2015 Le Mans MotoGP Race Result: Fierce Pace Thins Out The Field

Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Le Mans:

Jorge Lorenzo has taken his form from Jerez and extended it at Le Mans. The Spaniard took a convincing victory at the French circuit, his second in a row, moving up to 2nd place in the championship and closing the gap to his teammate.

Lorenzo took charge of the race right from the start. The Spaniard got off the line well, then took the lead from Andrea Dovizioso round the outside at the first chicane. Dovizioso latched onto his tail, his Ducati teammate Andrea Iannone right behind him, with Marc Marquez struggling to compensate for a mediocre start and a difficult first few corners. The front four were soon joined by Valentino Rossi, with Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa right behind. Pedrosa's strong race lasted only another lap, the Spaniard crashing out at the chicane unhurt. He rejoined, but by then was a very long way behind the rest of the field.

Lorenzo was trying to pull a gap, but with little success. Dovizioso was sat a little way behind, with Iannone, Marquez and Rossi on is tail. Marquez was overriding an unwilling Repsol Honda, running wide and braking late, and Valentino Rossi soon capitalized on his mistakes, pushing cheekily past at the Chemin aux Boeufs esses, to take over 4th spot. Marquez' problems were not over, running wide again he let Smith pass underneath him, and was losing ground fast.

Dovizioso held station behind Lorenzo for ten laps, but in the end, his resistance cracked. The gap opened to a little over a second, and a hard charging Valentino Rossi started to pressure the Ducati man from behind. Dovizioso forestalled the inevitable for as long as possible, but eventually had to yield 2nd to Rossi. Once past, Rossi tried to give chase to Lorenzo, but the Spaniard had the strongest pace of the field, and slowly opened the gap until it became unbridgeable. Lorenzo took his second win in a row in similar style to Jerez, Valentino Rossi holding on to 2nd, and a comfortable lead in the championship, while Dovizioso returned the Ducati to the podium with a creditable 3rd.

If the battle for the podium was quickly over, the fight for 4th turned into a thriller. Once Rossi was past him, Andrea Iannone dropped quickly back off the front group, and after a big mistake which saw him lose three seconds in one lap, fell back into the clutches of Bradley Smith. But while Smith had the better pace, he could not find a way past the Ducati, Iannone exploiting both the better speed of the GP15, and its strength in braking. The pain he had been feeling in his dislocated shoulder disappeared in the heat of battle, and Iannone cleverly held Smith off to keep 4th. That allowed Marquez to catch up with his former Moto2 rivals, and engage the pair in battle. A knock-down, drag-out scrap ensued, with Marquez and Iannone pushing beyond the limit to try to get ahead of each other. Smith was left to watch bemused behind then, hoping that the two would take each other out.

After a battle that lasted nearly five laps, Marquez finally emerged victorious, taking 4th ahead of Iannone, and Smith settling for 6th. It had been a hard race for Marquez, visibly struggling to control his Honda all throughout the contest. But it had been even harder for Iannone. On Tuesday, the Italian had dislocated his shoulder in a very fast crash at Mugello, and was in severe pain while riding. To hang on to 5th position, in such fierce close combat with the world champion, speaks of incredible courage.

Behind the battle for 4th, Pol Espargaro rode a lonely race to come home in 7th, while Yonny Hernandez won the battle with Suzuki's Maverick Viñales and his Pramac Ducati teammate Danilo Petrucci rounded out the top ten.

Lorenzo's victory helps close the gap to his teammate in the championship standings, Lorenzo now trailing Rossi by just 15 points. 4th place was badly needed by Marquez, but his deficit increased to 33 points behind the Italian, while Andrea Dovizioso sits between the two in third, trailing Rossi by 19 points.

Results:

Pos No Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 43'44.143
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 3.820
3 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 12.380
4 93 Marc Marquez Honda 19.890
5 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 20.237
6 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 21.145
7 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 35.493
8 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati 39.601
9 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 41.571
10 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 42.789
11 69 Nicky Hayden Honda 53.636
12 76 Loris Baz Yamaha Forward +1'00.617
13 8 Hector Barbera Ducati +1'04.272
14 50 Eugene Laverty Honda +1'05.259
15 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia +1'05.515
16 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda +1'20.907
17 15 Alex De Angelis ART +1'21.663
18 33 Marco Melandri Aprilia 1 Lap
Not Classified        
  43 Jack Miller Honda 14 Laps
  17 Karel Abraham Honda 14 Laps
  35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 21 Laps
  45 Scott Redding Honda 25 Laps
  63 Mike Di Meglio Ducati 25 Laps
  41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 26 Laps
  6 Stefan Bradl Yamaha Forward 27 Laps

 

Round Number: 
5
2015
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Comments

I know you said there was nothing wrong with Marquez' engine, but do you think HRC turned the wick down a touch? Although he may have been reinvigorated by the arrival of Marquez, given the condition of Iannone's shoulder and the way he lost time prior to those excellent couple of laps, you have to wonder if all really was as it seemed.

Marquez complained about rear grip. If HRC moved the weight bias rearward to improve grip, wheelie control will interfere on the straights.

I was not surprised at all to see that Marquez got a new swingarm and he was slow in a straight line, particularly at the start.

Terrific fight between Iannone and Marquez, one of the better battles in recent years. No quarter given in that one!

I just took a look at the stats for the first 5 races, and something interesting emerged: Marquez has not set a fast race lap yet, despite his ferocious qualifying pace. In three races, Rossi has set fastest race lap, Lorenzo has one and Iannone has one at COTA, a tick ahead of Dovizioso.

The seamless downshift seems to have been a *massive* benefit to Yamaha. That seems to be the ace-in-the-hole that Honda had last year, and as Yamaha has adopted the technology, they have really taken profit (to borrow a phrase from Jorge).

To my eye, right now, Rossi is the fastest on race day - it's close with Lorenzo who's in top form he was ridiculous today, better than last race I think - but Rossi's inability to qualify off of the 3rd row make his title run chancy. If Lorenzo keeps his form, and Rossi stays on the 3rd row...Lorenzo must be the favorite. Unless it rains, Rossi improves his qualifying, we get a run of hard tire races, or Marquez and Honda figure out whatever their problem is. Then, who knows. And that Ducati is obviously an awesome machine.

Mugello - especially if it's hot (favoring harder tires) - should be quite exciting.

The racing behind Lorenzo was wonderful to watch, especially the Ducati / Honda fight a previous commenter mentioned above.

I think the changes in results for a number of different riders this season show the talent in the MotoGP field is deeper than the four riders fans tend to call "aliens". Smith and the Ducati team are examples which come to mind, but there are others as well. I suspect software is a major reason for these changes in performance. It makes me wish for an added race which would put all the MotoGP racers on equal bikes, like the IROC did with Porsche 911 RSRs ( and later on, Camaros ); of course that is unlikely to
happen.

Recent results show I was wrong when I claimed that Ducati had to get away from the 90 degree cylinder layout. Rotating the engine backward in the bike has apparently worked wonders. It also appears Ducati is still able to put more power to the ground than some of the other bikes on the grid, though the difference today seemed a bit less glaring than in past races.

It was interesting to see Jean Todt ( formerly of the Ferrari F1 team, the Peugeot Group B Rally team. etc. ) in the pits today. Long time F1 fans know that F1 currently is an effective remedy for sleeplessness. F1 would do well to watch and learn from MotoGP, because for all its flaws MotoGP still puts on a great show.

Marquez - Iannone was worth the ticket for all the season!
That was epic and greatly compensated the snoozing at the front. If you consider how in pain was Andrea I don't think you can overestimate the achievement. A true warrior.
On a sad note I wished better for poor Dani.

Marquez - Iannone was worth the ticket for all the season!
That was epic and greatly compensated the snoozing at the front. If you consider how in pain was Andrea I don't think you can overestimate the achievement. A true warrior.
On a sad note I wished better for poor Dani.

Race commentators said that Dani went back out to test the arm over race distance. Any word on how that turned out?

To my knowledge, since they went up to MotoGP class they've never been in a situation where they get into a battle when both are at their best. The battle today shows what we've been deprived of. Hopefully Ducati and Iannone can step it up and fight Marquez at the front. Now that would be a real spectacle!

Rossi really has to find a way to improve his QP performance if he is going to fight for the championship, to be able to start from the front row consistently.

That said, I would like to see Rossi winning the champion by setting another record: Winning the championship without starting from pole in any of the 18 races. Not sure if there is such a bet.

The intolerable processions of the 800cc era for the past two rounds for the win. Please let's not revisit again!!

Lets hope for harder tyre allocations in the next few rounds.

Great race for 4th, Rossi at least has nearly sorted his soft tyre woes, Marc-who knows-he needs a big revival now. I'm sure he's hoping for harder rubber in the next few rounds, but unfortunately for him instead of Lorenzo it will be Rossi making it very difficult.

Once again-bring on Michelin!!

...all we need is Rossi to qualify on the 2nd row. Lorenzo escaped, but primarily because Rossi held himself up with a horrible qualifying performance - Rossi was likely quicker in the first half of the race (taking into account the duels with the slower Honda / Ducati guys). Ducati in particular is a roadblock if you qualify badly, as Dovizioso said - they are reasonably quick in the beginning and then fall off the pace - but that "reasonably quick" isn't quite to the Lorenzo/Rossi standard right now.

A 2nd row qualifying from Rossi sees a race-long battle with Lorenzo. Today Lorenzo probably would have won, but he wouldn't have escaped - indeed Rossi set fastest lap, and it was enough faster to be meaningful (>0.1 seconds). I think when the gap was 1.8 and didn't get smaller, Rossi probably decided to cruise in for 20 points to be honest - save the engine etc. we'll never know of course.

Did anyone else think Lorenzo's near bowling ball effort crossing the majority of the track into turn 1 at the start worth a look from race direction?

He was clearly ahead. I'm no racing etiquette expert, but to me that was just racing.

What i want to see is how lorenzo fares when in any of the races there is a situation that he has to use harder compound. Can he win even on harder heat resistant tyres, if he does then surely he will take this year's championship but i highly doubt that he can win on harder compound. I think in montmelo maybe he has to use the harder compound whereas in medium he has that just extra bit over everyone else. Also if marc would have opted for a medium front or a combination involving medium compound maybe he could have gone better since the honda likes heat but they need to use the harder compound in those conditions.

Ducati's are searching for that yamaha grip in exiting corners and honda's are busy with their own problems. Dani is what is missing in this championship even though there is hardly a chance he can win a title ever i want to see him atleast fight for the title vigorously. He can fight as he had done in 2012.

I like exciting races. I like the pass blocks, dives underneath, sticking it 'round the outside, slipstream and out-braking maneuvers when riders mix it up. Very exciting and dramatic.

That said, credit should be given when due. Simply put ... Lorenzo won was because he set up, qualified and raced his bike better than anyone else on the grid - even if it was anti-climactic.

The more interesting thing about his last two wins have been his parc fermé interview comments. He said he had to change his riding style at a certain point due to front tire wear which was "close in" from the beginning (I am guessing he means tucking or slipping). That's the second time in as many races that he has alluded to changing his riding style to fit the riding situation which I don't recall him ever saying before.

The other thing of note with these comments is the way he sounds surprised about it. He sounds like he keeps expecting to crash and doesn't understand why he doesn't.

It goes back to a comment I posted a few races back when he was doing poorly. I thought he had lost his nerve and that in order to run with the lead group, he had to live on the edge of disaster but didn't seem willing to do it anymore. Now though, it seems like he said to himself

"**** it" - I am going for it even if I crash.

With that, the old Lorenzo is back (on softer tires). I'd like to see what happens if conditions call for the hard compound because the soft just won't last. Then we'll see if that renewed confidence and willingness to live on the edge remains. If it does, I think we may see him (way) out front a few more times this year. Also, maybe a crash or two for him, the last of which I can't say I recall off the top of my head. Easier not to crash when you aren't on the flying edge.