MotoGP Le Mans race report: Marquez five for five

Even dropping down to 10th spot on the first lap cannot derail the Marc Marquez freight train as he wins easily, Valentino Rossi second, Alvaro Bautista third

motogp le mans race report marc marquez

In another demonstration of his superiority over the rest of the MotoGP field at the moment, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez made things hard for himself at the beginning of the race by getting a bad start and then compounding it with a poor first lap that saw the reigning MotoGP world champion shuffled back to 10th spot. On a track that is said by the riders to be notoriously difficult to pass on, Marquez made it look easy as he scythed his way through the field. Meanwhile up front, Valentino Rossi showed that his resurgence this year was no anomaly by charging up to the front, making quick work of Stefan Bradl and Andrea Dovisioso to take the lead by lap four. Once in front, Rossi began to open up a small gap, which didn't go unnoticed by Marquez; "After that I say OK, my eyes were only on Valentino," said Marquez. In 11 laps, Marquez dispatched the eight riders ahead of him and was on Rossi's tail. But instead of a battle that the spectators were salivating for, Rossi made a mistake under pressure and allowed Marquez to quickly take the lead; that door opening was all he needed, and Marquez proceeded to quickly march away from Rossi to open up a gap that was nearly four seconds at one point. Rossi finished a lonely second, while GO&FUN Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista finally put everything together and worked his way up to finish third.

Marquez admitted that his dominance of practice and qualifying led him to relax a little too much at the start of the race. "I made a mistake on the first lap in the first corners, I was a little too calm, too relaxed. Many riders overtake me." Marquez was initially back in fifth place, but when he ran a little wide entering a corner, Jorge Lorenzo took advantage and sliced underneath. Unfortunately, Lorenzo was also getting the same treatment by Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Bradley Smith in the next corner, which forced Lorenzo to pick up his bike, causing the same to Marquez who was right next to Lorenzo. "When Lorenzo overtake me, he stopped really hard and I was too close. I had to run wide off the track, but then when I got back on the track, I saw that the first riders were so far away."

Marquez then began his march to the front. "So I tried to overtake lap by lap all the riders, and then when I caught Valentino, I expect a little more of a battle. But anyway he did a small mistake and then I saw it was time to push and open a gap." Marquez felt that he didn't want to try and jet away from the pack at the start because if Lorenzo, Rossi, or Pedrosa were latched onto him, he wanted to conserve energy for the latter part of the race. "Today my strategy in my mind was not to lead all the laps because 28 laps is a lot. But it was not in my plan to be in ninth or tenth position on the first lap," he laughed.

Rossi knew that he had the pace to run at the front...but wasn't sure if he would be able to hold off the relentless Marquez. "I had Dovisioso and Bradl in front, and I know if I am able to overtake, I had a little bit better pace. So I try to force, and I was good in braking, I go in front, and I try to do the maximum. I try to stay in 33-34.0, that was my pace, but unfortunately I was at the limit. I know if I slow down a bit, Marc will arrive very fast." That was probably Rossi's downfall, because he ended up making a mistake with Marquez on his tail. "I did one mistake in 27 laps, but at a crucial moment in the race. I brake a little bit deeper into turn 9 and I cannot stop the bike. It was a big shame because I think that today I can fight with Marc. I had a small chance to try to beat him; I think it would be very hard, but for sure fun because we can fight for some laps."

And what of Lorenzo? Qualifying in the end of the second row hurt the Movistar Yamaha rider, especially as the first corner at Le Mans is a chicane. "It was a pity not to be on the first row, as it would have given us less problems. I made a good start, but I stay on the inside of the first corner. And then a lot of riders were there and I couldn't overtake any position, I even lose a position. In eighth position, you start riding a little more nervous, more tense, you cannot ride the same smooth as in practice." Lorenzo also admitted that a setup change for the race didn't pay off. "The setting that I thought was better in the warmup was worse, in the front especially."

MotoGP Le Mans race results:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine
1 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda
2 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
3 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda
4 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
5 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda
6 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha
7 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda
8 Andrea Dovisioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati
9 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha
10 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha
11 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati
12 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda
13 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati
14 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda
15 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda
16 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia
17 Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha
18 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia
19 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati
DNF Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki
DNF Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda