2016 Le Mans MotoGP Race Result: Winner Dominates as Crashfest Follows in his Wake

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.

Results:

Pos No Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 43'51.290
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 10.654
3 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 14.177
4 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 18.719
5 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 24.931
6 41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 32.921
7 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 38.251
8 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 38.504
9 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 48.536
10 6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 54.502
11 50 Eugene Laverty Ducati +1'02.677
12 76 Loris Baz Ducati +1'07.658
13 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1 Lap
Not Classified
  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

 

Round Number: 
5
2016
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Comments

Such a shame, it was shaping up for a good fight for second. Are we really sure the riders are to blame for the ridiculously random front washouts?

Shoutout to hero Petrucci in 7th.

... bikes don't crash themselves, and Lorenzo managed a pretty fearsome pace on the same tyres; smashed Marquez's qualifying record and ran a very consistent and fast race pace.

So, i'd say yes.

​I think what we're seeing that a lot of the guys are having trouble adapting to the riding style that the michelins require vs. the bridgestones and are washing the front out because they're trying to ride them like  a bridgestone.  As Rossi said, you can easily make a mistake with them; whilst the Bridgestone front was renowned for being insanely good for braking all the way up to the apex at massive lean angle.

So, you can either blame the tyres, or you can blame the riders who are not using the equipment supplied properly.

 

While I'm not convinced that the wings run by Ducati and Honda caused the crashes they suffered today, I think we might begin to see some strange effects at Mugello.  The reason is that motorcycles lean, and the direction of force provided by the wings is not always "straight into the ground".  On a car, the wings, underbody and other stuff always pushes "down".  But consider basic geometry.  When the wing is flat, 100% of the force is "down".  If the wing were angled by 30 degrees, then the "down" component of the force is reduced to about 87% - but there is a new side force equal to 50% of of the original downforce.  So if I have 10 pounds of "downforce" when the wings are flat, when they are angled at 30 degrees, I have 8.7 pounds "down"...and 5 pounds pushing me sideways.  If I am leaned over at 45 degrees, I will have 7 pounds pushing down and 7 pounds sideways.  At 60 degrees, I'll 5 pounds down...and 8.7 pounds sideways.  The problem is obvious: at angles greater than 45 degrees, the wings may do more harm than good!

What we don't know is how they impact the contact patch on the tire.  Pushing the bike down and sideways a bit may impact the rubber in a non-intuitive way (possibly either increasing or decreasing both stability and grip depending on tire construction!).  But holding everything else equal...on a high-speed turn leaned over more than 45 degrees, the wings will tend to push sideways (bad) more than they push down.  Mugello has turns like this, as does PI.  I think the GP safety commission should ban these things with immediate effect until this is studied more carefully.

On the lap times...I saw something very, very strange when I looked at the analysis.  On lap 4, Rossi ran the fastest lap of the race by a lot - more than a tenth faster than Lorenzo's best.  His sector times were 21.36, 21.46, 25.84, 24.64.  The next lap, he started out the same: 21.36, 21.47...then 26.13, 24.92!  The last two sectors were MILES off the previous lap.  And this slump continued to lap 6 where he ran his slowest sector 1 (barring the first / last laps): 21.69; then he sped up again to 21.45 in Sector 2 and the race continued (the rest difficult to analyze because of the battle with Marquez and Dovi).

On Lap 5, he had clear track with Marquez 0.9 seconds ahead.  So on three consecutive sectors, Rossi went 0.3 slower than he did previously or just afterwards, again with clear track.  This is very bizarre because he subsequently ran sector times that were more or less equivalent to his faster times.  Did he need a break?  Did the front start to close?

Lorenzo was so fast, in Sector 3 especially, it may not have mattered...but Rossi's sector and lap times today were very strange.  Lorenzo of course was the picture of efficiency - the standard deviation of his times in the first sector (again, barring 1st / last laps) was .05, and .07, .08 and .07 in the others.  Metronomic indeed.

Im not an aerodynamisist but belive that despite the possible lateral force at lean, the fact that the wings produce a downward component is crucial, pushing the tyre into the track surface. Without the wings you dont get the lateral force but you dont get the downward force either. A riders weight will work in much the same way, heavy riders (or heavier bikes for that matter) will produce a resolution of forces that are a combination of lateral and downward.

I am not looking to troll, but standard deviation is expressed by a single value. If I had easy access to the data I wouldn't mind calculating it for you. Check out 'derivative', I think it's closer to what you are looking for. d-y/d-x. The derivative of Lorenzo's lap differences would look very 'flat'. Almost like the flat line in the movie Equilibrium, before the lead protagonist goes heck for leather.

The four standard deviations mentioned are the individual values for each of the four sectors

You are correct, there is only one standard deviation for a set of values - but I had four sets of values (MotoGP.com makes the data available by sector, albeit somewhat inconveniently).  What I was illustrating was std. dev. per sector - so in sector 1 it's such and such a value, in sector 2 it's different etc.  This is relevant because Lorenzo was more consistent in some sectors than in others. 

Truthfully, here it's misleading because the distribution is likely skew (it's not a normal distribution so std. dev. doesn't mean what it would in a normal Gaussian because the lap times degrade) - in fact, the "inconsistency" of Lorenzo was probably lower than what I indicated, but without some data about how Lorenzo's perfect lap as the tires degrade, estimating Lorenzo's random variability around that shifting mean is a) impossible and b) I think everyone gets the point anyway.  Having a 1 sigma variability of only  .05 per sector for 26 laps is a-maz-ing.

you're forgetting that the force pushing the wheel/bike to the outside of the corner on the front, whilst leaned is counteracted by the fact that the rider has cracked the throttle and the acceleration will be attempting to lift the front and turn it into the corner.

yes, under brakes at high angles of lean that won't be happening, but i think that's somethign the riders need to adapt to, not necessarily something you can just use as a scapegoat for crashes.

You seem to be in the good graces of the Chinese authorities for some reason. Been stuck in a Chinese airport for hours and trying to find the results lists online is no fun when every live news source seems to be blocked, big or small... except for your page! What a godsend, I feel now sufficiently informed as to which races to rewatch and which to skip or fast forward through. ;)

2017 Suzuki contracts and podium finishes...........   yet another twist?

"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"

Dont think the repair part had anything to do with the crash. Dovi crashed a little after he crossed the patch and Marquez crashed before he hit the patch.

... they were both pushing very hard to run with Rossi and made mistakes.

Marc had been pushing the front hard all weekend to try and make up for the lack of acceleration.  Dovi had been off the pace for the past few laps and I think just tried too hard to stay with Rossi as he went past.

Unusual, but i dont think there was anything more to it than that.

For the cause of the crash (this one anyway). When you look at the replay you can see a lighter patch on the track where the track has been patched. Both riders were pushing it and you can see that Dovi was towards the end of the patch and Marquez had just entered it when the front(s) let go. I think one of the team managers (Ducati?) mentioned in his interview with Dylan Gray.

All the crashes (even without assistance of changing track surface) were front end - part of the DNA of the Michelins that the riders need to get on top of.

From Italian TV interviews Iannone explained he was pushing less on his front tyre after passing Dovi and in the crash lap his corner speed was his slowest in the race. Dovizioso said he was slightly wide and so had 2 extra degrees of lean angle over previous laps.

Dovi and Marquez were both running very well in the race. They both get passed by Rossi who was running a much faser pace. Looks like both the Ducati and Honda tried to keep up with the Yamaha, which was a big mistake at this track! Hondas were dropping like Zac Goldsmith supporters!

Excellent ride by Lorenzo, great comeback by Rossi. Glad Rossi had passed them before they fell, otherwise people would say he was "gifted" 2nd, which he wasn't!

Interesting comments on lean angles and downforce. If true then the next step is variable controlled winglets by lean angle.

Pretty sure its not allowed to have variable controlled winglets. 

Making them electronically controlled variable isn't allowed, but it would not really help anyway. You don't even want to have just the force straight down, because it would make the bike want to fall over. The force needs to be in line with the bike's wheels, or you will get very scary effects. Now it could be a good thing to put them in a neutral position in corners, so that they only are effective on the straights, but again, this is forbidden.

The thing is that the wings only serve to keep the front wheel on the ground. They do not give you extra grip to go faster round corners, because I'm pretty sure the extra grip from the extra contact area pressure is simply needed to account for the increased sideways push. You do load the front tyre a bit more, which may be good for temperature - or it may not. And of course it does help when you're going over a crest, where otherwise the front wheel would lose contact with the track, like at Jerez coming onto the back straight.

 

Well done Jorge on your speed all weekend & win. Great to see Pol doing so well when his future is not yet confirmed. I remember comments made on this site & others back at the tail end of 2012 & much more recently, that Rossi was too old & too slow to get podiums or win races, i get the feeling that at the moment he is the most exciting racer on the grid, poor qualifiing, having to do some proper racing to get to the sharp end. I feel that when he goes we will all miss him fans or not, i just like close, exciting racing.

Amount of crashes, I think they need to look at going back to the Jerez tyre. Better to spin than to have half the field lose the front. 

under near perfect race conditions that was a disaster 

I am not an aerodynamicist, however, I do have a degree in aeronautics. As such, I did have to take classes on aerodynamics. As the application of the information I was taught is relative to flight, it is not entirely applicable to motorcycles or any type of ground vehicle.

A wing is an airfoil. An airfoil has specific properties to do what it's designer intends. An airfoil, provides lift, by creating a low pressure above the airfoil. If reversed, it will most certainly do the opposite. It will still have an aerodynamic shape with a number of features relative to its leading and trailing edges. One of these is chord line. This determines the aspect ratio of the airfoil. The airflow over the airfoil will either flow smoothly over it or will break up at a given point. Ideally, for flight that point is aft of the trailing edge of the airfoil.

Given the size of winglets, both their length and distance from leading to trailing edge, I can't say without doing the math what the exact effect would be (I don't have measurements or camber angles) but from what I can see, downforce is not the entire story. I would guess the upper winglet is devoted to downforce, but not so the lower ones.

Downforce amount can obviously be tuned but the point at which it takes effect can also be tuned to a specific speed. (aspect ratio) Once an airfoil's position, relative to airflow over it is changed, lift or downforce is interrupted. When motorcycle leans beyond a certain lean angle, the change to airflow relative to the airfoil may no longer provide lift or downforce. In an aircraft, this is called a lift stall, but the same is true for downforce.

My guess is, the lower winglets are a less advanced (than aviation) form of boundary layer control to reduce drag. Hence the lower winglets are equipped with a vertical surface similar to a winglet on aircraft wing. Control of, or reduction in drag would make the bike much faster at high speed given appropriate forward propulsion. IOW, it would blow the doors off a similarly powered machine lacking the reduction in drag.

Whether or not that equates to a turbulent pocket of air behind a motorcycle as some riders are claiming, I can't say for certain without seeing wind tunnel results. However, with some experience in aviation, I can say that wake turbulence occurs much farther behind moving aircraft than immediately behind it. (air to air refueling would not be possible otherwise) Anti-draft tails have been a feature of motorcycle design for at least the last two decades so that likely contributes to a smaller or shorter pocket of calm air behind a MotoGP bike.

I don't think winglets should be banned.....but more study should be devoted to their use. If they were such a danger, I doubt Kawasaki would have put them on the H2R for public consumption. The potential for lawsuits is too great a risk.

Very insightful write up!  Thanks for that!

.. the reason they're being banned is not just safety, but also to keep costs down.

DORNA (and quite rightly so) does not want MotoGP to turn into an aerodynamic war like F1 because the budgets required will explode, and the sport is already too expensive for a lot of manufacturers to bother, as per the lack of ability to fill the 24th grid spot recently.

 

The H2R is not a street bike, it's track only. The H2, which is a street bike, doesn't have wings.

They're integrated into the mirrors - where the wings are on the H2R, they are basically the same on the H2, but with mirrors on the ends of them.  They're still winglets, still shaped like winglets.

 

This is going to be a great  season...just think what Rossi could do if he wasn't "over the hill", "past it" and just plain "old"...Remember, youth , like language, religion and nationality are accidents of birth, not acheivments......there will come a day when Rossi is indeed "past it" , but that day is clearly not here yet....and "chapeau" to JL for yet another example of why is he reigning World Champion.......

I keep coming back to the idea that the shift to 17" wheels is one of the hidden gremlins in the mix. The same overall diameter with more wheel means less rubber for the riders to work with as they work through the corners. Other commenters with (claimed) track experience have suggested that 17" wheels lose traction much more abruptly than 16.5" wheels, and, intuitively, this makes sense.

I believe all, or nearly all, of the crashes today were solo low sides. Maybe a bit more front end rubber could have saved a few of those? 

... 2 things to say to that:

  1. you run what you have.  Jorge (who is first to try and blame equipment) did very well on the tyres this time out.  evidently, you need to be less abusive on the front, and Jorge's less severe braking, carrying more corner speed style probably suits that
  2. everybody already knows that the 17s will potentially offer less grip.  the whole point is that Michelin can use this series to improve development of road tyres and make the r&d done in MotoGP more relevant to road tyres.

 

I didn't really intend it as an excuse. It just makes me curious that it's not really being talked about much when it seems like it may be having a significant impact. All of the discussion is around Michelin's inability to craft a properly balanced tire (and I have no doubt that they have plenty of room to improve), but I wonder what would have happened if this season had been ran on 17" fitted Bridgestones? I just find it interesting that this variable has been given so little attention. 

I also think it's odd that the industry would be closed off to the idea that one of the lessons to be learned from the prototype series is that 16.5" wheels are a safer choice for high performance, track-oriented motorcycles. The likes of the Panigale R or the R1M already show little regard for cost of ownership. I don't think tracking down a somewhat less common tire size would be much of a barrier for shoppers in this market. 

.... given that the lap record was broken, what defines a "properly balanced tyre"?

I get what you're saying, but yes, the tyres were discussed at length in the pre-season and earlier in the season, but plenty of riders are making them work.

Besides, if a 17" tyre can be made to work then what's to say 16.5 is better?  17" potentially provides space for bigger brakes for example.

Yes theres a way to go for Michelin, but dont forget Bridgestone had their problems too - back in 2010-2011 for example the tyres were extremely difficult to warm up and plenty of people crashed in the opening laps because the only way to get the tyre up to temp was to push hard while it had no grip. Plus Philip Island chunking, etc.

We're only 5 races in, I'd say that Michelin's efforts are to be commended given they've come into the championship after a total absence of 7-8 years(?).

Bridgestone's problems were despite continual participation in the series...

 

A colleague had a Desmosedici road bike.

He converted to 17" wheels due to lack of tyre availability.  Road bike standard is 17", and trying to push 16.5" tyres onto the road bike market isn't likely to fly.

The market for 16.5" tyres for road bikes will be incredibly small.  Manufacturers are probably not going to bother - no market for 16.5s = no incentive to make them for road, and no incentive to make them for road = no bike manufacturer will sell road bikes that require them...

Not very many years ago, all mountainbikes had 26" wheels.

Then someone developed a 29" wheel. It only took a couple of years and suddenly every manufacturer was building 29ers, and all the tyre companies were making 29" tyres.

Then bam! the 27.5" wheel hit the market. Same thing - it's also now a market standard.

And now fat bikes... a curiosity only three years ago, now they are everywhere.

All because those sizes actually work way,way better than what we'd been using for decades without sparing a thought towards whether there was a better way...

My guess is that the combination of winglets and 17" inch wheels make the front less forgivable.
Many has complained that they loose the front if the let off power. The winglets will make that transition harder as they push down. At the same time the 17" give less flex.
When the get a front end slide the winglets make a save so much harder and must be a negative force to be reconed with.

Time will show.

 

... with that, however I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing.

Combined with the reduction in electronics, we now have bikes that require finesse with both ends of the bike.

Before, with the advanced electronics, rear end traction was taken care of with the electronics to a much larger degree, leaving the only way to make up time to be on the front tyre.  And so we have had the front Bridgestone grow in capability to become such a phenomenal tyre that riders are able to brake hard, all the way up to the apex without too much risk of losing the front.

Now, there's a lot more demanded of the rider to manage both ends of the bike.

I'm sure the Michelin front will continue to improve in feel, but i think the new situation is likely to be a lot better for the series as it gives riders two ends of the bike to chase an advantage or compromise with, rather than just the front.

 

Never thought of that as a positive thing, but that's an interensting POV. 
It will possibly favour those with cat like reaction and those with smoth riding style.
But it does raise the bar for the riders, I agree on that, and so far it seems like experience and smothness are in favour. 
 

If the winglets are adding a downwards force to the front of the bike, when the tyre lets go the ability of the rider to react to that additional force in time is surely going to be affected.

Back to the syncronyzed crash...

I've seen some pretty neat comments from people with maths, physics, science backgrounds and I was wondering if someone can calculate what is the possibility of a simultaneous mistake by two different riders at the same place and time and the cause attributted to a rider error (ex. like trusting too much the tyres) but with my limited knowledge I can only guess that the result will tend to zero.

It has amazed me as it seemd to me that they were wiped out by an invisivble hand, but we all know invisible hands don't exists so there has to be something else and ruling out a small earthquake, I believe the cause might have to do a little something with those winglets (oh no, the winglets again). My hipothesis would be that they were hit by a wind gust and since they're already at the hairy edge, that hypothetical windgust might have been amplified by the wings, where otherewise that wind gust may have only been felt, (they do comment about the wind gusts sometimes, specially in PI), the wind might have gotten under those huge alerons the Ducati have and the triple arrangement of the Honda and tip the balance of the equation to the wrong side. It's the only thing I can think of, other than vodoo. I've only seen such a crash once in a lifetime and I believe that one was water on the track, this was way over the average law. I'd say there was something other than simultaneous riders mistakes or target fixiation, since I would bet Marquez started to crash slightly before Dovi as seen from my screen.

Maybe Rossi "James Bond'ed" them with a little oil squirt...... :P