Le Mans MotoGP Subscriber Notes: How To Win A Flag-To-Flag Race

It was inevitable really. The weather over the first two days of the Le Mans Grand Prix had been chaotic, so why would Sunday be any different? The skies were predictably unpredictable, the weather managing to provide different conditions for all three Grand Prix classes, in itself quite an achievement. We kicked the day off with a wet Moto3 race, the rain stopping early on to allow the Moto2 race to be dry. And to round things off, MotoGP started dry, then the drops of rain that started falling on lap 3 turned into a downpour on lap 4, triggering the first flag-to-flag race in MotoGP since Brno in 2017.

Chaos was unleashed, and a new Prince of Chaos crowned, the former prince brutally dethroned, betrayed by the conditions, and by the lack of strength in his right arm. Such is chaos, and such is the way of a flag-to-flag race. It was fascinating and terrifying to watch, and like all flag-to-flag races, immediately raised a host of questions over rules and safety. And reminded us once again that leads are meaningless early in the race. It's about the full 27 laps.

So in these subscriber notes, where the race was won and lost, and what that means for the future, if anything. The real and lasting effects for the championship. How this might play into the upcoming contracts in MotoGP. And the role penalties did and didn't play in determining the result.

But first, the sequence of events which led to Jack Miller's second straight victory, and how and why he won.

By the numbers

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I'm probably being too pedantic, but isn't every race flag to flag now?  Wish they would come up with a better name for races where bike swaps are allowed.

That was a fantastic report on race that was in equal parts insane, amazing and hilarious. So much to comment on but I cannot help but focus on Yamaha. It seems like the 2021 ride is extremely competitive (performant?) but only Fabio is consistent on it. It is evident that Franco is unimpressed with being on the old kit (his post race interview at Jerez was something Hemmingway could have scripted) and there is speculation that this influenced his Le Mans performance - which I think is a tad speculative cause he seems to be a very focussed human to me and almost everybody crashed once. But anyway you look at it Yamaha seems to have improved the bike but has big and complicated problems on sorting its riding roster. One doesn't envy them figuring out the concerns with VR's performance and contract either, given the fandom attached to him. That's a pretty complicated situation, suggesting once again that it is easier to deal with the machinery than the humans? Really looking forward to the community comments on this race.

Thanks David

Good race for Fabio. Dropped a lot, kept his head and bagged the podium in difficult conditions. Jack didn't bin it, nice one !

Two wins that have visibly boosted his confidence, and now we go to two tracks that are traditionally good for Ducati in Mugello and Barcelona.

And to top it all off, there are now going to be two races at the Red Bull Ring, a.k.a. Ducatiland.

I think this title race is between Miller and Fabio. And it's going to be bloody good fun to watch.

Considering the potential for carnage every time these guys line up on the grid, or even leave the pits for that matter, I gotta call last Sunday's race at Le Mans a success. Everyone survived the weekend and there were no serious injuries despite the crash total. But it was very unsettling witnessing chaos bubble up to the surface and reveal itself here and there while the excitement and drama unfolded.

Ducati looks like the bike and entire package of the moment. Two riders/bikes on the podium at every race except Portimao. Dovizioso declared in the past that Dall'Igna called all the shots at Ducati. If that is true, Gigi is looking like a genius at the moment with today's bike and the current rider lineup. Cannot discount all the hard work of everyone involved going back to...well how far back can appreciation go?  

Yamaha currently look like the only factory to challenge Ducati. One rider/bike on the podium at every race. And everyone else? A single third place for Mir/Suzuki in Portugal.

Maybe Honda need a heavy salad box to get more weight on the rear tire? Glad to see Marquez showing some flashes of his old self. Thought for sure he was going to win when he was out front. Then surprised to see him bin it twice in the same race. Glad his arm appears to be okay. The guy is looking more human every race. Just goes to show that all the details have to be as close to perfect as possible in the entire package in order to be successful in Motogp these days.

Miller's comments post race were similar to Edward's after Donington '09. Stoner's team went with rain tires and Hayden was adamant to sticking with slicks because that was what everyone else besides his teammate were doing. Interesting mindset of a rider that doesn't want to take a gamble on tires when their occupation is the ultimate gamble every time they show up for work. Shows the power of belief in one's ability to control a situation that can easily lead to destruction. The clouds drizzled during Donington race and everyone stayed out on slicks, except the factory Ducati guys who may have even been lapped. The wasted expression on Edward's face while describing the continuous mental focus required to constantly assess the changing conditions said it all. This constant focus may be what's lacking in Rins' game. 

Remember Miller's quali performance at Argentina in '18? Blitzed the field on slicks in treacherous conditions. Afterwards he was asked what kind of result he was hoping for in the race the following day. Miller said he hoped to finish. Very fine and probably fuzzy line between success and destruction when the conditions are unstable. Even when they are somewhat stable too. Ducati management have done an about face and offered one of their factory riders a contract early in the season? No more mind games? Success brings its rewards in this case. Plus, Miller's value has just gone up after two wins in a row. Miller a disrupter? If so, he does it with a lot of heart and not a lot of polemics with others. He seems to take that part internally.

Happy for Petrucci. Lecuona too. Petrux would have benefitted even more if the rain had stuck around.

Tech problems reared their ugly head at Aprilia. Is the factory maxxed out with just two bikes on the grid? GPOne's interviews make it sound like Rivioli and Albesiano have a shine for Dovizioso. Cannot deny that E. Espargaro and Savadori and the entire team and factory are giving it their all, and understand that Gardner and Raul Fernandez are in the KTM family. But have a feeling that Aprilia's potential is even more. Can Aprilia really field four bikes on the grid and what kind of results would the mixture of a couple of young guns from Moto2 along with the old guard produce? Old guys might get embarrassed.

Gotta lean heavily towards the P. Espargaro camp on the tangle with Morbidelli. Looks like from the heli view that Morbidelli was willing a move that wasn't there. Unfortunately, the heli view cuts out at a key moment and the viewer cannot determine if Morbidelli ever showed Espargaro a wheel. Morbidelli ended up in no man's land on the inside curb after Espargaro defended his line into the turn. Can't blame a guy for trying when he won't know what the result will be until he gets there, but Morbidelli's mindset seems a bit different from last year. 

Don't envy the guy(s) implementing and enforcing rules on a structure whose foundation is susceptible to the potential for chaos. No other comment on the penalties. 

Mugello will be another story. Bring it!


on the P Espargaro thing. It reminded me too much of Brno (I think?) last year when he dived back into an apex after going wide and without checking to see if somebody was there first. I think the guy has to settle down a bit.

First thing I thought of. Pol has a habit of leaving a gap and expecting no one to take it. A bad habit.

I think Franco was not expecting Pol to recover so quickly or was expecting Pol to take it easy after his moment and put himself in a position to take advantage of this. Reasonable idea. However, Pol did recover quickly and was immediately back on it. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. Cannot expect any rider not to race. Once Pol committed to Rossi's inside and Franco committed to Pol's inside Pol couldn't stand the bike up because Rossi was to his outside, Rossi didn't know where Franco was and Franco couldn't engage the helicopter rotor blades. Have to say, he did very well to get as far out of the situation as he did. When Franco put himself in that position he took a big risk, it didn't pay off which is a shame because if he'd got past both it would have been very cool....alea iacta est.


A little bit like a rider committing to something when the result is in some way given to chance and once committed he cannot back out of the deal. Although not mentioned in your link i often think it is very aptly attributed to Caesar as he was the next man after Sulla to march against Rome. Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix....Felix coming from the Latin Felicis...lucky.

Hello David,

I don't know if you read the comments but, if you do, I'd like to request some articles on the MotoE series.

Let me say first that I truly enjoy reading everything on this site. Even the comments. Worth every penny of my subscription. I do miss being given more information on the MotoE series. I wouldn't blame anyone for their apathy of it but it is one I'm keen on. I think it's the future, albeit a distant one, and there's little I know about it beyond the basics and dribbles of FAQ like info you get from MotoGP.com.

Maybe hit Neil up if he's not too busy?

I know it's a long shot and probably just some keystrokes headed for limbo but I thought it worth an ask.