Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) cruised to victory at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France to claim Honda’s 300th premier class victory, the Championship leader beating Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci as the Italians take a double Desmosedici podium in France.
300 up for @HRC_MotoGP after @marcmarquez93’ French masterclass— MotoGP™ 🇫🇷 (@MotoGP) May 19, 2019
A premier class milestone for the Japanese manufacturer is reached as the reigning Champion extends his overall standings lead#MotoGP | #FrenchGP 📰 https://t.co/MIhWoy4CtQ pic.twitter.com/GTvNfs7OU0
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.
From the start, poleman Marquez and second place Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) 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 your top three on the grid who held the top three positions in the race as Marquez started to edge out a half-second gap on the field.
But Miller then forced his way past his 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, both ran slightly wide, Miller got the cutback to lead but Marquez swept under the inside of the Ducati at Turn 6 as Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joining the fray at the front.
However, with Marquez back in the lead, he began to get into a rhythm. A tenth here and a tenth there slowly stretched the gap out to half a second as Marquez posted the fastest lap of the race: hammer down for the Championship leader.
And the gap to Miller and Dovizioso kept on rising and as Marquez ticked Lap 14 off, the gap was over a second as it soon became a race for second between the three Ducatis, with Rossi not completely out of the equation in fifth. With 11 to go Marquez was two seconds up the road as Dovi made his move past Miller for second, the Australian running wide at Turn 7, with Petrucci beginning to build up his speed and close down the podium places.
Petrux was right with Miller and Dovi and with eight laps to go, the number 9 was past Miller as one of the red Bologna bullets set his sights on his teammate. With five laps to go Petrucci went for P2, Turn 3 the corner, but he ran wide and Dovi was able to hold the position – just. The swapping and changing continued in the latter laps but Petrucci couldn’t make a move stick. Meanwhile, Marquez had built up nearly a four-second gap as he cruised round to claim his third win of the season, equaling teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s premier class win tally (47) – the joint-fourth highest. Dovi took an important second to hold off Petrucci as the number 04 rider drew level with Mick Doohan on career Grand Prix podiums. Petrucci returned to the rostrum for the first time since his P2 in Le Mans last season.
Miller held off Rossi by a tenth to earn a solid fourth in France, ‘The Doctor’ couldn’t quite keep tabs on the podium battle in fifth. It was a best result of the season for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard had looked strong all weekend and he proved it in the race, a P6 for him went down very well with the Austrian factory. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took eighth to finish just over a second clear of his teammate and home hero Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman made a bad start and sat outside the points in the early stages, but some great race pace from the mid-point onwards means fast Fabio takes home a very respectable top ten from France.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) lost out to Quartararo in the latter stages, the British rider finished ninth. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins loses out in the title race after a P10 finish, a P19 start really hampering 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 completed the points. Oliveira being handed a penalty that dropped him below Syahrin in the standings.
Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) and Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales collided and 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.
Well, the rain stayed away as Marquez reigned over Le Mans for a second year running. His lead now sits at eight points over Dovizioso in the Championship as we move onto the latter’s home race: Mugello. It’s no win there for Marquez since 2014, can he change that in two weeks’ time?
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’ Alex Marquez eased his way to a first win in the Moto2 class since Motegi 2017 after a dominant ride at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France. The Spaniard closes in on the World Championship lead after standings leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40) crashed out on the second lap, dislocating his right shoulder.
Dynavolt Intact GP’s Tom Lüthi took the holeshot from the middle of the front row and, in a dramatic opening, Italtrans Racing Team’s Andrea Locatelli highsided at Turn 3 in spectactular style. On lap two, the Championship leader Baldassarri tucked the front on the exit of Turn 10 and took Mattia Pasini, on his Petronas Sprinta Racing debut, with him, consequently blowing the title fight wide open.
Lüthi began to slip backwards from lap three onwards after the EG 0,0 Marc VDS duo of Marquez and Xavi Vierge slipped through into first and second place. Then, suddenly, Simone Corsi (Scuderia Tasca Racing Team) started to grab the attention of everyone. The experienced Italian made up thirteen places in the opening five laps of the race by moving from 18th on the grid to fourth, but he wasn’t done there.
Aiming for a first Grand Prix win since the Valencia 125cc GP of October 2008, Corsi moved through to third place, past Lüthi, and then Vierge for second a lap later. Marquez was over a second clear at the front by this point but the 32-year-old began to close in, lap by lap cutting the gap to the front.
That was until on Lap 11, the veteran made a rookie error, tucking the front end of his Kalex at Turn 13 and throwing away his chance of tasting victory nearly eleven years on from his last success. That crash handed Marquez a 1.5 second lead, which he slowly would stretch out to two seconds.
The battle for the podium raged on though, with Lightech Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro and FlexBox HP40’s Augusto Fernandez moving through to second and third. The Spanish duo, both fighting for back-to-back podium finishes, broke clear of Vierge in fourth.
In the closing laps the pair would swap places lap after lap, both making errors to allow the other back past, whilst at the front at the front Alex Marquez would comfortably take the checkered flag – a first Spanish win in the intermediate class since Marquez’ last victory back in October 2017.
In the fight for the podium spots behind, it was Navarro who would come out on top thanks to a last move up the inside into Turn 3, securing a third straight podium finish for the man now third in the standings – eleven points adrift of Baldassarri at the top. Another podium for Fernandez too though, making up for the Flexbox HP40 squad after the disappointment of Baldassarri’s crash.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder had his best finish of the season, after the introduction of a new chassis, by getting the better of Vierge for fourth. Lüthi, in damage limitation mode by the final laps, came across the line in sixth, meaning he’s now seven points behind Baldassarri heading to Mugello.
Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) took seventh place, a career best Moto2 finish for the rookie, coming across the line ahead of Dynavolt Intact GP’s Marcel Schrotter and American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona, before SKY Racing Team VR46’s Nicolo Bulega rounded out the top ten.
Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee won just his second ever Grand Prix race after taking a magnifique win at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the polesitter beating Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to the line to make it 10 winners in the last 10 Moto3 races, with five different winners at the start of the season happening for the first time ever in the Moto3 class.
It was Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) got the holeshot from second on the grid with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) also getting past polesitter McPhee into Turn 2, with the Japanese rider then taking the lead of the race at Turn 6 on Lap 1. Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was in the bunker early as the young Spaniard crashed at Turn 7, with fellow rookie Filip Salac (Redox PrüstelGP) having to take avoiding action too. Then, third place Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) had a huge highside on the exit of Turn 10, his bike coming back into the middle of the track as the Moto3 riders did incredibly well to avoid hitting the stricken Honda. Unfortunately for Ogura, he was later diagnosed with a right hand and left foot fracture.
The Japanese rider was sent flying from his machine in Le Mans. A miracle that the rest weren't caught up in it. Rider okay.
Back at the front and there was a lead group of seven forming, Suzuki still spearheading the race with Dalla Porta on the back of the group. The Italian soon made his way forward though as the pack continued to shuffle behind race leader Suzuki. Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) then hit the front for the first time heading into Turn 2 and 3 on Lap 9, slicing his way through on Suzuki as the KTM rider led a quintet of Hondas, Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) the only other KTM rider in the lead group in seventh. Suzuki though snatched the lead back at the final corner heading onto Lap 10, Migno back down to fourth.
However, the gap to eighth place Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) – the Spaniard starting 23rd on the grid - was being cut by considerable amounts, taking 0.5 seconds out of the leaders on Lap 10, with Dalla Porta now taking the lead – again though, Suzuki snapped straight back. They say rubbing is racing and that’s certainly true for the Moto3 class, the seven riders jostling hard for position as Masia now sat less than two seconds off the leaders, with Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Dennis Foggia (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) coming with him.
However, Masia was then imposed with a 2.2 second penalty for shortcutting Turns 3 and 4 – race seemingly over for the Spaniard. Back at the front and it was still Suzuki leading, Dalla Porta was second with McPhee now building momentum in third. But with eight to go, Suzuki overcooked it into Turn 7 and ran wide, dropping to fifth with Dalla Porta and McPhee then taking it in turns to lead.
Disaster then struck for two of the leading group. Suzuki lost the rear on the exit of Turn 3 and went down, with Arbolino having nowhere to go as the pair crashed out of the race. This left McPhee and Dalla Porta with a half-second lead over Migno, with Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Canet over a second back now. But Migno was right with them by the end of Lap 18 and with four to go, it was a three-way battle for the win – Canet 0.8 off, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) having more scorching late race pace to get up to fifth.
With three to go the leading group was suddenly 12 as the pack closed right up, but McPhee and Dalla Porta remained at the front heading into the final lap, with Toba and Canet right with them as the quartet had a slight advantage over the others – Masia and Migno coming together heading onto the final lap. McPhee took the lead into Turn 9 as Canet made a harsh move on Toba at Turn 11 to get into third as both riders nearly went down the road. McPhee crossed the line to take his first win since Brno 2016, Dalla Porta took second just behind the Scotsman and Canet claimed third to take the Championship lead – 14 points his advantage over Dalla Porta.
Rodrigo was disappointed with fourth after being in the lead group for the entirety, same can be said for fifth place Migno, with Toba unhappy with Canet’s move that pushed the Japanese rider down to sixth. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) grabbed a hard-earned seventh after starting 19th, with Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) getting his best result of the year in eighth. Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) completed the top ten, with Masia’s penalty putting him behind 11th place Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team).
Darryn Binder's (CIP Green Power) crash left the South African with a fractured hand, with Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez, Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Riccardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alonso Lopez crashing out – Rossi headed to the medical centre for a checkup, with it later being confirmed that he suffered a head concussion and a right shoulder dislocation.
What a win for the flying Scotsman in France, the first British winner of a Grand Prix since Cal Crutchlow’s 2018 Argentina GP win. The Championship now heads to Mugello with Canet in charge.