2019 Le Mans MotoGP Preview
When Marc Marquez won the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago in Jerez, he regained the championship points lead and awarded Honda its 299th win in the premier class.
Marquez’s lead is slim, the Repsol Honda RC213V pilot leading Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins, who won at Circuit of the Americas last month, by one point.
But the 26-year-old Spaniard has some incentive as the 2019 MotoGP Championship throttles into Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France. He beat Danilo Petrucci to the finish line last season by over two seconds, and has the opportunity to award Honda its 300th victory in the premier class; Honda’s first win arrived 53 years ago with Jim Redman at the controls of the RC181 in 1966.
All together, Marquez does have mixed results at Le Mans with three premier-class podiums that includes two wins (2014, 2018).
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s 27-lap MotoGP, Marc Marquez said: “We had a very strong weekend in Jerez and a productive test but this is MotoGP and we must always keep working. Between races I was able to relax a little bit at the F1 and also the Leipzig versus Bayern game, riding my bike in the stadium was great and the noise was incredible.
“Le Mans can be a tricky GP, especially with the weather so we must be prepared for any conditions. Last year I was able to win here but we always face a lot of opposition.”
Marquez will have some challenges, though, especially from Rins, who claimed his eighth top-five finish at Jerez – a streak since Japan last season. Besides his win in Austin, he finished second behind Marquez at Jerez. His results are not so good in France; he finished 10th last season and didn’t start in 2017 due to injury.
Besides Marquez, Dovizioso is the only rider who led the championship this season. He is currently third, three points behind Marquez. The Mission Winnow Ducati GP19 pilot has never finished better than third at Le Mans in the premier class, the Italian claiming three third-place finishes. Last season he crashed out early in the race.
Two other threats exist for Marquez – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and his former teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi is fourth in the point standings, nine points behind Marquez. He claimed two runner-up positions in Argentina and Texas and took sixth in Jerez. Rossi has 13 podiums at Le Mans since joining the premier class in 2000, which includes three victories (2002, 2005, 2008).
As for Lorenzo, he has the most premier-class wins at Le Mans with five. But the Repsol Honda rider is struggling to adapt to the RC213V so far in 2019. Lorenzo, who also continues to recover from a pre-season wrist injury surgery, has yet to finish better than 12th in the opening four rounds.
Practice gets underway Friday, followed by qualifying on Saturday for Sunday’s French Grand Prix. For US television times, visit 2019 MotoGP TV Schedule.
2019 MotoGP Championship Point Standings (after four of 19 rounds):