Michelin’s first home race since its return to MotoGP™ saw Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo power to an impressive start to finish victory at the historic Le Mans circuit in France today.
After qualifying on pole yesterday – where the Spaniard recorded the fastest-ever two-wheeled lap of Le Mans – Lorenzo got a good start and led in to the first corner, he extended his lead over the first lap and continued to push hard for the whole 28-laps. He eventually crossed the finishing line more than 10-seconds ahead of his nearest rival to show his dominance in today’s race.
Joining Lorenzo on the podium was nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, the Yamaha mounted rider rode a calculated race to pick off his opponents, after starting from seventh on the grid. The Italian moved up to second on lap-14 and held the position to the chequered flag. Suzuki’s Maverick Viñales took the final podium place and the first top-three finish of his MotoGP career. The 21-year-old Spaniard also fought his way through the field after starting from eighth, his third today was also Suzuki’s first podium since 2008.
Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took fourth place, with Pol Espargaro coming home in fifth to secure the position of First Independent Team Rider. Aleix Espargaro was sixth for Suzuki, with a pair of Ducatis ridden by Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera finishing seventh and eighth respectively. The top-ten was rounded out by Alvaro Bautista in ninth and Stefan Bradl tenth, both on Aprilias. Previous championship leader, Honda’s Marc Marquez, crashed out while pushing hard to catch the leader, he remounted unhurt and brought his bike home safely in 13th. All riders today – with the exception of Yonny Hernandez – used the new less stiff construction soft compound rear tyre, which was available for the first time this season and developed especially for Le Mans after riders requested to have less spinning on the rear following the last race at Jerez, which was only two-weeks ago.
Today’s race was staged in warm, but overcast conditions, with air temperatures at a pleasant 22°C, and track temperatures reaching 35°C. A huge crowd of 99,053 packed the circuit, making it the biggest Le Mans race-day crowd of the MotoGP era.
Michelin and the MotoGP field now goes to Italy for round six of the MotoGP World Championship, when they all head to the picturesque Mugello circuit in the heart of Tuscany.
“The bike was great and so were the tyres, I think Michelin made a great job to improve the tyre since Jerez. I am very happy with the work of Michelin, they have worked very hard and responded quickly, so they need to keep working like that to keep bringing us the best rear tyre and we will go a long way together.”
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“Today was a great demonstration from the Yamaha guys, especially from Jorge. He dominated all weekend, including the lap-record in qualification and performed very consistently in the race, doing easily ’33s. It was also a good recovery from Valentino from the third row to get on to the podium and get the fastest lap of the race. I would also like to congratulate Maverick on his first podium.
“What was very good was that the new rear tyre we developed between Jerez and here worked very well in qualifying and in the race. Not only was it fast in qualifying with the lap-record, but it was very consistent on race day. It was a success for us and we will capitalise on that success in the next races.”