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It was a history maker of a day for reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in France. The Spaniard converted pole into a dominant win clear at the front, 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 him 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.
As the lights went out, poleman Marquez and second place Petrucci immediately went toe-to-toe into Turn 3, with the number 93 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
A few laps later, the number 9 was past Miller and setting his sights on his teammate. With five laps to go Petrucci struck for P2 but ran wide and the duel would continue – but Dovizioso kept on getting it back. 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.
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 pitlane after the leader had crossed the line on Lap 1.
That’s a wrap, and the rain stayed away in the end as Marquez reigned over Le Mans for the second year running. However, his lead is only eight points 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.
Dominant Marquez takes Honda’s 300th premier class win in France
Marc Marquez took his third win of the 2019 season with another dominating performance as teammate Jorge Lorenzo took his best finish of the season with 11th.
Cold conditions from morning Warm Up carried through until the start of the French Grand Prix at 14:00 local time, a track temperature of just 18°C made for treacherous opening laps.
Marc Marquez was able to keep clear of trouble to open a small advantage, Jack Miller the only rider able to stay with him. Miller was briefly able to get past, but the Repsol Honda Team rider responded to the challenge on lap six and retook the lead. Steadily building his lead lap-by-lap, Marquez crossed the line 1.9 seconds clear of Dovizioso, claiming Honda’s 300th win in the premier class.
The win is also Marquez’s 47th in the premier class, drawing equal with Jorge Lorenzo in third on the all time premier class wins list. Marquez now extends his lead in the MotoGP World Championship to eight points, Honda maintaining a healthy advantage in the Constructor Championship.
With his best start of the year, Jorge Lorenzo was able to immediately insert himself into the group battling for the top ten. Able to attack multiple times, Lorenzo found himself as high as seventh. Ultimately crossing the line in 11th, Lorenzo takes his best finish of the season as he continues his adaption to the Honda.
The MotoGP World Championship now prepares to head to the iconic Mugello circuit for the Italian Grand Prix, May 31 – June 02.
“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!”
“11th place is not where we want to be but I saw progress. This makes me happy and gives me even more enthusiasm for the next races. It was the first weekend I finished a day in the top five, qualified in the top eight and you know, apart from Qatar where it was a slow race, this is the race where I finished closest to the winner. We’re learning more each weekend and race, it is just a matter of time. Thanks to the Repsol Honda Team for continuing to work hard and congratulations to Honda for 300 wins.”
Cal Crutchlow battled back to claim a top-10 finish at the French Grand Prix as factory Honda colleague Marc Marquez claimed the Japanese manufacturer’s 300th premier-class victory on Sunday (this milestone has been reached also thanks to Crutchlow’s three premier class victories in 2016 and 2018 aboard the RC213V).
The Brit had started from 15th on the French grid after missing on Q2 yesterday, but surged through the field on the opening lap after making a fast start at Le Mans. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider was not able to make further progress as the race unfolded and eventually had to settle for ninth after being passed by home favourite Fabio Quartararo on the final lap. Although not satisfied with his weekend’s work, Crutchlow chose to focus on the positives and is now looking to push on at his team’s home race at Mugello in the next round.
Cal Crutchlow – 9th
“A disappointing day in terms of the result, I didn’t come here to finish ninth this weekend. So I’m disappointed in terms of where I finished, but the positive we have to take is that we got some more valuable data on the bike. Overall, I didn’t feel comfortable with the setting of the bike and the feeling I had with the bike and the tyres this afternoon, so we need to improve and work on that. We qualified in 15th and that always makes it difficult, but I got a good start and was ninth on the first lap and then finished ninth in the race. I wanted to reduce the gap to the leaders a little bit, but that was not possible today, so we’ll try again in Mugello. Congratulations to HRC for the incredible success of the 300 victories: I am proud to be part of it!”
French GP: splendid double podium for the Ducati Team at Le Mans with Dovizioso 2nd and Petrucci 3rd
The Ducati Team achieved a great collective result at Le Mans, home of the French GP, where both Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci rode their factory Desmosedici GP bikes to a podium finish, conquering second and third place respectively on the finish line, and Jack Miller finished in fourth, first among Independent riders, onboard the Pramac Racing Team’s GP19.
Despite getting off to a blistering start, Dovizioso was involved in a contact coming out of the second corner during the first lap and was forced to recover positions, but was able to seize second place half-way through the race and defend it until the checkered flag. Starting from first row, Petrucci also showed resilience as he climbed back after losing positions during the second lap, putting himself just behind his teammate with seven laps to go.
Dovizioso and Petrucci then enjoyed a spectacular and clean fight for second position, crossing trajectories several times in the final phases until the checkered flag. Dovizioso thus seized his second podium with Ducati at Le Mans after finishing third in 2015, while Petrucci celebrated his first podium as a factory rider exactly one year after his last top-three finish, when he was second at Le Mans in 2018 with the Pramac Racing Team.
After five rounds, Dovizioso is second in the Rider standings with 87 points – just eight points shy of the provisional lead – while Petrucci is fifth with 57 points; Ducati is second in the Manufacturers standings with 90 points, while the Ducati Team leads the Team rankings with 144 points.
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 2nd
“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.”
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 3rd
“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.”
The Ducati Team will resume action in two weeks’ time at Mugello for the Italian Grand Prix, scheduled for May 31 – June 2 on the Tuscan track.
Takaaki Nakagami’s weekend ended in disappointment as he crashed out of the French Grand Prix in the closing stages on a day when Marc Marquez secured Honda’s 300th victory in the premier class at Le Mans. Taka had produced a career best performance in qualifying to start from the front of the third row in seventh spot, but could not find a consistent rhythm during the race and saw a points finish slip away eight laps from the end when he fell.
The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider admitted he was pushing hard throughout just to stay in touch with the top 10. He was lapping in 12th when he suffered the heavy fall that ended his race, but was able to walk away from the incident uninjured. Nakagami is now focusing on the next round in Mugello after the frustration of his first failure to finish this season.
Takaaki Nakagami – DNF
“Of course, I’m really disappointed and first of all I want to say sorry to the team because they did a really great job all weekend. I’m upset that the weekend ended like this, but fortunately I’m okay, it was quite a nasty crash. The race was a bit of a struggle from the beginning, we knew that we didn’t have really good pace, but I tried to do my best and was pushing very hard, although the data didn’t show too many mistakes. Sometimes it just happens, but of course I’m disappointed (to crash) and I’ll just try to stay positive. The next race is in Mugello and it’s the home race for the team so hopefully we’ll have a good weekend there. I really like the layout at Mugello, it’s high-speed and a good circuit for my riding style and I can’t wait to ride there with the new bikes.”
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi came close to joining the fight for second place on the podium today at the Le Mans – Bugatti Grand Prix racing circuit. He was still clocking 1‘32s laps at the very end of the race but came just short and ended the race in fifth place. Maverick Viñales suffered a premature ending to his French GP challenge due to a race incident.
Rossi had a good start from fifth on the grid. He managed to hold his position in the tight first corners and gained a place before crossing the line for the first time. He was chasing compatriot Andrea Dovizioso when a gap started to form between them and the two front runners. The Italians responded as Jack Miller challenged Marc Marquez, and a front group of four was re-established with 20 laps to go.
The Doctor put his head down but couldn‘t quite match the pace at the front and had to let Danilo Petrucci pass him. Still the veteran didn‘t give up. He kept pushing 100% whilst he was in a lonely fifth place, and his persistence earned him another shot at challenging those in front in the final stages of the race. On the last six laps the number-46 rider was inching ever closer, but he came just short of making a move. He finished fifth, 3.053s from first.
Viñales endured a luckless end to his French GP challenge. The Spaniard started from P11, in the chaotic mid-pack. Trying to get up to speed, he settled in 14th place after the first lap. He temporarily moved up a position as he started to pick up the pace, but soon got into a battle with Álex Rins. With 21 laps to go, when he got up to 12th and was about to overtake Aleix Espargaró, he was taken out by a rival in a race incident. The Yamaha rider escaped injuries but did suffer an N.C. result.
Today’s results keep Rossi in fourth position in the championship standings with a 23-point gap to first. Viñales‘ unlucky 0-point finish moves him down to tenth in the rankings, with a 65-point margin to the top. Yamaha moved up to third in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP dropped a place to third in the team classification.
The team will be back in action in Tuscany in two weeks‘ time for the Gran Premio d‘Italia Oakley, held at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
“The weather was a big question mark this weekend, and in the end the race was dry. Either way, we knew we had a tough race ahead of us. Vale had a good start, but had difficulty staying with the front group in middle of the race. Still, he pushed as much as he could and was very close to securing a place on the podium, because his pace at the end of the race was good. We had hoped for a better result for him, but we’ll take these 11 championship points today, considering how much he struggled in the dry on Friday. Maverick was unlucky to be taken out of the race by a fellow rider, but unfortunately these things happen in the busy mid-pack of the rider field. It’s a big shame, because Mack felt like he could’ve pushed towards the front, but in the end it’s like this. We have to learn from it and do better at the next round, our home GP in Italy.”
“I was hoping to be able to get on the podium today. Still, it was a positive weekend, better than in Jerez. We started the race well and the pace was good. In fact, I arrived at the finish very closely behind our main rivals. Unfortunately, we lost out on acceleration, and because of that it was very difficult to stay with the front-runners, out of the corners they’re very fast. But during the weekend we worked well, and our bike was fast. In the parts where you have to really ride hard, I was strong. At the end of the race I felt better, and I managed to stay together with Dovi, Petrucci, and Miller. I was hoping to overtake Miller, but I needed to be a bit faster to attack. Now, we immediately start thinking about Mugello. Let’s see if we can be a bit more competitive there.”
“Honestly, I couldn’t do anything. I was trying to overtake Aleix at that moment. I think it’s important for us to understand the mistakes we made this weekend, which is mainly on the Saturday with the qualifying strategy. When you start from eleventh on the grid, these types of race incidents are something you’re exposed to. So, we need to keep working to understand what we can improve. It started out as a perfect weekend and we ended it with zero points, so we have to learn from it. I’m sure I could have gone up many places in the race, because I was getting into the rhythm, and even the podium wasn’t too far, just 2s. I think I would have been able to push and close the gap, but when you start from more towards the back it’s always difficult. We need to pay attention during the qualifying, because it’s very important to be on the first or second row and make sure we don’t make the same mistake at the next races.”
ALEIX AND APRILIA IN THE POINTS AGAIN AT THE LE MANS GP
ANDREA’S SUNDAY ENDS WITH A DNF DUE TO PAIN FROM HIS CRASH IN JEREZ
His twelfth-place finish at Le Mans gives Aleix Espargaró important points, despite the disappointment of not finishing in the top ten. In the race, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider had to deal with grip that was not enough to keep the pace of the leaders on a track like the stop-and-go French circuit. The low temperatures also kept him from being incisive, particularly in the second half of the race, and Aleix had to contain the damage, bringing home four championship points in spite of a penalty levied against him for cutting a chicane.
Andrea gave it a go. Declared fit to race on Thursday, Iannone went out on the track in pain, but hoping to put the Jerez crash behind him, along with the pain in his left ankle that had forced him to miss the Andalusian race. Instead, the pain worsened gradually, session after session, and it seemed clear as early as the warm up session that he would likely not be able to finish the race. In common accord with his team, the decision was made not to risk compromising the much-awaited Mugello race. Andrea lined up on the grid – even moving up several positions – but had to throw in the towel on the ninth lap.
“Taking points home is always positive, but I cannot be satisfied. I was unable to follow the leaders, especially because of the lack of grip that is so important on a track with these characteristics. There was really only one possible tyre choice with these low temperatures. In fact, we were all in the same conditions. Now we need to work hard to make progress. Our rivals have improved and it is getting harder and harder to finish in the top ten.”
“Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the race today. The pain in my ankle just got to be too much. The situation got worse day by day and, also thinking of the next race in Mugello, we decided to contain the damage. We will continue working on recovery now, trying to rest the ankle and changing the training programme in order to still stay fit. I have always achieved good results at Mugello in my career, so I want to be at 100% when we get there.”
Tech 3 KTM
Syahrin and Oliveira conclude Red Bull KTM Tech3 team’s home round in the points
The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team duo of Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira concluded the French Grand Prix in 14th and 15th respectively today at the cloudy Bugatti circuit in Le Mans.
Syahrin, who started the race in P21, made up a few positions in the course of the 27 laps encounter. In doing so, the Malaysian did consistent lap times and was able to stick with his teammate Oliveira until the chequered flag. Likewise, Oliveira pushed hard to stay upright in a difficult race and eventually crossed the finish line in 14th, but the Portuguese MotoGP rookie got a 1.5 seconds penalty for cutting the corners of the track by the end of the race, therefore Syahrin progressed to P14, which means he brought home the first points of his 2019 season, and Oliveira gained one point for P15.
Syahrin – 2019
“Thanks to God, because he gave me a strong motivation all the season and this weekend was special for me. It’s the home GP for the team and I never give up. I also want to thank my team, because they always trust in me and also never give up to help me, to improve my bike, my riding style with the new machine. Anyway, I just want to say thank you to everybody. I enjoyed the race. In the beginning it was a bit difficult to find the speed, but lap by lap I found into a rhythm, I tried to fight with Miguel and stay close to him. Finally, he did a mistake and I ended up being 14th. These two points have a huge meaning for me and I want to dedicate them to my family and everybody around me, but especially the French fans, because they always appreciate all of us riders. We enjoyed it a lot and I hope all the fans around the world did so, too.”
“It has been a hard race today. All weekend we didn’t have so much dry time, so obviously the setting was not perfect. Anyway, we managed to make some progress from the Warm Up to the race on my pace and I was able to go a little bit faster than this morning. I struggled in the race with a couple of things, but in general I would say, the result was a bit better than Jerez, which for me is the only positive today. I’m quite upset with my penalty. Anyway, we move on to the next round now.”
“Altogether it was a very positive weekend in France for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team. We have gathered a lot of very important information. Thanks to the weather we could ride on the wet for the very first time, which was good and we could see that both of our riders were quite competitive. So, this is something we’ve done now and we can look into the future in a more optimistic way – in terms of weather. The race was quite strong. We didn’t gain too many positions at the start, but we kept a very decent rhythm. We were right behind Johann (Zarco) and I think the three KTM of Johann, Miguel and Hafizh did very similar times lap after lap after lap, which were quite interesting. In the end, I’m really glad for Hafizh, who was right behind Miguel very long and thanks to a penalty for Miguel, that he caught by going through a chicane, Hafizh managed to catch two points. I think this is very important for him to be with Miguel and Johann the whole race and he scored his very first points of the season. We know how important it is not to finish last and to be close to the guys you are fighting with. So, we are happy for Hafizh. Miguel did a strong weekend. As usual, we are very happy with what he did as well. One has to finish in front of the other, Miguel crossed the line in front of Hafizh, but due to the penalty Hafizh was in front of him eventually. At the end of the day, they are good teammates, they are good guys and the most important is; we’ve been competitive all through the weekend, much, much better than the previous round in Spain. KTM could be pleased, I think, because this is the best result from Pol (Espargaro) in a dry race and this is also the first time of the year, where we have the four guys inside the points. So, it’s is a good weekend for Red Bull KTM Tech3, but also for KTM. I’d like to thank them one more time. We have more work to do, more catch-up to do, but we are a happy team tonight. We worked hard and this is the way we do, what we have to do, which is growing, improving and bringing KTM closer to the top guys, which will happen soon. So, thanks to everyone for the hard work, thanks to the two riders and their dedication in this project. Have a few days off and see you in Mugello!”
ALEX RINS SALVAGES TOP 10 FINISH IN DIFFICULT FRENCH GP
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 19.
Alex Rins: 10th (+ 13.709)
Joan Mir: 16th (+ 1 lap)
• Alex Rins limits the damage with 10th place.
• Joan Mir’s misfortune continues with warm-up lap crash.
• Team SUZUKI ECSTAR ready to return at Mugello.
A tumultuous weekend for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR in France saw Joan Mir struggle against conditions and crashes, while Alex Rins had to fight hard to try and defend his championship position.
A chilly but dry Le Mans circuit greeted the riders for the 5th round of the season, but there was drama before the lights went out as Joan Mir fell victim to a crash on the warm-up lap, the youngster lost the front following a crash from Abraham in front of him. Mir returned to the pits quickly and was able to start the GP with his second bike from pit lane, after the rest of the field had left the start line.
A disappointing conclusion for Joan, finishing 16th, he had been gaining useful information and experience throughout the weekend with his GSX-RR on this technical track in the wet.
On the other hand, Rins was able to limit the damage of his 19th place qualifying position. The Spaniard had a steady start to the 27-lap race, but he chipped away and maintained his focus. After passing some riders he settled into a strong and defensive rhythm and he crossed the line in 10th place. He slips to 3rd in the championship but feels confident coming into Round 6 in Mugello.
Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager
“This weekend has been hard for both Suzuki riders. Alex worked well to recover positions from a bad grid spot, and he took 10th. Joan was unlucky on the warm-up lap and it was a troublesome weekend for him. We struggled here a lot and now we need to look into why that was and try to make some improvements for the next race.”
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“It’s been a difficult weekend, but we managed to take some decent points away from it, and this has allowed us to stay in the top three in the championship. Joan had a tough day, he had to start from pit lane after he crashed following another rider, so of course his race was compromised. However, he still gained experience today. Sometimes race weekends don’t go as you hope, and that’s normal. We’re glad that Alex was able to take tenth place and we’ll keep up our positivity heading into the next race.”
“It was a difficult weekend, qualifying went badly with the strategy and everything. Honestly, I was hoping for more out of this weekend. I started today’s race feeling very hopeful but in the end I had to manage some struggles, especially in corner entry and I could only manage 10th place. Those six points are important, especially as it was easy to crash today – we saw many crashes in all three races. There are still a lot of rounds to go, I’m ready for Mugello.”
“What happened on the warm-up lap was a shame. I think the tyre was cold, I didn’t brake too hard or too early, but I lost the front. I crashed four times this weekend and we have to look into why that happened. I don’t feel that I over-pushed at any time, but when I can figure out why I crashed I can hopefully learn something from it. I’ll look forward to the Italian GP which is coming next.”