MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2014
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) continued his astonishing run of historic MotoGP victories with a stunning win at sunny Le Mans this afternoon. The 21-year-old reigning MotoGP World Champion won the French Grand Prix with a comfortable margin ahead of former champion Valentino Rossi (Yamaha), despite running off the track on the first lap, which forced him to fight back from tenth place.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) made it two Hondas on the podium with a storming ride to third that helped erase memories of a difficult start to his season. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) – both recovering from post-Jerez surgery to fix arm-pump problems – finished in fifth and seventh positions.
Marquez started from pole position – as he has done at every race so far this year – but he lost out in the long drag to Le Mans’ high-speed turn one. This was no real worry for the youngster who knew that he and his RC213V had the pace to run at the front. But at the tight Garage Vert double right-hander he ran right off the track when Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) ran slightly wide just ahead of him. That dropped Marquez a further four places.
His comeback was spectacular. Showing remarkable cool, he was soon the fastest man on track, passing Pedrosa, Bautista and Bradley Smith (Yamaha) in short order. On lap seven he rode right round the outside of early leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and established a new lap record as he set off in pursuit of the top three: Bradl, Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) and Rossi.
He took Bradl and Espargaro on consecutive laps at Turn Two, then rapidly closed the gap on leader Rossi, who made things easy for his young rival by running wide at the Esses Bleu just before half-distance, allowing Marquez into the lead for the first time. From there he fully controlled the race, stretching his lead to 3.4 seconds at the start of the last lap, which he ended by cruising across the finish line, 1.4 seconds in front of his childhood hero.
Marquez now has a perfect score of 125 points from the opening five races, the first time any rider has managed this since Giacomo Agostini in 1971, a different era of racing when Ago enjoyed a huge machinery advantage over his mostly privateer rivals. And he broke another record today, becoming the youngest rider to score five premier-class victories.
Bautista, who scored his first points of the year at Jerez after crashing out of the first three races, was delighted with third place, which he grabbed from Espargaro with ten laps to go.
Pedrosa fought a long duel with old rival Lorenzo, eventually leaving his compatriot behind and then closing right up on Espargaro in the final laps, despite issues with front-end grip. Without that concern he would undoubtedly have been closer to the front.
Bradl wasn’t happy with his seventh-place finish. The former Moto2 World Champion ran second for the first two laps and was confident of a strong ride following pre-race changes to his rear suspension, aimed at improving edge grip. In fact the modification had the opposite effect, robbing the German of grip and allowing several riders to pass him.
Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was the top finisher aboard Honda’s new production racer, the RCV1000R. It was another impressive display from the young rookie, who won last year’s Moto2 race at Le Mans, after a set-up change that allowed him to push deeper into the corners.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was happy enough with his weekend, but like many riders his performance suffered slightly in today’s warmer temperatures. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was happy to score the last point.
Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) was the fastest RCV1000R rider in yesterday’s qualifying sessions but his race lasted only a few seconds before he crashed out when Andrea Iannone (Ducati) collided with him on the exit of the third corner.
Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) won his second consecutive victory in the Honda-powered Moto2 race in fine style. Whereas he led from pole position to chequered flag without being challenged at Jerez, he had to work extra hard for this win, which reduced the points gap to team-mate and title leader Esteve Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex). Rabat himself finished a close third behind Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing, Forward Kalex) after fighting through from a slow start.
Starting from the second row, Kallio led in the early stages after seizing the lead from pole-starter Jonas Folger (AGR Team, Kalex) at La Chapelle on the first lap. He soon came under pressure from Corsi, who swept into first position on lap three. Aware that he could not make the break out front, Kallio was happy to sit behind Corsi for the next 15 laps, saving himself and his tires for a final push with six laps to go when he retook the lead at the Dunlop chicane. Riding faultlessly, he kept the five riders contesting second place well behind him and crossed the finish line more than a second ahead.
Corsi was chased over the line by Rabat, Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40, Kalex), Luis Salom (Pons HP 40, Kalex) and Folger, the five of them separated by less than three seconds at the finish.
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert, Suter), Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter), reigning World Supersport Champion Sam Lowes (Speed Up, Speed Up) and Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team, Kalex) completed the top ten.
Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) came within four corners of his first Moto3 win today, only to be knocked back to sixth place following a collision with race winner Jack Miller (KTM).
The race was a real thriller, with the top positions changing multiple times each lap as riders slipstreamed each other on Le Mans’ two long straights, then battled it out in the corners. Starting from pole position, Vazquez was in the fight from the very beginning until he lost several positions following a collision during the mid-stages of the race. He regrouped brilliantly and steadily moved back to the front, taking the lead again with three laps to go, thanks to the impressive speed of his NSF250R.
With more than half a dozen riders in the lead group, the last lap was sure to get busy and it did as Vazquez and Miller swapped the lead on several occasions. Vazquez made his bid for victory entering the final Esses Bleu where the Spaniard and the Australian made contact, pushing Vazquez completely off line.
That made Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) Honda’s top finisher in second place, less than a tenth behind Miller. Rins had led much of the race and at one point looked like escaping from the pack, but he was caught by his pursuers and just lost out in the last-lap skirmish. His team-mate Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) also showed strongly in the lead group and finished a very close fourth, less than half a second behind Isaac Vinales (KTM).
Two places behind Vazquez came his team-mate John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R), having another great ride. Fourth-fastest in qualifying, local star Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) finished ninth, just ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda NSF250R).
The MotoGP circus now travels south to Italy, where the championship will reach one-third distance with the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on June 1.
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|2||Valentino ROSSI (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|3||Alvaro BAUTISTA (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||F|
|4||Pol ESPARGARO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|5||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)||F|
|6||Jorge LORENZO (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP)||F|
|7||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)||F|
|8||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Ducati Team)||F|
|9||Aleix ESPARGARO (NGM Forward Racing)||O|
|10||Bradley SMITH (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)||F|
|11||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Ducati Team)||F|
|12||Scott REDDING (GO & FUN Honda Gresini)||O|
|13||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing)||F|
|14||Hiroshi AOYAMA (Drive M7 Aspar)||O|
|15||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)||O|
* F=Factory option, O=Open category
|1||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|2||Simone CORSI (NGM Forward Racing)|
|3||Esteve RABAT (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|4||Maverick VIÑALES (Pons HP 40)|
|5||Luis SALOM (Pons HP 40)|
|6||Jonas FOLGER (AGR Team)|
|7||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag carXpert)|
|8||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)|
|9||Sam LOWES (Speed Up)|
|10||Franco MORBIDELLI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|11||Marcel SCHROTTER (Tech 3)|
|12||Sandro CORTESE (Dynavolt Intact GP)|
|13||Randy KRUMMENACHER (IodaRacing Project)|
|14||Anthony WEST (QMMF Racing Team)|
|15||Hafizh SYAHRIN (Petronas Raceline Malaysia)|
|1||Jack MILLER (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|2||Alex RINS (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|3||Isaac VIÑALES (Calvo Team)|
|4||Francesco BAGNAIA (SKY Racing Team VR46)|
|5||Alex MARQUEZ (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|6||Efren VAZQUEZ (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|7||Enea BASTIANINI (Junior Team Go & FUN Moto3)|
|8||John MCPHEE (SaxoPrint-RTG)|
|9||Alexis MASBOU (Ongetta-Rivacold)|
|10||Jakub KORNFEIL (Calvo Team)|
|11||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (Ongetta-AirAsia)|
|12||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Mahindra Racing)|
|13||Danny KENT (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo)|
|14||Brad BINDER (Ambrogio Racing)|
|15||Philipp OETTL (Interwetten Paddock Moto3)|