French Grand Prix, Le Mans, raceday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3

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Jorge Lorenzo ran away with the French GP, taking a flag-to-flag victory as former championship leader Marc Marquez fell. Rossi and Viñales joining him on the podium.

Tension hung in the air ahead of the 28-lap Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as riders in the MotoGP™ World Championship sat patiently on the grid. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had pole ahead of championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and potential podium challenger Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team). Gusts of wind blew across the track as they departed for the Warm Up lap.

Lorenzo made a perfect start as Marquez wheelied off the line, the Yamaha rider leading through the first chicane with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) behind him. Marquez was soon up to fourth as he charged past Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) attempted to follow him through but found himself swamped by the likes of Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).

As they crossed the finish line for the first time Lorenzo’s lead stood at half a second with Dovizioso and Iannone behind. It was not the start Rossi had wanted, able to make up just a single place from seventh on the grid as the second lap began. Dovizioso, who had seemingly banished his recent bad luck, remained strong in second.

Having started last on the grid, home rider Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) was up to 17th by the fourth lap of the race. Local fans cheered him on with each pass, urging the Frenchman forever forward.

Lap four saw Rossi improve his pace, going half a second quicker than his rival Marc Marquez who was just ahead. The pair weren’t the only ones closing up, Iannone also making significant progress on his teammate. His charge would be halted on lap seven when Iannone fell at Turn 8. Iannone’s fall was followed soon after by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who suffered his fourth race crash of the year. One lap later, fellow satellite Honda rider Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) came off at Turn 6. Iannone would re-join the race but eventually retired.

Lap 13 saw Rossi slip past on Marc Marquez, making it a three-way battle for second as Lorenzo continued to run away at the head of the race. Just a few corners later Rossi was up into second place and matching Lorenzo’s times.
A thrilling battle for second was brewing until on lap 16 at Turn 7 both Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez crashed at the same time. There was no contact between them, the pair both simultaneously losing the front. Now Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was on course for his first MotoGP™ podium and Lorenzo on the cusp of taking the championship lead.

The falls continued and soon Marc Marquez was up in 13th place, despite missing a large section of his side fairing. Lorenzo, 7.8 seconds clear with five laps to go, was having no such issues as he calmly ran his own race. With gaps of at least three seconds splitting the top three, each eased their pace to guarantee a finish in the clearly difficult conditions.

For the second time in 2016, Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line in first place after dominating the French GP. Over ten seconds would separate him from Rossi as the race came to an end. It was a day of celebration for Suzuki and Viñales, the Spaniard taking his first podium finish in the premier class. Viñales’ podium is the first for Suzuki since the 2008 Czech GP, making amends for his mistake in Argentina.

Victory sees Lorenzo move to the top of the championship with 90 points, Marquez forced to concede his advantage after the crash. Rossi stays third and is 12 points behind Lorenzo. Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi now have a mistake each to their name and with only 12 points between them in the championship; the season is only just getting started. The MotoGP™ World Championship now heads to Mugello, Rossi’s home round but one where Lorenzo has been the man to beat in recent years. Once again it looks set to be a thrilling weekend in the Tuscan hills.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was unable to close the gap to Viñales despite his best efforts and settled for fourth. Pol Espargaro was once again the fastest Independent Team rider as he ended Tech 3’s home round in a credible fifth ahead of his brother.

Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten. Of the 21 riders on the grid, 13 finished the race.

Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) retired from the race early on, followed by Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) who crashed from the race on lap seven.

While running inside the top ten, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered a fall, the French GP a war of attrition. Turn 7 claimed yet another victim as Bradley Smith crashed out of his team’s home race.



Try as he might, Simone Corsi was unable to get past a perfect Alex Rins in France, while Luthi recovered from issues for third. Rins now has the championship lead.

Just after Qualifying it was announced Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) had had his best lap time cancelled due to a technical infringement. As such the Italian’s front row start became a seventh place start, promoting Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) to the front row. Clouds blotted out the sun but there was little chance of rain as riders in the Moto2™ World Championship revved their engines for the race start.

Pole setter Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) made a great start with Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) shooting into second from fifth. Championship leader Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) were shuffled back down the order in the opening corners.
As the field came through Turn 6 for the second time, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) suffered his second race crash of the year. He was unhurt, but his championship hopes took a significant blow. Many had expected the German to do well with his future secure.

Luthi worked hard to break away from his pursuers but Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was right with him and briefly grabbed the lead on lap five. Three Italians chased them, Corsi keeping his third place as Morbidelli and Baldassarri gave no quarter in the fight for fourth.

Rins and Luthi continued to swap positions, until lap seven when Luthi began to fade back. Corsi and Baldassarri were quickly past the Swiss rider as well. It was later revealed that Luthi’s shift light was not functioning properly, adding an extra level of challenge to the race. Lowes, like Luthi, was also unable to match the pace of the leaders as the Brit ran in a lonely seventh place for much of the race.

Corsi made sure Rins was unable to break away, working his Speed Up hard to stay with the Spaniard. Rarely was the gap ever over half a second, Corsi cutting the distance as the laps went by. Meanwhile Luthi began to recover after his brief dip in performance and pressured Baldassarri as they passed half race distance, Luthi moving back to third on lap 17.

It had already been a difficult race for reigning World Champion Zarco, his Sunday turning from damage limitation to disaster as he crashed at Turn 14 on lap 18. He remounted down in 24th, where he finished.

Luthi’s third place finish became a certainty as Baldassarri fell at Turn 3, getting back on his Kalex after the spill but outside the points.

Three laps from the end Rins was able to break Corsi, opening up a lead of almost a second as the penultimate lap began. Rins would cross the line 1.8 seconds ahead of the Italian for his second win of the season with Luthi securing third.

Franco Morbidelli managed an important fourth place ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) who put on a late challenge.

Sam Lowes, Axel Pons (AGR Team), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), Luis Salom (SAG Team) and Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top ten.
With Lowes taking sixth, Alex Rins takes control of the Moto2™ World Championship with 87 points, five ahead of Lowes who slides back to second. Tom Luthi moves up to third in the standings thanks to his podium finish as Zarco goes to fourth with 56 points.

Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) slid off at Turn 6, like Folger. For the fourth time in five races, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) failed to finish due to a crash at Turn 7.



A tense four-rider battle raged for the entirety of the French GP, Binder coming out on top with Fenati and Navarro settling for the podium.

Unlike in many previous visits to the Le Mans circuit, there were no signs of rain as the Moto3™ World Championship lined up on the grid for round five of the 2016 season. The majority of the field opted for medium slicks front and rear, apart from Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) who ran a soft front and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) who elected to run a soft rear Dunlop.

From pole Antonelli made a perfect start as the grid swept through the fast Turn 1, Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia) had a great run off the line and slid in behind Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as they filtered through the first chicane. Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) was the first faller of the race, crashing at Turn 4 after contact with another rider.

As the second lap began Binder took the lead, five riders involved in the battle for victory. His lead wouldn’t last long as Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) grabbed the advantage at the Dunlop chicane as the front group continued to grow. Binder and Fenati continued to spar throughout the race, the Italian strong through the first sector.

Each rider was able to lead at various stages, opening up a small gap when they did but neither could break away. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was a man on a mission, the rookie getting ahead of his teammate Navarro on lap 12 and tapping his bike, urging Navarro to stay behind him. The gesture was justified as Canet put in 1’42 after 1’42, the rest of the field in the 1’43s.

An equally fierce battle raged behind, local rider Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) working hard to hold off the attacks of Sky Racing Team VR46 duo Nicolo Bulega and Andrea Migno. Their chances of a podium were over as the leading four had an advantage of three seconds for the majority of the race.

In true Moto3™ style it all came down to the last lap, Binder leading the quartet as they crossed the line. Each corner saw Binder defend his line from Fenati, the Italian looking for a way through everywhere but to no avail. A perfect final lap saw Brad Binder take his second career victory and once again extend his championship lead. Fenati finished in a solid second place while Navarro was fortunate to seal third after an aggressive move by his teammate in the penultimate corner.

Nicolo Bulega emerged victorious in the battle for fifth ahead of Fabio Quartararo with Andrea Migno, Niccolo Antonelli, Jakub Kornfeil and Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) completing the top ten.

Binder remains atop the championship with 102 points, now 24 points ahead of Jorge Navarro. Romano Fenati is third with 67, in front of teammate Nicolo Bulega with 47 points.

Both Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team) were given ride through penalties for jump starts.

Home rider Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) fell on the first lap at Turn 7, ending what had been a promising weekend. Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate) fell not long after on the second lap.

Lap four saw Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) slide off at Turn 14. Five laps later Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) crashed at Turn 3. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) suffered a crash on Lap 16 at Turn 8.

Oettl sustained a fracture to his right wrist in the fall, all other riders avoided injury.



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