Jorge Lorenzo has taken victory in the MotoGP race at Le Mans in dominant style, leading from start to finish, and taking over the lead in the championship at the same time.
The plan for everyone else was simple: try to get ahead of Jorge Lorenzo into the first corner, and slow him up a little. But Lorenzo would brook no opposition off the line, putting in his customary flying start to lead into the chicane, and push to make a gap.
Andrea Dovizioso kept Lorenzo honest in the opening laps, quickly joined by his factory Ducati teammate Andrea Iannone once the Italian had worked his way past Marc Marquez. Pol Espargaro capitalized on a strong qualifying position to slot in behind the Repsol Honda, while Valentino Rossi fought his way forward and started picking off the riders ahead of him. Espargaro would soon fall victim to Rossi's onslaught, the Italian latching on to the back wheel of Márquez.
The two Ducatis pushed to keep pace with Lorenzo, but the Yamaha man was relentless. He eked open a gap, forcing Andrea Iannone to try to pass his teammate. Iannone got past cleanly, but as he chased the Spaniard he asked too much of his front tire and crashed out of the race. He would not be the last man to crash out of the race.
While Lorenzo disappeared into the distance, Rossi and Márquez closed up on Dovizioso. Rossi had the strongest pace of the bunch, passing the Honda and the Ducati at the halfway mark.
As they took their turn to chase Rossi, both Dovizioso and Márquez crashed simultaneously at the Musée corner, both hitting the same spot of dark asphalt where the track has been repaired. With both Dovizioso and Iannone having suffered recent water pump failures, the immediate suspicion was water on the track here too, but there was no evidence of that from the slow motion replays.
Those crashes gave Rossi breathing space behind him, while Lorenzo had cleared off into the distance. First and second positions were settled, with only the final spot on the podium up for grabs.
That eventually went to Maverick Viñales, the Suzuki rider winning the battle behind in the first half of the race, and breaking free of his teammate Aleix Espargaro, Dani Pedrosa, and Pol Espargaro in the middle of the race. Pedrosa fought his way through the pack and was chasing Viñales, but could not catch him.
Viñales' third place finish was his first ever podium in MotoGP, and the first for a Suzuki since Loris Capirossi took a podium back in 2008. How this will affect the Spaniard's decision for the future remains to be seen.
Dani Pedrosa crossed the line in fourth, grabbing valuable championship points, while Pol Espargaro topped off a successful weekend at Le Mans with a fifth place.
There were a lot of crashers in the race, with seven riders going down and a couple of retirements. Marc Márquez made the best of a bad job by remounting after his crash, and riding around in last place. By a process of attrition, he crossed the line in thirteenth, scoring three valuable points for the championship.
Lorenzo's win puts him five points clear in the title chase, but Márquez' thirteenth place could well end up being important at the end of the season. Rossi sits in third, twelve points shy of Lorenzo.
|13||93||Marc Marquez||Honda||1 Lap|
|38||Bradley Smith||Yamaha||9 Laps|
|43||Jack Miller||Honda||11 Laps|
|4||Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||13 Laps|
|29||Andrea Iannone||Ducati||17 Laps|
|53||Tito Rabat||Honda||21 Laps|
|35||Cal Crutchlow||Honda||22 Laps|
|68||Yonny Hernandez||Ducati||22 Laps|
|45||Scott Redding||Ducati||23 Laps|