Fabio Quartararo took pole for the second race in succession, making the most of a wet qualifying session to pip Jorge Navarro by 0.14 seconds, with Francesco Bagnaia in third. In the process, Quartararo became the first Frenchman to take pole in France since 1989. Danny Kent had an absolute nightmare, eight seconds behind Quartararo and not actually claiming a place on the grid - but he wasn't alone, as he was one of six not to - including Efren Vasquez. Kent started from 31st with race control allowing for the changing conditions.
A good start from Quartararo, with Niccolo Antonelli taking the lead out of lap one ahead of Bagnaia. Remy Gardner, Brad Binder, Vasquez and Gabriel Rodrigo crashed out on the first lap. Bagnaia took the lead at the start of lap two, Antonelli in second, Romano Fenati in third, Quartararo in fourth with Jakub Kornfeil in fifth. Kent got himself up to 13th by the end of lap two.
The top three swapped the lead at several points through the opening laps, none of them able to make an early break until Fenati hit the front and started to inch away. Enea Bastianini started to join the party, closing up on Quartararo around the same time as the Frenchman's team mate Navarro crashed out of 10th, a position which became Kent's.
Bastianini moved up to third, carrying impressive speed into the early corners of lap six, then taking second from Quartararo later in the lap. Fenati was starting to be reeled back in after having a few calm laps in front. The next lap, Bastianini took the lead with ease. Fenati wasn't giving up without a fight though, as the two traded the lead over the next few laps. Darryn Binder and Jules Danilo both crashed around this time.
Quartararo moved up to second, with Oliveira in fourth. Kent was up to ninth, and closing up on the pack. With ten laps to go he was on the back of Isaac Viñales, and the quickest man on the track, taking eighth on the next lap, then sixth two laps later as Quartararo lost the back end and crashed out of third.
Bastianini and Bagnaia started trading second and third, as Kent went past Antonelli into fourth. The next lap, Bastianini took the lead, going up the inside of Fenati into turn one. Kent was pushing and closing the gap to Bagnaia in third. Fenati reclaimed the lead, but not for long as the two started to trade places again. With two laps left, Kent went third. Alexis Masbou and Niklas Ajo crashed out of 10th and 11th.
Last lap. Bastianini barged past Kent, then Bagnaia. All this meant Fenati had enough of a gap to hold on, taking his first win of the season. Bastianini was second, with Bagnaia holding on to third. Kent settled for fourth, rather than chucking it away after an incredible ride through the field.
|1||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||41:22.829||25|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Honda||+0.122||20|
|3||Francesco Bagnaia||Mapfre Mahindra||+0.457||16|
|4||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||+0.693||13|
|6||Jakub Kornfeil||Drive M7 SIC||+2.421||10|
|8||Miguel Oliveira||Red Bull KTM||+4.065||8|
|9||Andrea Migno||Sky VR46 KTM||+14.876||7|
|10||Philipp Oettl||Schedl GP||+22.588||6|
|11||Hiroki Ono||Leopard Honda||+23.247||5|
|12||Juanfran Guevara||Mapfre Mahindra||+26.231||4|
|13||Livio Loi||RW Racing||+26.470||3|
|14||Zulfahmi Khairuddin||Drive M7 SIC||+26.677||2|
|15||Stefano Manzi||San Carlo Team Italia||+26.841||1|
Kent increases his lead in the championship by six points, now 37 points ahead of the rest. The rest are currently headed up by Bastianini, whose second place sees him leapfrog Vasquez. Fenati's win moves him up to fifth.
|Moto3 Championship Top 5|
|1||Danny Kent||Leopard Honda||104||13|
|2||Enea Bastianini||Gresini Honda||67||20|
|3||Efren Vasquez||Leopard Honda||60||0|
|4||Fabio Quartararo||Estrella Galicia||52||0|
|5||Romano Fenati||Sky VR46 KTM||51||25|
Alex Rins and Sam Lowes posted the exact same times in qualifying, with Rins taking his first Moto2 pole on account of having a faster second-best lap than Lowes. France's great new hope Johann Zarco, looking to be the first French winner in the intermediate class in France, started third, with Tito Rabat in fourth. Takaaki Nakagami's single lap pace shone again, placing him fifth. Jonas Folger, second in the championship, started from a lowly 15th.
Lowes got a great start, unlike Rins who went backwards. Zarco went with Lowes, and took the lead by turn two. Nakagami was up to second at one point, before Lowes and Thomas Luthi went past him, and later Rabat. Zarco made the most of it, opening up a gap in the early stages. Rins had fallen to ninth, as Luthi outbraked Lowes into second, closing up the gap to Zarco within two laps, with the pair exchanging the lead as Rabat took third from Lowes. Alex Marquez and Louis Rossi crashed out on lap five.
Luthi managed to make first stick, and opened up a gap on Zarco, looking the best he has on any bike in years. Rins finally got his bike working, and moved back up to fifth, and Folger moving up to 10th. Everyone else was comfortable in their place, although Rabat ran wide for a second time in the race trying to chase Zarco. Folger dropped the front end later the same lap, summing up a fairly miserable weekend for him.
Lowes started to come back into the race, setting a personal best and closing the gap to Rabat in third, possibly making hay while the sun shone on his soft rear tyre. Julian Simon and Luis Salom were making impressions on Rins in fifth, and Zarco was making slight in-roads on Luthi's lead. Mika Kallio followed Folger's example and ended a bad weekend in the gravel trap.
After several laps of comfort, Rabat made a move on Zarco, as Luthi was consistently managing a one second lead. Morbidelli cut under Salom for sixth, as Lowes maintained fourth with ease. Luthi managed to open up a 1.7 second lead, as Morbidelli moved up to fifth past Rins, who two laps later crashed while trying to take the place back, getting back on the bike in 18th. The next lap, Salom tripped over the back of Morbidelli and out of the race, Simon moving up into fifth.
Luthi took the flag, a comfortable win for the Swiss rider. Rabat was a comfortable second as Zarco's bike started to fail beneath him for third, with Lowes just behind him in fourth. Morbidelli claimed fifth back before the line. Nakagami held on to seventh after a very good ride from the Japanese.
|2||Tito Rabat||Estrella Galicia||+1.767||20|
|4||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||+4.076||13|
|8||Xavier Simeon||Federal Oil Gresini||+15.135||8|
|9||Hafizh Syahrin||Petronas Raceline||+19.243||7|
|13||Marcel Schrotter||Tech 3||+30.220||3|
|14||Sandro Cortese||Dynavolt Intact||+30.691||2|
Zarco opens his lead up to 21 points, with Luthi now second in the championship following his win. Lowes moves back into the top five, while Rins' second no-points finish in two races sees him down in seventh in the championship.
|Moto2 Championship Top 5|
|4||Sam Lowes||Speed Up||54||13|
After lulling us all into a false sense of security in free practice, Marc Marquez did what Marc Marquez does and put in a pole lap 0.4 seconds quicker than anybody else. He was joined on the front row by the very fast Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and the in-form Jorge Lorenzo on the factory Yamaha. Cal Crutchlow continued his good year by starting fourth, ahead of Andrea Iannone and his dislocated left shoulder. Bradley Smith's superb pace in practice resulted in him putting his Tech 3 Yamaha sixth, a place ahead of championship leader Valentino Rossi. Dani Pedrosa started eighth on his return from arm pump surgery.
A beautiful start from the Ducatis, with Dovizioso and Iannone up to first and third on the first corner. Lorenzo started well too and led after four corners. Marquez started poorly, running wide at two turns and falling to fourth, with Rossi right behind him. Pedrosa crashed on lap two from seventh, trying to chase Smith ahead of him. He rejoined the race, going past Stefan Bradl, who dropped it at turn six, and Aleix Espargaro, who found it too difficult after his huge highside in FP3. Mike DeMeglio crashed his bike too.
The Rossi/Marquez battle began again, with Rossi cutting Marquez up, a move the reigning world champion did not like one bit. Three laps down, Lorenzo had a fair lead over Dovizioso, with Iannone in third ahead of Rossi. Scott Redding had a big fall from 14th, while Marquez was going backwards fast, Smith getting past him and Crutchlow very close to him as well. Nicky Hayden was the highest open class rider at this point, in 11th.
On lap 8, Crutchlow lost the bike from beneath him while chasing Marquez, falling from seventh after losing his footpeg going through a corner. Dovizioso started to reel Lorenzo in at the front, as Rossi closed in to Iannone, eventually taking third in the S-Bleu section, making a move on Dovizioso in the last corner three laps later to claim second, and head off for Lorenzo. Jack Miller crashed out of 12th.
Iannone was dropping away from the leading three, but was well ahead of Smith in fifth, who in turn was comfortably ahead of the trailing Marquez. With the leading Honda in six, it was not a good day for the leading champion manufacturer, especially considering the potential Yamaha 1-2-5-7.
With nine laps left, Smith had caught Iannone and was on the back of him. Marquez was closing in, more to do with the pace of the injured Iannone rather than his own pace picking up. Meanwhile at the front, Lorenzo had opened up a gap of 2.3 seconds to Rossi, with Dovizioso having tailed off. With six laps left, Smith and Marquez forced their way past Iannone, although the Italian followed the racing line to return the favour. Marquez would make the move stick though, and took fourth, yet Iannone took it back. All of a sudden there was a battle.
Marquez nearly dropped it about four times, but every time he got ahead, Iannone used the extra speed in the Ducati to push back ahead. Marquez finally made it stick with four to go, while Smith seemed to settle for sixth with the two ahead of him taking chunks out of each other.
Lorenzo took the flag, and the 25 points. His team mate Rossi came second, with Dovizioso in third. Marquez held off Iannone for fourth, with Smith a very respectable sixth, a long way ahead of his team mate Pol Espargaro in seventh. Hayden finished as top open class bike in 11th, while Dani Pedrosa finished the race after crashing, showing consistent pace and finishing 16th.
|1||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||43:44.143||25|
|2||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||+3.820||20|
|4||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||+19.890||13|
|6||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||+21.145||10|
|7||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3 Yamaha||+35.493||9|
|8||Yonny Hernandez||Pramac Ducati||+39.601||8|
|9||Maverick Viñales||Suzuki Ecstar||+41.571||7|
|10||Danilo Petrucci||Pramac Ducati||+42.789||6|
|11||Nicky Hayden||Aspar Honda||+53.636||5|
|12||Loris Baz||Athina Forward||+1:00.617||4|
|14||Eugene Laverty||Aspar Honda||+1:05.259||2|
|15||Alvaro Bautista||Aprilia Gresini||+1:05.515||1|
Rossi keeps a 15 point lead in the world championship, this time ahead of Lorenzo, whose second win of the year - the first rider to win two in a row this year - puts him up to second in the table. Smith moves to within a point of Crutchlow in the battle of the satellite bikes.
|MotoGP Championship Top 5|
|1||Valentino Rossi||Movistar Yamaha||102||20|
|2||Jorge Lorenzo||Movistar Yamaha||82||25|
|4||Marc Marquez||Repsol Honda||69||13|
Ride Of The Day
Jorge Lorenzo was imperious in MotoGP, and Andrea Iannone rode really well for a guy with a dislocated shoulder. Thomas Luthi was superb in winning the Moto2 race, winning with absolute ease. However, yet again, Danny Kent takes the honour. He started 31st and finished fourth. The guy's for real.
Next Time Out
We're going to the spiritual home of motorcycle racing, as the field heads to Mugello in Italy. We'll keep you covered.