The Moto3 race at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France at Le Mans proved to be spectacular. Never in my time have I ever witnessed so many riders fall at one time; how they all walked away without serious injuries could be considered a miracle.
Crash on the opening lap includes four riders
A ‘small’ pile-up with four riders at turn four on the opening lap of the fifth round of the Moto3 season in France, resulted in approximately 17 or more rider falling off or completely missing the corner at turn six, as it is thought that a recovered bike from the first incident, which would have your heart in your mouth anyway, left a trail of some substance that would prove slippery when the 250cc class next passed through.
Carnage broke out in Le Mans
The 2016 Le Mans Moto3 winner, Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) was leading ahead of pole position man, Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who was the first to go down briefly before he was joined by many others. Bikes and bodies were heading in every direction, and those who were lucky managed to dodge oncoming objects.
The mad scurry then began as riders ran to find their bikes and tried to return to the pits to get it repaired before the race was to begin again at a new distance of 16 laps, after the Quick Race Re-start procedure as completed. Some were delayed as they either required attention at the track side, or it was harder to return their only bike.
Grid resumed with original positions for restart
Original qualifying positions were used to determine the grid for the race start because of the carnage on the second lap before the flag. Everyone bar Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team), who retired after the first crash on the opening lap, made it to the grid for the second race. The lights got underway and once again Fenati and Martin pulled away while the rest of the pack sorted themselves out behind them.
Starting from eighth on the grid, and ending up fastest during the morning warm-up, championship leader, Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) muscled his way forward to the front of the group that followed the leaders, and once there worked on closing the gap between him and the front two. Both of those crashed out however, at different stages of the race, and left Mir to lead the way. He crossed the line as winner with a comfortable 4.252 second lead over the rest of the class.
Mir wins the Le Mans Moto3
Collecting another 25 points with his third win of the season, the Spaniard remains the championship leader with 99 points, 34 points ahead of second place Fenati who collected a DNF in France.
As usual in the Moto3 class, the battle for podium places resumed behind him and a large group formed, powered round the track and constantly switched places. After a lot of ‘argy bargy’ it seemed experienced paid as both Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) pushed their way to the front in the final stages of the race after fending off Platinum Bay Real Estate teammates, Marcos Ramirez and Darryn Binder who gave a fantastic performance.
Brave win for the Spaniard hurt in race one
Afterwards Mir admitted that Le Mans is a “circuit that [he] always liked” although he also revealed he “did not imagine this triumph after the first part of the race”. Discussing the incident he described how when he fell he “thought it was because of a bad tyre”. That was when he said he “turned and saw all those falling behind in one sequence”.
It seems he had a lucky escape as he confirmed that “one of the struck [him] at the leg”; when he “raised the bike and came back to the box” he spoke of how he was “in a lot of pain”. As a result he explained how he “paid a lot of attention going through turn six” where he noticed ahead of him when the race restarted that “Martin himself slipped shortly afterwards”.
He though that he “did not go very well” and as a result “after a few corners found [himself] back” where he was “in a full battle”. As he said that “Fenati and co were pushing ahead” he confirmed that he remained “calm” as he knew he had “good pace”. Instead he focused on “pushing to get him” knowing that the Italian was “on the limit”.
Canet second in Le Mans
Starting from 12th on the grid, Canet finished second after his late moves left the winner of the last round in Jerez on the second step of the podium. Collecting 20 points in Le Mans, means he is now third in the championship, two points behind Fenati on 63 points.
Canet described the “big crash after the start because of an oil spill” that he was also affected by. He spoke of how after it he “tried to stay calm” as he said he “always tries to be a calm rider in such situations”.
When the race restarted he explained how he “tried to ride with the front group” who he noticed had “established a small gap” however he found that it was “hard to reach the front”. He thought he was “rather far back” however he explained that he “recovered ground and on the last lap was up into third”.
Then he mentioned how “a crash for another rider gave [him] second place”, however talking from experience he “didn’t want to be first in that group” as he knew that in the Moto3 class there is “a good chance of losing position”; still, he knew he had to “close off the gaps”.
Describing finishing second on the podium, he thought it felt “like a win” as he is “loves the circuit”. He leaves France hoping that “working in this way” that for he and his team there will be “many more podiums to come”.
Di Giannantonio makes up for poor race restart completing podium in Le Mans
Completing the podium in third position, Italian rider Di Giannantonio collected 16 points which now leaves him on 51 points in sixth in the standings. He only seemed to turn up towards the end of the race, which is no surprise considering he started from 15th on the grid at the back of the fifth row.
Di Giannantonio felt that he “had a fantastic start the first time” however that he had a “terrible one at the restart”. When the race restarted he “chose not to take any risk on the first lap” as he feels that “everyone is so aggressive”. However then, “lap after lap” he was “able to make up some ground until [he] caught up with the group fighting for second place”.
The Italian Honda rider thought he “could pull away” and so he “decided to push a bit more”. He revealed that “a mistake on the last lap took away the chance for a second place finish”. Still, he was reassured that “given [their] starting position” that they “can be happy with the result”.