Though weather conditions were perfect at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit for round five of 2016 MotoGP, only 13 of 21 riders finished. This was due to multiple crashes during the 28-lap French Grand Prix at the tight 2.6-mile track containing 14 corners.While others crashed, a few rode with absolute precision, including winner Jorge Lorenzo. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 pilot simply dominated, earning a flag-to-flag victory from the pole. This was his second win of 2016 MotoGP, the other being the season opener at Qatar, and also his sixth at the Le Mans circuit (five MotoGP, one former 250cc class). The win also allows the 29-year-old Spaniard to retain the record for most Grand Prix wins in France.
The closest rider finished 10.654 seconds behind – Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi. Earning the final podium position was Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales; this was Vinales’ first-ever MotoGP podium, and the first for Suzuki since the Czech Republic Grand Prix in 2008 (Alvaro Bautista).“I‘m very happy with this victory, because everything has been almost perfect. In the race I knew Marquez had the chance to fight for the victory with me, or if he wasn‘t very fast, he would have been second or third and that would have meant he would still have kept his first position in the championship, but he crashed,” Lorenzo says.“Now in the championship three riders scored zero or very little points in one race, so in some way we are starting the championship from zero again after those races, but with us being five points ahead.”Lorenzo was able to take the points lead from the Repsol Honda RC213V pilot Marc Marquez, who crashed out of Le Mans MotoGP on lap 16. The two-time MotoGP Champion, who earned two race wins so far this season (Circuit of the Americas, Argentina) crashed at turn seven while battling for second with Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian GP16 pilot also crashed, but not due to any contact with Marquez; both riders crashed in unison without any contact between each other.When the race began, Lorenzo got off the line first, taking the lead ahead of Dovizioso, Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro. Marquez wheelied during his start, pushing him back to fourth. But the Spaniard quickly passed Espargaro and began chasing down Dovi.Behind, nine-time World Champion moved from seventh to fifth after dicing with Aleix Espargaro and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith. While challenging teammate on lap seven for second, Iannone crashed at turn 8. Iannone would remount, but was eventually forced to retire; this was his third DNF of the season. The next riders to wreck were LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow – his fourth this season – and Marc VDS Racing Honda’s Tito Rabat. Iannone would remount, but eventually was forced to retire.On lap 13, the 37-year-old Italian Rossi passed Marquez, and a heated battle began for second between the two and Dovi. But on lap 16, Dovi and Marquez crashed in synch, allowing Rossi, who dominated Jerez MotoGP two weeks ago, to slip into second and Vinales into third. These two riders remained in the positions to earn the second and third podium positions, respectively.As the crashes continued, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished fourth ahead of Pol Espargaro, who once again earned the top spot for Independent Rider Team.Rounding out the top 10 were Aleix Espargaro, the returning Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing Ducati), Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).Lorenzo now has 90 points, five ahead of Marquez. Rossi is in third, 12 points behind his teammate.The 2016 MotoGP Championship now breaks for two weeks ahead of Rossi’s home race at Mugello in the scenic Tuscany region of Italy May 20-22.Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
2016 Le Mans MotoGP Results
1. J. LORENZO MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 43’51.290 2. V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP + 10.654 3. M. VIÑALES TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR + 14.177 4. D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM + 18.719 5. P. ESPARGARÒ MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 + 24.931 6. A. ESPARGARÒ TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR + 32.921 7. D. PETRUCCI OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH + 38.251 8. H. BARBERA AVINTIA RACING + 38.504 9. A. BAUTISTA APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI + 48.536 10. S. BRADL APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI + 54.502 11. E. LAVERTY ASPAR TEAM MOTOGP + 1’02.677 12. L. BAZ AVINTIA RACING + 1’07.658 13. M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM After 1 laps 14. B. SMITH MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 N.C. (9 laps) 15. J. MILLER ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS N.C. (11 laps) 16. A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM N.C. (13 laps) 17. A. IANNONE DUCATI TEAM N.C. (17 laps) 18. T. RABAT ESTRELLA GALICIA 0,0 MARC VDS N.C. (21 laps) 19. C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA N.C. (22 laps) 20. Y. HERNANDEZ ASPAR TEAM MOTOGP N.C. (22 laps) 21. S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH N.C. (23 laps)
2016 MotoGP Point Standings (after five of 18 rounds)
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 90 2. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 85 3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 78 4. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 53 5. Maverick Viñales (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 49 6. Pol Espargarò (SPA) Monster Yamaha Tech3 47 7. Aleix Espargarò (SPA) Team Suzuki Ecstar 42 8. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Racing 39 9. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aspar Team MotoGP 33 10. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati Team 25 11. Stefan Bradl (GER) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 23 12. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 23 13. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 21 14. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 20 15. Scott Redding (GBR) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 16 16. Michele Pirro (ITA) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 12 17. Tito Rabat (SPA) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 11 18. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Octo Pramac Yakhnich 9 19. Loris Baz (FRA) Avintia Racing 8 20. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) LCR Honda 5 21. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Aspar Team MotoGP 3 22. Jack Miller (AUS) Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 2
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