Pedrosa Fourth in Crash-Strewn French Grand Prix – Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) was the top Honda finisher in an incident-packed French Grand Prix at Le Mans today – a race in which team-mate and erstwhile championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) crashed while battling up front, remounting to finish 13th.
- Dani Pedrosa
- Dani Pedrosa
Marquez was one of eight MotoGP riders out of 21 starters to crash at Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit and the only one able to get back on board and finish the race.
The fifth of 18 rounds, run in front of a record crowd of 99,000, covered 28 laps of the tortuous 4.185-km stop-and-go circuit, and brought a second win of the year to Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), with team-mate Valentino Rossi second. The victory handed Lorenzo a five-point lead in the championship over Marquez, who remains the only one of the top-five to score in every race.
This was the first time this year that the former 125, Moto2 and double-MotoGP champion did not finish on the top-three podium; his 2017 record including two race wins in Argentina and Texas.
Pedrosa had qualified only eighth after he slipped off during qualifying, but the experienced campaigner – in his 11th year in the factory Honda team – made no mistakes in the race, moving steadily forward to finish just over 4.5 seconds behind third-placed Maverick Vinales (Suzuki).
The former 125 and double 250 World Champion sustained his fourth position in the championship, while still adapting to the major technical changes of the 2016 season: Michelin tires and control electronics.
Marquez had started from the front row, and was disputing second place with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso when both slipped off at the same corner, independently but in close formation. Marquez scrambled back and managed to restart, finishing a lap down but still able to gain three potentially valuable points.
The three satellite-team riders also paid the price of treacherous grip levels. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda RC213V) and team-mates Tito Rabat and Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V) all fell and were unable to restart. For Rabat, the only rookie in the MotoGP class, it was the first time he has not made the checkered flag.
- Marc Marquez
In the Honda-powered Moto2 class, Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) took a second win of the season and took over the championship lead, stretching away from Simone Corsi (Speed Up Speed Up) to win by 1.802 seconds.
Moto2 pole qualifier Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten Kalex) led for the first six of 26 laps, while Rins moved through from third on the first lap to take up the pursuit. Two laps later Corsi followed him past Luthi, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team Kalex) completing a four-strong group gradually moving clear.
Baldassari also got ahead of Luthi, and the pair lost touch as they scrapped over third. When Baldassari slipped off on lap 22, Luthi was assured of of a podium finish, almost three seconds behind Corsi.
Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0.0 Marc VDS Kalex) lost touch with the leaders after a strong start, finishing a lone fourth, seven tenths ahead clear of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex).
Erstwhile championship leader Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex) was also closing at the end, with the Jerez winner and former Supersport World Champion just eight tenths behind Nakagami in sixth. It was enough to retain second overall, five points behind new leader Rins, and 13 ahead of Luthi.
Axel Pons (AGR Team Kalex) came through to equal his career-best finish in seventh, passing Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia Kalex) with two laps to go. Class rookie Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing Kalex) was ninth, his best finish so far, with Luis Salom (SAG Team Kalex) completing the top ten.
Defending champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex) had a deeply disappointing home GP. He qualified fourth and was circulating in eighth place at the head of a big pack when he crashed out unhurt.
In Moto3, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) took his third podium finish of the season, with a hard-fought third place, ahead of his fast rookie team-mate Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW), and inches behind the KTMs of winner Brad Binder and Romano Fenati.
The quartet had been trading blows all race long, and Navarro finished within four tenths of a second of the leader. Canet was less than a second behind, after a last-corner lunge ended with him running slightly wide. It was a career best result for the Grand Prix rookie, after an impressive seventh at round three in Texas.
There were sic Honda riders in the points, with pole qualifier and Qatar GP winner Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250RW) eighth after leading off the line; just over a second ahead of Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team Honda NSF250RW). The Czech rider had been with the lead group, and fought back to ninth after taking to the escape road at high speed in the early stages of the 24-lap race.
Livio Loi (RW Racing GP Honda NSF250RW) was 11th and Argentine GP winner Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) was 14th.
Navarro retained second overall in the championship; Antonelli moved up to fifth; while Pawi moved equal on points but ahead on individual race results to Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), who was ruled out of the race on Thursday after suffering a wrist fracture in a training accident.
The next round is the Italian GP at Mugello in two weeks, on May 22.
- Jorge Navarro
- Jorge Navarro
Honda MotoGP Rider Quotes
- Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda – 4th
- “I cannot feel satisfied with today’s fourth place because obviously I would prefer be much higher up the order and have better races. I give my all, but the conditions are not always there to do well. We are also making some mistakes, and one that is hurting us most is in qualifying, because starting far back makes things more difficult in the race. At the beginning of the race today we did not have good grip and it was hard to get enough of a feeling to go a little faster. The second part of the race went better, and there were some laps in which I even rode quicker than Rossi’s pace, but it was too late. What makes a difference is starting well, starting high up on the grid and putting in good opening laps.”
- Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda – 13th
- “It was a pity about the crash today. I was having a good race, but these things can happen when you’re at the limit on every lap. I could have opted for a more conservative race, but here you can end up far back if you do that, so today I had to take risks. In the race I saw that I was losing ground under acceleration, and I had to make that back with my braking. Finally I lost the front and crashed. The positive is that I managed to get three points and I’m only five off Jorge Lorenzo in the standings, which isn’t a lot. Now we have a run of tracks that we found a little tough last year, but they’re quite different to Jerez and Le Mans, so I hope to be fast and have some good races.”
- Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda – DNF
- “I am very disappointed again to come away with no points – for myself and the whole team. I think it is clear that there was some difficulty for a lot of people to finish the race today. We chose the harder front tire as the best option for the temperature and the track, and I still think it was a good decision … but the three riders who chose it didn’t finish. Looking at the positives, we worked in a good way this weekend. The difficulty at the moment is riding or following different makes of bike and staying in the same line we need to use. It means practice and qualifying are quite different from the race. We have to continue to work, and we know Honda is working very hard for us.”
- Jack Miller, EG 0,0 Marc VDS – DNF
- “It was a disappointing race. We pushed hard with a plan to have a strong weekend in Le Mans and it was looking good but with ten laps to go I came into corner seven and lost the front. It felt normal, like the lap before, not too fast and then I just hit the bump and the bike disappeared from under me. Everyone struggled with the front tire today and that is what happened to us.”
- Tito Rabat, EG 0,0 Marc VDS – DNF
- “I am very disappointed because I did a very good warm-up session in the morning and I felt good for the race. I had just passed Loris Baz and I was going a little faster and closed the front on the entry to turn six. I’m sorry for the team and myself because I don’t know how I could do such a big mistake.”
Honda Moto2 Rider Quotes
- Alex Rins, Paginas Amarillas HP 40 – 1st
- “The race was really good. In the first laps I felt very comfortable, and I tried to overtake Tom [Luthi] really fast. When I did I saw my signal that I had four guys in the rear I tried to push even harder. I have to say well done to Simone Corsi, because he had a really good rhythm. Anyway I am happy for today’s result and I feel strong for the next races.”
- Simone Corsi, Speed Up – 2nd
- “I am very satisfied; it was a good race today. After Jerez I really wanted to finish on the podium. Now we have to think and concentrate for the home race at Mugello, where we need to keep working hard as we are doing. I thank my team for all they did!”
- Thomas Luthi, Garage Plus Interwetten – 3rd
- “My start was really good. I was quickly four-tenths ahead but I also realized very quickly that I was not alone. Alex Rins had a great pace. I wasn’t far off in terms of performance but I lost contact during my battle with Baldassari. This podium is important because it puts me back in a provisional third position in the championship standings. I am already looking forward to Mugello, where I just need to avoid making the same mistake as last year where I crashed out of the lead.”
Honda Moto3 Rider Quotes
- Jorge Navarro, Estrella Galicia 0,0 – 3rd
- “I started well, I stayed in the group and, when I saw it was all more or less settled, I decided to keep the pace because I felt like slowly my shoulder was getting heavier, especially when braking. I waited for the last seven laps to start the attack and position myself, but I could see that accelerating was a bit tricky on the KTM and I wasn’t getting into position to pass on the corners. This hindered me a bit towards the end and meant I couldn’t take the lead. Thinking about the championship, third place is not the best result because the two riders we are battling with were in front, but getting 16 points and being on the podium shows our constancy.”
- Aron Canet, Estrella Galicia 0,0 – 4th
- “In the first laps I saw that had more pace than those in front, but gradually they started pushing harder and took me to the limit. I was a little bit behind, in fourth place, and on the last lap I tried to overtake Jorge [Navarro], but I couldn’t pass him. It is difficult to manage a race while fighting in the leading group, but today I learned more than ever and I had a very good time, so hopefully I can run at the front more often.”
- Niccolo Antonelli, Ongetta-Rivacold – 8th
- “I made a good start and at the beginning of the race I stayed calm. The idea was to stay in the group and try the attack towards the end of the race. Anyway, the riders behind me were really fast and at half race I lost the contact with the first group and I tried to fight for a good position in the second one. It’s a shame as we had the pace to stay ahead, but this time I my strategy was not the right one. We will do better in Mugello.”
|1||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|2||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)|
|3||Maverick VIÑALES (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|4||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|5||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Aleix ESPARGARO (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)|
|7||Danilo PETRUCCI (OCTO Pramac Yakhnich)|
|8||Hector BARBERA (Avintia Racing)|
|9||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|10||Stefan BRADL (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)|
|11||Eugene LAVERTY (Aspar MotoGP Team)|
|12||Loris BAZ (Avintia Racing)|
|13||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)|
|RT||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|RT||Jack MILLER (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|1||Alex RINS (Paginas Amarillas HP 40)|
|2||Simone CORSI (Speed Up Racing)|
|3||Thomas LUTHI (Garage Plus Interwetten)|
|4||Franco MORBIDELLI (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS)|
|5||Takaaki NAKAGAMI (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia)|
|6||Sam LOWES (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2)|
|7||Axel PONS (AGR Team)|
|8||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|9||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Leopard Racing)|
|10||Luis SALOM (Stop and Go Racing Team)|
|11||Xavier SIMEON (QMMF Racing Team)|
|12||Luca MARINI (Forward Team)|
|13||Dominique AEGERTER (CarXpert Interwetten)|
|14||Marcel SCHROTTER (AGR Team)|
|15||Xavi VIERGE (Tech 3 Racing)|
|1||Brad BINDER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Romano FENATI (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|3||Jorge NAVARRO (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Aron CANET (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|5||Nicolo BULEGA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|6||Fabio QUARTARARO (Leopard Racing)|
|7||Andrea MIGNO (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|8||Niccolò ANTONELLI (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|9||Jakub KORNFEIL (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team)|
|10||Andrea LOCATELLI (Leopard Racing)|
|11||Livio LOI (RW Racing GP BV)|
|12||Francesco BAGNAIA (ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3)|
|13||Juanfran GUEVARA (RBA Racing Team)|
|14||Khairul Idham PAWI (Honda Team Asia)|
|15||Tatsuki SUZUKI (CIP-Unicom Starker)|