MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo rode a perfect race to secure a flag-to-flag victory at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France and lead the MotoGP World Standings
Lorenzo took the hole shot from pole as Marc Marquez continued to suffer Honda’s Acceleration woes of the FrenchGP wheelieing off the start line. The Movistar Yamaha rider would lead through the first chicane with Factory Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso tailing the Mallorcan. Valentino Rossi failed at his attempt to pass Pol Espargaro with Marquez as the Honda charged past the Tech3 M1 to move up fourth leaving Rossi locked in a battle against Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Lap 1 had Lorenzo’s lead stood at half a second from Dovizioso who had seemingly banished his recent bad luck and remained strong in second with his Team mate Andrea Iannone behind in the third spot.
Having started last on the grid, home rider Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) was up to 17th by the fourth lap of the race. Home fans cheered him on with each pass, urging the Frenchman forever forward.
Lap four saw Rossi improve his pace, going half a second quicker than his rival Marc Marquez who was just ahead. The pair weren’t the only ones closing up, Iannone also making significant progress on his teammate. His charge would be halted on lap seven when Iannone fell at Turn 8. Iannone’s fall was followed soon after by Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who suffered his fourth race crash of the year. One lap later, fellow satellite Honda rider Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) came off at Turn 6. Iannone would re-join the race but eventually retired.
Lap 13 saw Rossi slip past on Marc Marquez, making it a three-way battle for second as Lorenzo continued to run away at the head of the race. Just a few corners later Rossi was up into second place and matching Lorenzo’s times.
A thrilling battle for second was brewing until on lap 16 at Turn 7 both Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez crashed at the same time. There was no contact between them, the pair both losing the front in synchronisation. Now Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was on course for his first MotoGP™ podium and Lorenzo on the cusp of taking the championship lead.
The falls continued and soon Marc Marquez was up in 13th place, despite missing a large section of his side fairing. Lorenzo, 7.8 seconds clear with five laps to go, was having no such issues as he calmly ran his own race. With gaps of at least three seconds splitting the top three, each eased their pace to guarantee a finish in the clearly difficult conditions.
For the second time in 2016, Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line in first place after dominating the French GP. Over ten seconds would separate him from Rossi as the race came to an end. It was a day of celebration for both Suzuki and Viñales, the Spaniard taking his first podium finish in the premier class. Viñales’ podium is the first for Suzuki since the 2008 Czech GP, making amends for his mistake in Argentina.
Victory sees Lorenzo move to the top of the championship with 90 points, Marquez forced to concede his advantage after the crash. Rossi stays third and is 12 points behind Lorenzo. Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi now have a mistake each to their name and with only 12 points between them in the championship; the season is only just getting started. The MotoGP™ World Championship now head to Mugello, Rossi’s home round but one where Lorenzo has been the man to beat in recent years. once again it looks set to be a thrilling weekend in the Tuscan hills.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) retired from the race early on, followed by Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) who crashed from the race on lap seven.
While running inside the top ten, Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) suffered a fall, the French GP a war of attrition. Turn 7 claimed yet another victim as Bradley Smith crashed out of his team’s home race.
Full race results can be seen here.
The ever-tightening MotoGP™ World Championship can be viewed here.