When European riders are discussed in MotoGP, the Spaniards and Italians get most of the attention.Since joining the premier-class ranks in 2017, Johann Zarco has brought France into the mix. The lone French rider headed into his home race at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit with much energy, not only due to riding before a home crowd, but also because two weeks ago he secured second in Jerez.
Zarco also entered Le Mans – where he claimed his first premier-class podium in 2017 – 12 points behind the series leader, Respol Honda’s Marc Marquez. He then further built on the energy Saturday by claiming the pole.To the crowd’s dismay, though, Zarco crashed out while in second, sandwiched between early leader Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Marquez at the Turn 8 with 20 of 27 laps to go.Two laps later Marquez was in the lead, and did what he does best – stayed out front to the checkered flag to earn his 38th-career MotoGP victory, tying him with the now-retired Casey Stoner.When 2018 Le Mans MotoGP results were in, Marquez, who started from second on the grid, was joined on the overall podium by Alma Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi.This was Marquez’s third-straight win, allowing him to increase his lead in the championship after five of 19 rounds. Marquez now has 95 points – 36 ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales.When the race began, Marquez got the holeshot, but lost it to Lorenzo, who quickly took off and was chased down by Zarco. Marquez fell back behind Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso and Petrucci, with Rossi in tow.After a bad start, Zarco was able to challenge the early leader Lorenzo, who has a record five wins at Le Mans.Once Zarco crashed, it took Marquez only two more laps to get into the lead. From there, he remained out front as those behind fought for the remaining podium positions. Petrucci and Rossi did the same, and both Italians remained out front, riding consistently and able to claim the second and third podium positions, respectively.Lorenzo also lost two more places, finishing sixth behind Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in fifth, and Alma Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller in fourth.Rounding out the top 10 were Vinales; LCR Honda Castrol’s Cal Crutchlow, who rode after being hospitalized Saturday following a nasty high side during qualifying; Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro; and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins.Besides Zarco, two other notable front-runners crashed out – Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone (on first lap) and Dovizioso on lap five.The series no breaks for two weeks ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, where Dovizioso claimed the win ahead of Vinales and Petrucci.
2018 Le Mans MotoGP Results:
2018 MotoGP Point Standings (after five of 19 rounds):
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.