Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo made an amazing start from pole position and immediately began to pull away as the lights went out at Le Mans for the fifth round of the MotoGP at Le Mans.
Elbows out at the start of the race
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) followed ahead of Pol Espargaro (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) at his team and sponsors’ home GP, but then Andrea Iannone (Ducati) got past and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) pushed the Spaniard out of the way to leave him in fifth.
Trouble for Rossi
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) was behind Pol and looking to get him before Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 2 Yamaha) got in his way and the two came into contact and meant Smith got past. This caused Rossi to lose momentum and so he lost another place, but he soon regained one when he got past Smith. It was not long until he reclaimed sixth from Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar).
Lorenzo had a lead of over half a second ahead of Dovizioso as they crossed the line to complete the first lap. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) had overtaken Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) to take tenth as they crossed the line, this made him the second fastest Honda rider on track ahead of the factory rider.
Soon after, Rossi made a move on Pol to claim fifth from the Tech 3 Yamaha rider. Then more bad luck came for Pol Espargaro as he made a mistake on the third lap which allowed his brother Aleix and his Suzuki teammate Maverick Vinales to both get past leaving him in eighth. Rossi was on a mission and set the fastest lap on lap four as he chased Marquez with a time of :33.293. This time was still three tenths slower than Lorenzo's record breaking qualifying time.
Disaster for many riders
After five laps Iannone got past Dovizioso, an important move as the decision has still not been made to determine who will remain with newly signed Jorge Lorenzo for next season. But then Iannone spoiled his chances of a contract renewal when crashed out of second position of the race at turn eight. He missed out on even more championship points with twenty-two laps remaining and although he remounted he eventually had to retire to the pits.
On the same lap Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) was forced to retire to the pits when his engine came to a halt. Crutchlow crashed out soon after Iannone at turn eleven was forced to retire. The following lap Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) came off at turn six and was unable to re-join, and then on the following lap Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) crashed out at turn four, again unhurt and unable to re-join the race.
Lorenzo led now ahead of Dovizioso, and Rossi was in pursuit of Marquez to claim third from him. They were followed by the two Suzukis led by Vinales and then the two Monster Tech 3 Yamahas led by Espargaro. Sixteen laps still remained as Pedrosa got past the Yamahas to claim seventh. Soon after on the same lap the crowd roared as Rossi got past Marquez to steal third in a clean and defensive move that forced Marquez out wide slightly so he lost a lot of pace. On the next lap the crowd roared even louder as Rossi got passed Dovizioso to claim second after starting seventh on the grid.
He now went on the hunt of his teammate Lorenzo who had a good lead, Dovizioso and Marquez kept tightly behind the Italian. Dovizioso looked to make an attempt on Rossi several times as Marquez appeared to be left behind on the Straights.
Poor Dovi! As he and Marquez crashed out
But then almost simultaneously with thirteen laps remaining at turn seven, Dovizioso and Marquez both slid off ending their race; the front end tucked on both of their bikes. It was as if there was something on the track, or Marquez had to bail to avoid hitting Dovizioso. Poor Dovizioso, another round with another DNF when his career is in jeopardy! Marquez was able to get his Honda back going and re-joined in fifteenth. Meanwhile Vinales was now set for a podium place ahead of Pedrosa now in fourth.
Disappointment for Smith in front of teams’ home crowd
Eight laps to go and Smith fell off and out of the seventh position in the race at turn seven; he looked so disappointed as he was forced to retire after coming of at the left hander that has caught many out over the weekend. Although he appeared unhurt, he was at the side of the track with his head down as he tried to come to terms with missing out on a great result in front of his teams’ home crowd.
Things settled after all the drama and everyone focused on just bringing it home. That was until the last lap when the battle for the place for the second fastest independent rider needed to be decided. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yaknich Ducati) was making his return since his incident at Qatar where he fell off and needed to have his right hand operated on where he had screws inserted to hold it together.
Petrucci tried to return in time for the next round in the championship at Argentina, but it was too soon for the Italian and he could not repeat as the stress his injured hand was put under just by riding, meant the screws came out and he was forced to have it operated on again. Since then Petrucci had to stay away and worked hard in rehabilitation to get back to a suitable fitness. Practice was the first time he had ridden since the second round and he looked strong and determined from the start.
On track, Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) was in pursuit of Petrucci who looked uncomfortable towards the end of the race. The Spaniard had caught the Italian and they almost came into contact on track. Barbera overtook, but he went wide slightly and Petrucci seized the opportunity and slotted straight back past him.
Lorenzo wins at Le Mans
The Spanish 2015 champion who broke the lap record with his qualifying time won comfortable with a lead of ten seconds on second place, his teammate Rossi. Vinales, who is surrounded by speculation as to whether he will go to Yamaha or stay at Suzuki, claimed the final spot on his first ever MotoGP podium in third.
Pedrosa claimed fourth position ahead of the top independent rider Pol Espargaro who finished fifth in fron of his team’s home GP. His brother Aleix brought the second Suzuki home in sixth position ahead of Petrucci who managed to keep Barbera at bay who crossed the line in eighth.
The two Aprilia Team Gresini riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl finished the race in ninth and tenth ahead of the top British rider Eugene Laverty (Aspar Team MotoGP) in tenth. Local boy Loriz Baz (Avintia Ducati) finished his home GP in twelfth ahead of Marquez who claimed three championships having finished the race in the last placed position of thirteenth. A third of the riders crashed leaving championship points available.
Lorenzo now leads the championship with eighty points after his win left him five points ahead of previous leader Marquez who is now second. Rossi is in third ahead of Pedrosa, Vinales and Pol Espargaro who is the highest placed independent rider in sixth.