Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after the French Grand Prix at Le Mans:
Dominant Marquez takes Honda’s 300th premier class win in France
Marc Marquez took his third win of the 2019 season with another dominating performance as teammate Jorge Lorenzo took his best finish of the season with 11th.
Cold conditions from morning Warm Up carried through until the start of the French Grand Prix at 14:00 local time, a track temperature of just 18°C made for treacherous opening laps.
Marc Marquez was able to keep clear of trouble to open a small advantage, Jack Miller the only rider able to stay with him. Miller was briefly able to get past, but the Repsol Honda Team rider responded to the challenge on lap six and retook the lead. Steadily building his lead lap-by-lap, Marquez crossed the line 1.9 seconds clear of Dovizioso, claiming Honda’s 300th win in the premier class.
The win is also Marquez’s 47th in the premier class, drawing equal with Jorge Lorenzo in third on the all time premier class wins list. Marquez now extends his lead in the MotoGP World Championship to eight points, Honda maintaining a healthy advantage in the Constructor Championship.
With his best start of the year, Jorge Lorenzo was able to immediately insert himself into the group battling for the top ten. Able to attack multiple times, Lorenzo found himself as high as seventh. Ultimately crossing the line in 11th, Lorenzo takes his best finish of the season as he continues his adaption to the Honda.
The MotoGP World Championship now prepares to head to the iconic Mugello circuit for the Italian Grand Prix, May 31 – June 02.
“Of course here in Le Mans it’s always difficult with the temperature and the weather, especially today. I think this is the first time I have had a race where I had the soft tyre in the front but it was the safest option. I was focused on being consistent until I saw the gap increasing, I pushed a little bit more and into the low 32s until I saw I had two seconds. I’m happy with today’s result and it is fantastic to be able to take Honda’s 300th premier class win!”
“11th place is not where we want to be but I saw progress. This makes me happy and gives me even more enthusiasm for the next races. It was the first weekend I finished a day in the top five, qualified in the top eight and you know, apart from Qatar where it was a slow race, this is the race where I finished closest to the winner. We’re learning more each weekend and race, it is just a matter of time. Thanks to the Repsol Honda Team for continuing to work hard and congratulations to Honda for 300 wins.”
Rossi Retains Fifth in French GP Race
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi came close to joining the fight for second place on the podium today at the Le Mans - Bugatti Grand Prix racing circuit. He was still clocking 1‘32s laps at the very end of the race but came just short and ended the race in fifth place. Maverick Viñales suffered a premature ending to his French GP challenge due to a race incident.
Rossi had a good start from fifth on the grid. He managed to hold his position in the tight first corners and gained a place before crossing the line for the first time. He was chasing compatriot Andrea Dovizioso when a gap started to form between them and the two front runners. The Italians responded as Jack Miller challenged Marc Marquez, and a front group of four was re-established with 20 laps to go.
The Doctor put his head down but couldn‘t quite match the pace at the front and had to let Danilo Petrucci pass him. Still the veteran didn‘t give up. He kept pushing 100% whilst he was in a lonely fifth place, and his persistence earned him another shot at challenging those in front in the final stages of the race. On the last six laps the number-46 rider was inching ever closer, but he came just short of making a move. He finished fifth, 3.053s from first.
Viñales endured a luckless end to his French GP challenge. The Spaniard started from P11, in the chaotic mid-pack. Trying to get up to speed, he settled in 14th place after the first lap. He temporarily moved up a position as he started to pick up the pace, but soon got into a battle with Álex Rins. With 21 laps to go, when he got up to 12th and was about to overtake Aleix Espargaró, he was taken out by a rival in a race incident. The Yamaha rider escaped injuries but did suffer an N.C. result.
Today's results keep Rossi in fourth position in the championship standings with a 23-point gap to first. Viñales‘ unlucky 0-point finish moves him down to tenth in the rankings, with a 65-point margin to the top. Yamaha moved up to third in the constructor standings, whilst Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP dropped a place to third in the team classification.
The team will be back in action in Tuscany in two weeks‘ time for the Gran Premio d‘Italia Oakley, held at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello.
Valentino Rossi, 5th
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"I was hoping to be able to get on the podium today. Still, it was a positive weekend, better than in Jerez. We started the race well and the pace was good. In fact, I arrived at the finish very closely behind our main rivals. Unfortunately, we lost out on acceleration, and because of that it was very difficult to stay with the front-runners, out of the corners they're very fast. But during the weekend we worked well, and our bike was fast. In the parts where you have to really ride hard, I was strong. At the end of the race I felt better, and I managed to stay together with Dovi, Petrucci, and Miller. I was hoping to overtake Miller, but I needed to be a bit faster to attack. Now, we immediately start thinking about Mugello. Let's see if we can be a bit more competitive there."
Maverick Viñales, DNF
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team
"Honestly, I couldn't do anything. I was trying to overtake Aleix at that moment. I think it's important for us to understand the mistakes we made this weekend, which is mainly on the Saturday with the qualifying strategy. When you start from eleventh on the grid, these types of race incidents are something you're exposed to. So, we need to keep working to understand what we can improve. It started out as a perfect weekend and we ended it with zero points, so we have to learn from it. I'm sure I could have gone up many places in the race, because I was getting into the rhythm, and even the podium wasn't too far, just 2s. I think I would have been able to push and close the gap, but when you start from more towards the back it's always difficult. We need to pay attention during the qualifying, because it's very important to be on the first or second row and make sure we don't make the same mistake at the next races."
Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"The weather was a big question mark this weekend, and in the end the race was dry. Either way, we knew we had a tough race ahead of us. Vale had a good start, but had difficulty staying with the front group in middle of the race. Still, he pushed as much as he could and was very close to securing a place on the podium, because his pace at the end of the race was good. We had hoped for a better result for him, but we'll take these 11 championship points today, considering how much he struggled in the dry on Friday. Maverick was unlucky to be taken out of the race by a fellow rider, but unfortunately these things happen in the busy mid-pack of the rider field. It's a big shame, because Mack felt like he could've pushed towards the front, but in the end it's like this. We have to learn from it and do better at the next round, our home GP in Italy."
Brilliant 6th place for Espargaro at French MotoGP as all KTMs score Grand Prix points
MotoGP 2019 - Round 5, Le Mans (FRA) - RACE
The Red Bull KTM pitbox at Le Mans was full of smiles and high-fives after Pol Espargaro took the KTM RC16 to 6th place at round five of MotoGP and the best dry weather result for the crew in their third year in the premier class. Teammate Johann Zarco managed 13th, equalling his highest classification so far, at his home Grand Prix and in front of many fans under grey skies in France.
27 intense laps of the Le Mans circuit yielded another small milestone in KTM’s young MotoGP history as Pol Espargaro took the KTM RC16 to a top six finish and all four bikes graced the top fifteen. After two days of contrasting weather conditions at the famous French venue – once again packed to capacity – race day dawned very cool and overcast and with the looming threat of rain.
Thankfully the asphalt remained dry and Espargaro and teammate Johann Zarco were able to revert to the settings that had delivered so much promise in Free Practice on Friday.
Pol made a positive start and then chased the rear wheel of Valentino Rossi in the second half of the race, relatively safe ahead of Franco Morbidelli in seventh. He crossed the finish line less than six seconds behind winner Marc Marquez. Zarco kept busy in mid-pack but his run to 13th was cheered by much of the public at the fences and represented his joint-best result in his fifth GP with the RC16.
Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin both scored points with finishes of 15th and 14th respectively; meaning that Le Mans witnessed all four RC16s in the top fifteen for the very first time in 2019. Oliveira would have snared 14th spot but was penalised for exceeding track limits and dropped behind his teammate in the rankings.
Pol Espargaro is 9th in the MotoGP championship standings while Johann Zarco is 15th.
Pol Espargaro: “Simply a stunning result and almost unbelievable after less than two and a half years. We are showing that we are on the way. I am so proud of this project. We are there because we were fifth, and we were there during the whole race. The competition is so high here with the best riders in the world and we are just five seconds from the winner and that factory. It is amazing and for sure gives us wings to keep working and be better in the next races to keep fighting for the top ten. I had so much fun today and was on the limit from start to the end and it was amazing to see we were catching Vale in some places and Petrucci needed to hit me to overtake me. This makes me feel really proud.”
Johann Zarco: “A tough race today. I had a good start and was controlling the bike well but lap-after-lap I was the end of my power because I still don't have the optimum feeling. I’m happy with 13th position because it is still some points. Overall the weekend had a few good things and I will keep this in mind for the next race. I wanted to be in the top ten and I was close at the beginning of the race but I could not follow the pace. It was a shame. Pol did fantastically this weekend and that is great for KTM and for him. I still need to work because he proved that this can take you somewhere. We need time and I said that at the beginning of the season. I felt the quality of the bike this weekend and we have things to work on, so we leave France with a little bit of a smile.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “I enjoyed the race. In the beginning it was a bit difficult to find the speed but lap-by-lap I found a rhythm and I tried to fight with Miguel and stay close to him. Finally, he made a mistake and I ended up being 14th. These two points have a huge meaning for me and I want to dedicate them to my family and everybody around me but especially the French fans because they always appreciate all of us riders. It’s the home GP for the team and I never give up. I also want to thank my team because they always trusted in me and also never gave up to help me, to improve my bike, my riding style with the new machine.”
Miguel Oliveira: “It has been a hard race today. All weekend we didn’t have so much dry time, so obviously the setting was not perfect. Anyway, we managed to make some progress I was able to go a little bit faster than this morning. I struggled in the race with a couple of things, but in general I would say, the result was a bit better than Jerez, which for me is the only positive today. I’m quite upset with my penalty. Anyway, we move on to the next round now.”
Mike Leitner, Red Bull KTM Team Manager: “To fight in the top ten – for sixth place – and be only six seconds behind the race winner in dry conditions and no excuses: you can only be proud. We’re proud of Pol for how he made that result but also for all the people who have worked so hard on this project. We are still at the beginning of season-three but over the winter the comments from all our riders and test riders meant some ideas that took time to find technical answers and after Jerez we had some, and it was an achievement. We felt we had good performance and Friday here was amazing. Things did not work out as expected for qualifying but Pol did a great job and so did everyone around him and us. We’re still not happy that Johann cannot perform like Pol but I think we started to do the right things with him here and this was the first time where he said he felt comfortable and the lap-time was coming. Now we have to work hard to put that into a dry setting and to ‘make’ the bike more for him. He is more motivated and I think Jean-Michel Bayle helps him a lot. For the first time in history we have all KTMs in the championship points and I’m happy that Hafizh made it and Miguel did it again. It was a very good day and we’ll go to Mugello to try and beat it.”
ALEX RINS SALVAGES TOP 10 FINISH IN DIFFICULT FRENCH GP
Team Suzuki Press Office - May 19.
Alex Rins: 10th (+ 13.709)
Joan Mir: 16th (+ 1 lap)
• Alex Rins limits the damage with 10th place.
• Joan Mir’s misfortune continues with warm-up lap crash.
• Team SUZUKI ECSTAR ready to return at Mugello.
A tumultuous weekend for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR in France saw Joan Mir struggle against conditions and crashes, while Alex Rins had to fight hard to try and defend his championship position.
A chilly but dry Le Mans circuit greeted the riders for the 5th round of the season, but there was drama before the lights went out as Joan Mir fell victim to a crash on the warm-up lap, the youngster lost the front following a crash from Abraham in front of him. Mir returned to the pits quickly and was able to start the GP with his second bike from pit lane, after the rest of the field had left the start line.
A disappointing conclusion for Joan, finishing 16th, he had been gaining useful information and experience throughout the weekend with his GSX-RR on this technical track in the wet.
On the other hand, Rins was able to limit the damage of his 19th place qualifying position. The Spaniard had a steady start to the 27-lap race, but he chipped away and maintained his focus. After passing some riders he settled into a strong and defensive rhythm and he crossed the line in 10th place. He slips to 3rd in the championship but feels confident coming into Round 6 in Mugello.
Ken Kawauchi - Technical Manager
“This weekend has been hard for both Suzuki riders. Alex worked well to recover positions from a bad grid spot, and he took 10th. Joan was unlucky on the warm-up lap and it was a troublesome weekend for him. We struggled here a lot and now we need to look into why that was and try to make some improvements for the next race.”
Davide Brivio - Team Manager
“It’s been a difficult weekend, but we managed to take some decent points away from it, and this has allowed us to stay in the top three in the championship. Joan had a tough day, he had to start from pit lane after he crashed following another rider, so of course his race was compromised. However, he still gained experience today. Sometimes race weekends don’t go as you hope, and that’s normal. We’re glad that Alex was able to take tenth place and we’ll keep up our positivity heading into the next race.”
“It was a difficult weekend, qualifying went badly with the strategy and everything. Honestly, I was hoping for more out of this weekend. I started today’s race feeling very hopeful but in the end I had to manage some struggles, especially in corner entry and I could only manage 10th place. Those six points are important, especially as it was easy to crash today - we saw many crashes in all three races. There are still a lot of rounds to go, I’m ready for Mugello.”
“What happened on the warm-up lap was a shame. I think the tyre was cold, I didn’t brake too hard or too early, but I lost the front. I crashed four times this weekend and we have to look into why that happened. I don’t feel that I over-pushed at any time, but when I can figure out why I crashed I can hopefully learn something from it. I’ll look forward to the Italian GP which is coming next.”
ALEIX AND APRILIA IN THE POINTS AGAIN AT THE LE MANS GP
ANDREA’S SUNDAY ENDS WITH A DNF DUE TO PAIN FROM HIS CRASH IN JEREZ
His twelfth-place finish at Le Mans gives Aleix Espargaró important points, despite the disappointment of not finishing in the top ten. In the race, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider had to deal with grip that was not enough to keep the pace of the leaders on a track like the stop-and-go French circuit. The low temperatures also kept him from being incisive, particularly in the second half of the race, and Aleix had to contain the damage, bringing home four championship points in spite of a penalty levied against him for cutting a chicane.
Andrea gave it a go. Declared fit to race on Thursday, Iannone went out on the track in pain, but hoping to put the Jerez crash behind him, along with the pain in his left ankle that had forced him to miss the Andalusian race. Instead, the pain worsened gradually, session after session, and it seemed clear as early as the warm up session that he would likely not be able to finish the race. In common accord with his team, the decision was made not to risk compromising the much-awaited Mugello race. Andrea lined up on the grid – even moving up several positions – but had to throw in the towel on the ninth lap.
"Taking points home is always positive, but I cannot be satisfied. I was unable to follow the leaders, especially because of the lack of grip that is so important on a track with these characteristics. There was really only one possible tyre choice with these low temperatures. In fact, we were all in the same conditions. Now we need to work hard to make progress. Our rivals have improved and it is getting harder and harder to finish in the top ten."
"Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the race today. The pain in my ankle just got to be too much. The situation got worse day by day and, also thinking of the next race in Mugello, we decided to contain the damage. We will continue working on recovery now, trying to rest the ankle and changing the training programme in order to still stay fit. I have always achieved good results at Mugello in my career, so I want to be at 100% when we get there."
#FrenchGP Race. Solid race for Jack who finishes at Parc Ferme as 1st Independent rider. Pecco is fast but crashes after 7 laps.
Jack Miller fights for the victory for two laps after overtaking Marquez. The Australian rider is the protagonist of an extraordinary race, always in the leading group. Jack starts well from the front row and in lap 5 overtakes Marquez to get first position. Then he had to defend himself against Dovizioso who overtook him on lap 12. On lap 19 he is with Petrucci to fight for the podium finishing with an extremely convincing P4.
Francesco Bagnaia defends his position in the first laps and fights great with Vinales and Rins. His race pace is incisive but in lap 7 he can not avoid contact with Vinales and crashes.
DNF – Pecco Bagnaia
The pace was very good and I am satisfied. I was convinced that I could fight for the Top 10. Unfortunately I found myself with Maverick who suddenly slowed down and I couldn't avoid the impact. I am still confident because we are improving.
P3 – Jack Miller
I had a great time. The feeling with the bike was very good. Maybe I pushed too hard to try to stay ahead of Marquez. I have to admit that it was a good duel. We have to take a step forward
Top 10 double for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT at Le Mans
Franco Morbidelli finishes a meritworthy seventh at the French GP, just ahead of team-mate Fabio Quartararo in eighth.
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team had a solid showing on raceday at Le Mans, with Franco Morbidelli taking seventh place and home rider Fabio Quartararo clocking the fastest lap of the French GP, en route to eighth.
Morbidelli took a top ten finish for the third consecutive round of the MotoGP World Championship, following on from his results at the Circuit of The Americas and Jerez-Angel Nieto Circuit. The Italian, who started from sixth on the grid, made a great start and employed a consistent race pace, leading to him taking the chequered flag seventh. He now lies eighth overall in the MotoGP standings, with 34 points to his name.
Quartararo did not get off the line so well from tenth, but he would establish an excellent pace in the second half of the race, setting the fastest lap with seven remaining and riding at the same pace as the riders at the front. The Frenchman crossed the line eighth at his first home Grand Prix in MotoGP and is 12th in the overall standings with 25 points – increasing his gap as the best rookie.
The next race for the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders will be Franco Morbidelli's home GP, at Mugello in Italy from May 31st to June 2nd.
Razlan Razali - Team Principal
"The best aspect about the weekend was the Moto3 victory for John McPhee. We have been waiting for this win since 2015, and we finally got it this weekend. I'm very happy for the team - and of course for John. We signed him this winter because we knew he could bring us these victories. I hope he can keep this momentum going at the coming rounds. Ayumu Sasaki needs to review and analyse the race as there is potential for him to do better at Mugello than he achieved this weekend.
Mattia Pasini had a good pace in Moto2, but unfortunately he encountered a crash right in front of him, couldn't avoid it and fell. The most important thing is that he was unhurt. Of course, he can't wait for his home GP at Mugello.
I am very happy that both of our MotoGP riders finished in the top ten. Had Fabio made a better start, he could have fought at the front as his pace was very strong. We can see there is clear podium potential for both him and Franco, we just need to keep improving together to achieve this."
Wilco Zeelenberg - Team Manager
"I am very happy with today's final positions. Franco had a stable and consistent race, finishing seventh, and that's good when taking into account his rivals and the circumstances from yesterday. Fabio can be happy but disapointed at the same time. He set the fastest lap and the problem was his starting position and opening laps. He struggled to overtake other riders. Overall, finishing seventh and eighth is good and I'm happy with the results."
#21 Franco Morbidelli
"It was a good race. I was watching the top riders up close but couldn't catch up to them. In any case, we got a great result. This was the race in which I have had the best feeling so far, and this means that we are moving forward. We need to continue working in the same way and keep improving. The objective is to continue taking points at every race. We have had a good weekend in dry, wet and mixed conditions. I'm very happy; it's a good way to head into my home GP."
#20 Fabio Quartararo
"It's a shame about the beginning of the race. My start was bad and it was difficult to overtake because there were six riders within a second of each other. It was very tough, but in the end we had very good pace. It's good for our confidence that we had top five pace and a top five finish could have been possible. Today's goal was the same as always, finishing in the top eight, and we acheived that. I've learned a lot about tyre management today and I can't wait to get to Mugello and put into practice what I have learnt as it's one of the most difficult circuits to master. We will do the best we can and we will continue working like we have in the opening races. I'm happy with the work we have done here and I hope to continue in the same way at Mugello."
CRUTCHLOW CLAIMS NINTH PLACE AT LE MANS
PRESS RELEASE: 19 May 2019 | Le Mans Grand Prix
Cal Crutchlow battled back to claim a top-10 finish at the French Grand Prix as factory Honda colleague Marc Marquez claimed the Japanese manufacturer’s 300th premier-class victory on Sunday (this milestone has been reached also thanks to Crutchlow’s three premier class victories in 2016 and 2018 aboard the RC213V).
The Brit had started from 15th on the French grid after missing on Q2 yesterday, but surged through the field on the opening lap after making a fast start at Le Mans. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider was not able to make further progress as the race unfolded and eventually had to settle for ninth after being passed by home favourite Fabio Quartararo on the final lap. Although not satisfied with his weekend’s work, Crutchlow chose to focus on the positives and is now looking to push on at his team’s home race at Mugello in the next round.
Cal Crutchlow – 9th
“A disappointing day in terms of the result, I didn’t come here to finish ninth this weekend. So I’m disappointed in terms of where I finished, but the positive we have to take is that we got some more valuable data on the bike. Overall, I didn’t feel comfortable with the setting of the bike and the feeling I had with the bike and the tyres this afternoon, so we need to improve and work on that. We qualified in 15th and that always makes it difficult, but I got a good start and was ninth on the first lap and then finished ninth in the race. I wanted to reduce the gap to the leaders a little bit, but that was not possible today, so we’ll try again in Mugello. Congratulations to HRC for the incredible success of the 300 victories: I am proud to be part of it!”
DISAPPOINTMENT FOR TAKA AT LE MANS
PRESS RELEASE: 19 May 2019| Le Mans Grand Prix
Takaaki Nakagami’s weekend ended in disappointment as he crashed out of the French Grand Prix in the closing stages on a day when Marc Marquez secured Honda’s 300th victory in the premier class at Le Mans. Taka had produced a career best performance in qualifying to start from the front of the third row in seventh spot, but could not find a consistent rhythm during the race and saw a points finish slip away eight laps from the end when he fell.
The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider admitted he was pushing hard throughout just to stay in touch with the top 10. He was lapping in 12th when he suffered the heavy fall that ended his race, but was able to walk away from the incident uninjured. Nakagami is now focusing on the next round in Mugello after the frustration of his first failure to finish this season.
Takaaki Nakagami – DNF
“Of course, I’m really disappointed and first of all I want to say sorry to the team because they did a really great job all weekend. I’m upset that the weekend ended like this, but fortunately I’m okay, it was quite a nasty crash. The race was a bit of a struggle from the beginning, we knew that we didn’t have really good pace, but I tried to do my best and was pushing very hard, although the data didn’t show too many mistakes. Sometimes it just happens, but of course I’m disappointed (to crash) and I’ll just try to stay positive. The next race is in Mugello and it’s the home race for the team so hopefully we’ll have a good weekend there. I really like the layout at Mugello, it’s high-speed and a good circuit for my riding style and I can’t wait to ride there with the new bikes.”
Syahrin and Oliveira conclude Red Bull KTM Tech3 team’s home round in the points
The Red Bull KTM Tech3 team duo of Hafizh Syahrin and Miguel Oliveira concluded the French Grand Prix in 14th and 15th respectively today at the cloudy Bugatti circuit in Le Mans.
Syahrin, who started the race in P21, made up a few positions in the course of the 27 laps encounter. In doing so, the Malaysian did consistent lap times and was able to stick with his teammate Oliveira until the chequered flag. Likewise, Oliveira pushed hard to stay upright in a difficult race and eventually crossed the finish line in 14th, but the Portuguese MotoGP rookie got a 1.5 seconds penalty for cutting the corners of the track by the end of the race, therefore Syahrin progressed to P14, which means he brought home the first points of his 2019 season, and Oliveira gained one point for P15.
“Thanks to God, because he gave me a strong motivation all the season and this weekend was special for me. It’s the home GP for the team and I never give up. I also want to thank my team, because they always trust in me and also never give up to help me, to improve my bike, my riding style with the new machine. Anyway, I just want to say thank you to everybody. I enjoyed the race. In the beginning it was a bit difficult to find the speed, but lap by lap I found into a rhythm, I tried to fight with Miguel and stay close to him. Finally, he did a mistake and I ended up being 14th. These two points have a huge meaning for me and I want to dedicate them to my family and everybody around me, but especially the French fans, because they always appreciate all of us riders. We enjoyed it a lot and I hope all the fans around the world did so, too.”
“It has been a hard race today. All weekend we didn’t have so much dry time, so obviously the setting was not perfect. Anyway, we managed to make some progress from the Warm Up to the race on my pace and I was able to go a little bit faster than this morning. I struggled in the race with a couple of things, but in general I would say, the result was a bit better than Jerez, which for me is the only positive today. I’m quite upset with my penalty. Anyway, we move on to the next round now.”
“Altogether it was a very positive weekend in France for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team. We have gathered a lot of very important information. Thanks to the weather we could ride on the wet for the very first time, which was good and we could see that both of our riders were quite competitive. So, this is something we’ve done now and we can look into the future in a more optimistic way - in terms of weather. The race was quite strong. We didn’t gain too many positions at the start, but we kept a very decent rhythm. We were right behind Johann (Zarco) and I think the three KTM of Johann, Miguel and Hafizh did very similar times lap after lap after lap, which were quite interesting. In the end, I’m really glad for Hafizh, who was right behind Miguel very long and thanks to a penalty for Miguel, that he caught by going through a chicane, Hafizh managed to catch two points. I think this is very important for him to be with Miguel and Johann the whole race and he scored his very first points of the season. We know how important it is not to finish last and to be close to the guys you are fighting with. So, we are happy for Hafizh. Miguel did a strong weekend. As usual, we are very happy with what he did as well. One has to finish in front of the other, Miguel crossed the line in front of Hafizh, but due to the penalty Hafizh was in front of him eventually. At the end of the day, they are good teammates, they are good guys and the most important is; we’ve been competitive all through the weekend, much, much better than the previous round in Spain. KTM could be pleased, I think, because this is the best result from Pol (Espargaro) in a dry race and this is also the first time of the year, where we have the four guys inside the points. So, it’s is a good weekend for Red Bull KTM Tech3, but also for KTM. I’d like to thank them one more time. We have more work to do, more catch-up to do, but we are a happy team tonight. We worked hard and this is the way we do, what we have to do, which is growing, improving and bringing KTM closer to the top guys, which will happen soon. So, thanks to everyone for the hard work, thanks to the two riders and their dedication in this project. Have a few days off and see you in Mugello!”
Unfortunate outcome in the French Grand Prix to the Reale Avintia Racing team
Black weekend for the Reale Avintia Racing Team riders. Tito Rabat and Karel Abraham have been forced to abandon the race of the French Grand Prix, after suffering the ’53’ a mechanical problem and the black flag of Abraham.
A race that has been truncated before starting. In the warm-up lap, Karel Abraham went down with Joan Mir. Despite the setback, the Czech driver managed to start the race from Pit Lane after the first lap was completed, a fact that caused the black flag for Abraham to violate the rules of departure from the Pit Lane.
Luck has not accompanied Tito Rabat in the Grand Prix of France. The Catalan who started from the 20th position could not complete the Warm Up Lap. A mechanical problem truncated Tito’s aspirations despite improving the feeling of the rear tyre.
”A pity weekend because they have been mixed conditions. We continue to suffer from rear tyre. Although I could not finish the Warm Up neither the race I felt good with the rear wheel. Every time I go feeling better, I’m getting feeling well with the rear wheel and the problems go past so this is a good sign. I´m very frustrated”
”The weekend was pretty good. We were happy to make a good qualifying and I felt very confident before the race to fight to enter the points zone. I think we could have done it but on the warm-up lap I went straight and I fell. I think that behind me Joan Mir also went to the ground. It has been all very strange. Now my back and head hurts because of the fall. I’m disappointed, really upset because I knew we could get a couple of points in this race instead we go with a big zero again. We can not do anything until the next appointment in Mugello ”
MICHELIN MANAGES ALL WEATHERS AT AN UNPREDICTABLE LE MANS
Michelin’s range of MotoGP™ tyres were thoroughly put through their paces during this weekend’s Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France in Le Mans as ever-changing weather meant that no two sessions were the same conditions ahead of today’s race which was won by Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Friday’s practices were held in clear sunny weather, with afternoon conditions almost perfect. This led to five of the six MICHELIN Power Slick tyres being tried – only the hard front wasn’t evaluated – and some very fast lap-times were recorded. Saturday saw a complete change as rain fell around the 4,185m Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans. The MICHELIN Power Rain tyres then took centre stage and produced excellent grip in the wet, letting the riders push to the limit, with some impressive angles of lean through the track’s 14 corners. Marquez took pole in the damp and greasy conditions of the afternoon, but none of the sessions prepared the riders for the drop in temperature on Sunday.
Overcast skies and a cool breeze meant track temperature were 16°C at the start of the 27-lap race. These cooler conditions forced all the riders to use the soft front and rear MICHELIN Power Slick tyres, with just one rider opting for a medium front. As the lights changed to signal go, Marquez got the drive from the line and led into the first corner, he held this position for four-laps before coming under threat from Jack Miller (Pramac Racing). The Ducati-riding Australian took first on the following lap and led for the next two circulations, before Marquez retook the lead, a position he would not relinquish again and took the chequered flag to seal his third win of the season and strengthen his championship lead. The victory also gave Honda its 300th win in the premier class, many of which have been won on Michelin rubber.
The battle for the remaining podium places came down to a three-way Ducati battle. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) both caught and passed Miller, before having an enthralling contest in the closing stages. They pushed their Michelin soft rubber to the limits and swapped positions a number of times, before Dovizioso took the flag for second, Petrucci followed him home with Miller fourth, a position which secured the Australian the position of First Independent Rider. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was fifth, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in sixth giving KTM its best dry weather finish since entering MotoGP in 2017. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was seventh and hard-charging local hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took eighth in his debut home MotoGP race. Ninth across the line was Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), with Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) rounding out the top-ten.
Today’s race saw 104,020 fans pack into the historic Le Mans circuit for Michelin’s home Grand Prix, and the big crowd added to the weekend figures which saw more than 204,000 people at trackside throughout the three-days, despite the bad weather on Saturday, and these figures again cement France’s position as the best attended Grand Prix of the season.
Michelin will now head to Italy for round six of the season as MotoGP moves to the complex Mugello Circuit in Tuscany, where the riders will commence their rivalries on Sunday 2nd June, in what is already a very intriguing championship.
Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda Team:
“It has been a tricky weekend with the weather, it was very cold, but Michelin did a great job because they covered all the range and all the issues with the racetrack, because it was so cold and also wet on Saturday. We were able to ride in a good way with the soft front and rear today and also yesterday in the wet. We had to adapt today because we never used the soft for more than four-laps, but I saw in the warm-up that the others were using the soft and going fast. I am happy because I did a great job, happy because the team worked in a good way and happy because Repsol Honda deserved this victory and Honda also deserved its 300th victory in the premier class.”
Piero Taramasso – Michelin Motorsport Two-Wheel Manager:
“This has been a weekend of very differing conditions and one that has been tricky for all concerned, On Friday we had some good weather and the slicks performed very well with some impressive lap-times, but that all changed on Saturday as the rain arrived. This did give us the first real opportunity of some wet weather evaluation this season and again the rain tyres performed extremely well – I was especially pleased to see the four rookies adapt to them so quickly. Today’s race was very cold and some riders – including Marc – had very little track time with the soft slick tyres here this weekend, but with the conditions as they were, it was the best decision for the majority to run with a soft front and rear. The race was very interesting and the compounds performed really well, with consistent and fast lap-times and they also gave good stability and durability around this stop-and-go layout. We are pleased with how all the tyres worked this weekend, we would always prefer consistent conditions, but when it is like this it just confirms that we have rubber to match all situations.”
300 Premier Class Victories for Honda
A cold French Grand Prix saw Marc Marquez take a faultless victory to extend his lead in the MotoGP World Championship. The win is Honda’s 300thvictory in the premier class, the first manufacturer to achieve such success in the premier class. Jim Redman and the Honda RC181 achieved Honda’s first win in the premier class back in 1966 at Hockenheim with Mike Hailwood becoming the second winner a few races later in Brno.
Freddie Spencer returned Honda to the top step of the podium in the 500cc class in 1982 at Spa-Franchoramps on the NS500. Takazumi Katayama would become the first Japanese rider to win in the 500cc class for Honda the same year.
1984 marked the debut of the NSR500 – the legendary 500cc machine taking a total of 132 wins and saw the likes of Mick Doohan, Wayne Gardner, Alex Criville and Eddie Lawson claim the premier class title and seven Constructors World Championships.
The debut of the four-stroke era saw Honda achieve immediate success with the RC211V, winning the first race at the 2002 Japanese GP. The RC211V, RC212V and RC213V have seen Honda take 144 wins in the four-stroke era, including Marquez’s win at the French GP.
Honda’s 300 Premier Class Wins