Monster Energy Grand Prix de France 2016
Posted on May 03, 2016 by Nick Harris
ROUND FIVE 2016 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – SUNDAY 8TH MAY
Consistent Lowes leads the way at Le Mans
The consistent Sam Lowes leads the Moto2™ World Championship by a precious ten points arriving for round five of the title chase at the legendary Le Mans venue on Sunday. The Lincolnshire rider won the last round at Jerez in Spain after finishing second in the two previous races in Argentina and America. Riding the Federal Oil Gresini Kalex he faces another tremendous 26 lap battle round the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit against the likes of Alex Rins, World Champion Frenchman Johann Zarco and four times Le Mans winner Tom Luthi, who won the opening round of the year in Qatar. Wiltshire-based Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent is finding life tough on his return to Moto2 and will be looking for some morale boosting points to improve his 14th place in the championship.
Irishman Eugene Laverty roars into Le Mans after an extraordinary start to his MotoGP™ season. Riding the Aspar Ducati 14.2 he’s ninth in the Championship after finishing every race including a fourth place in Argentina. Last year he was 14th on his Le Mans MotoGP debut. The three other British MotoGP riders have struggled this year adapting to the Michelin tyres and standardised electronics but they all have happy memories of the French circuit.
Bradley Smith took his very first grand prix podium finish in the 2007 125cc race when he finished third. He currently lies 12th in the MotoGP Championship riding the Monster Tech3 Yamaha. He finished sixth last year in France. Gloucestershire-based Scott Redding is four points behind him on the Octo Pramac Ducati and will look back to his first Moto2 grand prix win three years ago. Isle of Man – based midlander Cal Crutchlow scored his first points of the season riding the LCR Honda at the previous round in Jerez after crashing out of the previous three rounds. Three years ago he brought the French-based Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team a brilliant second place at Le Mans.
Twenty–one year old Scotsman John McPhee is having a tough time in the competitive Moto3 Championship. The Racing Steps Foundation supported Peugeot MC Saxoprint Mahindra rider’s only points scoring ride came with an excellent seventh place in Argentina.
Did you know?
•Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on twenty eight 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 17th successive year that the Le Mans circuit has hosted a motorcycle grand prix event, 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 six 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 rider with most grand prix victories at Le Mans is Jorge Lorenzo, who has stood on the top step of the podium on five occasions at the French circuit; a single win in the 250cc class to add to his four MotoGP wins.
•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.
Open Class - Three winners in opening four races
With three different winners in the opening four grands prix, forecasting the victor at the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France at the legendary Le Mans circuit on Sunday is not easy. Double MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez has won two, to lead single race winner World Champion Jorge Lorenzo by 17 points with Valentino Rossi just seven points adrift after his comprehensive win at the previous round in Spain.
All three have previous MotoGP wins around the technically demanding 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit which uses the same start and finish area as the famous 24 Hour car race. Marquez brought Repsol Honda victory two years ago in the middle of his amazing run of success, but the Movistar Yamaha pair of Rossi and Lorenzo have tasted the victory champagne in the MotoGP class seven times at this circuit. Lorenzo won last year, his fourth premier class victory here, while Rossi has won three although the last time was in 2008.
The only other premier class winner at Le Mans in the 28 lap race is Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa who really needs a repeat of his 2013 win to kick start his season. Former Le Mans 125cc GP winner Pol Espargaro has slipped under the radar to hold fifth place in the championship after finishing the first four races in the top ten on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha while others have fallen by the wayside. His older brother Aleix is involved in a tremendous all Ecstar Suzuki battle with team-mate, double Le Mans winner, Maverick Vinales who leads the fight by two slender points despite all the speculation about a future move to replace Ducati bound Lorenzo as Rossi’s Yamaha team-mate.
The factory Ducati team, and Andrea Dovizioso in particular, are looking for a black cat at the track when practice starts on Friday morning. After his second place in the opening round, two crashes caused by others and a mechanical problem have kept him out of the points, while team-mate Andrea Ianonne’s only podium came in Austin. While the factory Ducatis have struggled the independent teams have flourished. Hector Barbara and Eugene Laverty on the 14.2 versions of the factory bike are separated by just three points in their battle for eighth. Good news for Ducati is the first appearance of the season of Danilo Petrucci in the Octo Pramac team after a serious hand injury sustained in pre-season testing.
Britain’s Sam Lowes arrives for the Moto2™ race fresh from his Jerez victory and with a precious ten point lead in the championship. The 26 lap race on Sunday should be a cracker with Alex Rins and Frenchman Johann Zarco desperate to prevent Lowes opening up a bigger points advantage. World Champion Zarco is third in the championship 16 points adrift, with Rins, who is chasing his first Le Mans win, ten points behind Lowes. Tom Luthi won the opening round of the year and has a great record at Le Mans with two Moto2 wins including last year and two 125 cc victories.
South African Brad Binder secured an amazing first Moto3™ win in Jerez starting from the back of the grid to open up a 15 point lead in the Championship, riding the Red Bull Ajo KTM. Second placed Jorge Navarro still chases that elusive first grand prix win but third placed Romano Fenati won the race in France last year. Italian teenager Nicolo Bulega has made a sensational start on his debut season. Riding for Valentino Rossi’s Sky Italia KTM he took his first pole in Jerez and was second in the race to secure fourth place in the championship.
BT Sport 2
Friday 6th May 08.00am – 15.00pm (practice)
Saturday 7th May 08.00am – 15.15pm (practice & qualifying)
Sunday 9th May 07.30am – 15.00pm (warm-up and races)
ITV 4 Highlights
Monday 9th May 20.00pm – 21.00pm