The 1000th Grand Prix got underway in front of a record crowd bringing up the noise at a resplendent Le Mans and although victory wasn’t to be for the home favourites, there was no contesting Marco Bezzecchi’s magnificent ride into the records books. The Italian escaped the early drama to disappear into the sunset by over four seconds and claim a dominant victory. Jorge Martin had a more eventful ride into his first proper podium of the season, in second place, and was joined on the podium by teammate Johann Zarco, who inherited third to the delight of the fans. Or maybe it was just sheer joy for the end of Bezzecchi’s questionable moustache.
It was Marc Marquez who stole the spotlight at the beginning of the 27-lap race, the Spaniard getting the holeshot off the line to lead into turn one in front of Jack Miller, while Luca Marini also snuck ahead of poleman Pecco Bagnaia at the chicane. Martin got his nose in there too but Bagnaia quickly relegated him, with Bezzecchi, Maverick Viñales, Alex Marquez, Augusto Fernandez and Zarco making up the early top 10. Amongst the big losers on the opening lap were Aleix Espargaro and Brad Binder, who got pushed wide at a crowded La Chapelle and dropped to 14th and 18th place respectively.
Back at the front, Miller attempted a couple of overtakes on the second lap, but Marquez found his way back into the lead, until the Australian made a move stick next time around turn three. Although Miller took control at the front, he couldn’t make an escape, with Marquez and the rest of the leading group glued to his tail. By then Bagnaia had regrouped into third position, with Marini, Viñales, Bezzecchi and Alex Marquez close behind, while Martin and Zarco had dropped to the bottom of the top 10, getting caught up in the shenanigans of the first couple of laps. Nonetheless, Martin was quick to recover and was leading the pursuit by lap five, with Zarco not too far behind. Meanwhile, Quartararo had dropped back to 13th place after making some initial progress off the line, with Binder’s comeback bringing him up to 14th after a handful of laps.
Disaster struck amongst the leaders on lap five, when Viñales tangled with Bagnaia at turn 12 and started exchanging handbags in the gravel trap. Soon after that, Marini lost control out of the Dunlop chicane and while Bezzecchi was able to avoid him, Alex Marquez wasn’t as lucky and the two tangled quite dramatically. Those eventful couple of laps left Miller, Marquez, Bezzecchi and Martin as the leaders, although the order soon changed as Bezzecchi sent Marquez for a stroll through the long lap loop on lap eight and was soon sanctioned to drop one position for the overly optimistic move. Martin was the beneficiary of that penalty but only briefly, as Bezzecchi was quick to reclaim second position at La Chapelle, with Marquez following his example at the next corner. Meanwhile, Zarco got up to speed and was bringing the next group back into contention, including Augusto Fernandez and Aleix Espargaro, with Binder another second and a half back.
Bezzecchi decided that Miller’s time in the limelight would come to an end at the start of lap 11, when the Italian breezed past at turn one and Marquez also deposed Miller at turn nine later that lap. By then Bezzecchi was already setting a lightning pace to extend a one second advantage at the front with 15 laps remaining and Marquez seemed unable to close that. The Honda man soon had to resist the late charge from Martin, who wasted little time to further demote Miller. Zarco, Fernandez and Espargaro were still in the mix, while Binder was steadily closing the gap to the group, only half a second behind the trio by the halfway point of proceedings.
Bezzecchi continued to extend his advantage at the front, going into the second half of the race with one and a half seconds of breathing room, while Marquez was still fending off Martin. Miller continued to fade and slowed down the rest of the contenders as well, so by the time Zarco and Fernandez got past on lap 15, they found themselves one and a half seconds behind the podium battle. Espargaro took two more laps to overtake Miller and the Australian was left to contend with teammate Binder in the battle for seventh. Meanwhile, all the incidents helped Quartararo back into the top 10, another second and a half behind the KTM battle.
The untouchable Bezzecchi enjoyed his escape at the front, the gap up to two seconds going into the final 10 laps. Although Marquez and Martin were matching his pace, the gap didn’t budge and then started to increase when Marquez ran wide at Garage Vert, so the duo soon switched focus to battling for second. The Spaniards swapped paint at turns 1, 8, 11 and 12 over the next few laps, but Marquez kept coming up on top going into the final three laps. It had been a pretty lonely ride for Zarco by that point, the Frenchman spending the final few laps trying to catch up with the podium battle, helped by the exchanges ahead, and was right in the mix for the last couple of laps. Although he never got a chance to get involved in the fight, Zarco benefitted from Marquez crashing out at turn seven, just as Martin made the decisive move on the penultimate lap.
Bezzecchi took the chequered flag with over four seconds in hand to claim a splendid second victory of the season, with Martin and Zarco joining him on the podium to the delight of the crowds. Fernandez spent the closing stages of the race fending off Espargaro and although the Aprilia man attacked with two laps to go, the rookie responded straight away to claim a fine fourth place in only his fifth premier class race. Brad Binder found himself with a long lap penalty for taking a shortcut at Chemin aux Boeufs while attempting an overtake on Miller with eight laps remaining, which dropped the South African to ninth. He caught back up with Quartararo to retrieve his initial position, but Miller was now over four seconds ahead. However, the Australian tumbled out of contention in the final four laps and handed sixth place to his teammate. Quartararo settled for seventh, while Fabio Di Giannantonio, Takaaki Nakagami and Franco Morbidelli rounded out the top 10.
Bagnaia’s misfortune coupled with Bezzecchi’s perfect Sunday means that the two Italians leave Le Mans separated by just one point in the championship standings. Binder drops to third, 13 points behind, with Martin another point back and Zarco fifth, with a 28-point deficit.
|8||49||Fabio Di Giannantonio||Ducati||15.826|
My, how I've missed watching…
My, how I've missed watching Marc Marquez beat the RC213V into submission. He's simply in a league of his own compared to the other Honda riders. He left a huge black mark entering T2 a lap or two before he crashed. The sheer bravery and skill it takes to be so on the limit in a 6th gear corner is amazing.
Then there's the penalty to Brad Binder. It seemed inappropriate given he came out of the chicane further back than he went in. He was right on Miller's tail and dropped to over a second back due to that failed overtake attempt, but they still gave him a penalty? Harsh, especially after Alex Marquez got off free after bumping both Johanne Zarco -> Aleix Espargaro and Brad Binder wide at la Chapelle on lap one. I'd call it a racing incident, so I'm not really surprised there was no investigation or penalty, but it sure seemed like a more severe initial incident than Binder's passing attempt on Miller that did garner a penalty.
In reply to My, how I've missed watching… by Dirt
Apparently he lost 0.9…
Apparently he lost 0.9...rules are rules...unless we allow the stewards more freedom.
In reply to My, how I've missed watching… by Dirt
Couldn't agree more on…
Couldn't agree more on watching Marquez. Best rider in the the world riding the worst bike on the grid serves up some amazing riding fighting for the podium.
There was a rear oscillation that appeared early in the race in the high speed right off the striaght, then seemed to disappear for a while (perhap MM changed is approach/body position), then came back just before his crash. Early in the race the front could take it, but later on the edge grip is lower and bam. You could see him describe the situation to the folks in the garage after the race. Such an oscilation when the bike is fully pitched over seems like a lateral harmonic in the frame/swingarm. Curious if we hear more on this and if Kalex will iterate.
In reply to Couldn't agree more on… by Joshua Melanson
I remember the very same…
I remember the very same wobble going into T1 for Marc in 2013. It was wet and I remember thinking he might struggle. Lack of experience causing him to push too hard into T1 in the wet, lucky he got away with it on that lap. Next lap a lack of experience caused him to....after about 10 laps I realised he wasn't being lucky.
I got the impression the rear was gone today. Seemed to drop off a cliff with 4 or 5 laps to go. That left him with even more to make up on the brakes. I also got the impression he was going a little easier on the way in when he dropped it. A lot of his riding was very Jerez 2020, jaw dropping.
Although helped by many non…
Although helped by many non finishes, it is nice to see A. Fernandez finishing fourth, and top KTM, in only his first motogp season. Good ride by him amongst all the drama. Good racing by so many riders, really.
Edge of the seat race…
…all the way through. MM93 was outstanding and he deserved better but he was always on or over the limit. Terrific ride by AF37. I met him briefly at COTA and said to him that he was adapting really well and he seemed pleased. Amusing fisticuffs between Pecco and Mav in the gravel trap but they kissed and made up. Sad for JM43 but he needs to understand tyre management on the KTM. His time will come.
In reply to Edge of the seat race… by Rusty Trumpet
Miller and tires.. He didn’t…
Miller and tires..
He didn’t understand it at Ducati so what make you believe he’ll learn it at KTM?
In reply to Miller and tires.. He didn’t… by Dieterly
The guy is really fast, but always seems to end up with tire problems.
Really disappointed for MV…
Really disappointed for MV today. He was really going for it at the start. But that wall came up for him an Pecco really quickly. Lucky not to have another Pol outcome.
Well how about that for an incident filled race?
Miguel Oliveira was probably happy to skip that race.
That's racing I guess. Race direction will sort everything out before the next race. No doubt.
Morbidelli, Petrucci, Savadori & Folger in the points!!
At least three points for every rider who completed the race.
Plenty of work for the marshalls to do.
Thankfully Race Direction is ruling everything as racing incidents. As it should be...well done RD!