Jordi Torres kicked off the new Ducati era of the MotoE World Championship by claiming a hard-fought victory in a drama-filled opening race of the season at Le Mans.
In a race punctuated by a multiple crashes among the leading contenders, two-time MotoE World Cup Champion Torres bided his time to reel in long-time leader Hector Garzo before pouncing on the final lap.
The third MotoE victory of his career, it also makes him the first winner of a MotoE race using the brand-new Ducati V21L electric sportsbike, as well as the first to win under the series' upgraded FIM World Championship status.
By all accounts it was a successful demonstration of what is to come from the new Ducati package with the field of 18 looking more poised under braking and lighter under acceleration than the Energica Ego models it has replaced.
However, it didn't stop several riders overstepping the limits of the bike around the low-grip French venue with four riders crashing out of top five positions in the first-half of the race.
Among them was Felo Gresini's Matteo Ferrari, the pole sitter having occupied all the attention in the early stages as he diced for the lead with Garzo on the Dynavolt IntactGP machine.
After getting the hole-shot at the start to lead into Turn 1, Garzo completed lap one in the lead before Ferrari muscled his way through at Turn 6 to move back in front. The pair continued to trade places over laps three and four, but no sooner had Ferrari nosed back ahead at Turn 6, he was down and out seconds later at Turn 7, the Gresini machine having folded under braking.
With Ferrari out, Garzo resumed in the lead but found himself under renewed pressure from Torres, the Aspar rider having maintained a watching brief behind the top two up to that point.
With Garzo visibly working harder than Torres to maintain the pace, the Spaniard shadowed his countryman over the ensuing laps before lining up a first wave of attack as they entered the final lap. Hanging wide out of Turn 2, Torres dived for the inside at Turn 3, slithering through with a neat block pass.
Watching his long awaited maiden MotoE win slip from his grasp, Garzo gamely attempted to respond over the final revolution, but couldn't force a gap, with Torres keeping it neat through the last turns to take the flag for his first win since his 2021 title-winning year.
A historic result in the context of the all-electric series, the win also had a personal poignancy for Torres after his title defence last season was ruined by a nasty leg break in an accident at Le Mans.
Behind Torres and Garzo, Randy Krummenacher clinched the final podium spot on the second of the Dynavolt IntactGP machines.
Crossing the line some 7.5secs down on the lead duo, the size of the margin is in part explained by a flurry of mid-race catastrophes for several other leading protagonists, including Nicholas Spinelli, who crashed out of fourth at Turn 11 on lap three. That promoted Miquel Pons and Mattia Casadei into fourth and fifth, only for both to come down at Turn 7 on the following lap, in so doing punching a large gap between the front and chasing packs.
Krummenacher was the big beneficiary, resisting a train of riders to lead Kevin Zannoni, Hikaru Okubo and Tito Rabat across the line in third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
Kevin Manfredi and Alessandro Zaccone were forced to take long-lap penalties but recovered to seventh and eighth, while Alessio Finello and Luca Salvadori completed the top ten in the high attrition event.
2023 French MotoE | Race 1 Results
Le Mans | Conditions - Dry, Sunny
|2023 French MotoE | Le Mans, France | RACE 1 Results | Round 1 / 8 [Race 1 / 16]|
|1||Jordi Torres||ESP||Openbank Aspar Team||8 Laps|
|2||Hector Garzo||ESP||Dynavolt Intact GP||+0.092|
|3||Randy Krummenacher||SUI||Dynavolt Intact GP||+7.539|
|4||Kevin Zannoni||ITA||Ongetta SIC58 Squadracorse||+7.827|
|5||Hikari Okubo||JPN||Tech3 E-Racing||+9.138|
|6||Tito Rabat||ESP||Prettl Pramac MotoE||+10.933|
|7||Kevin Manfredi||ITA||Ongetta SIC58 Squadracorse||+11.198|
|8||Alessandro Zaccone||ITA||Tech3 E-Racing||+12.488|
|9||Alessio Finello||ITA||Felo Gresini MotoE||+14.578|
|10||Luca Salvadori||ITA||Prettl Pramac MotoE||+14.818|
|11||Mika Perez||ESP||RNF MotoE Team||+18.177|
|12||Maria Herrera||ESP||Openbank Aspar Team||+24.739|
|DNF||Matteo Ferrari||ITA||Felo Gresini MotoE|
|DNF||Mattia Casadei||ITA||HP Pons Los40|
|DNF||Miquel Pons||ESP||LCR E-Team|
|DNF||Andrea Mantovani||ITA||RNF MotoE Team|
|DNF||Nicholas Spinelli||ITA||HP Pons Los40|