2020 Le Mans MotoGP Race Result: Raining On A Thrilling Parade

In a crisp afternoon in France, riders were ready for the gloves to come off, literally, together with woolly hats and jackets but Le Mans does like a surprise and just as premier class riders lined up on the grid, big dark clouds suddenly lined up above it. Rain started promptly, delaying the start and making it a wet race – a disappointing one for the home crowd but a fantastic display for all three men on the podium. Danilo Petrucci took to the conditions like a duck to water and looked in total control as he became the seventh different winner of 2020 in the premier class, after a miserable start to his season. However, comeback of the day went to Alex Marquez, the Honda rider making the Marquez name proud by going from 18th on the grid to second on the podium, where he was also joined by compatriot Pol Espargaro, who snatched the last trophy available for KTM.

26 six laps earlier, it was a totally different story, with Cal Crutchlow making an excellent start from the second row of the grid but seeing Jack Miller enter turn one ahead of the LCR man and poleman Fabio Quartararo. Infamous turn three claimed its first victim on lap one, Valentino Rossi being the chosen one and the Italian’s crash forced Joan Mir and Maverick Vinales off track and towards the back of the pack, after the two had a pretty slow start to begin with.

The Ducatis thrived in the first lap drama, with Petrucci starting lap 2 in the lead from Miller and Andrea Dovizioso, while Pol Espargaro was attacking Quartararo just behind. The big winner of lap one was Alex Rins, the Spaniard going from 16th to 7th and eager to join the podium contenders. By lap four, the Ducati trio of Petrucci, Dovizioso and Miller had stretched a two second’s gap over the pursuers, with Rins picking up the chase after his lightning start, demoting Pol Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow. Bradley Smith, Marquez and Miguel Oliveira were soon bothering Quartararo, the Frenchman pushed out of the top ten two laps later by Takaaki Nakagami. Still, his day didn’t seem to go as terribly as the one Vinales, Morbidelli and Mir were having, the trio keeping Tito Rabat company at the back of the field.

Petrucci continued to show the way to his teammates for the next few laps, with Rins pushing to reduce the nearly three seconds gap while comfortably breaking away from the next group where Pol Espargaro was fending off Crutchlow. However, the battle for fifth was far from decided, with Marquez, Oliveira and Smith not too far back and keeping us entertained by trading places, until Smith left the battle at end of lap nine.

Although the rain continued and gaps throughout the field were starting to increase, Rins was going the opposite way and brought the gap down to under a second by lap 12, tagging along to the victory battle soon after. Two seconds back, Pol Espargaro was the fastest man at that point in the race and was hoping to also join the party, leaving Crutchlow, Marquez and Oliveira a touch behind. The Repsol Honda rider made his move on Crutchlow soon after and built a one second gap by being the fastest man on track. Meanwhile, Quartararo was trying to get past compatriot Johann Zarco to join the top ten, while Mir was still out of point positions.

As soon as he got on Miller’s tail, Rins was eager to attack but Miller fought back and managed to keep third for a little while longer. There were no sparks coming from the podium battle just yet but one second behind it, Pol Espargaro and Alex Marquez looked keen to get themselves into the mix, as the fastest men on track with 11 laps to go. Another second back, Crutchlow and Oliveira also picked up the pace but then Crutchlow abandoned ship with nine laps left.

Dovizioso finally showed a wheel to Petrucci with 9 laps remaining but Rins saw an opportunity at turn 9 and going three-wide into the corner saw Petrucci exit the turn first, ahead of Miller and Rins, with Dovizioso the big loser dropping to fourth. The thrilling shenanigans allowed Espargaro and Marquez to join the podium battle, which quickly reduced in numbers as Miller’s machine gave up the ghost with 8 laps remaining and Rins crashed at turn 3 one lap later. The insane couple of laps left Petrucci with an almost three seconds advantage and Dovizioso was trying to recover that while getting harassed than Marquez and Espargaro, with Oliveira not too far back either.

The final five laps looked like the calm before the storm, Dovizioso dragging a four man group towards Petrucci. Marquez attacked Dovizioso at turn 6 with 3 laps remaining to lead the pursuit and try to bring down a 1.7 seconds deficit but everyone seemed to get a bit twitchy, helping Petrucci’s cause. Dovizioso seemed to be affected the most by tyre degradation, getting overtaken by Espargaro at turn three next time around and spending the last couple of laps fending off Oliveira.

Petrucci started the final lap one second ahead of Marquez, the Spaniard focused on keeping compatriot Espargaro at bay and the trio safely crossed the finish line to secure podium positions. Dovizioso had to settle for fourth, while Zarco, who was the fastest man in the closing stages of the race, overtook Oliveira at the final turn to claim fifth position. Nakagami and Stefan Bradl added two more Hondas to the damp mix in seventh and eighth spot, with Quartararo, Vinales and Mir engaging in battle on the final lap, the Frenchman finishing ahead of his title rivals in ninth position.

Despite the disappointing result, Quartararo extended his championship lead over Mir to 10 points, Dovizioso coming within 18 points and with Vinales another point back.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time/Diff
1 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 45'54.736
2 73 Alex Marquez Honda +1.273
3 44 Pol Espargaro KTM +1.711
4 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +3.911
5 5 Johann Zarco Ducati +4.310
6 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM +4.466
7 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda +5.921
8 6 Stefan Bradl Honda +15.597
9 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha +16.687
10 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha +16.895
11 36 Joan Mir Suzuki +16.980
12 33 Brad Binder KTM +27.321
13 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati +33.351
14 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia +39.176
15 27 Iker Lecuona KTM +51.087
  42 Alex Rins Suzuki +1'14.190
Not Classified
  43 Jack Miller Ducati 7 Laps
  21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 8 Laps
  35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 9 Laps
  53 Tito Rabat Ducati 12 Laps
  38 Bradley Smith Aprilia 18 Laps
Not Finished 1st Lap
  46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 0 Lap
Round Number: 
10
2020
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Comments

Seven different victor in nine races.

That was a good race!

Congratulations Danilo Petrucci and Alex Marquez! Marc said brother Alex was fast.

How fast are they in the wet? Very fast!

Jack Miller? I'm as disappointed as Jack was cranky! Bad luck strikes again. Three Ducatis in the top five, no doubt Miller is very unhappy.

Two KTMs in the top six & all four finished, good job in only their second wet race ever, iirc.

Suzuki good enough to push to the limit and then some. Mir still 2nd in the championship after all that excitement.

Interesting! So much to ponder. Going in for re-watches. After catching up on all the WSBK and BSB stuff. Marquez #2 was the only outlandish surprise. Glad to see our friend Vale didn't get speed bumped and only has to nurse his spirits. Was cheering Rins, wasn't surprised re his off then with open track pulling his awareness out forward. Fun to watch riders arrive at good pace after tip toeing around early stage. A few came from behind mid pack to get near the front. Enjoyable! Quartararo held it together, smart.

Join in enjoying BSB, it is tits.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MCEXh8Yh9EM&t=3600s

 

Thanks for th elink :-). Really good racing and a really nice track! They spend so much time on the edge of the tire! All the big brands. I always wonder why road racing in Britain still flourishes, all types of racing!, when virtually everywhere else, including world cahmpionships get it so wrong!

Fabio was their only point-scoring finish of the weekend. Six starters - seven points. They must be looking forward to some reliable new faces in the garage next year. Oh.

You are not allowed to ride over my foot. Rossi is beginning to believe in bad luck after two consecutive seasons of a hat trick of DNFs. It is easier to adopt a new belief than the alternative reality - that one is getting too old for the game and is losing their fine touch. It all fell apart in the autumn of 2015 and the reality since paints a clear picture.

Petrucci has said that racing is subconscious and that racing in the wet is more natural. He also wants those in his team to believe in him 100%. And yet, it is very difficult to adopt a belief that is in opposition with reality. It is through experiences that beliefs are formed. How to believe that a rider who produces middling results is not a mid-pack rider? Sounds hard. And how much do our beliefs define our reality?

Anyway...great to see the guy on the top step. And welcome to the newcomer to the motogp podium. Diversity is great!

Interesting what you say about Petrucci - logically it's almost the opposite of Honda's position. "If I can't get the results it must be the bike and not me". Unfortunately if you go down that road you end up unemployable like Max Biaggi did. Yesterday and Mugello aside, I can actually see why they are replacing Petrucci with Miller, he is clearly faster and maturing in a way I didn't think he would this year. 

Not that Ducati management are backing the guy, but if I was Dovi I might note that both of Petrucci's wins have come after fairly hard moves on me that ultimately have cost Dovi ground in championships where Petrucci simply isn't a player. Rins and Miller didn't help yesterday but one could argue Petrucci cost Dovi a podium. 

Surely it's down to the team to tell the rider to drop back?

Though I think that the business of psychometrics falls fairly regularly into abuse or psychobabble, here is a fairly verifiable fact for my bretheren contributors: apparently there is no correlation to be found across virtually all professions between one's confidence and one's capability. Now that may generally be true - for a test, think of the last super confident dummy you worked with, and we all have a few of those - but I reckon that with Moto, it's plain wrong. Others have written here about the absolute destruction of Tito Rabat's form, and it is not a stretch to trace that back to his horrendous injuries from that ridiculous attempt at white water rafting in the British GP. Similarly, of all people in the known universe, it seems to me that VR is stretching and making uncharacteristic mistakes. He has good pace in a couple of sessions every weekend at the moment and if he can wait for the flag would build some really consistent form again. So yeah I reckon confidence counts for something. And I for one suspect that MM will return with about 150% the grid average when we do see him again - but his record probably affords him that luxury. Thanks for the report Zara!

He's always made a handful of questionable choices each season, some of which he's gathered up and others which have punished his title chances.