the meantime rookie Pons had cut the advantage to 0.1s…

Aegerter was then at the summit with a 2:00.251, 0.064s ahead of Granado, but Pons then moved the goalposts to a 1:58.384. Aegerter, on his next lap, returned to P1 by 0.101s but just ahead of him, Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) crashed at the final corner.

Initially it was Aegerter on top but there was post-session drama. Because of a number of crashes, a whole host of riders were having their laps cancelled for Yellow Flag infringements – including the Swiss rider. Pons and other parc ferme attendee Hikari Okubo (Avant Ajo MotoE) also had their laps chalked off, and so did fourth place Fermin Aldeguer (Openbank Aspar Team). This promoted Granado to P1, with all the other changes eventually seeing Pons hold onto P2, with 2019 Cup winner Ferrari completing the front row. The two veterans said of the drama that it’s nice to have the dice roll your way, but one day the luck won’t be on your side with the rule – and that overall, safety comes first with Yellow Flags.

So on Row 2, Xavi Cardelus (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) and title leader Alessandro Zaccone (Octo Pramac MotoE) will sit ahead of Aegerter, in P4 and P5 respectively, with the Swiss rider shuffled down to sixth.

Andrea Mantovani (Indonesian E-Racing MotoE) was another rider to profit from cancelled laps in P7 as Aldeguer slips to P8, and the 16-year-old is one place ahead of former MotoGP rider Hernandez. Okubo, who was in parc ferme, will be starting P10 in the end… just ahead of reigning Cup winner Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40), who will be one rider especially eager to make short work of the start, as will Tulovic next to him.


MotoE EPole

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 51 Eric GRANADO ENERGICA 2m00.315
2 71 Miquel PONS ENERGICA +0.101
3 11 Matteo FERRARI ENERGICA +0.340
4 18 Xavi CARDELUS ENERGICA +1.122
5 61 Alessandro ZACCONE ENERGICA +1.882
6 77 Dominique AEGERTER ENERGICA +3.102
7 9 Andrea MANTOVANI ENERGICA +3.457
8 54 Fermín ALDEGUER ENERGICA +4.527
9 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ ENERGICA +4.930
10 78 Hikari OKUBO ENERGICA +5.546
11 40 Jordi TORRES ENERGICA +5.652
12 3 Lukas TULOVIC ENERGICA +6.320
13 19 Corentin PEROLARI ENERGICA +8.837
14 80 Jasper IWEMA ENERGICA +9.106
15 14 Andre PIRES ENERGICA +9.396
16 27 Mattia CASADEI ENERGICA +9.430
17 21 Kevin ZANNONI ENERGICA +10.033
18 6 Maria HERRERA ENERGICA +12.593

MotoE Top Five

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Alessandro ZACCONE Energica 25
2 Dominique AEGERTER Energica 20
3 Jordi TORRES Energica 16
4 Mattia CASADEI Energica 13
5 Miquel PONS Energica 11

Source: MCNews.com.au

Le Mans MotoGP Preview | Schedule

2021 MotoGP Round Five Le Mans


As MotoGP heads to Le Mans lets start with a short recap of Jerez; it looked like Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was going to be heading into his home Grand Prix with three wins in a row and a nice cushion of points at the top of the Championship. But the course of true racing never did run smooth, and arm pump put paid to that as Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) swept through to take an emotional first win in red. His teammate, Francesco Bagnaia, further compounded the Ducati delight in second, and he’s now atop the table to boot. That makes an interesting equation in the standings, with Quartararo already back training after surgery, Yamaha and Ducati sharing the wins so far… and another home hero in Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) waiting in the wings.

Fabio Quartararo led for most of the race in Jerez

A Ducati 1-2 – the factory’s first since 2018 – and it wasn’t the Red Bull Ring, Motegi, or Qatar… it was the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, where in recent history few have managed to get the Italian machine to look like the best bike on the grid. That’s a warning shot as Miller fired back following his tougher start to the season and Bagnaia just keeps on being quick, but so was Quartararo’s pace before he ran into trouble. Yamaha have a great record at Le Mans, but Ducati can also find plenty in the Sarthe circuit to suit. In 2019 it was a Borgo Panigale 2-3-4 behind only Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), last year it was a Ducati win.

That will have Miller, Bagnaia and home hero Zarco very eager to get on track. The Frenchman has also already been on the podium at Le Mans on different machinery, and on the podium this year with Ducati… so it could be a good mix as the red wall looks to continue its march. But Quartararo is no stranger to going from arm pump surgery to podium, and he’ll really, really want to bounce back this time. Can he?

Maverick Vinales and Johann Zarco battled for much of the race at Jerez, but they were nowhere near the front

Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), meanwhile, has had a more muted run since winning the first race of the season, but the last time he won in Qatar he also won in France. Franco Morbidelli’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) momentum has gone the other way this season and he arrives building on each previous race, so he’ll be eager to show once again why he was runner up in the title fight last year. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) wants to get on that bandwagon too, and the ‘Doctor’ said big positives were found in the post-Jerez test…


Suzuki

At Suzuki there are also some mixed fortunes. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) has now been one of the fastest riders out there on Sunday only to slide out of contention, so there’s either keeping it together this time around or easing off a little on the table. In MotoGP the latter isn’t often likely – as Rins himself showed last year in France with one of the most direct approaches to a three-in-one overtake attempt ever. The Spaniard was spectacular in the tough conditions before he then overcooked it… with rain possible this year, could redemption be on the cards?

Defending MotoGP champion Joan Mir in the thick of battle at Jerez but never threatened for the lead

Reigning Champion Joan Mir, meanwhile, has been consistent as ever. He’s had a podium in Portugal but otherwise put in solid rides for points at venues he says don’t suit him or the bike quite perfectly. Now into the top four overall, Le Mans is another where he doesn’t expect to be slicing through to win from pole, but the Spaniard has been the best at balancing risk, reward and brutal overtakes for some time now, so he can’t be counted out.


Aprilia

As 2021 rolls on, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) has become a fixture nearer the front too. The Noale factory continue to home in on the race win in terms of time, and it’s a mark of how big the step forward has been that Espargaro was slightly disappointed with their actual position in Jerez.

Podium finishes for Aleix Espargaro threaten in 2021

KTM

Also disappointed in Jerez for different reasons was Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) after the South African’s upward trajectory from a difficult first race out ended in an early crash, so can KTM fight back in Le Mans? Both Binder and teammate Miguel Oliveira were upbeat after the Jerez test, saying they’d spent a lot of time focusing on getting the bike to work better with the softer tyres without compromising their positives. That does seem a key for the factory in 2021 so far. A KTM was on the podium last year in the wet at Le Mans, but the Austrian factory were also in the top six in the dry in 2019 – a year before their breakthrough fourth premier class album full of chart toppers. What will we see this time around? Tech3 KTM boss Hervé Poncharal gives us his take on the weekend ahead.


Hervé Poncharal
Tech3 KTM Team Manager

“The next Grand Prix is the French one and it’s already the fifth round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship. Time flies since we started in Qatar and it was only about half a year ago when we came back from Le Mans. Although it’s the home Grand Prix for the team, not having a French rider in our garage, makes it a bit more normal, but it’s still always a pleasure to come to Le Mans and see the bigger interest from the media. Yet, it’s a shame we won’t have any spectators there.

“I believe the circuit is going to be quite interesting for our KTM RC16 machine. Last year with Miguel and Iker we have been pretty fast in both, dry and wet conditions, which is important because it looks like it’s going to be wet this year. Clearly, after the positive step we made in Jerez I’m expecting both, Danilo and Iker to make another step this weekend. We need to carry on pushing with both in order to give the right feedback to the KTM engineers and we need to qualify better.

“Our target is to have at least one rider inside the top 10, but also to be as close as we can to Miguel and Brad, who are the benchmark inside the KTM family and there is no reason for our two guys not to catch up with them. The grid is incredibly close. In FP3 in Jerez the top 10 have been separated by just 0.2 seconds, which is showing the competitiveness of this class. We are not lost, we just need to make another small step forward to be fighting for the top like last year.

“The test we did on Monday in Jerez was for sure a help for our riders in order to feel better on the bike and although we didn’t find anything very special I think both, Danilo and Iker understood a bit better how to ride and setup their machines with the current 2021 environment.

“If it’s wet this weekend, it will be interesting to see how our bike and the whole grid is performing in these conditions. With Danilo we have the last MotoGP rain winner, so let’s hope to repeat that performance in Le Mans in case it’s wet again on Sunday. I really hope Danilo will find his magic rain riding with the KTM as well. Le Mans is always a very special event and I’m quite sure Claude Michy, the organizer has reserved some interesting surprises for us.”


Honda

At Honda, there was plenty, plenty to see in the test. A brand-new air intake, chassis, exhaust and more added to five different aero combinations made quite the impression, although last time out it was someone reverting to their 2020 chassis that made the biggest dent in the race: Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider equalled his best ever result in fourth and will be looking to keep that rolling, and he had a solid Le Mans last year. His teammate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, is still looking to get back to where he left off last year… but last year, the then-rookie put in an absolute stunner for his first premier class podium in France. Will good memories see him take a step forward? And has the Jerez test helped Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) do the same?

Finally, there’s Marc Marquez. His return in Portugal was impressive after so long on the sidelines, and his speed remained at times in Jerez. But it was undoubtedly a more difficult round for the eight-time World Champion as he suffered two fast crashes that saw him then only complete seven laps in the test on Monday. But that was then and this will be now, with Marquez having always been one of the sport’s best at resetting. What can he do with some more time to recover and more time on the bike? We’re about to find out…

The first four rounds of the 2021 championship have seen records broken at every circuit. These have included race duration records, race lap records, all-time circuit lap records and all-time circuit top speed records, with that in mind it is safe to say that more records could tumble this weekend…


MotoGP Championship top five:

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati 66
2 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha 64
3 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 50
4 Joan MIR Suzuki 49
5 Johann ZARCO Ducati 48

Moto2

After four races, there are five riders starting to make some breathing space at the top of the Moto2 standings. But it’s been far from a predictable season, and Le Mans offers those on the chase another chance at taking a bite of the podium, victory or top five cherry. So what are we expecting in Sarthe?

Sam Lowes and Remy Gardner have battled hard this season

Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) heads into Le Mans with the points lead despite his worst finish of the season so far last time out, although that was a fourth place, which goes some way to explaining his impressive position in 2021. He’s still looking for a win though and with podium form last year at the venue, will likely be feeling pretty confident of at least fighting for the rostrum once again. Can he go one better and tick off the victory box this season? Or is there still no rush to be rash when you’re top of the pile?

The one man ahead of him in 2020, however, was the man just behind him in the standings now: Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team). Judging it perfectly at the front and moving through to lead after a heartbreaker for Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing), the number 22 will be looking to at least head Gardner home. He’ll also likely have a bit more of a spring in his step in France after recovering from his sky-high DNF in Portugal to take a solid third place and re-engage consistency mode under a little more pressure. Rookie Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) is only as far behind Lowes in the standings as Lowes is behind Gardner, however, so can he move forward again after running out of grip to hold onto the podium in Jerez?

Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46), meanwhile, did the opposite and steamed away from the squabble for second to take it pretty comfortably by the flag. He took a podium in France last year and after a more muted opening three races, arriving back in Sarthe fresh from his first rostrum of the season is a good springboard to start getting back into the fight for the win. Speaking of which, there’s another Italian with the ultimate springboard on the way into Le Mans: Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2).

Diggia has come close to the top step before in Moto2, but the dream finally came true in Jerez as the Italian got the perfect launch and then showed perfect poise – and speed – all the way to the flag. It was pretty much faultless and brings him back into within striking distance of the top, so can he push on from here? Sometimes, a win can unlock more than just a bottle of prosecco, and the Italian already had a podium earlier this year so it was far from a surprise to see him in the fight for glory.

From there and the five fastest riders so far, there’s a small gap back to those on the chase, so who can break the stranglehold near the top? So far, only Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) has done so; the Spaniard taking second place in Portugal. Can he find that form again and iron out his ups and downs? Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) is actually ahead of Canet overall though, the American with one DNF but some solid consistency otherwise, and he’s been close – rubbing-is-racingly close – to the podium this season. Never having found Jerez the best match, will Le Mans bring the American further into the fray? Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is another looking for a step forward and he has podium form at Le Mans, as well as having come close to it again last season, and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is now in the groove after a tougher first race. The Japanese rookie has made a few waves of late getting in the mix near the front…

And then there’s also, of course, the 2020 man of the moment… for a while at least. Jake Dixon had never led a Moto2 race before or been very close to doing so until his incredible display of form in 2020 before disaster struck, but that moment saw the Brit kick on and bounce back to greater heights for much of the rest of the season. He’s already been quick in 2021 despite still being on the comeback from his wrist injury and surgery, so will the good memories outweigh the bad? The Sarthe weather could also play into his hands, and those of Lowes; the others who’ve shown pace in tougher conditions… and cause a bit more of a headache for the likes of Raul Fernandez and Ogura.


Moto2 Championship top five:

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Remy GARDNER Kalex 69
2 Sam LOWES Kalex 66
3 Raul FERNANDEZ Kalex 63
4 Marco BEZZECCHI Kalex 56
5 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO Kalex 52

Moto3

The races keep coming and Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) just keeps stealing the headlines. He’s now the only rider in history to have ever taken four podiums in his first four Grands Prix, despite saying of Jerez that it’s somewhere his riding style doesn’t suit, but now it’s Le Mans in the crosshairs and that’s unfamiliar turf for the number 37. Qatar was, of course, the same, and that went pretty well for the now-Championship leader. But with pre-season testing beforehand there was a little more time to get to know the venue, so the Sarthe circuit is most definitely a whole new challenge in terms of both the track itself and the position the history-maker finds himself in.

Moto3 Jerez 2021 podium
1 Pedro Acosta – Red Bull KTM Ajo – KTM – 39:22.266
2 Romano Fenati – Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna – +0.417
3 Jeremy Alcoba – Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3 – Honda – +527

With such a mammoth 51-point lead, however, there’s room to “relax”. The Spaniard enjoys the highest leading margin after the opening four races of a 125cc or Moto3 season since the current point system was introduced in 1993. But even before that was the case, the words of Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in the Jerez pre-event Press Conference ring true: tenth is ok. A win is ok. A point, a crash… it’s all ok. Because regardless of the records set already, he’s still a rookie.

That said, there are a few riders who’ll be ignoring that and heading into Le Mans looking to depose the new ruler. Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) arrives closest on the chase thanks to his consistency – and a Doha podium – followed by Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), who has one 0 but two fourths and a third. Their ability to stay out of trouble, in terms of either causing it or getting tangled in it, has paid dividends and they’ve both been quick to boot. Migno also took a top five in France last season, and the year before, prefaced by a podium in 2018. On both past and current form, the Italian has arguably the best CV at Le Mans.

Then there’s Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), fresh from a podium and some similarly artful dodging of the drama that befell many at the final corner. The veteran seemed to consciously stay out the melee before striking late, and he’s another who’s been consistent. He also has form at Le Mans and although it’s from 2016, he finished just 0.099 off the win in second. The fact that a 0.099 deficit has to be quantified as being second place also speaks to how incredibly close the class is. The man who followed him home in Jerez, meanwhile, is looking for a little less drama in a different manner: Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) may once again have impressively recovered from a Long Lap Penalty to take a rostrum finish, but he’ll want to head into race day with a clean sheet this time round and rid himself of some Sunday hurdles.

So what of that aforementioned drama? Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) would have made different headlines in Jerez if not for that late move that set off the skittles, but the Turk nevertheless put in an impressive performance and will be looking for more of that race-leading feeling. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will also be focused on bouncing back as soon as possible; both also fuelled by the knowledge that they were once again fast, just unlucky. Experience remains on their side.

Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was another who was fast and after his late race blunder first time out in 2021, the Japanese rider has since been a consistent force in the front freight train on his best roll of continual form pretty much ever. Can he crank that up even further this time? Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) will also want redemption after a highside out the lead, and John McPhee’s (Petronas Sprinta Racing) bad luck only continued in the Spanish GP. But the Scotsman is the only man in the field who’s won before at Le Mans… so could this be the turnaround he needs?


Moto3 Championship top five:

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Pedro ACOSTA KTM 95
2 Niccolò ANTONELLI KTM 44
3 Andrea MIGNO Honda 42
4 Romano FENATI Husqvarna 40
5 Jaume MASIA KTM 39

MotoE

After a Round 1 with plenty of thrills and a couple of spills in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup, it’s already time for the grid to head back out for another showdown, this time at Le Mans. Arriving ahead after his first electric victory is Alessandro Zaccone (Octo Pramac MotoE), who turned consistent speed into an impressive Sunday charge, and the stage is set for Round 2 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France.

MotoE

Zaccone will definitely be on everyone’s radar after his impressive weekend at Jerez, but Le Mans could be a tougher one. Looking ahead to the round in the post-race Press Conference, the Italian explained that the Cup’s 2020 visit had been challenging with the mixed conditions really hampering those who, like him, had never ridden Le Mans before. With only six or seven laps in the bag before E-Pole and then the race, it was a tall order. So he’ll be pushing to keep that consistency, but who else will come out swinging?

2020 contender Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP), second in Jerez, will surely be at the front once again, and the Swiss rider has plenty of experience at the venue despite some bad luck last year in Race 1 and a fourth in Race 2. Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40), meanwhile, won the first MotoE race in France before a solid sixth on in Race 2 to take home the Cup. After starting the season on the podium he’ll be eager for more at what’s so far been a happy hunting ground in MotoE. Incredibly, he’s also the only rider on the grid returning this year who already has a podium at Le Mans in the series.

On the other side of the coin, Eric Granado (One Energy Racing) will be looking to bounce back. Once again the fastest man on track and putting on an impressive show in E-Pole, disaster struck for the Brazilian on race day as he slid out the lead. His speed was very much on show, however, so can Le Mans see him iron out the cracks? Last year it wasn’t his best venue, but consistent speed rather than lap records is what he’ll be looking for… so could his less dominant speed at Le Mans so far work to his advantage?

Just off the podium fight, Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) made a step in Jerez but will still be looking for more, as will 2019 Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Indonesian E-Racing Gresini MotoE), although the latter moved through from the back of the grid after exceeding track limits in E-Pole and took home sixth. That’s a good step as both work on getting more from the updated tyres for this season, and experience did shine on race day.

That said, the man who just pipped Ferrari to fifth was rookie Miquel Pons (LCR E-Team). Pons, after some impressive performances in preseason, had a more muted first weekend until Sunday when he moved up to complete the top five and depose fellow debutant Fermin Aldeguer (Openbank Aspar Team) as top rookie. Can Aldeguer, who took a front row start before he and Lukas Tulovic (Tech 3 E-Racing) crashed out together in Jerez, hit back at Le Mans?

Hikari Okubo (Avant Ajo MotoE) put in a solid rookie race too in seventh and he’ll want more, ahead of a step forward from Andrea Mantovani (Indonesian E-Racing Gresini MotoE) at Round 1. Maria Herrera (Openbank Aspar Team) also made some progress, despite afterwards heading in for arm pump surgery. She beat Yonny Hernandez (Octo Pramac MotoE) by a tenth first time out, but Hernandez has some serious experience at the track, having been on the podium in the 24 hour race in 2019. That worked well for last year’s MotoE podium finishers Mike di Meglio and Josh Hook…


MotoE top five

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Alessandro ZACCONE Energica 25
2 Dominique AEGERTER Energica 20
3 Jordi TORRES Energica 16
4 Mattia CASADEI Energica 13
5 Miquel PONS Energica 11

Source: MCNews.com.au

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

Sunday wrap from Le Mans MotoGP | Moto2 | Moto3 | MotoE

2020 MotoGP Round Ten – Le Mans


Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) is a wet weather master, but until now the Italian was always the bridesmaid in the rain. But no longer, Petrucci put in a stunner in the Shark Helmets Grand Prox de France to take his second premier class win and first in the wet. It’s Ducati’s first victory at the Sarthe circuit too, with Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) marking his own first in second place as the rookie took a stunning maiden premier class podium – from 18th on the grid. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing completed the rostrum in another impressive ride in the wet, pipping Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) as the Italian was forced to settle for fourth – but far outscored his key title rivals. Jack Miller looked set for at least a podium, and possible victory, until late in the race his Ducati developed a technical fault that put him out of the race.

MotoGP Race Report

Jack Miller

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) took the holeshot, the Australian characteristically quick off the line, with Crutchlow swooping through trying to take the long way round. Polesitter Quartararo lost out as he dropped behind Miller, Petrucci and Dovizioso, but he was quick to try and fend off an attack from Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). He did initially, but the drama early on Lap 1 turned more heads: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) skittled out, sending two crucial title contenders wide and dropping them right down the field: Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP).

Rossi was down early

Back at the front though, it was Petrucci who’d taken over in the lead, the Italian looking comfortable ahead of compatriot and teammate Dovizioso as they got through on early leader Miller. The three had a couple of seconds in hand ahead of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), who had sliced his way through on Pol Espargaro to take over in the chase to catch the podium fight, but the Suzuki man was on a charge as Quartararo slipped backwards, Viñales continued his charge forwards and Mir remained relegated to outside the points as the latter two tried to recover from their early run off.

Petrucci, Dovizioso, Miller

Pol Espargaro had Crutchlow for company, but soon there was another machine on the scene. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda team) was showing incredible pace as the Spaniard caught and passed Crutchlow, and then he was homing in on Pol Espargaro – with fastest lap after fastest lap. And then all hell broke loose…

Alex Marquez chasing Crutchlow

Rins, after catching the front group, had a nibble or two at Miller, before a few laps later the Suzuki man threw everything up the inside in a multi-buy for the lead – right after Dovizioso had taken over at the front. Dovi was shuffled back, contact ricocheted through the group and it was Petrucci who managed to emerge ahead, Rins second and Miller slotting back into third after running off and holding up his hand to give the advantage back.

Alex Rins and Jack Miller

And then there was more: a puff of smoke from the rear of Miller’s Ducati saw the Aussie forced to sit up and he was suddenly out with a mechanical – and then Rins suddenly slid out of contention. That shot of sudden drama left Petrucci with a couple of seconds in hand at the front, Dovizioso in second and Alex Marquez now up into third as the impressive rookie had sliced through on Pol Espargaro. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was close behind too, with the podium far from decided.

Jack Miller looked set for a possible win and definite podium before his Ducati developed a fault

The gap to Petrucci was coming down, but Marquez was also right on Dovi. And sure enough, the number 73 picked his moment to perfection and sliced through – then immediately starting to make a gap back and catch Petrucci. The laps were running out, but the rookie was on an almighty charge.

Alex Marquez on Dovi

Pol Espargaro struck to take third from Dovizioso soon after, before the Italian found himself in a battle with Miguel Oliveira as well. Onto the last lap just ahead though, it was 1.2 seconds from Petrucci back to Marquez, the rookie taking a good chunk of tenths off but the time ticking down. And the number 9 in the leading was holding firm, perfectly poised on the way to a second Grand Prix win…

Danilo Petrucci

Ultimately, the Italian wouldn’t be caught as he crossed the line for Ducati’s first win at Le Mans, his second premier class win and a huge boost of confidence after a difficult season. Alex Marquez kept it upright to get the incredible return for his stunning pace – having only ridden in the wet on Friday – with Pol Espargaro holding Dovizioso at bay.

2020 LeMans MotoGP podium
1 Danilo Petrucci – Ducati Team – Ducati 45:54.736
2 Alex Marquez – Repsol Honda Team – Honda – +1.273
3 Pol Espargaro – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – KTM – +1.711

Oliveira ended up with his hands full in the fight for fifth, and some late race pace from home hero Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) saw the Frenchman mug the Portuguese rider to end the race as top Independent Team rider in fifth. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) took seventh and was the second Honda home as Cal Crutchlow crashed out, with Stefan Bradl (Repsol Honda Team) in P8. And then came the three who begun the race on top in the title fight…

Fabio Quartararo won the tight, tight tussle for ninth as the Frenchman managed to fend off 2021 teammate Viñales late on, but it was a three-way scrap to the absolute last as Viñales then also managed to beat Mir to the line by almost nothing. The result? Quartararo extends his Championship lead to ten points ahead of Mir, and Dovizioso leapfrogs Viñales into third overall…

Vinales had a bad day

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the next man over the line in P12 after a tougher first race in the wet for the South African, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) taking P13. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was 14th, was Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) completing the points and those classified in France.

Danilo Petrucci – P1

It was I think one of the first times in my life I was disappointed to see rain on the grid because I expected to be fast in the dry and after this morning I felt really good on the bike and I thought we could fight for the podium, I didn’t know if for the win, but then I saw the rain and I switched from medium to soft on the rear at the last minute… but then I immediately wanted to stay in front, because I wanted to stay far from the problems, and then I saw at the beginning we were three Ducatis, and then Rins coming fast… fortunately we have fans here and screens so I could see it. Then Dovi tried to pass me, we were close to each other but I thought there were too many behind so I immediatley passed him again, but then I said come on risk a bit! I tried to push and made a gap but I had a big moment at turn 4, I stayed up but then I saw Alex coming very fast, and I said come on push you can’t lose this race! And I was able to win! It’s incredible to come back on the top step.”

Danilo Petrucci

That’s it from a dramatic Le Mans, and now we head for the very different MotorLand Aragon. Back to home turf for many and with some chances lost in France, the title fight remains incredibly tight – and we have another dose of MotoGP next weekend! And Marc Marquez could be back to spice things up ever further…

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

Moto2

Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took a stunning win in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Brit crossing the line in a class of his own to launch himself well back into the title fight. Compatriot Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered some late heartbreak after a crash out the lead, with Remy Gardner (ONXOX TKKR SAG Team) then taking second as he attacked Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) on the last lap. Drama hit for polesitter Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) before the race as he had a problem on the grid and was forced into pitlane to try and get the bike going, managing that and heading out late on the Warm Up lap… and not making it round quite in time before the lights went out…

Gardner took the holeshot from Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with the Australian streaking away in the lead initially and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) heading through into second. Lowes was then soon through into the top three too, and the Brit then hopped past the two men ahead to take over at the front early doors.

Dixon was on a charge, however. The 96 sliced through to second not long after, with Martin an early casualty as he then crashed out. Next was Vierge, the number 97 highsiding in front of Gardner and that seeing Bezzecchi home in on third.

A moment then hit for Gardner too and the Australian was swarmed by Bezzecchi, as similar hit at the front too for Lowes. Into Turn 9, the Brit had a huge moment and headed off onto the run off and Long Lap penalty area, saving it but then left with quite a deficit to Dixon, who’d taken over at the front…

The laps ticked on, Dixon marched on and Lowes was left with the task to reel him in as the fight for third between Bezzecchi and Gardner stayed incredibly tight. Roberts, meanwhile, was absolutely charging through from the back, and the American was already picking off riders in the top ten…

Then, suddenly, disaster struck for Dixon. With a comfortable lead still intact, the tricky conditions suddenly caught the number 96 out – and out he slid. Heartbroken in the gravel trap as he lost out on the chance of a first win, Lowes was back in front and Dixon unable to restart.

For the number 22, that was all she wrote. Lowes kept it tidy over the last handful of laps to cross the line with an impressive near four-second gap, back on the top step for the first time in a few seasons – and putting himself right back in the title fight. Meanwhile, it all went down to a dramatic final lap for Gardner and Bezzecchi, the Italian defending throughout the final lap until an absolute last minute final corner lunge saw Gardner beat him to the line. For Bezzechhi though, the points are a valuable haul as the Italian moves up to within five points of Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in second.

Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took fourth after a solid ride, the last man in touch with the podium fight, with veteran Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) taking a solid fifth place. And then came Roberts…

Despite the drama at the start and beginning the race even further back than the back of the grid, the American’s stunning charge saw him take home an awesome sixth place. A win it wasn’t and he’ll rue his luck, but it was a true stunner.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Termozeta Speed Up) put in an impressive performance riding a little sore following his crash earlier in the weekend as he took P7, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) next up as they took solid results in difficult conditions to score some big points hauls. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completed the top ten despite a tougher weekend for the German.

So where were the top two in the title? Bastianini took P11 in the end, a handful of points not seeing him gain big ground but he was ahead of Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who failed to score. After a big highside on Friday left him bruised, the Italian impressed to finish but just missed out on points in P17.

Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40), Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) completed the points.

Sam Lowes – P1

You know I felt sorry for Jake and I want to say well done to him because he’s been doing well in the last few races and he was riding good then. It was easy to crash in those conditions but I felt really good, apart from locking the front into Turn 9, I just got it a little wrong a little bit on the damp patch. You could see it coming up and I just caught the edge of it and yeah, I was lucky to stay on, so then after I just took it easy. Jake had good pace and I didn’t want to get too close to him because when I’m behind I have a tendency to rush in a little bit, so I wanted to look after the front. So I tried to keep about a second and a half and then push towards the end but he was real strong but unfortunately he went down and yeah, I felt good, I felt good all weekend and that’s three podiums in a row and I’m really happy to get this win because it has been a long time since I won a race and we’re going into Aragon next week which is where my last win was so it was nice to get it before going back there. It’s really nice for me at the SHARK Helmets French Grand Prix, obviously being a long time SHARK rider, thanks to everyone for their support but yeah, it has been a very good day!”

Remy Gardner – P2

After a difficult day on Friday qualifying went well. I was happy to be back on the front row and really looking forward to the race. The race was almost perfect. I am extremely happy to finish second after what was a really long race. The team did a great job all weekend, we were very smart from Friday to Sunday and in the end, we pulled it off. Second is valuable points, it’s my best result in GP racing and hopefully means we can end the season strongly. Big thanks to all the fans for their support, especially those on Twitter – I just hit 10k followers which is insane. Couple of days to recharge and then we go again at Aragon. See you there!”

Moto2 podium L-R: Gardner, Lowes and Bezzecchi
Jake Dixon – DNF

That wasn’t the ideal result but it is what it is. The main thing is that I was leading the race and was really fast. We haven’t got long until the next race at Aragón, it’s next weekend, so that’s good. Now I can look back at today’s race and reflect that I was doing a really good job and I know that I’m going to be fast from here onwards. The team are working really well, everyone is doing such a great job and I can’t thank everyone enough. It was unfortunate but these things happen and we’ll come back stronger.”

Moto2 Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Sam LOWES Kalex 41m27.648
2 Remy GARDNER Kalex +3.822
3 Marco BEZZECCHI Kalex +4.184
4 Augusto FERNANDEZ Kalex +5.884
5 Thomas LUTHI Kalex +21.668
6 Joe ROBERTS Kalex +29.197
7 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO Speed Up +32.249
8 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI Kalex +34.376
9 Somkiat CHANTRA Kalex +35.392
10 Marcel SCHROTTER Kalex +35.521
11 Enea BASTIANINI Kalex +37.72
12 Hector GARZO Kalex +37.91
13 Marcos RAMIREZ Kalex +38.423
14 Stefano MANZI MV Agusta +43.464
15 Hafizh SYAHRIN Speed Up +44.036
16 Simone CORSI MV Agusta +44.217
17 Luca MARINI Kalex +59.55
18 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA Kalex +1m09.735
19 Edgar PONS Kalex +1m09.751
20 Bo BENDSNEYDER NTS +1m12.930
21 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA Kalex +1m14.158
22 Piotr BIESIEKIRSKI NTS +1 Lap
23 Kasma DANIEL Kalex 0 Lap
Not Classified
DNF Jake DIXON Kalex 5 Laps
DNF Jorge NAVARRO Speed Up 7 Laps
DNF Nicolò BULEGA Kalex 10 Laps
DNF Andi Farid IZDIHAR Kalex 20 Laps
DNF Xavi VIERGE Kalex 21 Laps
DNF Jorge MARTIN Kalex 23 Laps

Moto2 World Championship Standings

Pos Rider Bike Points
1 Luca MARINI Kalex 150
2 Enea BASTIANINI Kalex 135
3 Marco BEZZECCHI Kalex 130
4 Sam LOWES Kalex 128
5 Jorge MARTIN Kalex 79
6 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA Kalex 72
7 Thomas LUTHI Kalex 68
8 Joe ROBERTS Kalex 66
9 Remy GARDNER Kalex 61
10 Aron CANET Speed Up 61
11 Marcel SCHROTTER Kalex 60
12 Xavi VIERGE Kalex 59
13 Augusto FERNANDEZ Kalex 49
14 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI Kalex 47
15 Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO Speed Up 45
16 Jorge NAVARRO Speed Up 41
17 Hector GARZO Kalex 25
18 Jake DIXON Kalex 22
19 Hafizh SYAHRIN Speed Up 18
20 Stefano MANZI MV Agusta 18
21 Nicolò BULEGA Kalex 17
22 Marcos RAMIREZ Kalex 15
23 Somkiat CHANTRA Kalex 10
24 Simone CORSI MV Agusta 8
25 Bo BENDSNEYDER NTS 5
26 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA Kalex 5
27 Dominique AEGERTER NTS 4
28 Edgar PONS Kalex 2

Moto3

Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) took what could turn out to be a vital victory in the Moto3 race at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Italian striking when it counted to overhaul Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) by a tenth and take home a valuable 25 points. Behind Arbolino, Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) completed the podium and with that, took back the Championship lead as Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) ended up outside the front group and John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) failed to finish in France.

Arenas took the holeshot, streaking away into Turn 1 in clear air, but it didn’t take long for Arbolino to home in, with Jaume Masia (Leopard Raacing) slotting into third as he made up some ground after getting bogged down off the line from pole. McPhee lost out in a big way as the Brit went from front row to tenth, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) two to move up.

Arenas wasn’t allowed to escape. Masia striking quickly to take over in the lead on Lap 2, and so began the classic freight train fun. Masia led Arbolino and Rodrigo, with Vietti also leapfrogging the number 75 over the line next time around. The front quintet had made a small break, but Catalan GP winner Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) was on the chase and the South African soon caught them and got busy, the front group back to 16 riders line astern.

Some drama then hit though, as Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) collected teammate Romano Fenati and both Husqvarnas slid out, before Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) took a tumble not long after. That left a lead group of 13, and Masia remained at the head of the field – with Arenas for close company.

As organised chaos reigned at the front, Arenas sliced his way through to first and it was going well for the number 75, with McPhee down in tenth and points leader heading into the race, Ai Ogura, struggling to stay in the top twenty and outside the front freight train. That group was getting whittled down lap by lap too, with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) losing touch to make it 12 riders in the battle for P1.

With seven to go, that became 11 as Darryn Binder suddenly sat up, a mechanical problem forcing the South African out of the race and the front group scattering to move round the stricken KTM. That they did, and the fight raged on before Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) dropped off the back too with a crash. And there were more as, suddenly, the Championship took another huge twist: a crash for Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) took the Spaniard out of the group, and the man right behind him was unable to avoid the incident, getting collected: Championship challenger McPhee.

But the top eight marched on, Arenas among them, and Ogura had made his way to tenth by then – adding a valuable haul of points as he steadily made his progress from the P24 he’d dropped down to initially. Onto the penultimate lap it was Masia who remained in the hotseat at the front, but a sudden bobble for the number 5 suddenly saw him leapfrogged as Vietti was able to take charge, the Italian sweeping through from third to lead – and lead he did over the line for the final lap.

Would anyone be able to catch the Italian? They would not. Keeping it pinned to perfection, the number 13 didn’t give anyone a chance to attack – and managed to cross the line a tenth and a half clear to make a huge gain in the standings to boot, now third. Arbolino took second and is another who gains on the top overall after another impressive ride to the podium, with Arenas taking a rostrum finish in third – and back on top as the Championship leader.

Masia was forced to settle for fourth despite his exemplary race, that late wobble costing the Spaniard, with the top five completed by an impressive charge from Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46). And in sixth, finally there was an end in sight for Ayumu Sasaki’s (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) run of bad luck. After what seemed like an eternal reel of getting collected in other riders’ incidents, the Japanese rider had a drama free Le Mans to convert eighth on the grid to sixth in the race.

Fernandez takes seventh after losing a little ground late on, with Rodrigo completing the front group in P8. There was then a gap back to the next battle on track, but it was a familiar name who fought his way to the head of it: Ogura. The number 79 did the most damage limitation possible to move up from 17th on the grid and P24 early in the race, getting the better of Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) as the Spaniard completed the top ten.

Garcia, Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team), Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Riccardo Rossi (BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy) and Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) completed the points in France.

Arenas has taken back the reins as we now head for his home turf, on 135 at the top as Ogura slips down to 129. It’s now Vietti in third, the Italian on 119 and gaining some serious ground, with Arbolino close behind and McPhee shuffled down to fifth.

Celestino Vietti – P1

A strange race, I didn’t expect this result, we are fast but I didn’t expect it a lot like today. I think we chose the correct tyre, and in the last part I think we had a bit of speed more than the other riders, a little bit. And in the last three laps I tried to go in front but all the riders – like Tony and Albert, Masia – braked very hard and for me it was very difficult to overtake them. But I’m very happy because we managed the race in a good way, and I’m happy for the team because we struggled a bit with three crashes this weekend, I’m happy, this is for them and we’ll try to continue in this way.

Moto3 podium
1 Celestino Vietti – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM 37:37.384
2 Tony Arbolino – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda +0.142
3 Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM +0.198

Moto3 Race Results

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 Celestino VIETTI KTM 37m37.384
2 Tony ARBOLINO Honda +0.142
3 Albert ARENAS KTM +0.198
4 Jaume MASIA Honda +0.336
5 Andrea MIGNO KTM +0.569
6 Ayumu SASAKI KTM +0.834
7 Raul FERNANDEZ KTM +1.361
8 Gabriel RODRIGO Honda +1.625
9 Ai OGURA Honda +15.003
10 Carlos TATAY KTM +15.139
11 Sergio GARCIA Honda +15.269
12 Filip SALAC Honda +15.381
13 Dennis FOGGIA Honda +15.574
14 Riccardo ROSSI KTM +15.729
15 Stefano NEPA KTM +17.743
16 Barry BALTUS KTM +18.991
17 Jason DUPASQUIER KTM +19.173
18 Ryusei YAMANAKA Honda +25.148
19 Khairul Idham PAWI Honda +26.189
20 Yuki KUNII Honda +26.36
21 Maximilian KOFLER KTM +26.959
22 Deniz ÖNCÜ KTM +30.306
Not Classified
DNF Niccolò ANTONELLI Honda 4 Laps
DNF John MCPHEE Honda 5 Laps
DNF Jeremy ALCOBA Honda 5 Laps
DNF Kaito TOBA KTM 5 Laps
DNF Darryn BINDER KTM 7 Laps
DNF Davide PIZZOLI KTM 10 Laps
DNF Tatsuki SUZUKI Honda 15 Laps
DNF Romano FENATI Husqvarna 16 Laps
DNF Alonso LOPEZ Husqvarna 16 Laps

Moto3 World Championship Standings

Pos

Rider Bike Points
1 Albert ARENAS KTM 135
2 Ai OGURA Honda 129
3 Celestino VIETTI KTM 119
4 Tony ARBOLINO Honda 115
5 John MCPHEE Honda 98
6 Jaume MASIA Honda 83
7 Gabriel RODRIGO Honda 77
8 Tatsuki SUZUKI Honda 75
9 Raul FERNANDEZ KTM 73
10 Dennis FOGGIA Honda 63
11 Darryn BINDER KTM 62
12 Romano FENATI Husqvarna 57
13 Andrea MIGNO KTM 47
14 Jeremy ALCOBA Honda 46
15 Sergio GARCIA Honda 37
16 Niccolò ANTONELLI Honda 33
17 Stefano NEPA KTM 26
18 Deniz ÖNCÜ KTM 22
19 Ayumu SASAKI KTM 20
20 Filip SALAC Honda 20
21 Kaito TOBA KTM 19
22 Alonso LOPEZ Husqvarna 16
23 Ryusei YAMANAKA Honda 13
24 Carlos TATAY KTM 10
25 Riccardo ROSSI KTM

MotoE

In a stunning final FIM Enel MotoE World Cup race of the season in France, it was Niki Tuuli (Avant Ajo MotoE) who took back to the top step as the Finnish rider pitched it to perfection to defend from home hero Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). The Frenchman took second, only hundredths off, with Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) taking third and a first podium after an impressive weekend for the Australian. And, of course, the other headline: Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40) is the 2020 Cup winner, the Spaniard taking a solid sixth place to defend his points lead and take the crown.

MotoE

Tuuli took the holeshot from the front row, the Finnish rider off like a shot – but drama hit once again early on as Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) crashed and almost took down Torres – but the Spaniard escaped the impact to stay in the race. With that shuffle, Di Meglio had moved into second, with Hook up into third place early on.

Maria Herrera (Openbank Aspar Team) was holding fourth as she navigated the dramas well, with Cup contender Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP) just behind her – and Torres and Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) behind him.

Di Meglio then struck for the lead, Aegerter moved up past Herrera, but Tuuli took the focus back as he re-took the lead. Torres then gained another place past Herrera too, but the Tuuli-Di Meglio-Hook train was pulling well clear in the podium fight…

Di Meglio from Hook

Hook attacked for second not long after, but Tuuli – confidence in overtaking rediscovered – hustled back past the Aussie, and Aegerter was homing in on the podium too. Next time around onto the penultimate lap though, the race would ultimately be decided, with Tuuli slicing through to the lead at Turn 1.

Would he keep Di Meglio at bay? The Frenchman was his shadow on the final lap, but there was no way through and the Finn got back on the top step for the first time since he made history to win the first MotoE race. Di Meglio took another second and home turf podium, with Hook’s impressive weekend rounded out with a rostrum finish in third. At a venue the two have reigned in the 24h race!

Josh Hook – P3

I am really happy with this result, I know the track very well and it made a difference. We finally managed to prove how much we are worth, I was very confident because we were always competitive this weekend.”

Josh Hook

Aegerter’s fourth wasn’t enough but it was an impressive ride up from his grid position, with Ferrari in fifth as he got past Torres late on to retain second overall in the standings, denying the Swiss rider by virtue of win count alone. And then came Torres, winning the Cup with a solid P6 – and celebrating in style with a burnout.

Seventh went to Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team) just ahead of teammate Xavier Simeon, with Maria Herrera and Xavi Cardelus (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) completing the top ten.

Alex de Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) completed his career as a rider with a race through the pain barrier to P14 – but ended the year with points as he now changes direction.

MotoE Race Two

Pos Rider Team Time/Gap
1 Niki TUULI Avant Ajo MotoE 12m09.631
2 Mike DI MEGLIO EG 0,0 Marc VDS +0.166
3 Josh HOOK OCTO Pramac MotoE +1.294
4 Dominique AEGERTER Dynavolt Intact GP +2.353
5 Matteo FERRARI TRENTINO Gresini MotoE +6.017
6 Jordi TORRES Pons Racing 40 +6.49
7 Niccolo CANEPA LCR E-Team +10.066
8 Xavier SIMEON LCR E-Team +10.472
9 Maria HERRERA Openbank Aspar Team +10.663
10 Xavi CARDELUS Avintia Esponsorama Racing +11.101
11 Lukas TULOVIC Tech 3 E-Racing +11.298
12 Alessandro ZACCONE TRENTINO Gresini MotoE +12.327
13 Mattia CASADEI Ongetta SIC58 Squadracorse +20.842
14 Alex DE ANGELIS OCTO Pramac MotoE +20.954
15 Jakub KORNFEIL WithU Motorsport +24.376
Not Finished 1st Lap
DNF Tommaso MARCON Tech 3 E-Racing 0 Lap
DNF Eric GRANADO Avintia Esponsorama Racing 0 Lap
DNF Alejandro MEDINA Openbank Aspar Team 0 Lap

MotoE World Championship

After an incredible season of consistency, Jordi Torres lifted the crown at Le Mans. Not having ridden the venue for a few years since his days in Moto2, it may have seemed that the Spaniard would be arriving on the back foot compared to some – but that was far from true. In a dramatic Race 1 he steered clear of the drama that befell his other contenders for the Cup to stay cool and collected, taking to the top step for the first time in MotoE , and that sent him into Race 2 in prime position: pole and 18 points ahead.

Jordi Torres

Riding to make sure he took the Cup and that the sole focus of the day, the Spaniard’s sixth was actually one of his worse results of the season – but it was designed to get the job done, and that it did. Torres ends the year on top with the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup in his name, adding to an impressive array of other trophies including a Grand Prix win in Moto2, a WorldSBK win and European Moto2 successes.

Jordi Torres

MotoE World Championship Standings

Pos

Rider Points
1 Jordi TORRES 114
2 Matteo FERRARI 97
3 Dominique AEGERTER 97
4 Mike DI MEGLIO 75
5 Mattia CASADEI 74
6 Niki TUULI 53
7 Eric GRANADO 53
8 Josh HOOK 52
9 Niccolo CANEPA 51
10 Xavier SIMEON 45
11 Lukas TULOVIC 39
12 Alessandro ZACCONE 37
13 Alejandro MEDINA 36
14 Alex DE ANGELIS 35
15 Xavi CARDELUS 34
16 Tommaso MARCON 33
17 Maria HERRERA 33
18 Jakub KORNFEIL 15

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

Incredibly tight fight for pole at Le Mans

2020 MotoGP Round Ten – Le Mans


MotoGP Qualifying Report

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took a stunning home turf pole position on Saturday at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Frenchman denying Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) by two tenths after a late lunge for the top. Miller impressed in second to make it an Independent Team rider 1-2, with fellow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completing the front row as Borgo Panigale machinery shone in qualifying.

2020 Le Mans MotoGP front row
1 Fabio Quartararo – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 1:31.315
2 Jack Miller – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +0.222
3 Danilo Petrucci – Ducati Team – Ducati – +0.359

Before the final push to decide the top 12 positions on the grid got underway, however, Q1 made some headlines as both Team Suzuki Ecstar machines failed to move through. Joan Mir was left down in P14 on the grid and teammate Alex Rins two places further back, giving the Hamamatsu factory a mountain to climb on Sunday. Can Mir do the damage limitation with Quartararo starting from the front?

Moving through from Q1 instead were Petrucci, who set the fastest lap of the weekend up to that point, followed by Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as the Italian pipped Mir to it. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) lost out too, with a few final laps chalked off after a late crash for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) that brought out the Yellow Flags.

Q2 began with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) leading fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Quartararo over the line, and it was the Italian who set the first benchmark time – a 1:32.393. Bagnaia then went up to P2 with Viñales slotting into P3, but the times were going to change immediately, with red sectors everywhere. All four Yamahas were inside the top four with Quartararo launching to P1 with a 1:31.679, but Bagnaia then improved again to slot into P2 behind the home hero; 0.073 the gap after two flying laps.

This is Yamaha’s seventh pole position since the opening race of the season in Spain, which is the first time there are seven Yamaha pole positions over the opening nine MotoGP races of a single season since 2009 when Yamaha riders also took seven pole positions in the nine opening races.

Quartararo then improved again to extend his advantage to 0.087, with Morbidelli holding P3 for the time being as the riders completed their first runs. Viñales was P4 and was seemingly – like he did at Misano – on a two-stop qualifying strategy as Petrucci and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joined Viñales on the provisional second row. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was sitting P10 with six minutes to go, meanwhile Bagnaia hadn’t pitted and after venting his frustrations at Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), although he was on another flyer before it went wrong at Turn 9…

Viñales was then pushing for a lap but it wasn’t happening for the Spaniard, with Dovizioso the man on the move instead as the Italian shot up to P2 to sit 0.082 off Quartararo. On the next lap, he was on it once more. Dovi was over a tenth under, but then lost some time in the last sector and didn’t improve…

It was all go in the final few seconds. Riding wounded Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) seemed to come out of nowhere to set an unbelievable 1:31.686 and take provisional P2, and just behind him on the road, Miller was also setting the world alight. The Aussie was 0.3 under at the third split and despite losing some time in the last sector, Miller demoted Quartararo to P2 and went to provisional pole position by 0.128. Alas for the Aussie, it wasn’t over yet…

There were red sector times across the board, the last push seemingly making it anyone’s game. Viñales improved but couldn’t find his way onto the front row and went to P4, and then Dovizioso was one of the riders who was going faster. Despite setting his personal best lap time, the Italian didn’t improve his position – but teammate Petrucci did. The latter shot up to P3 to beat Crutchlow’s time by just 0.012, and Miller was safe from another threat. But then a Frenchman caught everyone’s attention: Quartararo was determined to make it a home Grand Prix pole position and he was on course to absolutely smoke the competition; the number 20 two tenths under Miller’s time heading into the last sector. And the number 20 kept it pinned and tidy with no mistakes, taking the chequered flag to claim his ninth MotoGP pole position, ultimately by 0.222.

Jack Miller had a hefty tumble earlier in the day during FP3

Nevertheless, Miller was happy to claim a front row start given his FP3 crash, and Petrucci’s wonderful Saturday afternoon sees the charismatic Italian start from the front row for the first time since the 2019 Italian GP – and we know what happened there.

Jack Miller has qualified in second place equalling his best qualifying result so far this season from Austria and Emilia Romagna. He’s finished fourth in MotoGP over the last two years at Le Mans.

Crutchlow’s P4 was a true stunner given his physical condition, his right arm after surgery still giving him grief but the Brit taking his first top 10 qualifying result in 2020. He’s joined on the second row by Viñales in fifth; the Yamaha star ending Q2 0.4 seconds off Quartararo. He did, however, just edge out Dovizioso by 0.003. Still, P6 is Dovi’s best qualifying since his fourth in Austria.

After coming through Q1, Bagnaia claims P7 as both he and eighth place Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also sit around 0.4 off pole position, again showing how tightly contested MotoGP really is in 2020. Frenchman Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) joins Bagnaia and Espargaro on Row 3, with two Yamahas left disappointed in Q2: Rossi and Morbidelli have work to do on Sunday afternoon after qualifying P10 and P11, and Oliveira was forced to settle too, in his case for P12. The Portuguese rider encountered plenty of troubles in FP4 with a mechanical problem and a crash, but the Styrian GP winner was just 0.694 from pole despite his position.

Quartararo takes full advantage of his main title rival Mir suffering on Saturday. Is a dream home Grand Prix victory going to come his way on Sunday? If it does, he’ll be the first ever French premier class winner at Le Mans. Only time will tell, but judging from FP4, it looks likely that he’s going to take some stopping.


MotoGP Rider Quotes

Fabio Quartararo – P1

“It feels great to be back in pole position, and even more so to do it in France. I feel great on the bike and qualifying was great as well; the first run was really good. At that point I knew I really wanted pole position today. It’s my second pole position at Le Mans, so I am really happy. The focus now is on the first laps of the race, we want to stay ahead of the others and then see what the pace is like. If we do this, I think we can have a really good race. The team has done a really fantastic job with the bike and we will see what we can do tomorrow.”

This is the third pole position for a French rider at Le Mans in the premier class, along with Johann Zarco (2018) and Christian Sarron (1987) (since pole position began to be officially recorded in 1974).
Jack Miller – P2

“A really positive day, I am very happy, we have always worked well this weekend and the feeling with the bike and this track is really good. Starting from the first row tomorrow will help me a lot, I will try to make a good start and not risk too much. I’m not  too much worry about the weather conditions, fortunately I can adapt very easily.”

Jack Miller
Danilo Petrucci – P3

“I’m happy to be back on the front row after a long, difficult period. As of this morning, I felt I had the potential to do a good qualifying. Unfortunately, in FP3, I found different yellow flags on the track, and I missed the opportunity to put in a good lap to access directly in Q2. Nevertheless, we managed to make an excellent qualifying. Starting in front is certainly very important for tomorrow, as at least ten riders have the pace to fight for the podium. After the last race in Catalunya, I found a good feeling in braking and even the low temperatures will help me tomorrow, so I am very confident that I can get a good result”.

Danilo Petrucci
Cal Crutchlow – P4

“It was a much better day today. It’s nice to be able to put in some good laps of the track this weekend, and I have to give credit to the LCR Honda Castrol Team because they have worked very hard, as always. Before the qualifying session it seemed we had a slight problem with both of our bikes, but thanks to their hard work they were both ready for the qualifying session. In the end, we have shown good pace over the last two days so far, in all conditions, and now we can really look forward to the race tomorrow.”

Cal Crutchlow
Maverick Vinales – P5

“A second-row start is not bad, but I‘m not really happy about the feeling with the bike. In Montmeló I was already struggling and it continues here in Le Mans, which is strange because usually this is a track where we are quite competitive. Fifth place is the maximum we could do, because the bike is moving a lot and I‘m unable to create grip on banking. Tomorrow will be a tough day. We will try to do our best. We can still try to fight for the top, because in FP4 the rhythm with old tyres was very fast and consistent.”

Winner of the MotoGP race at Le Mans in 2017, Maverick Viñales, who is scheduled to make his 100th start in the premier class, has qualified fifth, which is the fourth time this year he has failed to start from the front row.
Andrea Dovizioso – P6

“I am delighted with today’s qualifying. My feeling with the bike was excellent, and although I could not close a perfect lap, we got the start from the first two rows, which is always our main goal in qualifying. Our pace ahead of tomorrow’s race is also positive. We still have to improve some aspects to make sure I can fight at the front for the duration of the race, but compared to other tracks my feeling is a lot better, and that’s why I am confident for tomorrow”.

Andrea Dovizioso
Pecco Bagnaia – P7

“Starting  from Q1 is never positive, it is always a risk. I was wrong, it took me too long to get used to the cold conditions of the track. I spend a lot of time warming the tires, but it’s not a justification and I have to improve because even today during the FP4 and qualifying I only thought about driving and I pushed a lot and it went much better immediately. Unfortunately when I was doing my best lap in Q2 I found Miguel  and this penalised me, but my reaction was exaggerated and I will apologise to him.”

Pecco Bagnaia
Pol Espargaro – P8

“It wasn’t the perfect lap. I had an issue with the traction control in Turn 6 and then out-braked myself in the last two corners. I lost a couple of tenths and a chance for the second row which is where I wanted to start tomorrow. The third row is not too bad though and we are fast in the first sector of the track, so we need to get through that without any mistakes and then see how the race goes. Our pace is good. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Pol Espargaro
Johann Zarco – P9

“Third row for tomorrow, I feel good after today as in FP3 we took a big step forward.  We have been improving as the weekend progressed and I hope to continue taking steps tomorrow in the race.  I am very confident with the front end, which I think will allow me to fight for the top 5 tomorrow, and hopefully for a podium in the home race.”

Johann Zarco
Valentino Rossi – P10

“I‘m not happy about my qualifying and my position. I have to do better, because I think that my potential is better, my pace is better than this. The qualifying was a bit difficult, a bit tricky. In the end on the last lap I was not so bad, but I made a mistake. If not, I could have started from a bit more towards the front. Starting from ten is difficult, for sure, but the feeling with the bike is not so bad. We have to fix something, but my pace is quite good, so we have to try tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi
Franco Morbidelli – P11

“It was a strange qualifying today and I’m a little disappointed. I felt great all day, I was fast in Free Practice and I had a lot of confidence on the bike. In qualifying I felt good in the first time attack, I made a decent lap time and I was third. I was aiming for something good, but in the second time attack I didn’t have the same feeling with the new rear tyre. I couldn’t attack like I wanted to and also I didn’t improve my lap time. 11th is not what I was expecting, it’s not what I wanted, but we will try to have a good race tomorrow. Our pace is really strong, so we will try to move through the pack as much as we can, although overtaking will be difficult, and see where we are at the chequered flag.”

Franco Morbidelli
Miguel Oliveira – P12

“I’m a bit disappointed about the Qualifying. FP4 was going really well until I had an issue. I restarted with a new tire but crashed on my first lap and the damage was too big to continue. The team did a great job to repair the bike in time for Qualifying session. After this, I had to recover my feeling. Still I improved my lap time from this morning, which is a positive point. Tomorrow is going to be a hard one, we all need to be safe in the first laps and then do our race. I think my pace is really good, I just need to keep a strong attitude and stay optimistic for tomorrow.”

Miguel Oliveira
Takaaki Nakagami – P13

“I was trying to push to the maximum and get the most performance out of the bike during qualifying but we definitely saw an improvement in terms of race pace during Free Practice 4. The bike felt much more comfortable and stable then, which is good news for the race tomorrow. Qualifying was a bit tricky, and I missed out on Q2 by just over a tenth. 13th on the starting grid is not the best for us, and we certainly weren’t expecting it, but let’s see what happens tomorrow. The warm up will be cold, but our race pace is very much improved so I’m looking forward to it. I will be doing my best as always to make up some positions – especially at the beginning of the race – and then we will see.”

Joan Mir – P14

“I’m struggling quite a lot, and it’s tough to be really competitive here. The weather conditions are extreme and the cold affects my feeling with the tyres a lot, especially on the front end. I struggle to keep the front tyre at best working temperature, and this means that it’s tough for me to get a good split in sector 1, in the left-hand corner 2 after the straight. The other sectors were not bad, but we’re always paying for what we lose in sector 1. We need to check the data tonight and try to find some good solutions. It’s going to be tough to recover so many positions, but the first priority is to find the right feeling that would allow me to get the best position possible at the chequered flag.”

Joan Mir
Aleix Espargaro – P15

“Not a simple day. Unfortunately, the frame I had tested and liked in Barcelona didn’t work well here. It was hard to understand yesterday in the wet, but when I went back to my standard bike today, I was immediately able to go faster. I lost my best lap in qualifying due to a yellow flag, so we’ll have to start from the fifth row, but we have the potential to recover positions. The low temperature will certainly be a problem. It will be a tough race.”

Alex Rins – P16

“It’s not great to have two crashes before qualifying because it affects your confidence – but the positive thing is that we understood why they happened and it’s mainly a problem of keeping the temperature in the tyres. My pace isn’t that bad, I think it was good enough for Top 5, but the cold temperatures made it tough for us today. Tomorrow’s first lap will be key for the race; if I can be competitive at the beginning I believe we can still recover many positions and have a good race.”

Brad Binder – P17

“Qualifying didn’t go to plan even if FP4 went quite well and FP3 also, where I narrowly missed Q2. We went out in Q1 and I didn’t get a good lap, so we changed tires but then I crashed on my flying lap. We didn’t have the day we were hoping for…but I think our potential is a look higher than how it looks. We’ll get the job done tomorrow.”

Brad Binder
Alex Marquez – P18

“Today we started very well in Qualifying but there was a little bit of misunderstanding about the strategy, so I wasn’t able to benefit from the slipstream like all the other riders who went faster. It was a bit of a shame but our pace is very close to everyone else so I think we can make something happen in the race. We have to be careful because the forecast is looking really cold and making a mistake will be really easy, Turn 2 will be especially important to pay attention to. The plan is to make a good start and then see what the race brings, we are close to Nakagami and this will be a good reference.”

Bradley Smith – P19

“We struggled this morning, but the guys worked hard between FP3 and FP4 and I gained a bit of feeling. In FP4, I followed Aleix for a few laps, also managing to identify where he is able to be faster and I got close to his performance overall. I am also satisfied with my qualifying time, especially because I did it on my own and the slipstream can really make a difference here. Obviously, if we look at the positions, our limitations are clear and they are certainly not mitigated by the characteristics of this track and the weather conditions. We’ll have to be very careful tomorrow. It looks like there will be low temperatures for both warm up and the race and, while the rear doesn’t pose a big problem, it will be hard to keep the front up to temp.”

Iker Lecuona –  P20

“It was really difficult to manage the situation today. I felt good, my lap time was also quite strong but everybody improved a lot and finally I’m quite far back in the grid. I think I have a strong pace to fight for the points tomorrow.”

Iker Lecuona
Stefan Bradl – P21

“Our position is a bit disappointing but to be honest I am quite pleased with how myself and the team have been working. We had a good FP4 where we were able to do a lot with the used tyre and our pace is looking OK. With everyone so close you can gain a lot of positions with just a tenth of a second, so I was a bit unlucky to be just behind those guys ahead. We’ve been managing everything well considering we are on day four of riding. Let’s hope for good weather!”

Tito Rabat – P22

“It has been a strange and difficult day, since in FP3 I found myself very comfortable, even reaching Q2 positions.  In the afternoon, both in FP4 and in qualifying, I didn’t feel comfortable with the bike and it was hard for me to get a good time.  Tomorrow we will give everything in the race and we will try to continue improving.”

Massimo Meregalli – Monster Yamaha Tean Director

“It was a very tricky day today. Though the riding conditions were completely dry, it was cold. To push on slicks right from the get-go, when the track temperature is this low, is risky and it‘s easy to go over the limit. Both Maverick and Valentino pushed hard in Q2, but the competition was very close, and as a result we got a P5 and P10 start. Maverick is struggling to find a good feeling at this track, but he salvaged a second-row start which could give him the opportunity to fight for a top position. Valentino would have liked to be more towards the front. Starting from the fourth row is never easy, but he showed during FP4 that his rhythm is good, just like Maverick. We will analyse all of today‘s dry session data tonight and work hard to prepare some further setting tweaks that we can try in Warm Up. The forecast predicts it will be mostly dry here tomorrow. The pace seems to be similar for many riders in these conditions, so we expect a hard but also exciting race.”

Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager

“It’s been a difficult day and we still haven’t managed to find the optimum feeling for the riders here. We have to think about how we can improve before the race. Alex had two crashes today, and Joan had one, so it was difficult for them to find their pace and get into a good rhythm. We’ll be working tonight and tomorrow in Warm-Up and we’ll enter the race as usual; trying our best and trying to pick up positions.”

Joan Mir

MotoGP Qualifying Results

Pos Rider Bike Q Time/Gap
1 Fabio QUARTARARO YAMAHA Q2 1m31.315
2 Jack MILLER DUCATI Q2 +0.222
3 Danilo PETRUCCI DUCATI Q2 +0.359
4 Cal CRUTCHLOW HONDA Q2 +0.371
5 Maverick VIÑALES YAMAHA Q2 +0.404
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO DUCATI Q2 +0.407
7 Francesco BAGNAIA DUCATI Q2 +0.437
8 Pol ESPARGARO KTM Q2 +0.480
9 Johann ZARCO DUCATI Q2 +0.517
10 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA Q2 +0.574
11 Franco MORBIDELLI YAMAHA Q2 +0.576
12 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM Q2 +0.694
13 Takaaki NAKAGAMI HONDA Q1 (*) 0.227
14 Joan MIR SUZUKI Q1 (*) 0.235
15 Aleix ESPARGARO APRILIA Q1 (*) 0.587
16 Alex RINS SUZUKI Q1 (*) 0.805
17 Brad BINDER KTM Q1 (*) 0.814
18 Alex MARQUEZ HONDA Q1 (*) 0.822
19 Bradley SMITH APRILIA Q1 (*) 0.881
20 Iker LECUONA KTM Q1 (*) 0.907
21 Stefan BRADL HONDA Q1 (*) 0.909
22 Tito RABAT DUCATI Q1 (*) 1.658

Moto2 Qualifying Report

Not since 2005 has an American taken three poles in a single Grand Prix season, and back then it was the late, great Nicky Hayden doing the business in MotoGP. Now it’s Joe Roberts in Moto2, with the Tennor American Racing rider putting in a stunner at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France to take his third pole of the year, ahead of Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).

In Q1 there was plenty at stake with some big names looking to move through, and the man second in the Championship, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), got the job done to top the session ahead of Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) – despite a crash for the Swiss veteran – Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Termozeta Speed Up). Then it was time to decide the sharp end…

Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the early pacesetter and went P1, but disaster struck for the Spaniard at Turn 3 as he crashed out, rider ok but then left to watch from the sidelines. Would anyone overhaul his lap? There was still half the session left and more drama came swiftly as Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) followed his compatriot into the gravel at the same corner, out of contention.

Back at the top, Martin’s lap was a solid one and it took a few minutes for anyone to depose him. When they did, it was Sam Lowes. The Brit shaved a tenth and a half off it and it was all going down to the final push – but Roberts was lighting up the timing screens on his final lap…

Moto2 front row
1 Joe Roberts – Tennor American Racing – Kalex 1:36.256
2 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex +0.087
3 Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +0.193

Over the line it was less than a tenth but the number 16 did it by 0.087, making a little history and setting himself up well for a crack at the win on Sunday. If Roberts does take victory, he’ll be the first American winner in the intermediate class since 1990! Lowes is forced to settle for second but was consistently quick once again, with Gardner putting in a late lunge to complete the front row – the Australian delighted with that as he continues to recover from injury and had a more turbulent weekend at Barcelona.

Martin was shuffled down to fourth, with Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fifth and only half a tenth off his old Moto3 sparring partner. Incredibly, despite his monster highside on Friday, Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) starts sixth as he races on, looking at least to not lose too much ground at Le Mans.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) just got the better of teammate Jake Dixon as they launch from seventh and eighth respectively, with Bastianini’s tougher weekend so far seeing him ultimately line up ninth. With Marini not so far ahead on the grid, however, we can guess the ‘Beast”s Sunday target…

Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) took his best grid position of the year as he completed the top ten, ahead of Di Giannantonio and Canet, with Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) in P13. Lüthi will start P14, ahead of Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

Moto2 Qualifying Results

Pos Rider Motorcycle Q Time/Gap
1 Joe ROBERTS KALEX Q2 1m36.256
2 Sam LOWES KALEX Q2 +0.087
3 Remy GARDNER KALEX Q2 +0.193
4 Jorge MARTIN KALEX Q2 +0.266
5 Marco BEZZECCHI KALEX Q2 +0.321
6 Luca MARINI KALEX Q2 +0.412
7 Xavi VIERGE KALEX Q2 +0.481
8 Jake DIXON KALEX Q2 +0.570
9 Enea BASTIANINI KALEX Q2 +0.584
10 Stefano MANZI MV AGUSTA Q2 +0.621
11 Fabio DI GIANNANTONI SPEED UP Q2 +0.623
12 Aron CANET SPEED UP Q2 +0.625
13 Simone CORSI MV AGUSTA Q2 +0.674
14 Thomas LUTHI KALEX Q2 +0.691
15 Augusto FERNANDEZ KALEX Q2 +0.758
16 Hector GARZO KALEX Q2 +1.021
17 Marcos RAMIREZ KALEX Q2 +1.079
18 Jorge NAVARRO SPEED UP Q2 +1.300
19 Marcel SCHROTTER KALEX Q1 (*) 0.680
20 Nicolò BULEGA KALEX Q1 (*) 0.684
21 Lorenzo DALLA PORTA KALEX Q1 (*) 0.701
22 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA KALEX Q1 (*) 0.781
23 Hafizh SYAHRIN SPEED UP Q1 (*) 0.848
24 Somkiat CHANTRA KALEX Q1 (*) 1.048
25 Edgar PONS KALEX Q1 (*) 1.099
26 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI   ITA KALEX Q1 (*) 1.176
27 Bo BENDSNEYDER NTS Q1 (*) 1.253
28 Andi Farid IZDIHAR KALEX Q1 (*) 1.802
29 Kasma DANIEL KALEX Q1 (*) 2.132
30 Piotr BIESIEKIRSKI NTS Q1 (*) 3.216

Moto3

Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) put in a stunner to snatch pole from Championship challenger Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the number 5 judging it to perfection to edge just 0.020 clear at the top. The two riders were ultimately in a class of their own in the final few seconds of Q2, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) taking an important P3 and front row but the Scot left a few tenths in arrears on the timesheets. For Championship leader Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) it was a different story, the number 79 crashing without a lap on the board and left facing a big fight back on Sunday.

At a slightly warmer and certainly sunnier Le Mans, it was Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) topped Q1, heading through to contest the top 18 grid positions alongside Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3). Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was the man who just lost out, the Italian crashing right at the end and unable to improve. Rodrigo also went down, but the Argentinean had already done enough to move through.

With that, the stage was set and as Q2 got underway, it was Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who held the reins after the first runs, the Spaniard ahead of winner last time out, Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power). Toba crashed early on, the Japanese rider able to make it back to the garage at least, but soon enough the grid headed into the calm before the storm – the classic mid-session lull. Sky Racing Team VR46 riders Celestino Vietti and Andrea Migno were hard at work doing some formation running, however, and they improved, as did Foggia as the Leopard man also stayed out.

With just under five minutes to go, only 11 laptimes were on the board, with many choosing to wait it out. But then some started disappearing, laps cancelled for a few riders and that upping the ante even more. Fernandez remained top as the field filtered out for a final push though – and then some big drama happened.

After only just automatically making it through to Q2, disaster then struck for Championship leader Ogura. Without a lap even set for the Japanese rider, he crashed out and watched his hopes of a solid start position for the French GP evaporate. Rider ok, but in worse news, forced to watch the remainder of the session from the sidelines, unable to get back out.

Meanwhile at the top, Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was first to depose Fernandez, but the Spaniard remained on his roll and soon hit back. Masia was on an absolute charge late on, however, the Leopard Racing rider with a full house of red sectors on the timing screens and out the final corner and over the line, the lap was more than enough to take over on provisional pole – with a few seconds left on the clock and therefore chance for one more lap to boot…

Fenati couldn’t hit back as he completed his final effort, and neither could Fernandez as the two early duellers were forced to concede defeat. But Arenas was on a flier, and as he crossed the line red sectors became provisional pole as the Spaniard tried to put himself in the strongest possible position to try and take back the Championship lead on Sunday. Masia still wasn’t done though, and those few seconds he’d had left to start another lap would prove crucial as the number 5 put in another stunner, back on top and taking his first pole position of the season in some style – by just 0.020.

Moto3 front row L-R: Arenas, Masia and McPhee

Arenas will be satisfied with a front row – and some serious speed – as he looks to take the lead back from Ogura on Sunday, although the Spaniard has got a different key rival right next to him: McPhee. The Scot left it late but pulled a fast one out the bad to complete the front row, just over four tenths off Masia but one who, like Arenas, has already enjoyed a trip to the top step at Le Mans.

Raul Fernandez heads the second row, ahead of Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as his solid form of late continues in France, with Rodrigo ultimately bouncing back from a trip to Q1 and a crash to line up in a solid sixth. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) had a slightly under the radar Saturday afternoon but heads Row 3, just 0.015 off Rodrigo, as he aims to continue his march upwards in the standings. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was eighth quickest and with another tiny deficit as the Japanese rider missed out by only 0.020, with Romano Fenati next up but a larger 0.208 off the number 71. Vietti ended up relegated to tenth, 0.173 off compatriot Fenati.

Foggia, Binder, Migno, Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3), Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) and Toba complete the top 16 as the last riders who set valid laps. Yamanaka crashed, with Migno collected in that incident, and he’ll start P18.

Ogura will start 17th and after his disastrous session the Championship leader is faced with an almighty fight back if he’s to keep Arenas – and McPhee – at bay.

Moto3 Qualifying Results

Pos Rider Bike Q Time/Gap
1 Jaume MASIA HONDA Q2 1m41.399
2 Albert ARENAS KTM Q2 +0.020
3 John MCPHEE HONDA Q2 +0.447
4 Raul FERNANDEZ KTM Q2 +0.457
5 Sergio GARCIA HONDA Q2 +0.521
6 Gabriel RODRIGO HONDA Q2 +0.548
7 Tony ARBOLINO HONDA Q2 +0.563
8 Ayumu SASAKI KTM Q2 +0.583
9 Romano FENATI HUSQVARNA Q2 +0.791
10 Celestino VIETTI KTM Q2 +0.964
11 Dennis FOGGIA HONDA Q2 +0.984
12 Darryn BINDER KTM Q2 +1.140
13 Andrea MIGNO KTM Q2 +1.145
14 Stefano NEPA KTM Q2 +1.198
15 Carlos TATAY KTM Q2 +1.713
16 Kaito TOBA KTM Q2 +1.906
17 Ai OGURA HONDA FP3 +0.857
18 Ryusei YAMANAKA HONDA Q1 (*) 0.127
19 Niccolò ANTONELLI HONDA Q1 (*) 0.310
20 Tatsuki SUZUKI HONDA Q1 (*) 0.319
21 Filip SALAC HONDA Q1 (*) 0.479
22 Davide PIZZOLI KTM Q1 (*) 0.706
23 Alonso LOPEZ HUSQVARNA Q1 (*) 0.800
24 Yuki KUNII HONDA Q1 (*) 0.801
25 Jeremy ALCOBA HONDA Q1 (*) 0.909
26 Riccardo ROSSI KTM Q1 (*) 1.021
27 Deniz ÖNCÜ KTM Q1 (*) 1.306
28 Khairul Idham PAWI HONDA Q1 (*) 1.323
29 Jason DUPASQUIER KTM Q1 (*) 1.343
30 Maximilian KOFLER KTM Q1 (*) 1.569
31 Barry BALTUS KTM Q1 (*) 1.844

MotoE

Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40) is now not only an FIM Enel MotoE World Cup race winner, he’s also now the Cup leader by some margin after huge drama in Race 1 at Le Mans. The Spaniard escaped the chaos to lead the majority of the race and defend from home hero Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who took an impressive second, with Niki Tuuli (Avant Ajo MotoE) completing the podium and back on the box after a tougher season for the first ever MotoE race winner. But the drama…

It began from the off as the first start was Red Flagged due to a crash for Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse), the Italian losing his chance to fight for the Cup early on. He was up and ok, but the bike was left stricken on track and the race was stopped. After the re-start, it would be a five-lap super sprint to the finish with everything on the line.

It was the man ahead going in who got the holeshot, Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE), with everything briefly going to plan until disaster struck and the Italian suddenly crashed out – leaving Torres, Di Meglio and more to avoid. And behind that, even more drama was changing the landscape of the standings as a huge, domino-effect incident saw Xavier Simeon (LCR E-Team) and teammate Niccolo Canepa going down, and second overall Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP) caught up in it. The field scattered, the riders scrambled to get back on and Torres kept it pinned at the front. Aegerter was the only one who managed to get going but far off the rest of the field – and Torres was in the driving seat.

The Spaniard, by then, was well in the clear but Di Meglio was on a march, the Frenchman making his way through to second and then able to reel Torres in, chunk by chunk. Tuuli was up to third too, having navigated his way to the front through the chaos, and the Finnish rider kept pace with the Frenchman as the two managed to home in on Torres and drop Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) from the podium fight.

Onto the final lap, Di Meglio was right on Torres, the gap gone and the Frenchman looking menacing. Would he go for a lunge to taste home turf glory? And Tuuli, in third, remained within striking range. The three thundered round Le Mans for the final time but ultimately, the answer was no. Torres defended to the line and was able to take his first ever MotoE win in some style, the 25 points also putting him well clear in the standings… and the result meaning he starts from pole in Race 2.

Di Meglio said it was better to finish second than crash and that he did, back on the box on home turf, and Tuuli seemed somewhat surprised by third and a podium result. The Finn was a huge chunk faster than in Free Practice to set the fastest MotoE lap of Le Mans and earn the rostrum, however, getting some pay back after a tough year affected by injury. Di Meglio and Tuuli now start second and third on Sunday, too.

Hook took his best ever MotoE result at a track he knows well – having shared the top step with Di Meglio as teammates in the 24h endurance race at the track earlier this year – and the Aussie had some solid time in hand ahead of Tommaso Marcon (Tech 3 E-Racing) as the Italian bounced back from a dramatic Misano Race 2 and grid penalty. Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) was sixth and not far off Marcon, the Brazilian banking some good points.

Maria Herrera is classified seventh after a track limits penalty for teammate Alejandro Medina switched the order of the two Openbank Aspar Team riders, Medina is forced to settle for eighth. Alessandro Zaccone (Trentino Gresini MotoE) was ninth, with Lukas Tulovic (Tech 3 E-Racing) completing the top ten despite his recent surgery, the German putting in a superhuman effort to end the race only six tenths off Zaccone.

Xavi Cardelus (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) was next up ahead of another superhuman performance in the form of Alex de Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE). The Sammarinese rider had a huge crash in E-Pole on Saturday morning but made it through the race to score points, with now only one race left of his career before he retires. Jakub Kornfeil (WithU Motorsport) took P13, also taking a penalty but his a time addition.

Finally, after the 13 men ahead of him, Dominique Aegerter crossed the line. The second huge bout of bad luck for the Swiss rider cut his chances at the Cup, but the effort was a valiant one as he nevertheless salvaged two points and kept going. Now, it all goes down to Sunday.

Torres sits on 104 points heading into the last race of the year, and the Cup would appear his to lose as he also starts from pole. Ferrari is 18 points adrift and Aegerter 20, but both start further back after the drama on Saturday, with Race 1 deciding the grid for Race 2.

MotoE Race One

Pos Rider Team Time/Gap
1 Jordi TORRES Pons Racing 40 8m43.391
2 Mike DI MEGLIO EG 0,0 Marc VDS +0.116
3 Niki TUULI Avant Ajo MotoE +0.557
4 Josh HOOK OCTO Pramac MotoE +1.925
5 Tommaso MARCON Tech 3 E-Racing +4.296
6 Eric GRANADO Avintia Esponsorama Racing +4.590
7 Maria HERRERA Openbank Aspar Team +6.514
8 Alejandro MEDINA Openbank Aspar Team +6.201
9 Alessandro ZACCONE TRENTINO Gresini MotoE +11.875
10 Lukas TULOVIC Tech 3 E-Racing +12.419
11 Xavi CARDELUS Avintia Esponsorama Racing +13.262
12 Alex DE ANGELIS OCTO Pramac MotoE +14.087
13 Jakub KORNFEIL WithU Motorsport +23.207
14 Dominique AEGERTER Dynavolt Intact GP +59.643

MotoE EPole

Pos Rider Team Time/Gap
1 Jordi TORRES Pons Racing 40 1m43.843
2 Matteo FERRARI TRENTINO Gresini MotoE +0.329
3 Mike DI MEGLIO EG 0,0 Marc VDS +0.637
4 Josh HOOK OCTO Pramac MotoE +0.644
5 Dominique AEGERTER Dynavolt Intact GP +0.66
6 Niccolo CANEPA LCR E-Team +0.732
7 Alejandro MEDINA Openbank Aspar Team +0.813
8 Xavier SIMEON LCR E-Team +0.878
9 Eric GRANADO Avintia Esponsorama Racing +1.045
10 66 Niki TUULI Avant Ajo MotoE +1.21
11 Tommaso MARCON Tech 3 E-Racing +1.393
12 Maria HERRERA Openbank Aspar Team +1.715
13 Xavi CARDELUS Avintia Esponsorama Racing +2.208
14 Alessandro ZACCONE TRENTINO Gresini MotoE +2.614
15 Lukas TULOVIC Tech 3 E-Racing +2.654
16 Jakub KORNFEIL WithU Motorsport +3.513

MotoE Championship Standings

Pos

Rider Points
1 Jordi TORRES 104
2 Matteo FERRARI 86
3 Dominique AEGERTER 84
4 Mattia CASADEI 71
5 Mike DI MEGLIO 55
6 Eric GRANADO 53
7 Niccolo CANEPA 42
8 Xavier SIMEON 37
9 Josh HOOK 36
10 Alejandro MEDINA 36
11 Lukas TULOVIC 34
12 Alex DE ANGELIS 33
13 Tommaso MARCON 33
14 Alessandro ZACCONE 33
15 Niki TUULI 28
16 Xavi CARDELUS 28
17 Maria HERRERA 26
18 Jakub KORNFEIL 14

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

SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France Schedule (AEST)

Time Class Session
1800 Moto3 WUP
1830 MotoGP WUP
1900 Moto2 WUP
2020 Moto3 Race
2200 MotoGP Race
2320 Moto2 Race
0040 (Mon) MotoE Race 2

Source: MCNews.com.au

YART Yamaha take pole for Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans 24 Hours Qualifying

YART Yamaha picked up pole position ahead of BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team and Suzuki Endurance Racing Team. In Superstock, Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto beat Moto Ain by a whisker to the best starting position.

YART will start from pole

YART Yamaha claimed pole position thanks to a very consistent team. All three riders – Karel Hanika, Marvin Fritz and Niccolò Canepa – came in under the 1:37 mark on a lap of the Bugatti circuit. The Austrian factory Yamaha has dominated the proceedings at Le Mans since yesterday, and will start the 24 Heures Motos from pole at midday on Saturday.

Team BMW

That said, the day’s best performance can be chalked up, not to YART Yamaha, but to BMW Motorrad World Endurance Team. Markus Reiterberger posted the fastest qualifying lap, a 1:36.164. The BMW factory team (Kenny Foray, Ilya Mikhalchik and Markus Reiterberger) will take second position on the grid.

Markus Reiterberger set the fastest individual time across the whole entry list

The leader of the provisional standings, Suzuki Endurance Racing Team (Etienne Masson, Gregg Black and Xavier Simeon), will start from 3rd just ahead of F.C.C. TSR Honda France’s Josh Hook, Freddy Foray and Mike di Meglio.

Suzuki Endurance Racing Team – Gregg Black

It could be a tricky race for the Japanese Honda team, as Josh Hook was injured during practice but is expected to be allowed to race. The Honda #5 is ahead of ERC Endurance’s factory Ducati in the hands of Randy de Puniet, Julien da Costa and Louis Rossi.

Josh Hook

VRD Igol Pierret Experiences once again managed to slip in among the favourites. In the saddle of the Yamaha #333, Florian Alt, Florian Marino and Mathieu Gines will start from 6th place on the grid ahead of reigning champions Webike SRC Kawasaki France Trickstar.  The Kawasaki squad are without their team manager Gilles Stafler, currently recovering after a heart attack, and still getting to grips with their new Michelin tyres.

Three ambitious teams make up the rest of the Top 10 after qualifying: Tati Team Beaujolais Racing, Wójcik Racing Team and National Motos.  Australian Broc Parkes is part of the Wójcik Racing Team and reported that he was caught up in traffic while looking to set a time on soft tyres and will start from ninth on the grid.

Team 33 Coyote Louit Moto (Kawasaki), the fastest Superstock team, will start from 11th place ahead of Moto Ain (Yamaha), the provisional leader in class, and GERT56 by GS Yuasa (BMW).

YART will start from pole

Source: MCNews.com.au

Mr Termignoni dies aged 75

The founder of the motorcycle exhaust company that brought music to the ears of many riders, Luigi Termignoni, has died, aged 75.

Luigi founded the Termignoni exhaust company in 1969 in Predosa, Italy.

Luigi Termignoni
Luigi Termignoni

His exhausts were made famous in the Paris-Dakar rallies of the ’70s and ‘80s and even the Le Mans 24 Hours Race for their performance, light weight and strength.

Termignoni exhausts have won 10 MotoGP championships, 16 World Superbikes and many other titles including cross country, enduro, trials, motocross and road racing.Luigi Termignoni

His exhausts became the aftermarket pipe to fit to a Ducati after Conti exhausts bit the dust.

The company also supported Beta, Honda, Kawasaki, Montessa, MV Agusta, Ossa e and Yamaha.

Luigi sold the factory a decade ago and was president until 2015.

Our sincere condolences to Luigi’s family, friends and devotees.

Rather than a minute’s silence for his passing, perhaps we should braaap our throttles in remembrance!

You can read the full history of the company here.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Marquez dominates Le Mans | Race Reports | Moto2 | Moto3

2019 MotoGP
Round Five – Le Mans

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) converted pole into a dominant win clear at the front overnight at Le Mans, and in doing so he took Honda’s 300th premier class victory – as well as equalling the premier class win count of teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

Behind Marquez it was a Ducati duel for the podium, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) just able to hold off teammate Danilo Petrucci over the line. ‘DesmoDovi’ equals the podium tally of MotoGP Legend Mick Doohan across all classes, Petrucci took to the rostrum for the first time for the factory Ducati Team.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Grid Marquez
Marc Marquez

MotoGP Race Report

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Marquez Petrucci
#FrenchGP 2019 – Marquez and Petrucci

As the lights went out in the fifth round of MotoGP Championship season 2019, poleman Marquez and second place Petrucci immediately went toe-to-toe into Turn 3, with the reigning World Champion just getting the better of the Italian as everyone made it through the tricky left-right in one piece. It was the top three on the grid who held the top three positions in the race, and Marquez started to edge out a half-second gap on the field.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Marquez Petrucci
#FrenchGP 2019 – Marquez and Petrucci

But Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was on the move. He forced his way past fellow GP19 rider Petrucci and immediately locked his radar on the back of Marquez’ Honda.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Miller Marquez
#FrenchGP 2019 – Miller, Marquez

And it wasn’t long before the 0.5 gap was bridged as Miller slammed in the fastest lap of the race before chucking it up the inside of Marquez at Turn 3 on Lap 5.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Marquez Miller
#FrenchGP 2019 – Marquez and Miller

Two laps later Marquez went to return the favour and both riders ran slightly wide; Miller getting the cutback to lead but Marquez sweeping up the inside of the Ducati…as Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joined the fray at the front.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Marquez Dovi Miller
#FrenchGP 2019

With Marquez back in the lead though, he began to get into a rhythm. A tenth here and a tenth there slowly stretched the gap out to half a second as the Spaniard posted the fastest lap of the race and it was hammer down for the Championship leader.

The gap to Miller and Dovizioso kept on rising and as Marquez ticked Lap 14 off, it was over a second and it soon became a race for second between the three Ducatis, with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) not completely out of the equation but back in fifth.

With 11 to go Marquez was two seconds up the road as Dovi made his move past Miller, the Australian running wide at Turn 7 as Petrucci began to build up his speed and close down the podium places.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Petrucci Miller
#FrenchGP 2019 – Petrucci, Miller, Rossi

A few laps later, Petrucci was past Miller and setting his sights on his team-mate. With five laps to go Petrucci struck for P2 but ran wide and the duel would continue – but Dovizioso kept on getting it back.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Petrucci Miller Rossi
#FrenchGP 2019 – Petrucci, Miller, Rossi

Meanwhile, Marquez had built up nearly a four-second gap as he cruised round to claim his third win of the season in dominant style, equalling teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s premier class win tally (47), which is joint fourth on the list. Although no match for Marquez on the day, Dovi took an important second for 20 more points and Petrucci returned to the rostrum for the first time since Le Mans last season.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Dovizioso Petrucci Miller Rossi
#FrenchGP 2019 – Dovizioso, Petrucci, Miller, Rossi

Marc Marquez – P1

“Of course here in Le Mans it’s always difficult with the temperature and the weather, especially today. I think this is the first time I have had a race where I had the soft tyre in the front but it was the safest option. I was focused on being consistent until I saw the gap increasing, I pushed a little bit more and into the low 32s until I saw I had two seconds. I’m happy with today’s result and it is fantastic to be able to take Honda’s 300th premier class win!”

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Marquez LHS
Marc Marquez

Andrea Dovizioso – P2

“I’m happy with my result because the conditions have been really tricky here all weekend and, nonetheless, we managed to seize second position in both the race and the championship. That said, we need to stay focused and try to make further improvements if we want to fight with Márquez until the end. I couldn’t keep his pace until the checkered flag because the rear tyre dropped a bit too much, and in the final laps I also had to fend off Danilo’s comeback. It was a good fight, and I’m not surprised by his speed, as I know him well. We scored the best possible result and the championship is still open. I can’t wait to race again in two weeks’ time at Mugello, a track we know quite well and on which we achieved important results in the recent past.”

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Dovizioso Petrucci Miller
Andrea Dovizioso

Danilo Petrucci – P3

“It was great race and I’m so happy to finally be back on the podium, exactly one year since the last time I stepped on it. In the past rounds I’ve been quite competitive, but not in qualifying, and this hindered my performance during the race. This time, we managed to start from first row but I made a couple of mistakes in the early laps and lost some ground. At one point I dropped all the way back to sixth, but I tried to stay calm and collected, pushing as hard as I could to close the gap. Towards the end, Andrea and I had a spectacular fight. He was stronger than me under acceleration, while I was able to recover some ground under braking, but I was never close enough to complete the maneuver and it also wouldn’t have made any sense to take huge risks among teammates. The double podium is a great result for the whole team, and now we’ll try to repeat that in Mugello.”

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci

Miller held off Rossi by a tenth to earn a solid fourth in France, ‘The Doctor’ not quite able keep tabs on the podium battle and coming home fifth. Just behind him, meanwhile, was a big contender for ride of the day: the best result of the season so far for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard had looked strong all weekend and he proved it in the race, taking an awesome sixth place and over a second ahead of the next man up, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT).

Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) eventually crossed the line in P8, which won’t be what he wanted from the French Grand Prix but there was plenty to write about once again. Off to a bad start and dropping outside the points in the early stages, fast Fabio unleashed some searing pace to slice back through the field to only just over a second behind his teammate. Podium potential once again, the fight rolls on to Mugello.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) lost out to Quartararo in the latter stages, the British rider finishing ninth, with the top ten completed by Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins. A P19 start hampered the Spaniard’s French GP as he slips from second to third in the standings. Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) earns his best Honda result in 11th, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), home favourite Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and the two Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s of Hafizh Syahrin – the Malaysian’s first points of the season – and Miguel Oliveira completing the points. Oliveira was handed a penalty that dropped him below Syahrin in the standings, but both still scored – as did all four KTMs in a good day at the office for the Austrian factory.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) collided with Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales and they crashed out together on Lap 7, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) also crashing – riders ok. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) retired, and there was huge drama on the warm-up lap before the race had even begun. On the brink of his 200th GP start, Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s rookie Joan Mir both crashed – separately – heading into Turn 3. Mir was able to get back to the pits and get back out to join the race, but Abraham was black flagged for coming out of pit-lane after the leader had crossed the line on Lap 1.

Marquez has only an eight-point lead over Dovizioso in the Championship as we move onto the latter’s home race: Mugello. Will the tables turn there? Tune in in two weeks. Full Championship standings can be found lower down this page.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Points
#FrenchGP 2019 – Dovizioso and Petrucci check out the Championship points

2019 MotoGP – Round Five – Le Mans

Pos. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 M Marquez Honda 41’53.647
2 A Dovizioso Ducati 1.984
3 D Petrucci Ducati 2.142
4 J Miller Ducati 2.94
5 V Rossi Yamaha 3.053
6 P Espargaro KTM 5.935
7 F Morbidelli Yamaha 7.187
8 F Quartararo Yamaha 8.439
9 C Crutchlow Honda 9.853
10 A Rins Suzuki 13.709
11 J Lorenzo Honda 15.003
12 A Espargaro Aprilia 29.512
13 J Zarco KTM 33.061
14 H Syahrin KTM 35.481
15 M Oliveira KTM 36.044
16 J Mir Suzuki 1 Lap
Not Classified
DNF T Nakagami Honda 9 Laps
DNF A Iannone Aprilia 19 Laps
DNF M Viñales Yamaha 21 Laps
DNF F Bagnaia Ducati 21 Laps
DNF T  Rabat Ducati 25 Laps
MotoGP Rnd LeMans Podium Marquez Dovizioso Petrucci
#FrenchGP 2019
Race results:
1 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) 40’36.428
2 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +1.119
3 – Augusto Fernandez (SPA – Kalex) +1.800

Moto2

It’s been a long time coming, but Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was back on the top step at Le Mans to end a win drought stretching back to Japan 2017 – and he did it in style. Over a second clear over the line and untroubled for much of the race, it was heads and tails compared to his misfortune in Jerez. Behind the number 73, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) duelled Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) to decide the podium, with the Speed Up man eventually coming out on top as both once again showed some impressive form.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Moto Alex Marquez
Alex Marquez

It was Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) who took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Marquez just about getting the better of Navarro and Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) attacking the Speed Up too. But Marquez didn’t leave it long, attacking at Turn 2 on Lap 4 and then starting to pull away – leading from that point on.

In the meantime there was big drama, however. Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) slid out when making progress – and Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was unable to avoid his stricken compatriot. The number 07 was taken to the Medical Centre and was diagnosed with a dislocated right shoulder and concussion so he’ll have to be passed fit to race at Mugello.

Back at the front, Vierge attacked Lüthi next as Navarro tussled for fourth with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) was starting to look threatening behind too. From Row 6 the Italian was up into sixth and still making progress, sure enough making his way up into second and looking like the man to try and make a run at Marquez. Sadly it wasn’t to be, however, as the Italian slid out after a few laps on the chase.

That left Marquez with a sizeable gap back to Navarro and Vierge, with Fernandez up into fourth behind them – but he didn’t wait long to strike. As Marquez kept it calm and collected in the lead, the fight for second then lit up as Fernandez vs Navarro treated us to some classic racing around a classic venue. In the end though, it was Navarro who won out and was able to pull out a small gap, with Fernandez forced to settle for third.

Binder took fourth for a good haul of points, with Vierge dropping to fifth by the flag. And Lüthi, a four-time winner at Le Mans, faded back to sixth – unable to capitalise too much on the 0 scored by Baldassarri. Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) came home seventh and was top rookie once again, ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) after a more muted weekend for the German. Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) took a solid ninth, with second rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) completing the top ten.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Moto Podium L R Navarro Marquez Fernandez
#FrenchGP Moto2 Race results:
1 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) 37’48.689
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.106
3 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) +0.757

In 11th, meanwhile, was one of the rides of the race. Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) had a stunning Sunday as he sliced through from 31st on the grid, gaining a whopping 20 places over the 25 laps. Rookie Fabio Di Giannantonio (Lightech Speed Up) took P12, ahead of Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46). American Joe Roberts (American Racing KTM) took points for the first time this season in P14, ahead of a third consecutive points finish for the new MV Agusta chassis but this time in the hands of Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward). There was some bad news for his teammate Dominique Aegerter, however, as the Swiss rider had to retire on the last lap as it looked like he’d run low on fuel.

Moto2

Pos. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 A Marquez Kalex 40’36.428
2 J Navarro Speed Up 1.119
3 A Fernandez Kalex 1.800
4 B Binder KTM 6.015
5 X Vierge Kalex 7.057
6 T Luthi Kalex 9.401
7 E Bastianini Kalex 10.095
8 M Schrotter Kalex 10.475
9 I Lecuona KTM 11.246
10 N Bulega Kalex 17.112
11 T Nagashima Kalex 18.537
12 F Di Giannantonio Speed Up 19.817
13 L Marini Kalex 27.815
14 J Roberts KTM 27.888
15 S Manzi MV Agusta 49.139
16 L Tulovic KTM 50.8
17 J Dixon KTM 51.688
18 M Bezzecchi KTM 53.223
19 P Oettl KTM +1’00.859
20 J Martin KTM +1’03.717
Not Classified
DNF D Aegerter MV Agusta 1 Lap
DNF D Ekky Pratama Kalex 4 Laps
DNF X Cardelus KTM 5 Laps
DNF R Gardner Kalex 12 Laps
DNF S Odendaal NTS 13 Laps
DNF B Bendsneyder NTS 13 Laps
DNF S Corsi Kalex 16 Laps
DNF S Lowes Kalex 17 Laps
DNF S Chantra Kalex 17 Laps
DNF L Baldassarri Kalex 24 Laps
DNF M Pasini Kalex 24 Laps
Not Finished 1st Lap
DNF Andrea Locatelli Kalex 0 Lap

Moto3

John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) has taken his second Grand Prix win in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with the Scot fighting it out at the front and then able to defend the lead in the final sector to cross the line just over a tenth clear of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing). That makes it five winners in five races so far this season, and ten different winners in a row. Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) completed the podium despite a couple of last lap wobbles, and the Spaniard extended his Championship lead.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Moto McPhee DallaPorta
John McPhee wins ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta – #FrenchGP Moto3

McPhee got a good start from pole, but it was Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who initially launched past the Scotsman to take over at the front, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) behind McPhee in fourth as the pack settled, and a small gap back to Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai), Canet, Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and Dalla Porta.

One name missing from the front early on was Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), with the Japanese rookie unable to capitalise on his front row start as he crashed out – and caused some big drama. His bike moved back onto the track but it was safely avoided as the pack scattered, with the freight train then recouping and rolling on.

Suzuki was holding station in the lead as the laps ticked down and the Japanese rider consistently led over the line, but with only a handful of laps to go, heartbreak hit as he then suddenly slid out – and Arbolino couldn’t avoid him; the Italian also going down. That shuffled the order as the front group scattered and the second made up some big time, with race day pace man Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) first on the scene to make it a bigger scrap over the last laps. And he had company, with the battle heating up.

Two key moments decided much of the race: first, Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) was a little optimistic with an attempted move on teammate Migno and a gap opened up as they lost time, leaving Dalla Porta, McPhee, Toba and Canet at the front.

The second decisive moment came on the last lap as it was Canet’s turn to wobble. In full attack mode, the Italian overcooked it and only just stayed on – but he did head wide, and took Toba with him. That left McPhee defending from Dalla Porta for the win, and the Scotsman kept it cool to cross the line a tenth clear. His second win was also the team’s first.

Canet finished third and got a talking to from Toba on the cool down lap, with Rodrigo crossing the line fourth ahead of Migno. Toba eventually took sixth, just able to slot back in and beat impressive rookie Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the line by 0.041.

MotoGP Rnd LeMans Moto Podium L R Dalla Porta McPhee Canet
#FrenchGP Moto3 Results
Race results:
1 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) 37’48.689
2 – Lorenzo Dalla Porta (ITA – Honda) +0.106
3 – Aron Canet (SPA – KTM) +0.757

After taking his first points of the year last time out in Jerez, Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) took his first top ten in France, two tenths ahead of Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP). Second rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), despite a 12-place grid penalty, completed the top ten and beat last year’s winner – teammate Albert Arenas – to the honour, with Masia classified in P12 behind Arenas after a time penalty for cutting a corner.

Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) took his first Grand Prix points of the year in thirteenth, ahead of Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), with Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) finishing 15th. The Czech rider was hit by faller Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) on Lap 1 and ran off.

Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was a high profile crasher, the Italian losing ground in the Championship, and Ramirez was another to go down. Previously a Le Mans winner, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) retired from the race.

Moto3

Pos. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 J Mcphee Honda 37’48.689
2 L Dalla Porta Honda 0.106
3 A Canet KTM 0.757
4 G Rodrigo Honda 0.978
5 A Migno KTM 1.201
6 K Toba Honda 1.41
7 C Vietti KTM 1.451
8 K Masaki KTM 1.636
9 J Kornfeil KTM 1.848
10 R Fernandez KTM 2.049
11 A Arenas KTM 2.663
12 J Masia KTM 3.748
13 M Yurchenko KTM 11.812
14 A Sasaki Honda 11.896
15 F Salac KTM 30.511
16 C Oncu KTM 32.544
17 T Booth-Amos KTM 40.026
Not Classified
DNF D Foggia KTM 5 Laps
DNF A Lopez Honda 5 Laps
DNF T Suzuki Honda 5 Laps
DNF T Arbolino Honda 6 Laps
DNF V Perez KTM 7 Laps
DNF N Antonelli Honda 8 Laps
DNF R Fenati Honda 13 Laps
DNF M Ramirez Honda 15 Laps
DNF R Rossi Honda 16 Laps
DNF D Binder KTM 21 Laps
Not Finished 1st Lap
DNF A Ogura Honda 0 Lap
DNF S Garcia Honda 0 Lap

Championship Standings

Source: MCNews.com.au