Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) started the race from pole position after smashing the lap record in Moto2 qualifying at Le Mans, France. The German rider, who is now recovered from his double shoulder dislocation injury sustained in Qatar, got a brilliant start ahead of the rest of the field who were left to fight for positions behind him.
Luthi led the race from pole
Luthi led ahead of Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing). Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMISTU Honda Team Asia) followed ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) who started from thirteenth on the grid, and Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team).
Folger’s last season in Moto2
Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) was next in the pack; he has been fast but has crashed so many times. He also got a great start and was hoping for a great result after announcing his new contract with MotoGP team Monster Tech 3 Yamaha where he is set to replace Bradley Smith for one year.
The championship leader at the time Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresni Moto2) was behind Folger and ahead of Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) who was hoping to impress in front of his home crowd in Le Mans.
More bad luck for Folger
Despite starting from the fifth row Folger made a great start and forced Aegerter wide. Unfortunately his bad luck continued and on the second lap he crashed out of turn six when his bike ended up in the gravel trap after the front tucked. His fifth crash of the weekend.
Corsi had Nakagami and Morbidelli in his sights after Rins had previously overtaken them. Rins was now in pursuit of Luthi working hard to stop him from extending his lead any further.
Aegerter continued to battle on track, this time with Scrotter and it was not long before ‘Sideways Sam’ joined in on the battle, first overtaking Aegerter and then Schrotter. He then set his sights on catching up onto the lead group that had gotten away from him.
Battles on track as Simon crashes out
Rins soon got past Luthi to take the lead with 22 seconds remaining but not for long as Rins ran wide allowing Luthi to get back past. This change in momentum allowed Corsi, Morbidelli and Baldassarri to catch up. Rins eventually claimed the lead back from Luthi who then fell victim to Corsi and Baldassarri. Morbidelli remained behind the pack. Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) crashed out at turn eight with 19 laps remaining; fortunately he appeared unharmed.
Lowes collecting valuable championship points
Lowes continued to chase the lead pack out on his own and behind was a small gap followed by a group of ten riders now led by Schrotter. Seeing Lowes get away made Zarco respond and he soon got to the front of the pack in pursuit of the British rider. In the middle of the pack Hafitzh Syharin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) and rookie Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing) were commencing in a battle. At the same time Luthi and Baldassarri were sparring near the front of the field of riders.
The battle for fourth place continued
Luthi was determined not to have to accept fourth place and kept on applying pressure to the Italian. He soon got past, but the determined Baldassarri was not willing to settle either and responded by returning the pressure to Luthi. Unfortunately for the Italian though, he crashed at turn three of the circuit after he touched the kerb and his bike spun out landing in the middle of turn four, he was able to remount but was out of contention now which meant Luthi could relax in a podium position.
With three laps remaining Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) also crashed at turn seven after losing the front and sliding into the gravel. He was unhurt but the bike was too damaged to re-join. It was not long before the 2015 Moto2 Champion also crashed out at turn fourteen; desperate to have some success in front of his home crowd he picked his bike up and returned to the race.
The riders settled and the positions looked to be decided for everyone bar Nakagami who was in pursuit of Morbidelli. He appeared to be chipping away at the space between them. Unfortunately for Schrotter after losing two places to Syharin and Axel Pons (AGR Team), he made a mistake that cost him dearly, he lost several places which left him in 13th and then Aegerter took advantage pushing him further back.
Rins takes the win and the championship lead
Rins won the fifth round of the Moto2 Championship at Le Mans as the fastest Kalex crossing the line ahead of the fastest Speed Up rider Simone Corsi. Luthi had to settle for third ahead of Morbidelli, Nakagami and Lowes who was out on his own in sixth. Pons got past Syharin to finish in seventh and Oliveira finished as the fastest rookie in ninth.
Luis Salom (SAG Team) was in tenth ahead of Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team), Luca Marini (Forward Team) and Aegerter who finished in thirteenth ahead of Schrotter in fourteenth. Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) finished the race in fifteenth claiming the last championship point and as the fastest Tech 3 bike.
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) was just outside the points in sixteenth ahead of Baldassarri who finished in seventeenth after his earlier crash. Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten) was eighteenth ahead of the other British rider Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) in nineteenth. Zarco finished in twenty-fourth ahead of the only Suter ridden by Danny Eslick who is replacing JPMoto Malaysia’s Efren Vazquez who is currently injured.
Rins has now taken the championship lead from Lowes and is in front by five points after is win. Luthi is in third ahead of current champion Zarco, Folger and Corsi who is the highest placed out of the Speed Up riders.