2018 Le Mans Sunday Round Up: Crashes Shape The Championship, Yamaha's Woes, Ducati's Decision, And Moto3 Madness

Looking back, it is always easy to identify the pivotal moments in a championship. Last year, it was the Barcelona test, when Honda brought a new chassis which gave Marc Márquez the confidence he had been lacking. In 2015, it was arguably Motegi, where Valentino Rossi stayed ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, but the effort it took in the difficult conditions left him drained at the start of a long and exhausting set of flyaways. In 2012 it was Misano, where a tire warmer got stuck to Dani Pedrosa's brake disc, forcing him to start from the back of the grid, and leaving him in a position to get tangled up with Hector Barbera, and crash out of the race.

In the midst of a racing season, however, such pivotal points are much harder to identify. Or rather, all too easy to misidentify. After Estoril 2006, everyone thought that Nicky Hayden's championship challenge was over. Valentino Rossi's heartbreaking engine blow up at Mugello looked like it would put paid to his shot at the 2016 title, but he still kept the fight alive for a long time. Anything can happen during the course of a season, so when we look back at a season we can easily overlook the drama of a single race that seemed important at the time. 2015 is a case in point: there were so many twists and turns that it is hard to pinpoint a single turning point, so fans and followers tend to pick their own.

Looking at it now, just five races into a nineteen-race season, it is easy to believe that the races at Jerez and Le Mans will be the turning points we look back at when the bikes are packed up for the final time after Valencia. The three-rider crash at Dry Sack two weeks ago, in which Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, and Dani Pedrosa managed to all take each other out without any obvious culprit being to blame, had a huge impact on the championship. And Sunday's drama-packed race at Le Mans will surely be spoken of in the same terms. Not just because of who didn't finish the race. But also because where some riders finished is going to have a profound impact on their futures.

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2018 Le Mans Moto2 FP3 Result: Delicate Dynavolt Domination

Another challenging morning in Le Mans was closed by the intermediate class and its fair share of class trips outside track limits. The gravel showed no favouritism, claiming riders from all throughout the grid, including early leader Mattia Pasini. The lead had exchanged hands between the Italian, Marcel Schrotter and the two Marc VDS riders for the first half of the session.

Alex Marquez made a decisive move with 13 minutes to go and was the first rider to drop into the 1:36s. It looked like a safe space for the Spaniard until Schrotter fought back and took the lead. The Dynavolt rider watched the end of the session from the gravel trap of turn 13 but his time proved good enough to keep him at the top.

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2018 Le Mans Moto2 FP2 Result: Bagnaia Keeps Between The Lines

With the temperature going up as you would expect, more and more tumbles were featured in the highlights reel for the second batch of practice sessions of the day and the intermediate class was no exception. Early leader Mattia Pasini opened the recital and then allowed Pecco Bagnaia to steal his spotlight at the top of the timesheets. The Sky rider was untroubled throughout the session and finished first despite being second to Sam Lowes as the checker flag came out.

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2018 Le Mans Moto2 FP1 Result: Schrotter Blasts Past

As morning in Le Mans was starting to warm up, the boost in confidence saw quite a few intermediate class riders test the gravel traps around the circuit, with no serious consequences. One man who managed to avoid all that was Marcel Schrotter, who grabbed the lead from Alex Marquez at the halfway point of the session and ran away at the front – at one point over four tenths faster than the rest.

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