Le Mans MotoGP Results 2019
MotoGP Race – 27 laps, 112. 995 km
Marc Marquez took his Repsol Honda to victory at today’s French GP – his third win of the season, and a landmark 300th premier-class win for Honda.
Le Mans MotoGP Results 2019
But while he was dominant in the latter half of the race, he didn’t have it all his own way. In the early laps, he was pushed back into second by on-form satellite-team Ducati rider Jack Miller, who had also started from the front row of the grid.
Miller succumbed again after two laps in the lead, but it took factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso until lap 17 before he could get past the younger rider.
By the end, Dovi had to resist a late charge from his team-mate Danilo Petrucci, with Miller still close, himself holding Valentino Rossi’s Monster Yamaha at bay.
The race was run in dry but cold conditions, with all but one rider choosing Michelin’s soft tyres front and rear – the exception was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda), with a medium front. He crashed out, spoiling a run of top-ten finishes.
“It’s always difficult at Le Mans, with the temperature. I think that was my first race with the soft front,” said Marquez, who extended his championship lead. “When I saw the gap was growing I pushed harder, then I could ease back.”
There was close racing behind the top five, with Pol Espargaro claiming KTM’s best dry-weather result in sixth, taking the benefit of an all-new carbon-fibre swinging arm, and less than three seconds behind Rossi.
He had gradually outpaced satellite Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli; but it was the second Petronas rider who rewarded the home crowd with an excellent ride. A bad first lap left new fast Frenchman Fabio Quartararo down in 15th, but he set fastest lap of the race as he forged through to an eventual eighth.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) completed the top ten.
Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha) was one of the big losers. A bad start saw him circulating in 14th, until he was knocked down and out by Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) on only the eighth lap, dealing his dwindling title hopes a heavy blow.
Marquez now has 95 points to Dovizioso’s 87, with Rins on 75, then Rossi (72) and Petrucci (67).
Moto2 Race – 25 laps, 104.625 km
Alex Marquez took his EG-VDS Kalex to a copybook first win since 2017, stamping authority on a race that saw championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) stretchered off after crashing out of fifth place on only the second lap.
Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) led away, but after Marquez took over on lap three the Swiss veteran dropped back. Second EG-VDS rider Xavi Vierge had a spell in second, before Simone Corsi (Tasca Kalex) came through, only to slip off on lap ten.
By the finish, second was bitterly disputed between second Flexbox rider Augusto Fernandez and Jorge Navarro (Speed Up), with the latter finally taking it on the last lap by seven tenths of a second.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) snitched fourth ahead of Vierge with two laps to go, six seconds adrift of the winner.
Another two seconds away, Luthi managed to hold off rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex), who had taken second Dynavolt rider Marcel Schrotter on the last lap. Iker Lecuona (American Racing) was still close, but erstwhile companion Nocolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex) was six seconds adrift in tenth, after leaving the party with a dramatic high-speed run across the gravel with seven laps to go.
Second American Racing rider Joe Roberts, the only US rider in any class, claimed his first points of the season in strong ride, finishing 14th after a long battle with 13th-placed former winner Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex)
Baldassarri brought down substitute rider Mattia Pasini (Petronas Kalex), with front-running Corsi and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) also on the crash list, along with Sam Lowes (Federal Oils Kalex).
Baldassarri still leads on 75 points, then Luthi (68). Navarro (54), Marquez (61) and Schrotter (56).
Moto3 Race – 22 laps, 92.070 km
The first race did not disappoint in its usual serving of thrills and variety, the pack closing up at the end for a fraught final lap – with Scotsman John McPhee at the front of it at the end. He had been also at the beginning, but had to fight to regain the position, as second-placed Lorenzo Dalla Porto pushed his Leopard Honda briefly ahead of the Petronas Honda.
The top ten were all over the line inside two seconds, with the inevitable moments of contacts through the tight corners.
Third-placed Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) got the best of it, after colliding and ending the hopes of rookie Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), who had come through to challenge for the lead in a remarkable rider from an erstwhile 12th, then out of the leading pack.
This left Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Honda) in fourth, ahead of erstwhile leader Andrea Migno (Bester KTM), Toba, Celestino Vietti (SKY VR46 KTM), Kazuki Masaki (BOE KTM) and late-comers Jakub Kornfeil (Redox KTM) and Raul Fernandez (Sama KTM) in tenth.
Argentine GP winner Jaume Masia (Bester KTM) came through from 23rd on the Grid to cross the line eighth, but a 2.2-second penalty for exceeding track limits dropped him to 12th.
There were only 17 finishers after many crashes – two notable victims being long-time leader Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) and Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda), after the first-named fell under Arbolino’s front wheels shortly after half-distance.
Canet extended his points lead on 74, Dalla Porta moved to second on 50, with Jerez winner Antonelli on 57, after crashing out today. Toba has 51, Masia 49.
Wacky Le Mans weather made for exciting qualifying … but with no surprise about the name at the top. Repsol Honda rider Marc Marquez took a third pole in five races.
Le Mans MotoGP Results 2019
It was achieved in some style, on a track too damp for slicks but not really wet enough for predictable performance from wet tyres. Marquez set the time early in the session, fell off on his next lap, but picked the bike up and carried on for the full 15 minutes without pitting. And, more importantly, without having to defend his time, as the spots of rain got slightly but steadily heavier.
“Today was one of the most difficult days,” he said. “I knew my first time was good, then I had a small crash, but I continued riding to try to understand the track.”
Danilo Petrucci claimed his first front row since joining the factory Ducati team, less than four tenths slower, and five hundredths ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller, who had also set an early time, then crashed unhurt at the end. “Conditions were best at the start, and I crashed when I tried to improve,” he said.
He still managed to keep Andrea Dovizioso’s factory Ducati in fourth, to lead row two from Valentino Rossi, after the veteran Monster Yamaha rider came through from Q1 with trademark race-craft. While his Q1 rivals went out on wet tyres on a gradually deteriorating track, Rossi risked slicks, and set a time that proved unbeatable.
Rossi, team-mate Maverick Vinales and Petronas Yamaha rider Fabio Quartararo risked slicks for the start of Q2, but were straight into the pits to change to wets.
It was second Petronas rider Franco Morbidelli, also through from Q1, who placed sixth to complete the second row.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) heads the third from Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia). Rookie Quartararo, fastest on Friday morning, was tenth, ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales, fastest on Friday afternoon, but whose switch to wet tyres yielded no reward in Q2.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM) crashed before setting a lap time, and will start from 12th.
Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) was best of the rest to head row five from Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), both narrowly failing to escape from Q1.
Another victim of the conditions was Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki), whose hopes of a third successive podium were dealt a blow when he qualified 19th, one place down on rookie team-mate Joan Mir.
Coming through from Q1 proved an advantage in Moto2, giving familiarity with the track and the conditions to top two qualifiers Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) and Thomas Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex). This helped their speed, but didn’t save both of them from crashing, so they had to make their way to parc ferme on foot.
It was Navarro’s second pole in a row, and like all he spoke of how difficult the conditions were. “I made some improvement from Q1 to Q2, but when I crashed I was on the limit, so it is always possible,” he said.
They were joined on the front row by Alex Marquez (EG VDS Kalex), who had managed, if only narrowly, to stay upright. Not so Mattia Pasini, heading row two in this third substitute rider in a third team in three races. Here he is back on a Kalex, in place of injured Petronas rider Khairul Idham Pawi.
Xavi Vierge (EG VDS Kalex) was alongside; Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Kalex) completed row two.
Points leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40 Kalex) came through at the end, in spite of worsening conditions, to head the third row, from Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM), who had a similar late run. Alongside was rookie Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer KTM), also through from Q1.
The last Q1 graduate was returned injury victim Jake Dixon (Sama Angel Nieto KTM), the rookie placed 11th between Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) on the fourth row.
Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) lost out, the first loser not to escape from Q1, and will start from 19th. American ride Joe Roberts (American Racing Kalex) placed 29th.
Drying conditions saw times dropping through Moto3 Q1 and Q2, with the same name at the top for both sessions … John McPhee (Petronas Honda). It was the Scotsman’s first pole of the season and the third in his career, secured by almost two tenths ahead of Tony Arbolino (Snipers Honda) and rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
Hondas secured the top seven positions, with Jerez runner-up Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) heading row two from Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Honda) and Leopard Racing’s Marcos Ramirez, also through from Q1.
Jerez winner Niccolo Antonelli (SIC 58 Honda) leads row three from Raul Fernandez (Sama KTM) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia); with a third Q1 veteran, Sergio Garcia (EG Honda) completing the top ten.
Marquez Matches Rossi in Number of Poles
Marc Marquez continues to break records as his remarkable career matures … and not only for surviving the greatest number of crashes.
His pole position for tomorrow’s French GP was his 55th. This puts him equal with Valentino Rossi in modern-era racing; and just three behind Mick Doohan’s record of 58.
Should he win tomorrow, this would bring his premier-class total to 47, putting him equal fourth overall with Jorge Lorenzo. Ahead of him: Valentino Rossi (89), Giacomo Agostini (68) and Doohan (54).
Miller’s New Use for Trap Gravel
Jack Miller saw the funny side of having crashed three times over the two practice days – the most in the premier class, with 61 tumbles so far in tricky conditions across all three classes.
His third crash was in qualifying, when “I pushed too hard, and she didn’t want it.”
He picked the bike up then did a stand-up wheelie, swerving from side to side to try to shake gravel out of the bellypan.
There was enough left, after the two days, he joked, “to make an aquarium when we get home”.
Pedrosa Nearly Ready for Testing
Dani Pedrosa should be fit to start his testing role with KTM in June, after an exploratory ride on the RC16 at Mugello showed that his recovery from collarbone surgery was on course.
This was revealed by technical chief Mike Leitner, who was Pedrosa’s crew chief for many years in both 250 and MotoGP class at Honda.
Thirty-one-times GP winner Dani was wearing KTM livery at the Spanish GP a fortnight ago, when a corner was named in his honour, and had a first outing on the bike last year, before the collar-bone stress fracture was diagnosed, requiring stem-cell treatment for the oft-injured bone.
Pedrosa’s input will be especially welcome to Johann Zarco, whose similarly smooth riding style has not gelled with the Austrian bike.
Viegas Clarifies Statement
New FIM president Jorge Viegas found himself rapidly selecting reverse gear today, after being firmly put in his place by Dorna.
Viegas, the highly visible successor to popular Vito Ippolito, had given an interview broadcast in Poland on Friday, stating that he did not believe it was correct that Dorna should be in charge of both MotoGP and World Superbikes.
The observation makes perfect sense, but was also completely out of order. Dorna has a contract with the FIM giving them this entitlement, and when they took over the production-based series in 2013 the Monopolies Commission approved the deal.
On Saturday, the FIM issued a statement, saying that Viegas “wants to clarify the FIM’s position regarding the FIM Superbike World Championship.
“He recalls that the FIM and Dorna Sports have signed a long-term contract for the promotion of WorldSBK in 2016.
“He adds that the FIM is fully satisfied with the work of Dorna Sport and specifies that they will continue their efforts to move forward together regarding the improvement of the championship in the future.”
One suspects that the legal departments of the partners approve of every word.
2017 Le Mans winner Maverick Vinales made the perfect start to the French GP on a warm and mainly sunny first day of practice, slotting the Monster Yamaha into top position by almost two tenths ahead of defending race winner Marc Marquez’s Repsol Honda.
Le Mans MotoGP Results 2019
Vinales, his confidence boosted by his first podium of the year at the previous round at Jerez, remained cautious. “I like the track, and we found our set-up very fast, and I felt good with the bike, also with the tyres … but we need to keep working.
Marquez was also comfortable, especially since electronic setting improvements had solved the slow-corner problem that caused him to crash out of the lead at the GP of the Americas.
Fabio Quartararo’s satellite Petronas Yamaha had been fastest in the morning, and the 20-year-old French rising star was quicker again in the afternoon to place a strong third.
It was a good day also for new Repsol Honda rider Jorge Lorenzo, who credited reverting to a standard seat with “a small step” in his adaptation to the Honda. He was fourth, just over three tenths off Vinales; with the top 12 all within one second.
The factory Ducatis were next, rebranded with just the riders nicknames on the fairings replacing the Mission Winnow. Andrea Dovizioso was fifth, ahead of Danilo Petrucci. Dovi felt he could have ridden better. “It’s easy to use too much power here,” he said; Petrux lost time after crashing
Pol Espargaro, who crashed the Red Bull KTM twice, was seventh, ahead of his Aprilia-mounted brother Aleix; with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) ninth.
Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) was next, the only rider not to improve in the afternoon session, but still scraping into tenth.
The positions could be crucial for tomorrow’s qualifying, because once again, as at every race so far this year, rain is forecast for tomorrow. This means that today’s top ten will go straight into Q2.
Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) missed the cut by one thousandth of a second; also 12th-placed Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Valentino Rossi (Monster Yamaha) in 14th, blaming unexpectedly bad feelings, the loss of a broken chain in the morning, and that he had “only done one lap on the soft tyre”.
Also out of the group, Ecstar Suzuki rider Alex Rins and last year’s pole starter Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM).
A brand-new chassis let Brad Binder put the Red Bull KTM at the top of a batch of ultra-close Moto2 times – but with an advantage of only 0.049 of a second and the top 20 riders all within the same second, there was little margin of comfort for the South African former Moto3 champion, who was concerned with a loss of rear grip as the tyres wore.
Australian Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) was a close second, then title leader Lorenzo Baldassarri, whose Flexbox HP40 Kalex team-mate Augusto Fernandez was fourth.
They headed a phalanx of Kalexes, filling from second to 11th places.
Supersub Mattia Pasini, this time in place of injured Petronas Kalex rider Khairul Idham Pawi, was fifth. It is the Italian veteran’s third different team this year.
Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) was next, then morning leader Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Kalex) from Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Kalex) and Alex Marquez (VDS Kalex). Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Kalex) was tenth; with Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 Kalex) and Bo Bensneyder (RW NTS) rounding out the dozen potentially straight through to Q2 tomorrow.
American KTM rider Joe Roberts was 25th.
Japanese rookie Ai Ogura was top Moto3 rider on the Team Asia Honda, better than a tenth ahead of Jerez winner Niccolo Antonelli and his SIC58 Honda team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki.
Times were again close, with 21 riders within a second, promising the usual brawl on Sunday.
Next came the KTMs of Bester Capital’s Andrea Migno and the Sama Nieto team’s Albert Arenas, in his second race back from injury.
Tony Arbolino (Honda) was sixth, then Aron Canet (KTM) and Gabriel Rodrito (Honda). The KTMs of Raul Fernandez and Dennis Foggia completed the top ten.
Zarco Turns to Bayle for Advice
Beleaguered new KTM rider Johann Zarco has turned to former French racing legend Jean-Michel Bayle, to try to get his results back on course, after a difficult start to his first season on the Red Bull factory bike.
After four poles and six podiums in two years on a satellite Yamaha, the former double Moto2 champion has been far outranked by KTM team-mate Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard has amassed 21 points including two top tens and a second-row start this season; while Zarco has struggled just to get into the points. with seven so far, and has equalled the top score with an uncharacteristic four crashes.
After the last round at Jerez, Zarco has joined forces with Bayle, multiple motocross and Supercross World and AMA champion between 1988 and 1991, before a brief career in GPs.
The goal was mental, he said. “I want to have a free mind, to bring some freedom to the track, to get a pure performance from me. It is important to keep the mission in your mind.”
In the last fortnight he’d felt positive about the new association with some encouraging results. “Now we are going to see how we work together this weekend,” he said.
Zarco’s new association with KTM has been troubled from the start, the smooth-as-silk style that served so well on the Yamaha not suiting a bike that responds better to Espargaro’s forceful riding. After crashing twice on Friday at Jerez, Zarco was observed issuing a foul-mouthed tirade in his pit, criticising the bike.
This prompted censure from KTM CEO Stefan Pierer, who said that Zarco should learn to adapt to the more aggressive character of the V4 engine. While the in-line fours like Yamaha and Suzuki favoured rookie riders, he said, “most of the race wins have been by V4s.”
KTM competitions manager Pit Beirer was more understanding, in an interview with Crash.net. While agreeing that Zarco’s prospects were bleak “if he continues to ride the bike like he rode his previous bike,” but adding: “We must both do a step now. He must use the advantage of the bike, because it does have some advantages, and we must improve its weaknesses.
“We will prove we took the right rider, and I will prove to him that he chose the right company.
New Chassis, Improved Results for Red Bull KTM Moto2
While the MotoGP project, now in its third year, continues to show steady progress, KTM is facing its own problems in Moto2, with the steel-tube chassis having adapted less successfully to the new Triumph power than rivals.
Not only Kalex but also Speed Up and to an extent NTS have shown prowess, while official KTM Red Bull rider Brad Binder’s sometimes superhuman efforts have left him trailing in tenth overall.
An all-new chassis arrived at Le Mans, with immediate benefits.
“The previous chassis had problems at the front and the back. This is completely new, and the front is really good … I think it’s the first time I’ve ridden a KTM without any chatter,” he said.
“But as soon as the tyre goes down a bit the back is really bad. It’s hard to get out of the corners. It’s a good direction, but not the answer.”
Binder was penalised in Argentina for uncharacteristically rough riding – but had an explanation. “The way I had to ride that bike was different: braking really hard then make a V of the corner.” It meant he was unavoidably rubbing up against other fast riders with higher corner speed. “I’ll have to be careful or I’ll get into trouble soon,” he said.
Pit Marshal Dies
Friday morning opened with a shock in pit lane, when a marshal collapsed. He had suffered a heart attack, and did not survive.
Lorenzo Denies Rumors
Jorge Lorenzo was fending off rumours started in the Spanish press that HRC are ready to jettison him at the end of this season if his results don’t improve forthwith.
“Nobody has given me an ultimatum. You always hear these kinds of rumours when your results are bad. But I have a two-year contract, and nobody at Honda has spoken to me about this.”
He had been through similar problems and similar rumours in his previous two years at Ducati, and by the time he had got the bike to his liking and started winning races, a third of the way into his second year, he had already decided to move on. But he went on to prove that he could adapt his smooth style to a very different bike from the Yamaha that took him to three world championships.
“The patience a team has is not up to me … but it’s important we understand this is going to be a long process.”
The switch was not going to come naturally, he continued. “The Honda needs to be ridden braking very late, tipping it in quickly, with a big angle of lean.” He would have to adapt his technique to suit.
“But the same was true of the Ducati. I need more time to adapt,” he said, drawing parallels with Zarco’s difficulties on the KTM.
In line with other Honda riders, he said “the front is not the best point. It is very sensitive. I am having accidents. But we have strong points – in entry, and corner speed.”
Lorenzo was fourth-fastest on the first day of practice at Le Mans, in spite of a crash in the morning. This matched the last race in Spain, although he went backwards from there.
He had switched back to the standard Honda seat, giving him “in terms of benefit, a small step, but a small step is like a victory. We will try more things tomorrow.”
Teams Go Back to Established Set-Ups
After post-race tests at Jerez, most of the new equipment seen there had been put away again – with the exception of Aprilia’s new swing-arm-mounted aerodynamic scoop, and Yamaha’s second-generation aero fairing, used here by Vinales and Morbidelli, and tested by Rossi.
“I prefer the old fairing, but this could be good against wheelies,” said Rossi.
One notably absent innovation was Honda’s carbon-fibre-clad chassis, used at Jerez by test rider Stefan Bradl, and tried the next day by Marc Marquez. The bonded-on cladding changes the stiffness ratios of the chassis.
“The test was just for first impressions and first feedback,” he said. Importantly, his feedback matched that of Bradl, but “the feeling is similar to the standard chassis,” he said.
Honda had brought nothing new to Le Mans, he continued, but for an electronic improvement that could prove valuable in avoiding a repetition of his crash while leading at the CotA in Texas, believed to have been triggered by an electronic glitch in the engine braking program.
“There are some first-gear corners here like in Austin, and we don’t have the problems we had there, and that is good,” he said.
Yet Another Great Save by Marquez
Marquez accomplished another of his epic saves on Friday morning, losing the front completely then getting it all back. The difference was that he wasn’t even on the track. “This was a good one, because I was on the kerb. I had to push a lot from the knee.”
Click here for all of the latest MotoGP news.
Click here for all of the latest Road Racing news.