Monster Energy Grand Prix de France 2015

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Nick Harris


Cal Crutchlow returns to a happy hunting ground when he arrives at the legendary Le Mans circuit for the fifth round of the MotoGP™ World Championship, the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France. Two years ago the Isle of Man – based Midlander finished second at the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit to equal his best ever MotoGP result and he returns in good form. Riding the CWM LCR Honda Crutchlow lies sixth in the championship after finishing fourth in the previous round at Jerez in Spain.

Eleven points behind him is Bradley Smith in seventh place riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. The Andorra – based Oxfordshire rider secured his first ever podium finish when he was third in the 2007 125cc race at Le Mans, which he followed up with a second place a year later. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding has also good memories of Le Mans after victory in the 2013 Moto2™ race. His first season on the factory Honda has not been easy and he currently lies 12th in the championship and will be looking for at least a top ten finish. Eugene Laverty makes his Le Mans MotoGP debut on the Open class Aspar MotoGP team Honda. He will be chasing his first points of the season after coming close in the previous two rounds.

Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes can’t wait to get to Le Mans after such a disappointing Moto2 race at the previous round at Jerez in Spain. Tyre problems kept him out of the points on the Speed Up machine after such a brilliant start to the season, including a maiden victory in Austin. Lowes is sixth in the championship just eight points behind Alex Rins in third place.

Twenty one year old Wiltshire star Danny Kent is running away with the hugely competitive Moto3™ World Championship after winning the last three grands prix. The Leopard Racing Honda rider has built up a mighty impressive 31 point championship lead after just four rounds. Twenty year old Scotsman John McPhee continues to rack up the points on the Racing Steps Foundation supported RTG Honda despite plenty of problems. The Oban – based rider is eighth in the championship and just a change of fortune could see him take that vital first podium finish.

Kent re-writes the history books
• Kent is the first British rider in any of the grand prix classes to win three successive races since Barry Sheene in the 500cc class in 1977.

• He is the first British rider to win three or more successive races in the lightweight-class (Moto3/125cc) of grand prix racing since Dave Simmonds won seven successive 125cc GP races in 1969. Simmonds won the world title in 1969 riding a Kawasaki and is the last British rider to take the championship in the lightweight-class.

• The win at Jerez was the fifth win of his career, making him the most successful British rider in terms of grand prix victories since Barry Sheene.

• Kent is the first British rider in any class to finish on the podium at the opening four races of the year since Phil Read started the 1975 season with four successive top three finishes in the 500cc class.

Lorenzo completes jigsaw for Le Mans
Jorge Lorenzo’s masterclass win in Spain completed the MotoGP™ jigsaw as the championship races into the Le Mans circuit for the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France on Sunday.

The championship is perfectly poised going into round five at the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. Thirty six year old Valentino Rossi leads the way by 15 points after two wins and two third places on the Movistar Yamaha. The new Ducatis are flying with Andrea Dovizioso second and his team-mate Andrea Iannone fifth. Sandwiched between the two Ducatis are Rossi’s team-mate Lorenzo and world champion Marc Marquez who has only achieved one victory this season on the Repsol Honda.

Fresh from his victory in Jerez Lorenzo arrives at Le Mans with a great record at the track that is part of the famous 24 hour car racing circuit. The Spanish Yamaha rider has won four times including three MotoGP victories. The only rider to match that record is Marquez’s Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa who has one 125, two 250 and one MotoGP win. He hopes to return to the action this weekend after missing the last three races following an arm pump operation. Championship leader Rossi has ten podium finishes including three premier class victories and finished second last year to Marquez who has also secured a Moto2 win at Le Mans. Dovizioso has seven podium finishes but just one 125cc victory.

Behind the factory riders the battle is equally intense with Cal Crutchlow, riding the CWM LCR Honda holding off the likes of Bradley Smith, the Espargaro brothers and double Le Mans winner Maverick Vinales. Crutchlow’s team-mate Jack Miller returns to the scene of his Moto3 triumph last year.

The partisan French crowd will be supporting Moto2™ Championship leader Johann Zarco. The Ajo Motorsport Kalex rider opened up an impressive 16 points lead over German Jonas Folger who has won two grands prix this season including the last round in Jerez. Zarco finished second in Spain two weeks after winning his first Moto2 race in Argentina. Alex Rins blotted his copybook with a last bend crash in Jerez but still lies third in his debut season while world champion Tito Rabat is struggling despite finishing third in Jerez. The Estrella Galicia 0, 0 Marc VDS rider is sixth in the championship 40 points behind Zarco.

That French crowd will also be right behind 16 year old Fabio Quartararo in the Moto3™ race. He has made a sensational start to his grand prix career and despite a mistake in the last corner at Jerez still lies third in the championship but it will be tough on Sunday with British rider Danny Kent chasing his fourth consecutive win. Riding the Leopard Racing Honda, he has dominated the championship and built up a 31 points lead over his team-mate Efren Vazquez who in turns leads Quartararo by eight points. Another Frenchman Alexis Masbou won the opening round in Qatar but has only secured a single point since.

Le Mans Mutterings
• Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on twenty seven previous occasions, including the Grand Prix “Vitesse du Mans” in 1991, which is the only year that two grand prix events have been held in France in the same year.

• Le Mans was first used for a grand prix event in 1969, when the 500cc race was won by Giacomo Agostini, who lapped all the other riders in the race on his MV Agusta.

• This is the sixteenth successive year that the Le Mans circuit has been used for the MotoGP, starting in 2000.

• Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda have had seven wins at Le Mans, Yamaha have had five victories and Suzuki took the other win, in 2007 with Chris Vermeulen – Suzuki’s only GP victory in the four-stroke MotoGP era.

• The best results for Ducati at the Le Mans circuit are second place finishes for Loris Capirossi in 2006 and Valentino Rossi in 2012.

• The riders with most victories at Le Mans are Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who have each stood on the top step of the podium on four occasions at the French circuit; Lorenzo has had a single win in the 250cc class to add to his three MotoGP wins, Pedrosa has won at Le Mans once in the 125cc class, twice in 250cc and in 2013 won for the first time in the MotoGP class.

• There have been five GP wins at the Le Mans circuit by French riders: Jean Aureal won the 125cc race in 1969, Guy Bertin the 125cc race in 1979, Patrick Fernandez the 350cc race in 1979, Mike di Meglio the 125cc race in 2008 and Louis Rossi the Moto3 race in 2012.

• In addition to Le Mans, there have been seven other circuits that have hosted the French GP (the figure in brackets is the number of times each circuit has hosted the French Grand Prix): Paul Ricard (13), Clermont-Ferrand (10), Nogaro (2), Reims (2), Rouen (2), Albi (1), Magny-Cours (1).

• The best result by a French rider at Le Mans in the MotoGP class is 4th by Olivier Jacque in 2003.  The last French rider to score points in the MotoGP class at Le Mans is Randy de Puniet with a 7th place finish in 2010.

Television Times
BT Sport2
Friday May 15  8.00am – 3.00pm (practice)
Saturday May 16  8.00am – 3.15pm (practice and qualifying)
Sunday May 17  7.30am – 9.15am (warm –up)  9.30am – 3.00pm (race)

ITV 4 Highlights
Monday May 18  8.00 – 9.00 pm

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