Moto2: Marquez ends drought with Le Mans victory

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Alex Marquez has ended his win drought in the Moto2 class by taking a textbook victory at the French Grand Prix, leading almost from start to finish at Le Mans to take the chequered flag from a close scrap for second won by Jorge Navarro over Augusto Fernandez.

Speaking afterwards, Marquez said: “I’m so happy! It tastes so good to win again after such a long time. It was a tough race. I was constantly trying to control the gap to the riders behind. I had a really good first seven laps and after that I was more or less trying to keep my concentration. I was not thinking too much, just trying to make it flow on the bike. This is a ‘team win’ because we did a really good job during all of the preseason, and especially this weekend. There were three different conditions to consider and I changed the rear tyre for the race on the grid. Now in the championship we recovered important points. Now we need to maintain this rhythm that we have.”

More from the French Grand Prix

Brit Sam Lowes was a crasher in the race, one of many which included championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri. But it was a more successful day for fellow Brit Jake Dixon, with the rookie matching his best finish to date in 17th.

He said: “I am never happy to finish in this position and I think a 1.2 second penalty is harsh because I couldn’t do anything about the incident and I didn’t gain any time – in fact, it was the opposite. In the end I crossed the line sixteenth but with the penalty it’s seventeenth. I had a vibration on the front end from the first lap and I was struggling to get the bike stopped with a full tank. It improved and I got quicker as the tank got lighter, and I was pleased to set my best time on the last lap. We have work to do but it hasn’t been a bad weekend.”

Navarro makes it two poles from two

Jorge Navarro has made it two pole positions from two at the French Grand Prix, ending Saturday at the Le Mans circuit heading the front row of the grid from Tom Luthi and Alex Marquez – despite both first and second among the many fallers in tricky conditions.

Heavy rain just before the session left the track greasy, with dozens of fallers coming in the final minutes of the session. Replacement rider Mattia Pasini heads the second row in front of Xavi Vierge and Andrea Locatelli, while Lorenzo Baldassarri, Brad Binder, Lukas Tulovic and Marcel Schrotter rounded out the top ten.

However, there was disappointment for the Brits despite rookie Jake Dixon successfully making the move from Q1 to Q2. Running inside the top three in this morning’s wet session, he was left fustrated, saying: “I was second in Q1 with a lap time that would have put me on the front row if I had a tyre to do it again in Q2. For some reason there was a problem with the tyre – I had zero grip and a big vibration from the bike. After four laps I had to pull in because it was so dangerous. It’s my best qualifying of the year so far but I am not happy because the potential was so much higher. Thanks to the team for a great job and now we’ll see what tomorrow brings.”

It was no better for Sam Lowes, complaining of similar issues from the rear wet tyre and crashing in his session to end up 26th.

Binder goes fastest as KTM improves at Le Mans

Brad Binder has topped the opening day of moto2 action at Le Mans, as KTM finally starts to make progress with their Triumph-powered chassis after a rocky start to the 2019 season. Ending the day ahead of fellow Southern Hemisphere racer Remy Gardner and championship-leader Lorenzo Baldassarri, he was pleased with their progress.

“I am very happy because KTM upgrades have arrived and I felt much more comfortable. We’ve made gains with some points on the bike but we have also lost a bit in other aspects. It is important to stay clever now, keep pushing and make the best of it, in all the areas we can. I am satisfied with the work we’ve done, as it’s the best Friday of the season so far and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I hope the conditions stay dry, even though it looks like we might have to deal with a couple of rainy days ahead.”

With rain forecast for tomorrow, it could be a difficult day for Brit Sam Lowes, however. Left watching at the end of FP2 with a broken bike, he ended the day outside the Q2 relegation zone in 15th. Fellow Brit Jake Dixon was 29th overall on his return from injury.

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer