Another MotoGP race did take place in France, at the Le Mans circuit. It was Maverick Viñales who started from pole position. His team mate Valentino Rossi was next to him in the front row. Local hero Johann Zarco with Tech 3 Yamaha was 3rd on the grid.
It was for the first time since Qatar race in 2008 that 3 Yamaha bikes were in the front row.
In the second row there were Cal Crutchlow, Marc Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso. Scott Redding, Pol Espargaró and Karel Abraham started from the third row.
Alex Rins still wasn’t able to race and he probably will have to skip also the other round in 2 weeks. So in Le Mans it was local Sylvain Guintoli who replaced him in Suzuki.
Viñales had a good start to the 28 laps long race but then it was Zarco who took the lead in front of his full home crowd.
Already in the 1st lap of the race Álvaro Bautista crashed.
Zarco was leading ahead of Viñales and Rossi. Marc Márquez was 4th behind them.
With 22 laps to go Viñales went to the lead but Zarco was able to keep his pace. Rossi was behind them waiting for his chance. Márquez was 4th and he was going very fast and waiting for his chance to overtake Rossi.
Behind them there was a group of Crutchlow, Pedrosa and Dovizioso fighting for P5 in that moment. Pedrosa was able to overtake both his rivals and tried to pull away and catch Márquez.
Viñales did the new record but later even Pedrosa was faster than his countryman.
In lap number 18 it happened. Marc Márquez crashed. It meant Pedrosa moved already to P4.
Viñales was still in the lead but Rossi made it past Zarco and the Italian was very quick and he was catching his team mate Viñales.
Zarco started to lose lots of time to the duo ahead of him.
Rossi was really fast and catching Viñales so quickly. It took him just a few corners to be behind him. And he even did overtake him. There were 3 laps to the finish and Rossi was in the lead. Viñales didn’t give it up and the situation looked like there’s going to be a big battle until the end.
Rossi was leading the field to the last lap but in the last lap he did a small mistake and ran wide. Viñales used this opportunity and went to the lead. Rossi was 2nd.
Two corners to go Rossi crashed! The race was decided.
Maverick Viñales came for another victory of the season. Local hero Johann Zarco finished 2nd. First MotoGP podium for the rookie and after some years also podium for team Tech 3. Dani Pedrosa then came third. He started from 13th position.
Andrea Dovizioso was the best rider on Ducati as he was 4th, Cal Crutchlow finished 5th, Jorge Lorenzo 6th, Jonas Folger 7th, Jack Miller 8th (great after his horrific crash from Saturday), another local hero Loris Baz was 9th, Andrea Iannone 10th.
Tito Rabat was 11th, Pol Espargaró finished 12th, his team mate Bradley Smith 13th, Sam Lowes 14th and Sylvain Guintoli took 1 point for P15.
Well, Rossi didn’t finish as well as I already mentioned DNF for Bautista and Márquez. But there were lots of others who didn’t see the chequered flag. Aleix Espargaró, Danilo Petrucci, Scott Redding, Karel Abraham and Héctor Barberá all retired from the race due to some technical issues.
Bad day for Ducati as 5 bikes of them didn’t finish the race. Actually only factory Ducatis finished the race plus one Avintia.
Maverick Viñales is the Championship leader now with 85 points. Dani Pedrosa is 2nd with 68 points, Valentino Rossi has 62 points and he is 3rd. Marc Márquez is 4th with 58 points, Johann Zarco has 55 points, just 1 point ahead of Dovizioso.
Yamaha is in the Constructors lead ahead of Honda and Ducati. Movistar Yamaha is in the Team Standings lead 21 points ahead of Repsol Honda. Tech 3 team is already 3rd.
Next race weekend will be in 2 weeks time in Italy, in Mugello.