Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0) won his fourth Moto2 race of the season and ever, when he won in the 600cc race at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France in Le Mans, in the finishing ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Interwetten).
Record breaking pole for Luthi in Le Mans
It was Luthi who initially led the race after the pole position man, who broke his own record when he went quickest during Qualifying, took advantage of his front row start however immediately he was under pressure. He lost his lead by turn 10 to Morbidelli who was desperate to make up for collecting a DNF when he crashed out in Jerez.
The two continued on as behind them Bagnaia made his way past injured winner of the previous round in Jerez, Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) to claim third. It was not plain sailing for the Italian however as Marquez retaliated on lap three but on the seventh lap was able to make his move stick.
Luthi leads once again before being forced into a mistake
By this stage, Luthi had taken the lead at the chicane of turns three and four but Morbidelli retaliated later on in the lap. On the following lap Luthi replicated his move once again which proved more successful. However his lead once again slipped from his grasp when Morbidelli again passed him, forcing the German rider wide at turn six when they almost touched.
When Luthi regathered his momentum he found himself down in fourth as Bagnaia and Marquez had bypassed him. The continued on, and on the 16th lap Luthi looked threatening, and four laps later passed the Spaniard.
Ahead of him, Bagnaia was pushing, and setting personal best lap times was able to reduce the gap between him and race leader, Morbidelli. He could not keep up the pace however and eventually dropped off ever so slightly.
Morbidelli collects fourth Moto2 win
Morbidelli won his fourth race when he emerged victorious in Le Mans. He remains the championship leader now on 100 points with a comfortable 20 point lead despite his DNF in Jerez. To add to his achievements, he managed to set the new Moto2 Circuit Record Lap on lap 2 with a time of 1:36.836; reducing Luthi’s previous time by 0.445.
The Italian was “really happy” especially as he felt it was “important to make a good race” according to him after what he referred to as his “bad Sunday in Jerez”. Apparently he “wasn’t planning to win”, instead he “just wanted to stay with Luthi, Bagnaia and Alex” as he noticed that they “had a strong pace in practice”.
However, he found that “from the start” that he had “confidence and trust” in his bike and so he “decided to push and go for the win”. He went on to thank his team “for all the work to allow [him] to do this”.
Extraordinary performance from the rookie
Another fantastic performance from the Italian rookie, Bagnaia saw him collect his second podium and his best, and his rookie team’s best ever result in the Moto2 class. Earning himself another 20 points in the championship, Bagnaia is fifth with 53 points as the highest placed rookie looking very much like he is on his way to becoming ‘Rookie of the Year’.
The rookie admitted afterwards that he found it to be “a very difficult race”. Prior to the race he knew that he “had to be calm”, had he not he said “otherwise the tyres would have ripped too fast”. So, he “tried not to push too much” and then when he “saw Marquez and Luthi in trouble”, both he and Morbidelli “opened a nice gap”. However he found the “last laps was hard to pick him up”.
This did not stop him when he “took a risk at the start of the chicane” but then he “decided to settle” for second “even if [they] missed those seconds for the win”.
Luthi could not help but be disappointed
Luthi’s third position in Le Mans gained him 16 points which means he is now on 80 points in the championship where he is placed second. Luthi remains the record lap holder as he completed the best ever Moto2 lap time in Le Mans when he gained pole with his time of 1:36.548.
Luthi spoke how he was “obviously happy with this podium” after what he described to be a “difficult Spanish Grand Prix”. He said it felt “nice” however he said it was “also true” that he was left feeling “disappointed” as on race day he “had to battle with [his] bike a lot”.
Prior to the race, he felt that “the whole weekend” that he had a “better feeling than during the race”, and when looking for a reason why he considered it was “maybe due to the increased temperature”.
Moving on, he felt that the test after the race would be “important to better understand what might have happened and the prepare for the next Grand Prix in Mugello”. Looking forward to the next round he declared, “I love that track” however he suspected that his “Italian friends will be very strong there once again”.