Petrucci paints a wet weather masterpiece at Le Mans
Ducati win at the venue for the first time, with Alex Marquez taking a maiden MotoGP™ podium – and Dovizioso the furthest title challenger forward by far in fourth
Sunday, 11 October 2020
Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) is a wet weather master, but until now the Italian was always the bridesmaid in the rain. But no longer, as the number 9 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 (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).
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.
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…
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.
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.
The gap to Petrucci was coming down, butMarquez 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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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 – so don’t miss another dose of MotoGP™ next weekend!
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
Top Independent Team rider
5 Johann Zarco – Esponsorama Racing – Ducati +4.310
Danilo Petrucci: “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.”
MotoGP™ podium L-R: Alex Marquez, Petrucci and Pol Espargaro
Duel Britannia: Lowes takes stunning win at Le Mans, late heartbreak for Dixon
The number 22 takes a dominant win in the end after heartbreak for Dixon and a drama-filled comeback for Roberts
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.
That’s it from Le Mans. No it’s on to Aragon and a whole new challenge, with Lowes in P4 now only an apt 22 points off… can Marini bounce back at MotorLand? Find out next weekend!
1 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 41:27.648
2 Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +3.822
3 Marco Bezzecchi- Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +4.184
Sam Lowes: “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!”
The Grand Prix de France proved to be a difficult one, with rain delaying the start and mixed conditions during the 26 laps. PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo rode a smart race around the Le Mans circuit and managed to increase his championship lead, crossing the line ninth. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli was forced to retire after a Turn 4 crash on lap 19.
Quartararo struggled on the race start, which had been delayed, and found himself dropping through the field to fourth in the opening corners. With the championship in mind, the Frenchman kept his head and rode his own race. Although he found himself eleventh at the halfway point, Fabio made sure to keep his closest championship rivals behind him. Ensuring no mistakes were made in the final stages of his home GP, Quartararo crossed the line ninth and increased his championship lead to ten points.
Team-mate Morbidelli didn’t have the best opening lap, which was hampered by having to avoid another rider’s crash in the first corner, leaving the Italian 17th at the end of the first lap. Struggling to make progress in the wet conditions, Franco slipped down to 19th as the rain started to fall again. Unfortunately, a Turn 4 crash on lap 19 brought the French GP to an early conclusion for Morbidelli, who was forced to retire after due to a mechanical problem.
There will be no rest for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, who have increased their lead in the teams’ standings, as they head to Spain to prepare for their tenth race of the year: the Gran Premio de Aragón (16-18 October).
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.
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 [Mir] 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.
DNF (+8 laps)
I had a good start but unfortunately I was caught up in the incident with Valentino [Rossi], 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.
Fifth MotoGP™ podium of the season for Red Bull KTM as Espargaro finishes 3rd at Le Mans
MotoGP 2020 – Round 09, Le Mans (France) – Race
A wet and difficult Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France was the stage for Pol Espargaro to charge to his third top three result of 2020 on the KTM RC16 as all four KTM riders finished in the points at Le Mans. KTM also celebrated their sixth win from ten races in Moto3™.
Espargaro fights to 3rd place and takes his third trophy of the season
Red Bull KTM now have five podiums so far in 2020
Celestino Vietti uses his RC4 to win in Moto3 as Albert Arenas leads the championship again for KTM
The French Grand Prix pushed the 2020 MotoGP calendar up to nine rounds for the season (10 for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes) and took place at the historic Le Mans circuit for the 33rd FIM World Championship race at the venue. After a weekend of changeable and cool weather conditions, race day dawned cloudy and wet with heavy showers falling as the riders lined-up on the grid.
Pol Espargaro got away strongly on his KTM RC16 and slotted into the top five of the running. As position swaps, crashed and technical problems occurred through the 26 laps Espargaro maintained his pace and closed up the fight for the rostrum. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira also pulled along behind his brandmate as both riders sensed a strong chance of silverware. At the checkered flag Espargaro had overtaken Andrea Dovizioso for 3rd and was just 1.7 seconds from winner Danilo Petrucci. Oliveira was demoted to 6th through the last tight corner section at Le Mans.
Brad Binder took the first half of the race to gain optimum feeling with the wet surface but then set impressive lap-times to move up from the depths of the top twenty and take 12th. Fellow rookie Iker Lecuona secured the last point for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 squad with 15th place.
Pol Espargaro: “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.”
Miguel Oliveira: “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.”
Brad Binder: “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.”
Iker Lecuona: “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.”
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.”
Moto2 & Moto3
SKY Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti claimed the Moto3 checkered flag for his second career victory and the second in 2020 with the KTM RC4. The young Italian held off Jaume Masia and Albert Arenas; the latter giving KTM a double top three result on the day with 3rd. He clinched his ninth rostrum of the season and reclaimed the lead in the Moto3 World Championship standings by six points from Ai Ogura. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Raul Fernandez classified 7th and just over a second away from the winner.
Celestino Vietti: “A strange race because I did not expect this result, we were fast but I didn’t hope for much today. I think we chose the correct rear tire and in the last part of the race we had a bit more speed than the others. In the last three laps I tried to get to the front but all the riders were braking very hard. It was difficult to overtake but I’m very happy: we managed the race in a good way. I’m also happy for the team because we struggled with some crashes this weekend. This is for them.”
In Moto2 Jorge Martin crashed out early exiting Turn 10. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Tetsuta Nagashima reached the finish in 21st position.
MotoGP ploughs ahead with the 2020 fixtures and will now travel back to Spain for a double weekend residence at MotorLand Aragon for the Grands Prix of Aragon and Teruel on October 18th and 25th.
Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France MotoGP photos can be downloaded HERE
Results MotoGP Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France 2020
1. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati 45:54.736
2. Alex Marquez (ESP), Honda +1.273
3. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.711
4. Andrea Dovizioso (ESP) Suzuki +3.911
5. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +4.310
6. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +4.466
12. Brad Binder (RSA), Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +27.321
15. Iker Lecuona (ESP), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +51.087
Results Moto2 Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France 2020
1. Sam Lowes (GBR)41:27.648
2. Remy Gardner (AUS) +3.822
3. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) +4.184
21. Tetsuta Nagashima (JPN) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1:14.158
DNF. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo
French GP. Spectacular victory for Danilo Petrucci at Le Mans. Andrea Dovizioso closed in fourth position
The Umbrian rider took his second MotoGP success at Le Mans in a race made difficult by the wet conditions, giving Ducati their first victory on the French race track;
Andrea Dovizioso ended fourth after a race spent fighting at the front, as he was held back by the tyre drop in the final stages.
Danilo Petrucci took an extraordinary victory at the MotoGP French Grand Prix, held today at the historic Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. The Ducati Team rider secured his second success in the premier class, bringing the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike for the first time on the higher step of the podium at the French race track.
It was a very challenging race, that was postponed after that the rain had started to fall only a few minutes before the start. As he got off from the third spot on the grid, from the front row, Danilo was able to take the lead immediately, followed by teammate Andrea Dovizioso and the Pramac Racing Team Ducati bike of Jack Miller.
The Ducati trio occupied the top three position for almost two-thirds of the race, but it was then joined by Alex Rins, who engaged a strong duel with Miller, the latter forced to retire due to a technical problem during lap 19. Rins also crash out of contention in the following lap, while Andrea Dovizioso, who was already suffering from the tyre wear, had Alex Márquez and Pol Espargaro closing in. Both riders managed to overtake him, pushing back Dovizioso into the fourth place where he then finished the race.
Petrucci, who was then alone leading the race, continued to manage his gap on his rivals, crossing the finish line in the first position with a 1.2 second lead over Márquez.
Thanks to today’s success, Danilo climbs to tenth place in the overall standings, while Andrea is now in third position just 18 points behind championship leader Quartararo. Ducati is second in the manufacturers’ championship, while the Ducati Team is third in the teams’ standings.
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1st
“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.”
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 4th
“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.”
Luigi Dall’Igna (General Manager of 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.”
The Ducati Team riders will be back on track already this weekend, from 16th-18th October for the first of two consecutive races scheduled at the MotorLand Aragón (Alcañiz), in Spain.
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales showed great character in today‘s drama-filled Grand Prix de France, recovering from a provisional 20th place to take tenth at the chequered flag. Valentino Rossi‘s luckless streak continued in Le Mans. He suffered a crash on lap 1, ending his challenge prematurely.
Drama started early on in the French GP, when five minutes before the start the heavens opened. This started the Rain on Grid Procedure, allowing the riders to return to the pit box. A Quick Start Procedure followed at 13:05, with the pit-lane exit opened for only 60 seconds ahead of the sighting lap. The race was declared wet and shortened by one lap to 26 laps in total.
Viñales began his 100th premier class Grand Prix with a less than ideal start from P5 on the grid. Matters were made worse when he had to make an evasive manoeuvre to avoid the chaos that ensued in Turn 3 when his team-mate took a fall in the middle of the track.
The Spaniard ended the first lap in 20th position, but all was not lost. With relentless focus he rode a faultless race, despite the tricky conditions, and gradually moved up the order. In the final five laps he was part of a group of four riders fighting for eighth place. The Yamaha man pushed to the max and finished in tenth place, 16.895s from first.
Rossi started from tenth on the grid. He had a good start but found himself in the busy mid-pack in Turn 3 when disaster struck. The Italian got caught out by the slippery track conditions and crashed. He was quickly back up on his feet and tried all he could to get his bike restarted but was unable to rejoin the race.
After today‘s race Viñales is fourth in the championship rankings, 19 points from the top. Rossi drops to thirteenth place, with a 57-point gap to first. Yamaha remains first in the constructor standings, but the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team lost a place in the team classification and are now fourth.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team will next travel to Spain for the Gran Premio Michelin de Aragón, held from 16 – 18 October at the MotorLand Aragón track.
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.
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.
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.
After a weekend that had promised so much, the French Grand Prix ended in frustration for Cal Crutchlow as he crashed out of a wet race with eight laps remaining. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider – who had qualified in fourth – made a blistering start at Le Mans and was battling for the lead into the first corner, but was ultimately unable to secure the result his performance over the weekend had merited.
The Briton again demonstrated his pace at the French venue as he was third quickest in the morning warm-up session. He then got away superbly in the race proper as he competed for the leading places throughout. He was lapping in seventh with eight laps left when he lost control into turn two, ending his race and hopes of a second successive top-10 finish.
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.”
CONSISTENT TAKA CLAIMS SEVENTH AT
RAINY LE MANS
11 October 2020 | French GP Race
Takaaki Nakagami rode a determined and measured race to claim seventh position in the French Grand Prix on Sunday. Starting from 13th on the grid, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider had to show patience during a wet race at Le Mans before he picked his way through the field, ending strongly to finish just six seconds behind eventual winner Danilo Petrucci.
With heavy rain just before the start forcing riders to switch from dry to wet set-ups, Nakagami made a solid start and had forced his way up to tenth by lap six. He continued to make progress throughout and finished well clear in seventh as he registered yet another top-10 finish which leaves him in fifth place overall in the riders’ championship.
Takaaki Nakagami – 7th
“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.”
ALEIX IN THE POINTS AT LE MANS, BRADLEY CRASHES OUT AFTER AN OUTSTANDING START
The final surprise of weekend at the French Le Mans circuit came just a few minutes before the race start, with a downpour that forced teams and riders to drastically change their plans. So, it was a wet race, with Bradley getting off the grid extremely well at the start and Aleix skilfully avoiding Valentino Rossi’s crash and getting into the top 10.
First seventh and then ninth, Bradley confirmed his feeling in the wet before falling victim to a violent high side on the ninth lap. Aleix, on the other hand, complained of poor grip, maintaining his pace all the way to the chequered flag, where he finished fourteenth.
“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.”
“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.”
Oliveira fights to sixth in rainy Le Mans – Lecuona scores point
Miguel Oliveira showed a strong home race for Red Bull KTM Tech3 at the French Grand Prix. In the rain of Le Mans, Oliveira had to avoid a crash on the first lap, making him going back from 12th to 17th. But the Portuguese star recovered quickly to 13th on lap two and started his chase for glory from there, passing one rider by another. After a hard fight for fourth on the final laps, he eventually ended up sixth, bringing home important 10 points for the championship.
At the same time, Iker Lecuona experienced his first premier class race in the wet. The MotoGP rookie took it cautiously in the beginning and improved his lap times towards the end while trying to adapt to the conditions more and more. While gaining experience, the Spanish youngster finally scored a point with 15th on the line following 26 demanding laps at the French venue.
“The 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. On the last corners, I prepared to overtake Dovizioso and Zarco was more than a second per lap faster, I even checked on my pit board, but I was not expecting this. At least the fifth place was our result today. Just going again next week, trying to continue like this, finish all the races. Five races to go, there are still many points up for grab, so we are focused on what we can do.”
Oliveira – 2020
Oliveira – 2020
“It was a very difficult weekend for me. My goal was just to finish the race, 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 on, so I just tried to bring it home safely. I’m not happy, but I hope I can improve next week in Aragon.”
Lecuona – 2020
Lecuona – 2020
“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.”
DRAMATIC DAY OF DAMAGE LIMITATION FOR SUZUKI IN FRANCE
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 11.
Joan Mir: 11th (+ 16.980)
Alex Rins: DNF
Team Suzuki Ecstar approached the French Grand Prix after a tough couple of days on track at Le Mans and after finding some solutions during morning warm-up, the riders were feeling more confident ahead of the 26 lap race and they impressed the team and fans with their determination.
The commotion started earlier than usual when the Grand Prix was delayed due to a heavy rain shower just moments before the race was due to start. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders made a quick change from slick soft tyres to medium wets and maintained their composure as the lights went out.
Joan Mir had to take serious evasive action on the opening lap after Rossi suffered a crash in front of him; the run-off cost him some positions and disturbed his early race rhythm.
Alex Rins managed to miss the melee; he quickly found himself in seventh place and feeling confident on his GSX-RR in the wet. Rins then set about impressively carving his way through the field, and once in fourth place he set the fastest lap of the race on laps 6, 7, 8, 9, and 12. He was soon on the back of the leading trio, having taken more than three-and-a-half seconds out of them. An exciting battle then began which saw him make an outstanding overtake and found himself in second place on lap 18 after his incredible charge from 16th on the grid. However, an unfortunate crash saw him unable to finish the GP.
Meanwhile, Mir was getting to grips with his GSX-RR on the cold and wet track, having never ridden a MotoGP race in these conditions before. Gaining confidence on every lap and recovering from the scare and lack of grip at the start of the GP, he was determined to score as many points as possible. On the final lap of the race he had made his way into a remarkable ninth place, and at the chequered flag he crossed the line 11th. This result was crucial for Mir, as he managed to maintain his second place in the title standings, where he now sits 10 points from the top.
Ken Kawauchi – 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 – 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.”
“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.”
“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!”
SHARK HELMETS GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE – MotoGP Race Classification:
1 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati Team 45’54.736
2 Alex MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team +1.273
3 Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.711
4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team +3.911
5 Johann ZARCO Esponsorama Racing +4.310
6 Miguel OLIVEIRA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 +4.466
7 Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU +5.921
8 Stefan BRADL Repsol Honda Team +15.597
9 Fabio QUARTARARO Petronas Yamaha SRT +16.687
10 Maverick VIÑALES Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP +16.895
11 Joan MIR Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +16.980
12 Brad BINDER Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +27.321
13 Francesco BAGNAIA Pramac Racing +33.351
14 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini +39.176
15 Iker LECUONA Red Bull KTM Tech 3 +51.087
Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR +1’14.190
Jack MILLER Pramac Racing
Franco MORBIDELLI Petronas Yamaha SRT
Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda CASTROL
Tito RABAT Esponsorama Racing
Bradley SMITH Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
Valentino ROSSI Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP
MotoGP World Standings:
1 Fabio QUARTARARO Yamaha FRA 115
2 Joan MIR Suzuki SPA 105
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 97
4 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 96
5 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda JPN 81
6 Franco MORBIDELLI Yamaha ITA 77
7 Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 75
8 Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 73
9 Miguel OLIVEIRA KTM POR 69
10 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 64
11 Brad BINDER KTM RSA 62
12 Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 60
13 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 58
14 Alex MARQUEZ Honda SPA 47
15 Johann ZARCO Ducati FRA 47
16 Francesco BAGNAIA Ducati ITA 42
17 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia SPA 24
18 Iker LECUONA KTM SPA 18
19 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 13
20 Bradley SMITH Aprilia GBR 11
21 Stefan BRADL Honda GER 8
22 Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 8
23 Michele PIRRO Ducati ITA 4