Yamaha Movistar Rider Jorge Lorenzo held his nerve and came out on tops in the 28-lap Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at Le Mans Race track. Not that Lorenzo faced any challenge but the race was too incident-packed and only 13 out of 21 riders could go over the finish line. The race was full of crashes along the way and two of those crashes occurred in tandem at turn 7 with 13 laps remaining. For the viewers, it was incredible that Championship leader Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso fell almost together as if their crash was synchronized. Surprisingly, their bikes didn’t make contact with one another. However, Marquez came back to the track on his damaged bike and finished 13th. While Lorenzo was the runaway winner, his teammate Valentino Rossi fought heavy odds in taking the second spot on the podium. The third podium place was even more creditable as it went to Team Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales, who had never gone so high in a premier-class race. Other riders, who crashed on the track on Sunday, were; Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller, Tito Rabat and Yonny Hernández. Scott Redding was forced out due to a mechanical issue. Jorge Lorenzo had a great week-end in Le Mans. He was untroubled in practice sessions and led from front in Sunday’s main event. The same cannot be said about Lorenzo’s closest championship contenders; teammate Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. To Rossi’s credit however, he pushed the troubled practice and qualifying sessions behind him to finish behind Lorenzo and made it a Movistar Yamaha 1-2. Marquez did his best to find the podium but his crash pushed him far back.
In achieving his first-ever pole at Le Mans, Lorenzo clocked the fastest lap time in the qualifying to leave Marquez on his trail. Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was third behind Marquez ahead of Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Pol Espargaro. Second Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso was fifth in qualifying, followed by another Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Bradley Smith. Valentino Rossi had a struggling qualifying session and he finished seventh, ahead of Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow with the tenth qualifying spot going to Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.
On Sunday, Lorenzo used his top pole position and shot off to lead straightaway. In no time, the defending world champion opened up a big gap between himself and the two Ducati riders Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. While Lorenzo stayed ahead, Iannone overtook Dovizioso in trying to give Lorenzo a hot chase. But Iannone got unlucky as he crashed before re-joining far lower in the race. Lorenzo’s led Dovizioso by 2 seconds and he kept building up the gap unchallenged. But Dovizioso was challenged by Marquez and Rossi for the second podium spot. Despite his seventh spot on the grid, Rossi could manage to move far ahead and fought hard with Marquez and Dovizioso. In a bizarre event in 15th lap, Dovizioso and Marquez crashed simultaneously without their bikes touching. That allowed Rossi a free run after Lorenzo and brought Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales into picture. Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller, Tito Rabat and Yonny Hernandez all retired after crashing, while Scott Redding’s machine developed a mechanical problem. Despite these incidents in his wake, Lorenzo remained unruffled at the top and came out with a crushing performance. His teammate Rossi was second while Vinales was delighted to share the podium with Lorenzo and Rossi.
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa made a smart recovery from a low-key start and finished fourth, Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro finished fifth ahead of Suzuki brother Aleix. Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera were seventh & eighth while Aprilia pair Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl completed the top 10.
As the riders go to Mugello for the Italian MotoGP on May 22, Lorenzo lead Marquez by five points in championship leaderboard with Rossi a further seven points behind Marquez. The crash-strewn French GP has thrown the championship race wide open and anyone out of Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi can win the 2016 World Championship from here. However, Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso feel that the unpredictability of Michelin’s front-end tyres is causing the crash, though their views do not find acceptability by everyone.
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