Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo dominated the MotoGP race at Le Mans and stormed to a relatively unchallenged victory, to end what has been a faultless weekend for the reigning champion.
At the chequered flag the Spaniard had a ten second advantage over second place finisher and team-mate Valentino Rossi, and now Lorenzo is the new series leader. Maverick Vinales held on to take the final podium spot ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, in what was a debut rostrum finish for the Suzuki rider.
But it was a drama filled, crash-fest race with Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso falling whilst they were both fighting for third. The duelling pair crashed at Museum at exactly the same time and on the same lap. But they were not the only rider’s who were caught out on the French track, as there were eight fallers in total.
In the race, it was initially Lorenzo who got the hole shot from Dovizioso and Iannone. It was not a great start for Marquez who fell back to fifth from starting on the front row, but the double-champ pushed past Pol Espargaro to go into third.
Michelin have introduced a new ‘softer’ rear tyre construction, with a softer carcass, which they debuted at the French round. All the riders went for the new softer rear tyre today. Lorenzo went for the medium front tyre compound on his M1. Marquez, Crutchlow, Baz and Rabat were the only rider’s who opted for the harder front tyre, with the rest of the grid going the same way as Lorenzo with the medium front.
With 24 laps to go Lorenzo had to contend with the challenges from the two Ducati’s of Dovizioso and Iannone, with the fight for second heating up between the two namesakes. A rotation later Iannone pushed past his team-mate at the chicane and had Lorenzo as his next target. Iannone was then closing the gap on Lorenzo to one second, but he crashed at turn 8 with 21 laps remaining. But moments later LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow fell, unhurt at turn 11, bringing an abrupt end to his race, whilst he was just inside the top ten.
Meanwhile with Iannone out of contention Dovizioso was promoted up to second, with Marquez and Rossi in tow. With sixteen laps remaining pole man Lorenzo had a four second advantage over the rest. But the Doctor was not giving up and Rossi made a move on Marquez at green garage and soared into third, then a lap later went up into second to get the better of Dovi at Museum.
Now it was a Yamaha M1 one-two with Rossi chasing down his team-mate. But the drama was further down the track as both Dovizioso and Marquez crashed and low-sided in identical incidences and at the same time at turn 7 with 13 laps to go, whilst both fighting for the final podium spot.
In exactly the same place that Marquez and Dovizioso took their tumble in the gravel, Monster Yamaha’s Bradley Smith succumbed to the difficult French track a few laps later. He was inside the top ten when he crashed, and did not get back on his bike as he looked visibly sick at the track side.
Marquez did manage to get back out on his machine to finish in thirteenth. Danilo Petrucci made his return to the MotoGP paddock after a nasty hand injury that he sustained in pre-season testing. The Ducati rider ended the race in a respectable seventh position, just behind the Espargaro brothers.
Aspar’s Eugene Laverty had another solid outing and just missed out on a top ten finish to cross the line in eleventh to bag some good points, just behind Barbera, Bautista and Bradl.
It was not the best of races for Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding. The tall Brit experienced a technical issue with his engine and had to retire to the pits, bringing a premature end to his race hopes and ambitions, after only four laps.