2014 Le Mans MotoGP Preview
Since joining the premier class last season, the Marc Marquez name has become synonymous with record breaking.
En route to earning the title in his rookie year, he surpassed many records set by iconic names like Freddie Spencer and Valentino Rossi.
And so far in 2014 MotoGP, the 21-year-old Spaniard continues to top the headlines as the series heads to Le Mans for the French Grand Prix. The Repsol Honda RC213V pilot has won the opening four rounds from the pole, a feat only achieved by Giacomo Agostini in 1971. Speaking of “Ago,” the Italian won the first Grand Prix event at Le Mans in 1969, lapping all other riders aboard his MV Agusta.
With Marquez’s pole at the final round in Valencia last season, he has also achieved five-consecutive pole positions – something not completed since Casey Stoner in 2011 (Repsol Honda).
And as the 2014 MotoGP Championship heads to round five this weekend in Le Mans, Marquez is chasing yet another record. If he achieves victory, he will become the youngest rider ever win five-straight races. He will then oust Mike Hailwood’s record set in 1962 at 22-years old.
Marquez’s latest domination arrived two weeks ago at Jerez, his 100th GP start. He battled with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi on the opening two laps, but then bid farewell to the grid. He went on to lead the remaining 25 laps to take his fourth-straight win. The only other rider to do so was Mick Doohan in 1992.
Marquez followed the win with a perfect ending to the first race of 2014 on Spanish soil – he lead the one-day post-race test at Jerez.
Marquez enters Le Mans with a 28-point lead over his fellow countryman and teammate, Dani Pedrosa, who won last year at Le Mans. As for Marquez, who renewed his contract with Honda Racing Corporation through 2016, he finished third.
“After another really great weekend in Jerez and a positive day of testing on Monday, we are now on our way to Le Mans. You never know what the weather will do there so it is important to start strong from FP1,” Marquez says.
“Last year we had our first wet race here and I really learned a lot, but this year I hope it will remain dry! We know that Dani, Jorge and Valentino will come back at us hard here, but we will work on our own program ‒as usual‒ and fight for victory or at least some important Championship points.”
Pedrosa has finished on the podium at every round, but is stalked in points by Rossi. The nine-time World Champion Rossi, who trails Pedrosa by 11 points, struggled to a 12th-place finish last season. But his progressing in 2014 with the new YZR-M1 chassis that’s helping his brake stability.
As for Rossi’s teammate, two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo has not adapted well to the Bridgestone tire compounds, struggling with edge grip. His best finish was third at Argentina MotoGP, and he is currently fifth in the standings, 65 points behind Marquez. Lorenzo will work more with a softer-tire compound at Le Mans in hope of better results.
Fourth in the standings is the top Ducati rider, Andrea Dovizioso. His top finish is also third, which he achieved at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. His management also confirmed last week that he may possibly ride with the returning Suzuki in 2015.
As the series heads to round five of 18, sixth place in the points is held by the top satellite rider – LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl, who is 70 points behind Marquez. Bradl underwent surgery last week – as did Pedrosa – for arm pump issues. But both Bradl and Pedrosa are fit to ride at Le Mans.
In seventh is the top open-class bike, the NGM Forward Racing Yamaha piloted by Aleix Espargaro; he is also 70 points adrift.
As for the Americans, Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden is 11th with 23 points as he continues to struggle with the Honda RCV1000R, and Colin Edwards 18th with seven points.
IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci will not start as he recovers from surgery on his right wrist. Petrucci injured his wrist during a heavy crash at warm-up in Jerez.
2014 Le Mans MotoGP TV Schedule
Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage of Le Mans MotoGP beginning at 7 a.m. ET Sunday, May 18. The coverage includes a rerun of 2014 Jerez MotoGP.
2014 MotoGP Point Standings (after four of 18 rounds):
|7||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||SPA||30|
|18||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||USA||7|