Marquez reigns at Le Mans

The story just keeps going Reigning Champion Marc Marquez’s way as he nailed another solid win at the famous Le Mans Circuit, Round 5 of the MotoGP. It was his third straight victory and 64th of his career (38th in MotoGP). The MotoGP mark puts him equal to Casey Stoner’s premier class GP win tally.

With the win, Marquez is in the clear at the top of the Riders’ Standings with 36 points over second place rider, Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales, who ended up seventh. Second and third were the Privateer Danilo Petrucci and 9-time champion Valentino Rossi.

Marquez managed the race almost to perfection in every phase. He kept his cool during the early laps until his tyres were ready, took the lead after the crashes of Ducati’s lead man and championship rival Andrea Dovizioso and pole-starter Johann Zarco. At the final stint, he had built a comfortable gap at the front and held on to the flag to grab the win. “To be honest, things were a bit challenging at the beginning of the race: Zarco touched me in the second corner and I went a bit wide, then Iannone crashed and nearly hit me, so I lost some more positions. I decided to cool down for a while. When I saw that Dovi and Johann were out, my approach to the race again changed a bit,” said Marquez. “At a certain point, I had one big moment in turn three, where I had already crashed in FP3, which is why I was being extremely careful there; I think that helped me to avoid a crash in that moment. I’m currently experiencing a very ‘sweet’ period with my bike, and when you’ve got that kind of feeling, you also work better; then you ride better, and the bike works better. Things don’t exactly become easier when you get into this zone, but they’re more ‘natural’.”

Petrucci held on to the runner-up spot, but Rossi proved what’s he is made of throughout the race, despite a tough starting spot. He displayed a competitive pace to take a strong third place on the podium.

Rossi came up from ninth to sixth in the first lap before the pace got quicker. He would lose a place to Petrucci and settled in fifth, until Dovizioso and Zarco crashed out. At the final stint, he tried to pass Petrucci but just wasn’t close enough and finished in a strong third place.

Jack Miller captured fourth, ahead of Dani Pedrosa who recovered from the fourth row on the grid to finish in fifth place.

Sixth place went to Jorge Lorenzo who got a great start from row 2 when the lights went off, led for the first nine laps, but then gradually lost ground to finish his race in sixth position. His team mate, however, fell victim to the slippery conditions after moving into the lead on lap 5. Unfortunately the Italian then made a mistake at the La Chapelle curve that sent him sliding out of the French GP.

Vinales battled in the midfield most of the race. On lap 19 and 20 he swiftly moved past Alex Rins as well as Aleix Espargaró for seventh place, thus fuelling his motivation to keep fighting. He put in a personal best lap with two laps to go, but the margin to Lorenzo was too big to bridge. He took the chequered flag seventh and earned some valuable championship points. Viñales’ seventh place moves him up to second position in the championship standings with 59 points, 3 points ahead of teammate Rossi, who climbed up to fourth position. Behind Vinales were Cal Crutchlow, A. Espargaro and Rins.

The next MotoGP appointment will be the Michelin test on 23 May at the Catalunya circuit, while the fans are already gearing up for the Italian Grand Prix, to be held at Mugello from 1 – 3 June.

2018 MotoGP French GP at Le Mans results

1 25 93 Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 162.0 41’49.773
2 20 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 161.9 +2.310
3 16 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 161.7 +5.350
4 13 43 Jack MILLER AUS Alma Pramac Racing Ducati 161.6 +6.314
5 11 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 161.6 +7.419
6 10 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Ducati Team Ducati 161.4 +10.355
7 9 25 Maverick VIÑALES SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 160.5 +23.758
8 8 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 160.4 +25.795
9 7 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 160.4 +26.206
10 6 42 Alex RINS SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 160.2 +27.937
11 5 44 Pol ESPARGARO SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 160.0 +32.304
12 4 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN MAL Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 159.8 +34.962
13 3 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 159.6 +37.881
14 2 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 159.6 +38.299
15 1 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 159.4 +41.986

Riders standings
1 Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 95
2 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 59
3 Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 58
4 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 56
5 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 54
6 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 49
7 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 47
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 46
9 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 46
10 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 29
11 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 24
12 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 22
14 Jorge LORENZO Ducati SPA 16
15 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda ITA 16
16 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 13
17 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha MAL 13
18 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati SPA 12
19 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 10