Le Mans, France

Le Mans MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why Le Mans Is Such A Crashfest, Rossi's New Speed, And Alberto's Return

It was an expensive first day at Le Mans. Bikes in the three Grand Prix classes hit the deck (and the gravel trap) 44 times on Friday, a colossal number, even for Le Mans. To put that into perspective: at the first race in Qatar, there were 37 crashes over all three days of the first Grand Prix, and 27 over three days of the Doha round at Qatar. In fact, six of the nineteen rounds held in 2019 had fewer crashes over all three days than Le Mans did on Friday, and another five rounds only had a handful more.

Some 19 of those 44 crashes happened at Turn 3, the first left hander of the Dunlop Chicane. Given how quickly the costs of a crash can mount up – even a slow crash can cost north of €20,000 to replace carbon fiber fairings, footpegs, and levers. And if fuel tanks, exhausts, wheels, brake discs or (heaven forfend) frames and swingarms have to be replaced, costs can rapidly approach six figures.

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2021 Le Mans MotoE FP2 Result: Granado Leads Torres

The Moto3 class got to close the first day at Le Mans and the honours for the day went to Eric Granado, after rival Dominique Aegerter robbed him in the morning session. Jordi Torres reduced the gap to the Brazilian to a tenth of a second in the closing minutes of FP2, while Lukas Tulovic joined them in the top three. Round 1 victor Alessandro Zaccone was fourth, while Aegerter rounded out the top five, about three tenths off the leader.

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2021 Le Mans Moto2 FP2 Result: Lowes Retrieves Top Spot

The intermediate class also got to enjoy some solid running in dry conditions, despite the track getting pretty dark in places and gravel traps getting as busy as ever. Augusto Fernandez started the session as the fastest man in the improved conditions, until teammate Sam Lowes took over at the top of the timesheets for the final 10 minutes. Top rookie Raul Fernandez came within a tenth of a second of the lead, ahead of his more experienced namesake from the Marc VDS squad. Championship leader Remy Gardner and a rapid Nicolò Bulega completed the top five, four tenths off top spot. 

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2021 Le Mans MotoGP FP2 Result: Zarco Leads On Home Soil

It was a dry start for the second practice session of the day but black clouds threatened riders as they left pitlane. That meant soft slick tyres were getting stressed straight away, in an early bid to secure a precious top 10 placement but the weather let them run around on a dry playground for a while longer.

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2021 Le Mans Moto3 FP2 Result: Rodrigo Takes Over

After the crash fest of the morning session, bright sunshine bathed Moto3 machines as they left pitlane for FP2, although clouds still surrounded the French circuit. Riders were quick to improve on the morning’s benchmark and the final 10 minutes seemed even more important than usual in securing a provisional top 14 position, given the questionable weather forecast for Saturday at Le Mans.

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2021 Le Mans MotoE FP1 Result: Aegerter Leads Granado

The second race weekend for the MotoE cup got underway in Le Mans and the gaps in FP1 seemed to be getting smaller since their first outing. Dominique Aegerter led the way early on and resumed the lead for the final 10 minutes of the session by a mere four hundredths of a second from rival Eric Granado, who is looking to bounce back from the disappointment of Jerez. Lukas Tulovic joined the top three positions, while winner of the first round, Alessandro Zaccone and reigning cup champion Jordi Torres rounded out the top five.

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2021 Le Mans Moto2 FP1 Result: Sun Comes Out For Canet

Rain had stopped and clouds gave way to a touch of sunshine as intermediate class riders got going in FP1 and they eventually enjoyed the rare sight of dry asphalt at Le Mans. That allowed times to get quicker and quicker as the session progressed and top spot change hands until the checkered flag, when Aron Canet claimed the honours. The Spaniard got a helping hand/tow from Sam Lowes on his way to topping the timesheets by a tenth of a second. Stefano Manzi was second, with Lowes in third.

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2021 Le Mans MotoGP FP1 Result: Miller Outsmarts Opposition

Le Mans kept everyone on their toes from the very first outing of the premier class, with changing track conditions throughout FP1. The session started cold and damp, before patches of blue sky hinted at a dry line that allowed Jack Miller to work his magic on slicks. With rain making an appearance straight after the Australian built an advantage of almost three seconds at the top of the timesheets, Miller’s work was done, but the rest of the top ten was up for grabs once rivals went back to rain tyres.

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2021 Le Mans Moto3 FP1 Result: McPhee Tops Cold Session

Le Mans did not seem to welcome the lightweight class with open arms for the first session of the weekend and provided them with a damp track and cold conditions, even a touch of fine rain towards the end. While gravel traps predictably saw a lot of action, particularly at turn 3, John McPhee was looking to bounce back after a difficult Sunday in Jerez and made a good start in Le Mans, the Scotsman taking the lead in the final couple of minutes of FP1.

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Le Mans MotoGP Preview: Racing Without Fans, Racing In The Rain, And The Evils Of Technology

There are some tracks MotoGP goes to where you can pretty sure of what to expect. Jerez will be sunny and warm, though some years are warmer than others. Motegi will be cold, with a good chance of rain. The heat in Thailand and Sepang will be brutal, with a 4pm downpour in Sepang pretty much guaranteed.

There are other tracks where you are pretty much guaranteed a bit of everything. Sachsenring will invariably have one cold morning and one wet morning, and a sweltering afternoon. The wind at Assen means there is a good chance of rain showers in any given session, but also a good chance they have swept over the circuit and the track has dried out before the session is over. And crowning it all is Phillip Island, where it's not so much four seasons in one day, as four seasons in one 15-minute qualifying session. Given the full 45 minutes of FP2, there's a good chance of seeing a dozen or more seasons, including a couple you have probably never heard of.

Le Mans is a circuit in a similar mold. Packing for Le Mans invariably means taking a larger suitcase, as you will need something warm enough for the chill of a May morning, along with something light enough to handle the chance of a warmth Spring afternoon. And you will definitely need your waterproofs. And possibly a second set, for once the first set gets drenched through.

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