Making up part of the legendary 8.5-mile track that hosts the 24 Hours of Le Mans car race, the 2.6-mile Bugatti Circuit was home to the Grand Prix of France for the 28th time this season.The Bugatti Circuit is one of the tightest on the 2015 MotoGP Calendar, featuring many first-gear corners. The stop-and-go circuit in Frances’s Pays de la Loire region demands late braking and quick exit speeds for optimal lap times.
Two Spaniards shared the record for most wins in Le Mans with four each – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Both pilots have topped the headlines as MotoGP traveled into France for round five of 18. Lorenzo earned his first win of 2015 MotoGP two weeks ago at Jerez, and Pedrsoa returned to the grid following a three-race hiatus due to arm-pump surgery.Both showed respectable speeds throughout practice, but it was the reigning MotoGP Champion who topped the time sheets in qualifying.Respol Honda’s Marc Marquez earned his third pole of 2015 MotoGP – and 25th of his premier-class career – with a new fastest lap of 1:32.246. He qualified 0.503 of a second ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, and 0.6 of a second ahead of Lorenzo.Could the 22-year-old Marquez carry this momentum into the 28-lap race before over 93,000 fans on an sunny afternoon at Le Mans? He put in some serious effort, but would not claim the victory.The Le Mans MotoGP 2015 win would go to the rider who showed complete patience and consistency – Lorenzo. After an action-packed race, Lorenzo would be joined on the FrenchGP podium by Rossi and Dovizioso. And just like in Jerez, Lorenzo led every lap.Excitement began at turn one. Dovi got the holeshot but was passed by Lorenzo, who touched the Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone on his way to first. Behind, Marquez contacted Monster Tech3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith, but then made an aggressive move way off line propelling himself up front.But he was forced to slot into fourth behind the leader Lorenzo, and the Ducati Team duo of Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, respectively. The Ducati GP15 boys were hungry for a win considering Ducati never claimed on at Le Mans.Pedrosa’s return began with a second-lap crash at turn four. Luckily, the Spaniard was able to remount and rejoin the grid, eventually finishing 16th. On the same lap, Athinia Forward Racing Yamaha’s Stefan Bradl crashed out on turn six. Troubles in France continued as Team ECSTAR Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro was forced to pit with clutch issues.Marquez appeared to struggle, and with 26 to go, Rossi passed the two-time MotoGP Champion for fourth. The nine-time World Champion then began his hunt for his 201st Grand Prix podium. Behind, Marc VDS Racing Honda’s Scott Redding also crashed at turn six. Two laps later, Marquez ran wide at Garage Vert (turn 8), and lost yet another position Smith.Up front, a four-way battle began between Lorenzo, Dovi, Iannone and Rossi. Dovi was putting much pressure on Lorenzo, and with 20 laps to go he was 0.3 of a second behind. As these riders battled, turn six claimed its third rider when CWM LCR Honda’s Crutchlow crashed out while in seventh.Rossi cranked the aggression with 18 laps remaining. He took third from Iannone at the turn 11 – the “S” Blues. Up front, Dovi made a small mistake, getting off line, allowing Lorenzo to open up a one-second lead. Rossi caught up with Dovi two laps later. Riding with complete authority, the Italian claimed second at turn 13.Rossi attempted to track down Lorenzo, but the Spaniard did what he does best. Lorenzo ran a smooth and consistent race, and was untouchable as Rossi ran alone in second and Dovi ran alone in third.Behind, a straight-out war began for lap four. Marquez regained his rhythm, and passed both Smith and Iannone for fourth. Iannone fought back, and one of the most intense battles of the race began, the two swapping positions numerous times throughout the remaining laps. Marquez displayed the most aggressive braking witnessed in the modern age of MotoGP.Lorenzo would earn his second-straight win of 2015 MotoGP. This was his fifth victory at Le Mans, giving him the record there, and the 56th of his career. Though he started from seventh, Rossi finished second, 3.280 seconds back, earning a record 201st Grand Prix podium. Dovizioso claimed third – his fourth podium finish of 2015 MotoGP.The Marquez/Iannone fight went down to the checkered flag. Marquez would be the victor, finishing fourth by a mere 0.347 of a second ahead of Iannone. Smith crossed the line in sixth.Rounding out the top 10 were Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Pol Espargaro, Pramac Racing Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez, Team ECSTAR Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci. The sole American in MotoGP, Aspar MotoGP Team’s Nicky Hayden finished 11th.Rossi continues his season-long points’ lead in the 2015 MotoGP Championship, which began with his win at the round one in Qatar. Rossi now has 102 points, 15 ahead of the rider who moved into second, Lorenzo. Dovizoso is in third, 19 points behind, and Marquez fourth, 33 behind.The 2015 MotoGP Championship now breaks for two weeks before the Grand Prix of Italy at Mugello May 31.2015 Le Mans MotoGP Photo Gallery:
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This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena gives us his impression of the outrageously cool-looking new Indian Scout Rogue. The Rogue features a larger front wheel among several other changes, and the bobbed-looks and excellent 100 horsepower motor make the Scout Rogue an interesting—and very real—competitor to the offerings from Milwaukee.
In the second segment Neale Bayly brings us the third and final segment from Brian Slark—the man who helped bring Norton motorcycles to America. Having spent 27 years and counting at the Barber Museum in Birmingham Alabama, Brian talks us through the final part of his career, that of course includes how the museum got started and where it’s going.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!