MotoGP Le Mans: Jack Miller produces a masterpiece to seal second victory of 2021
Jack Miller secured his second consecutive victory of the 2021 MotoGP season after mastering extremely tricking conditions at Le Mans.
The Australian bounced back from two double long lap penalties, given for speeding in pit-lane, and managed his wet tyres perfectly in the drying conditions to win in France. Miller was struggling in the latter stages due to having the softer wet rear tyre, but still crossed the line with a 3.970s advantage over Johann Zarco.
Miller becomes the first Australian to win back-to-back premier class races since two-time world champion Casey Stoner in 2012.
As predicted, it turned out to be a completely unpredictable and crazy race due to the ever-changing weather conditions at Le Mans. The grid began on slick tyres; however, the rain began to fall on the third lap and the field came in to swap bikes.
The rain didn't last long and with the high winds surrounding the track, the tarmac began to dry. With seven laps to go sunshine and blue skies filled could be seen across the home straight. It became a race of attrition on the wet tyres.
Zarco was the man on the move in the closing stages, closing in and overtaking Fabio Quartararo with ease on his medium wet tyres. Despite his best efforts, the Frenchman was unable to catch Miller and seal his fairy tale victory at his home race.
Quartararo came home in third to ensure that both French riders would appear on the podium. Quartararo also had to take a long lap penalty after pulling into the wrong side of the garage when swapping bikes.
Quartararo takes the lead of the championship and holds a one-point lead over Francesco Bagnaia. Zarco is 12 points behind Quartararo in third spot, with Miller a further four points back in fourth.
Bagnaia was fourth on the second factory Ducati machine. Like Miller, Bagnaia was handed a double long lap penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his bike swap.
Danilo Petrucci produced another positive wet weather performance to finish fifth for Tech3 KTM. It's his best result for the team so far and follows his victory in similar conditions at last year's French GP.
Alex Marquez, who clinched his first MotoGP podium at Le Mans last year, was sixth ahead of LCR Honda teammate Takaaki Nakagami. Pol Espargaro bounced back from a huge moment in the early stages to finish eighth, with Iker Lecouna pipping Maverick Vinales to ninth as the pair crossed the line.
Valentino Rossi was 11th ahead of brother Luca Marini, with Brad Binder, Enea Bastianini and Tito Rabat taking the final points of the race.
Franco Morbidelli's race came to an end on the opening lap when he went in too deep at turn 11. The Italian attempted to dive down the inside of Pol Espargaro but had to take avoiding action to miss the back of the Honda rider and Rossi. Morbidelli looked to be in some discomfort with his already injured knee in the aftermath.
As the rain began to fall Joan Mir crashed out whilst on his way to swap bikes. Moments later his Suzuki teammate Alex Rins fell at turn four after exiting the pits on his wet machine.
Lorenzo Savadori's impressive weekend came to a premature end with a mechanical problem. Smoke could be seen coming from his Aprilia RS-GP. Moments later Miguel Oliveira became the latest rider to crash at turn three, falling from ninth spot.
Rins would soon have his second fall of the race. This time the Suzuki rider crashed at turn three and was visibly frustrated afterwards. A few laps later Marc Marquez had his second crash of the race. The Repsol Honda rider fell coming down La Chapelle and, like Rins, was clearly angry with his day.
Moto2 Le Mans: Raul Fernandez secures second victory of 2021
First published: 16 May 2021 at 12:18 by Josh Close
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider led most of the race after taking the lead away from Marco Bezzecchi in the early stages. Fernandez was able to manage his pace and tyres perfectly, pulling away from teammate Remy Gardner in the last couple of laps.
Gardner may have been able to pose a bigger threat had he not clashed with Xavi Vierge at turn three on the opening lap. Nevertheless, Gardner continues his superb consistency and keeps the lead of the championship by a single point ahead of Fernandez.
Bezzecchi finished third to take his second consecutive podium. The Italian ran wide at turn eight on lap 20, allowing Gardner to slip down the inside of him. Bezzecchi has finished inside the top six in every race so far in 2021.
Rookie Tony Arbolino secured his best result so far in fourth spot, crossing the line ahead of Bo Bendsneyder and Marcel Schrotter. Ai Ogura ensured that there were three rookies inside the top seven on the Idemitsu Honda Team Asia machine.
Fabio Di Giannantonio fought back from two long lap penalties to finish eighth. Di Giannantonio was given his first penalty following a collision with Hector Garzo at turn 11. He then cut the entrance to the long lap route and went wide, leading to a second penalty.
Veteran Simone Corsi and Jorge Navarro completed the top 10, with Somkiat Chantra (11th) and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (12th) falling back in the last few laps.
Aron Canet suffered a huge crash at turn nine on the opening lap, falling out of third position. Canet was able to walk away from the scene of the incident but was taken to the medical centre for a check-up.
Moments later Augusto Fernandez crashed out of the third place that he'd inherited from Canet. The Elf Marc VDS rider hit the deck at turn 11 on lap two. On the following lap Stefano Manzi crashed at turn seven after running in too deep. Manzi was in 11th when he fell out of the race. Debutant Alonso Lopez crashed out at turn 10 on lap three.
The 2021 title fight took another huge twist on the following lap when Sam Lowes lost the front heading into turn eight. The Brit was going down the inside of Xavi Vierge and ended up taking the Petronas Sprinta Racing rider out with him.
Joe Roberts crashed out of second in spectacular fashion on lap five when he carried too much speed heading down into turn nine. The American was trying to fend off Raul Fernandez but almost hit the back of Bezzecchi.
Thomas Lüthi was the next rider to retire from the race. The Swiss rider crashed out at turn eight on lap 15. There was heartbreak for Cameron Beaubier with five laps remaining, with the American becoming yet another victim at turn three. Beaubier was on course for his best result so far in Moto2, falling from sixth spot.
Jack Dixon finished 19th on his return to action following his absence from the Spanish GP due to a concussion.
Moto3 Le Mans: Sergio Garcia takes victory in mixed conditions
First published: 16 May 2021 at 11:02 by Josh Close
Garcia stayed out of trouble in the opening stages of the race and both he and Filip Salac were able to open a comfortable gap over the rest of the field. Garcia made a mistake at turn eight on lap 13 and momentarily lost the lead to Salac but fought back immediately and retook top spot heading over the line to start the next lap.
It's Garcia's first victory since the 2019 season finale at Valencia, whilst it's Salac's first-ever Grand Prix podium. The duo were joined on the rostrum by another first-time podium finisher, Riccardo Rossi. The Italian had a relatively quiet race in third but reacted perfectly to the threat that John McPhee posed in the final couple of laps.
McPhee was the fastest rider in the last few laps but had just left it a little too late to fight for the final podium position. Nevertheless, it's a much-needed result for the Scot, who had failed to score a single point heading into today's race.
Ayumu Sasaki completed the top five ahead of Adrian Fernandez and Xavier Artigas. Rookie sensation Pedro Acosta bounced back from a crash on the infamous turn three on the third lap to finish eighth. The 16-year-old remounted down in 21st but wasn't fazed. Acosta's maturity and race craft is that of a rider much older and more experienced than he is, and it paid off for him today.
Deniz Öncü and Romano Fenati completed the top 10, with polesitter Andrea Migno finishing 11th. Migno ran off track in the early stages, before losing out to Öncü with three laps remaining.
Title contender Niccolo Antonelli was the first rider to crash out of the race. The Italian suffered a highside coming out of the final corner on the opening lap.
Moments later Tatsuki Suzuki hit the deck at turn six. That's seven DNFs in the last nine races for the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider. Jeremy Alcoba was the next faller on the second lap, crashing out at turn seven.
Red Bull KTM Ajo's Jaume Masia was the next to go at turn 14 at the end of the second lap, with Gabriel Rodrigo crashing at turn eight on the third lap. Masia was taken to the medical centre following his incident. Wildcard entrant Takuma Matsuyama was the third rider to fall at the final corner on lap four.
Kaito Toba's fell on lap seven when he suddenly lost control of the front going down La Chapelle (turn six). Darryn Binder became turn three's latest victim on the ninth lap, falling out of sixth spot, but was able to remount. However, the South African was unable to score points for the third consecutive race, crossing the line in 20th spot.
Carlos Tatay, who was forced to start from the back of the grid after falling on his out lap, returned to his garage to retire at the end of lap 14.
Today's results mean that Acosta now has a 54-point advantage over Garcia in the standings heading into round six of the 2021 season at Mugello.
Moto2 Le Mans: Raul Fernandez clinches maiden intermediate class pole
First published: 15 May 2021 by Josh Close
Fernandez's fastest lap-time of 1:50.135 was 0.240s quicker than closest rival Marco Bezzecchi, with the Red Bull KTM Ajo mastering the mixed weather conditions which has been plaguing riders all day in France.
Bezzecchi secured second spot with his final flying lap of the session, knocking Joe Roberts down to third. It's the best qualifying result for both riders so far in 2021, with Roberts having to fight his way through Q1 earlier in the afternoon.
Aron Canet leads the second row ahead of Augusto Fernandez and Bo Bendsneyder, whilst title challenger Remy Gardner qualified seventh. The Aussie was over a second slower than polesitter, and teammate, Fernandez.
Hector Garzo secured his best qualifying result of the year in eighth, with teammate Stefano Mazni and Sam Lowes completing the top 10. It's Lowes' worst Saturday performance of the season so far and the Brit has plenty of work to do tomorrow afternoon.
Jerez race winner Fabio Di Giannantonio also struggled in Q2 and will start tomorrow's race from 15th on the grid.
Elsewhere, Nicolo Bulega (11th) Marcel Schrötter (14th), Ai Ogura (16th), Simone Corsi (17th) and Jorge Navarro (18th) all crashed. Ogura fell at turn seven, whilst Schrötter and Navarro crashed at turns 14 and eight respectively.
Tony Arbolino narrowly missed out on a spot in Q2 and will therefore start the race from 19th on the grid ahead of Somkiat Chantra and Lorenzo Dalla Porta. However, Chantra has been handed a six-place grid penalty for crashing whilst not respecting a yellow flag during FP2.
Jake Dixon will start 26th on his return to action. The Brit missed the race at Jerez with a concussion following a crash during the warmup. Rookies Cameron Beaubier, Albert Arenas and Celestino Vietti will start 24th, 25th and 28th respectively.
Tomorrow's Moto2 race is scheduled to start at 11:20am (UK Time).
MotoGP Le Mans: Fabio Quartararo pips Maverick Vinales to take pole
First published: 15 May 2021 at 14:12 by Josh Close
With only a few seconds remaining it looked like Honda were going to lockout the front row, with Marc Marquez taking his first pole since making his return. However, there was still time for riders to improve, with the rain once again disappearing.
Vinales went top with a 1:32.681 but it wasn't enough. Quartararo would go 0.081s faster with his lap-time of 1:32.600 to take pole for his home race. It's his second consecutive pole position at Le Mans, whilst it's the first time since Mugello 2017 that the factory Yamaha team has achieved a one-two in qualifying.
Jerez race winner Jack Miller was the final rider to cross the line and moved up into third on the factory Ducati. Franco Morbidelli (4th) and Johann Zarco (5th) were also late improvers in Q2.
Marquez ended up in sixth spot after his earlier heroics in the mixed conditions. Takaaki Nakagami qualified seventh ahead of Pol Espargaro. The latter was on another flying lap in the closing stages but crashed out of the session.
Valentino Rossi was ninth for Petronas Yamaha but will be slightly disappointed having been one of the first to venture out on dry tyres. The Italian's best lap in the early stages was ruined at the final corner when he was nearly thrown over the handlebars.
Miguel Oliveira, who suffered a crash, completed the top 10 ahead of the superb Lorenzo Savadori, who enjoyed his best day yet as a MotoGP rider. The Aprilia rider topped Q1 despite crashing at the final corner in the first few minutes. Savadori ran to the garage to swap bikes and was duly rewarded. Luca Marini rounded out the Q2 riders in 12th after also making it through Q1.
Aleix Espargaro failed to make it out of Q1 after appearing to celebrate prematurely after going top with what turned out to be his final flying lap. The Spaniard could have posted another lap.
It was a disappointing day for Suzuki with reigning champion Joan Mir and Alex Rins both missing out on a spot in Q2. Mir will start tomorrow's race from 14th, just ahead of Rins in 15th spot.
Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia also has plenty of work to do tomorrow afternoon. The factory Ducati rider will start the French Grand Prix from 16th on the grid.
Tech3 KTM duo Danilo Petrucci and Iker Lecouna will start the team's home race from 17th and 18th respectively, with Alex Marquez in 19th for LCR Honda. Marquez crashed at turn six in the closing stages of Q1.
Tito Rabat also fell in the last few seconds of the session and qualified 20th, ahead of Brad Binder and Enea Bastianini.
Tomorrow's MotoGP race is due to begin at 13:00 (UK Time).
Moto3 Le Mans: Andrea Migno takes pole with mixed weather masterclass
First published: 15 May 2021 at 12:32 by Josh Close
The rain began to fall just as the green flags were waved to signify the start of Q2, with everybody making a swift return to the pits to swap to wet tyres and wet weather bike setups.
Typically for Le Mans, just as the riders remerged the sun began to appear once more. The first two sectors of the lap were reasonably dry, with Migno attempting to set a lap-time on slicks.
Migno continued to improve lap by lap as the circuit began to dry out, and his tyres began to rise in temperature. The Rivacold Snipers Team rider's fastest lap-time was a 1:47.407, which was an astonishing two seconds faster than Riccardo Rossi in second. It's Migno's second pole of 2021 following his success at Portimao.
Meanwhile, it's Rossi's first front-row start in Moto3. The Italian bounced back from a fall in the opening seconds of Q2 when he collided with Niccolo Antonelli at turn 12. Rossi had momentarily stolen pole away from Migno.
Jaume Masia completed the front row for Red Bull KTM Ajo, with John McPhee missing out by only 0.029s in fourth spot. The Scot is joined on the second row by Gabriel Rodrigo and Antonelli.
Filip Salac and Sergio Garcia with seventh and eighth respectively, with Tatsuki Suzuki, who topped Q1, and Romano Fenati completing the top 10. Darryn Binder could only manage 16th on the second Petronas Sprinta Racing machine, whilst Jeremy Alcoba and Dennis Foggia were 17th and 18th respectively.
Championship leader Pedro Acosta failed to make it through Q1 and will start tomorrow's race from 21st on the grid. Of course, the Spaniard won't be overly worried given that he won from a pit-lane start in Qatar.
Kaito Toba and Carlos Tatay narrowly missed out on a spot in Q2, qualifying in 19th and 20th respectively. Wildcard entry Takuma Matsuyama qualified 25th on his maiden qualifying session and crashed in the closing seconds at turn 12.
Xavier Artigas did not attempt to qualify following his crash at turn 10 in FP3 this morning.
Tomorrow's Moto3 race is scheduled to begin at 10am (UK Time).
MotoGP Le Mans: Johann Zarco leads a French one-two on day one
First published: 14 May 2021 by Josh Close
Zarco posted a best lap-time of 1:31.747 was enough to pip Quartararo to top spot by 0.095s. Quartararo was one of many fallers at turn three during FP2, which was held in dry conditions, with the Yamaha rider falling due to a drop in tyre temperature on the previous lap.
Related articles from MCN
- ITV to broadcast 2021 British Grand Prix
- Sachsenring remains the home of the German GP
- 2021 Grand Prix of Finland cancelled
Maverick Vinales completed the top three on the second Monster Energy Yamaha M1. The Spaniard bounced back from a fall during FP1, hitting the deck at turn four.
Pol Espargaro enjoyed one of his best days so far as a Repsol Honda rider. The Spaniard ended the opening day as the fastest Honda rider in fourth spot and was just 0.390s off the pace set by Zarco.
Franco Morbidelli made it three Yamahas inside the top five on his 2019 A-Spec M1, ahead of KTM's Miguel Oliveira and Jerez race winner Jack Miller. The latter had a lap cancelled during FP2 moments before crashing at turn seven.
Marc Marquez was eighth, whilst Valentino Rossi had a much-needed positive session in ninth spot. If it rains tomorrow, Rossi will find himself in an automatic Q2 spot. Takaaki Nakagami completed the top 10 for LCR Honda.
It was a tough day for Suzuki's Alex Rins and Joan Mir, with both riders currently outside the automatic Q2 spots. Rins crashed at turn three on his way to 11th overall, whilst Mir crashed at turn eight and ended the day in 13th.
Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia was 12th overall following his own crash at turn three, the same corner which also claimed Aleix Espargaro's Aprilia RS-GP (14th) during FP2.
Brad Binder ended Friday down in 16th ahead of Alex Marquez. The younger Marquez brother crashed at turn three during FP1.
Saturday’s FP3 session is due to begin at 08:55 and will be followed by FP4 at 12:30. Q1 is scheduled for 13:10, with Q2 taking place at 13:35.