MotoGP Championship battle moves on to Le Mans
The MotoGP paddock heads to the legendary track as the Championship fight heats up.
Le Mans first hosted a motorcycle grand prix back in 1969, and since then it has born witness to 27 races, but few with the potential to be as exciting as this one.
Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi has a fifteen-point advantage at the top of the World Championship standings after the Spanish GP, although the Italian has not won in Le Mans since 2008. The man who claimed his 200th career grand prix podium in Jerez, and eighth in a row, should feel confident heading to a track where he has won three times (2002, 2005, 2008) and finished second last year.
His teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who completely dominated proceedings at the Spanish GP to take his 34th MotoGP victory, will not be looking to make it easy for him. The Spaniard (62pts) looks like a man re-born after a tricky start to the season, and currently finds himself 3rd in the Championship battle, just 20 points behind Rossi. He is also one of the most successful riders at Le Mans with four race wins to his name, one in the 250cc class (2007) and three in MotoGP (2009, 2010, 2012). Lorenzo also topped the post race test day at Jerez and will be looking to back up that form at Le Mans.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has never been off the podium when he has managed to finish a race at Le Mans. Marquez, who took victory at the circuit last year, will have had an extra two weeks to recover from his broken finger and currently sits fourth in the standings, 26 points adrift from Rossi.
Le Mans should see the return of Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa, after he missed the last three races due to arm-pump surgery. Pedrosa joins Lorenzo with four wins at the French circuit, one in the 125cc class, two in 250cc, and his MotoGP race win from 2013.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso will be looking to bounce back from his 9th place in Jerez, at a circuit he has finished on the MotoGP podium twice before (2011, 2010). Ducati have never taken victory at Le Mans, with Rossi (2nd) claiming their last podium at the circuit in 2012. Dovizioso still sits second in the Championship standings despite his result in Spain, after three podiums in a row in the first three races, fifteen points behind Rossi.
His teammate Iannone will be looking to build on the his excellent qualifying performance in Jerez, although he crashed out of the French GP last year on the second lap, and only has a best-placed finish of 11th in MotoGP at the circuit.
Team Suzuki Ecstar have been making huge strides this season, and only just missed having both riders finish inside the top ten in Jerez. Aleix Espargaro crossed the line at Le Mans last year in ninth, his best finish in the MotoGP class, while his teammate Maverick Viñales won the Moto3 race their in 2013.
CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow finished last years French Grand Prix in 11th, after getting caught up on an incident on the first lap, although the Brit did manage to finish on the podium at Le Mans in 2013.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro last year finished the French GP in fourth, just missing out on a podium by four-tenths of a second. His teammate Bradley Smith was almost twenty seconds further back as he crossed the line in 10th, but currently sits two places above Pol (26pts) in the Championship standings in seventh, with 36 points.
Estrella Galicia’s 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding won the Moto2 race in Le Mans in 2013, and crossed the line 12th in MotoGP last year, while Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez was 13th. These two, along with Hernandez’s teammate Petrucci and Viñales will be looking to continue their exciting battle from Jerez, which saw Hernandez come out on top.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera currently leads the way in the Open class battle with 10 points, ahead of CWM LCR Honda’s Jack Miller (6pts) and Nicky Hayden (3pts) on the Aspar MotoGP Team RC213V-RS.
MotoGP World Championship Classification
1 – Valentino Rossi ITA (YAMAHA) 82 points
2 – Andrea Dovizioso ITA (DUCATI) 67 points
3 – Jorge Lorenzo SPA (YAMAHA) 62 points
4 – Marc Marquez SPA (HONDA) 56 points
5 – Andrea Iannone ITA (DUCATI) 50 points
France to host next thrilling Moto2 battle
The Jerez Moto2 race was full of drama, especially at the infamous Turn 13. Riders and teams now look ahead to Le Mans in France.
France’s Johann Zarco has had a strong start to the season, claiming victory in Argentina and becoming the first French rider to win in both the lightweight and intermediates classes of Grand Prix racing. His victory was only the second ever Moto2 win by a French rider, with Jules Cluzel claiming the other in Silverstone 2010. To date his best finish at Le Mans has been fifth in both the 125cc and Moto2 classes.
Sixteen points separate Zarco from Jonas Folger in the Championship standings, the German putting in a masterful ride at Jerez to claim victory and avoid incidents. Folger has re-established himself as a title contender having bounced back from two difficult races to claim his second win of the season. He is often underestimated by many and could continue to surprise in France.
Once again, Turn 13 at Jerez was host to a dramatic last lap that saw Alex Rins unfortunately crash out of podium contention after an ambitious move. The Spaniard has adjusted to the bigger Moto2 bikes with ease and his season has so far been error free, aside from Jerez. Rins has an incredible record at Le Mans, with three podium finishes in three starts in Moto3, and will no doubt continue to fight for podiums.
Tito Rabat claimed his first podium of a difficult 2015 campaign at Jerez. Rabat has just a single podium finish at the French track. His Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate Alex Marquez broke into the top ten at Jerez for the first time in Moto2 and is hopeful of continuing to improve his results in his rookie season.
Of all the Moto2 riders, Tom Luthi has had perhaps the most success in France. The Swiss rider has claimed two 125cc victories at Le Mans in 2005 and 2006 as well as a Moto2 win in 2012. Luthi is currently 30 points behind Zarco in the championship and will be eager to make up ground.
Le Mans is also the home round for the Tech 3 team that currently run Marcel Schrotter and Ricky Cardus. Schrotter scored his first top-ten race finish of the year at Jerez while Ricky Cardus has yet to score a point. The Tech 3 team have undertaken the significant effort of developing their own frame for the Moto2 class, attempting to challenge Kalex’s domination.
Louis Rossi, winner of the 2012 Moto3 race, is battling to be fit after suffering a hand injury during the Jerez weekend. The local rider has a best finish of 14th in the Moto2 class at Le Mans.
Moto2 World Championship Classification
1 – Johann Zarco FRA (KALEX) 73 points
2 – Jonas Folger GER (KALEX) 57 points
3 – Alex Rins SPA (KALEX) 49 points
4 – Thomas Lüthi SWI (KALEX) 43 points
5 – Franco Morbidelli ITA (KALEX) 43 points
Jerez test boosts Moto3 teams confidence ahead of Le Mans
The Moto3 riders and teams head to France after a successful day of testing at Jerez in the wake of a thrilling race.
Jerez saw Danny Kent make it three wins in a row after a hectic last corner move from Fabio Quartararo cost the French rider a podium finish. Kent has so far dominated this season, finishing on the podium at all rounds and has a 31-point lead in the championship standings over teammate Vazquez.
There is just one KTM rider, Brad Binder, in the top five of the Championship after Jerez, the Austrian manufacturer having a difficult start to the season after limited winter testing. The post Jerez test gave KTM an opportunity to test a new frame, however neither Brad Binder nor Miguel Oliveira saw any major improvements over their current one. With just one upgrade allowed during the season, it is critical that it be a substantial one.
Both Binder and Oliveira finished on the podium in Jerez, showing that the current 2015 KTM is competitive with more time and data collected. The duo will look to continue to improve on their results as each seeks their first Moto3 win. Meanwhile their teammate, Karel Hanika, will start Le Mans from the pit lane as result of his five-point penalty for the incident involving Juanfran Guevara. The Spanish rider suffered a broken collarbone in the clash, and is fighting to be fit for the French GP.
The post race test also saw Dunlop debut new tyres that will be used at Le Mans. Many riders praised the new rubber, especially the boost to rear grip they provided. This test has come at a crucial time for many riders and teams whom after four rounds have a variety of areas to explore and improve.
Isaac Viñales claimed his debut podium in the Moto3 class at Le Mans last year and has since finished on the podium a total of four times. Viñales is the only rider currently in the Moto3 class to have a podium finish at the French track.
It will be an important home round for Qatar race winner Alex Masbou, the Frenchman having scored just a single point since his victory. Louis Rossi took a popular home win in the 2012 Moto3 race at Le Mans.
Fabio Quartararo also makes his Moto3 World Championship debut at home in France, but has already tasted victory at the French circuit. The FIM CEV Repsol series ran a Moto3 round alongside MotoGP last year, where Fabio claimed victory and showed he can handle the extra pressure of a home crowd.
After finishing a credible 25th at the Gran Premio bwin De Espana Grand Prix last weekend, Remy Gardner headed to Aragon for a huge test session in hope of finding a better set-up on his CIP Mahindra, as well as the new Dunlops that all Moto3 riders will use from Le Mans. Jerez had been a tough weekend for all Mahindra riders, with the Honda and KTM Moto3 bikes having a clear top speed advantage.
Unfortunately on race day Remy’s bike suffered gear selection problems in warm up and during the race, meaning it was simply a matter of bringing the bike home to finish.
Remy left Jerez positive he did his best and headed to Aragon for testing, with a hope to solve the problem of the Mahindra pushing the front.
Remy also tested the new Dunlop Moto3 tyres and found the front tyre a big improvement and the rear tyre offering even more grip than the previous tyre, therefore pushing the front more. However, after a whopping 92 laps testing, which is 470km at race pace, the team found some solutions and made a few big steps forward.
“Jerez was tough but I’m very relieved we finished after working so hard all weekend.
“The team are fantastic and put a huge effort into everything we do, so we gave it our absolute best shot.
“The Aragon test went very well and we made some great progress forward. We all worked very hard and came back with a lot of good data and some positive solutions.
“I’m now looking forward to Le Mans next weekend, it should be a fantastic race and I can’t wait to get back on the bike and see how these changes go for us”!
Moto3 World Championship Classification
1 – Danny Kent GBR (HONDA) 91 points
2 – Efren Vazquez SPA (HONDA) 60 points
3 – Fabio Quartararo FRA (HONDA) 52 points
4 – Enea Bastianini ITA (HONDA) 47 points
5 – Brad Binder RSA (KTM) 44 points