French Observations with Boris
Lin Jarvis was wearing a grin as wide as the wall that once separated his two riders in the Yamaha pit. He was the happiest man in France. The second happiest man in France was the boyfriend of the Federal Oil grid girl.
Moving on down that list, Lorenzo was also happy, having flogged a much diminished Le Mans MotoGP field, as was Rossi, who snared what might be 20 very crucial points by coming second.
The Suzuki crew were likewise full of hugs and back-slapping after Maverick Vinales managed to haul his GSXRR onto the third step of the podium – the first podium for Suzuki since Brno in 2008.
The rest of the place was awash with tears, none saltier or more redolent with despair than those coursing through Ducati’s pit garage. Both Iannone and Dovizioso crashed, this time independently of each other, but that was hardly a consolation. It is turning out to be quite an annus horribilus for the Bologna wing-makers.
Marquez also trowelled it at the same instant that Dovi did, when they encountered the same patch of unfriendly, other-coloured bitumen on the track coming into the Musée corner, thus conceding the lead in the championship, and allowing his team-mate Dani Pedrosa a fourth place he could not otherwise have dreamt of. To his credit, he did remount and limped his badly damaged Honda home in 13th place, spraying gravel as he went, for a few points.
The cheesy French kitty litter welcomed much of the field, with Miller, Smith, Crutchlow, Hernandez and Rabat also coming to rest in its gritty embrace. Scott Redding’s bike blew up so he was spared the ignominy of a ride back to the pits on a scooter while covered in dirt.
But it was always going to be Lorenzo’s day in the sun. He dominated in practice and qualifying, got a great start and just did what he always does when his chakras are all lined up and glistening.
All the somewhat brief racing action was taking place behind him. Rossi, starting from seventh, was swamped at the start, but rode with enough ruthless flair to haul himself into contention for second, behind Dovizioso, Iannone and Marquez. Iannone, who was also fast in the build up to the race, squeezed past his team-mate in the first third of the contest, before laying it down in his pursuit of Lorenzo.
Rossi skilfully hunted down Marquez and Dovizioso, who then crashed in perfect sync, and that was pretty much it in terms of excitement.
From then on the race was a processional drone, but the results have thrown the championship wide open.
A paltry five points separate Lorenzo from Marquez, with Rossi seven points further back. Even Dani, on 53 and Maverick on 49 are within striking distance.
The next race at Mugello will be spectacular.
MotoGP 2016 – Round Five – Le Mans – World Championship Points Standings
- Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 90
- Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 85
- Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 78
- Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 53
- Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 49
- Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 47
- Aleix Espargarò (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 42
- Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 39
- Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Team MotoGP 33
- Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati Team 25
- Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 23
- Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 23
- Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 21
- Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 20
- Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 16
- Michele Pirro (ITA) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 12
- Tito Rabat (SPA) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 11
- Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 9
- Loris Baz (FRA) Avintia Racing 8
- Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 5
- Yonny Hernandez (COL) Aspar Team MotoGP 3
- Jack Miller (AUS) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 2