Marc Marquez has taken a stunning victory in the French Grand Prix, leaving his opponents in his dust despite an early challenge from Jack Miller. Breaking the Australian at Le Mans, he was able to make his escape and leave Miller to get picked off by the factory Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.
Taking Honda's 300th premier class in the process, Marquez said afterwards: “Of course here in Le Mans it’s always difficult with the temperature and the weather, especially today. I think this is the first time I have had a race where I had the soft tyre in the front but it was the safest option. I was focused on being consistent until I saw the gap increasing, I pushed a little bit more and into the low 32s until I saw I had two seconds. I’m happy with today’s result and it is fantastic to be able to take Honda’s 300th premier class win!”
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Valentino Rossi was fifth behind Miller, ahead of a strong performance for Pol Espargaro - the first day that KTM has had four riders in the points. Cal Crutchlow was 9th, unhappy with his result after a poor qualifying.
“A disappointing day in terms of the result, I didn’t come here to finish ninth this weekend. So I’m disappointed in terms of where I finished, but the positive we have to take is that we got some more valuable data on the bike. Overall, I didn’t feel comfortable with the setting of the bike and the feeling I had with the bike and the tyres this afternoon, so we need to improve and work on that. We qualified in 15th and that always makes it difficult, but I got a good start and was ninth on the first lap and then finished ninth in the race. I wanted to reduce the gap to the leaders a little bit, but that was not possible today, so we’ll try again in Mugello. Congratulations to HRC for the incredible success of the 300 victories: I am proud to be part of it!”
Marquez survives qualifying crash to take pole
Marc Marquez has survived a crash in qualifying to lead tomorrow's grid for the French Grand Prix, taking the top spot at Le Mans from Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller. Marquez was one of a group of fallers in the session, but setting a time early in the session as conditions deteriorated means he was able to survive in front until the flag.
Speaking afterwards, he said: “Today was one of those days! The conditions meant you didn’t know if a slick or a wet tyre would be best with the light rain, it was really difficult. In Qualifying we knew we had to push on the first lap when there was the least water on track. Then with more water on track it got more difficult. I’m happy with this pole because it was a day where you could easily start from the back if you weren’t careful. Now we see what the weather does tomorrow!”
Andrea Dovizioso led the second row from an impressive result for Q1 qualifier Valentino Rossi and his fellow Italian Franco Morbidelli, with Takaaki Nakagami, Jorge Lorenzo, Aleix Espargaro and local Fabio Quartararo all inside the top ten.
Cal Crutchlow will start from 15th though, timing his Q1 run badly as the rain came down and after a crash in FP2 left him fighting for the promotion spot in the first place.
Viñales from Marquez on tense day one
Predicted rain on day two of the French Grand Prix has saw a high-stakes crescendo to the opening action at Le Mans, with Maverick Viñales come out ahead of Marc Marquez in a tense practice session that saw many big names fail or fall. Joined on the front row of the grid by another impressive performance by home hero and rookie Fabio Quartararo, Viñales says he’s happy with the work done so far.
“It's been a very positive start to the weekend for me. I think we found our set-up very fast, so I was able to make many laps and I felt quite good with the bike. I have good feeling, also with the tyres, but anyway we need to keep working. There are still some places where I need to improve, also concerning my riding style, so tomorrow I have a lot of work to do. Let's see what the weather will be like, because it seems to be uncertain.
“We will have to pay close attention in qualifying, because it will play an important role in being able to be in front during the race. For sure, we'll have to make quick decisions. I haven't ridden the bike in full wet yet, but in Austin I felt great on the wet tyres. So, I think tomorrow it will be important to understand in which direction to work and how to improve.”
Jorge Lorenzo impressed to take fourth on the Repsol Honda ahead of the factory Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, but behind them chaos reigned, with crashes for Cal Crutchlow, Aleix Espargaro, and twice for Jack Miller and Pol Espargaro. The final order saw Crutchlow join Miller and Valentino Rossi outside the top ten – and unlikely to progress to Q2 with tomorrow morning’s forecast for rain.