2020 MotoGP Le Mans Results

© Bruce Allen                October 11, 2020

Marquez finishes P2 in France! Alex Marquez. 

The French, renown for their cuisine but despised for their weather, lived up to their reputation today, with a dry race in Moto3, a wet race in MotoGP, and a drying track in Moto2. A day for underdogs (Alex Marquez) as well as the contenders in Moto2 and Moto3. Sam Lowes wins a race for the first time in four years, while teenagers dominate Moto3. As they say around here, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” which is apropos of nothing whatsoever but demonstrates my facility with the French language.

Recent History in Sarthe

Johann Zarco was a rookie here in 2017, leading his home race for the first six laps on the Tech 3 Yamaha until Viñales stole his lunch money on Lap 7 and Rossi followed suit on Lap 23. [Rossi, looking like his old self, went through on Viñales on Lap 26, but unaccountably laid it down on the last lap, to the dismay of those few fanatics who still thought he had another championship in him. Rossi’s brain fade promoted Viñales to the win and Zarco to the second step of the podium. At the end of the day, rather than looking like his old self, Rossi simply looked old.] Marquez having gone walky on Lap 17, Dani Pedrosa was there to claim third place. 

With Yamaha having dominated the proceedings in France for the past few years, many fans, especially those with French accents, expected Zarco to waltz into racing history in 2018, starting from pole with those dreamy eyes. Alas, his unforced error on Lap 9 landed him in the gravel. Dovizioso’s “own goal” on Lap 6, crashing unassisted out of the lead, left the day to Marc Marquez. Joined on the podium by Danilo Petrucci and Rossi, #93 enjoyed a post-Dovi walk in the park on his way to a depressing 36-point lead in the 2018 championship.

We had this to say after last year’s race: “We’ve seen some of this before. In the MotoGP tilt, Marc Marquez took the hole shot, held off an early challenge from Ducati hothead Jack Miller, and won the French Grand Prix going away, never seriously challenged. This, after little brother Alex, whose last win came in Japan in 2017, survived the demolition derby that was Moto2 and brought joy to Catalans everywhere. After the race, jubilant dad Julià sought out a quiet corner of the garage and gave birth to a litter of kittens.”

Last year’s rostrum included Marquez, Dovizioso and Petrucci, the Ducs lovin’ themselves some Le Mans. Jack Miller and Rossi got punked at the flag by Danilo, one of the favorite finishes of his career, I expect.

This year, the big story, other than a great championship battle, was the weather for race weekend. A lot of the top riders had never ridden a wet lap at Le Mans, and no one was familiar with the grippy Michelin rain tires. With highs only in the low 60’s and lows dipping into the 40’s, there was likely to be an abundance of crashers.

Practice and Qualifying

Friday’s FP1 can be easily summarized as follows: 

P1  Bradley Smith  Aprilia.

FP2 was one of those damp things in which most riders worked out on rain tires while several went out on slicks. Slightly less weird than FP1 but plenty of anomalies, chief among them Crutchlow, The Black Knight, and little brother Alex Marquez flogging their Hondas to end the day in P5 and P6, respectively. With the exception of Miguel Oliveira, who found a hot lap at the end that elevated him to P2, and Joan Mir, the new fair-haired boy who could manage no better than P12, it was The Usual Suspects moving directly to Q2. Led by NKIT Fabio Quartararo, The Ten would later be joined by Danilo Petrucci and Pecco Bagnaia, who successfully graduated from Q1.

The last two minutes of MotoGP Q2 are always the best of the weekend, in the absence of a real-time nail-biter at the flag. When the dust settled on a dry Q2, Zarco’s track record from 2018 stood unscathed. As usual when it doesn’t rain in Sarthe, the Ducs and Yamahas thoroughly enjoy this venue, comprising nine of the top 12 slots for Sunday. Crutchlow, on the LCR Honda in P4, is currently being held together with duct tape and baling wire, but it seems to agree with him. When the Q2 music stopped, young Fabio found himself in the top chair.

1        QUARTARARO

2        MILLER

3        PETRUCCI

4        CRUTCHLOW

5        VIÑALES

6        DOVIZIOSO

7        BAGNAIA

8        P ESPARGARO

9        ZARCO

10      ROSSI

11      MORBIDELLI

12      OLIVEIRA

 

With real life again intruding on my writing career, I’ve missed most of the weekend. I managed to watch all three races on Sunday, and have this to offer. (I didn’t miss the fact that American Joe Roberts sits on pole in Moto2. The hearts and minds of a grateful nation are completely oblivious to this fact, given the sport’s remarkable lack of presence in the USA. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the following piece of conversation:

“So, what do you do?”
“ I write about MotoGP.”
“What’s that?”

Anyway, since the passing of Nicky Hayden, given the rarity of opportunities to demonstrate at least a little homerism, “GO JOE!”)

Race Day

Seems like every Moto3 race can be summarized as follows: The lead group of (X = 9) riders traded places and paint more times than humans can count. Over the last (Y=4) laps, the top four for the day, and perhaps the year, got down to it. Celestino Vietti, Tony Arbolino, Albert Arenas and Jaume Masia went wheel to wheel, abandoning caution to the wind. This, as it turned out, was the top four today. After the podium celebration, Arenas leads Ai Ogura, who hung around in the 20’s for much of the day before struggling to P9, by six points, with Vietti 10 farther back and Tony Arbolino trailing the other Italian teenager by four. John McPhee, with a mechanical issue seemingly caused by a dramatic save, remains stuck at 98 points.

Moto3 is the bomb-diggity.

The MotoGP race was a refreshing change of pace, a wet race that wasn’t all that wet providing questionable grip, especially for the eight or so riders who had never completed a wet race lap in MotoGP. Six of those riders had predictably bad days—Quartararo finished in P9; Joan Mir P11; Brad Binder P12; Pecco Bagnaia P13; Iker Lecuona in P15. Franco Morbidelli crashed out, but Miguel Oliveira did cross the line in P6. Of the eight, the one remaining rider who had a demonstrably not bad day was young Alex Marquez, defending Moto2 champion, little brother of You Know Who, starting from P18 but finding the conditions sufficiently exhilarating to put him in P2 at the finish, his first premier class podium, shades of yesteryear. Brother Marc must have been bouncing off the walls back home in Cevera.

We would be negligent in our reporting responsibilities were we to ignore the fact that the much-abused Danilo Petrucci collected his second premier class win today, putting brandmates Dovizioso and Miller away in the process. Likewise Pol Espargaro, who came from P8 on the grid to P3 at the finish. And we salute those riders who managed to stay upright for the entire 26 laps on behalf of those who did not, including Valentino Rossi (third DNF in a row but he’s not slowing down), Miller (mechanical), Morbidelli (black flag), Crutchlow, Rabat and Smith. Alex Rins (black flag) had to apply this bumper sticker to the back of his leathers:” Please call Davide Brivio if you see parts falling off.”

Today’s Moto2 race was particularly unsatisfying, on several counts. American Joe Roberts, having secured pole, started the race from the back of the grid, his crew unable to remove the back wheel prior to the start. Then, on-track officials, the guys with the flags, mis-started the race, the lights going out before Roberts had made it through Turn 14 and back to the grid. Joe recovered from this screwing to finish in P6, announcing his arrival as a legit contender. So there was that. Then, my punching bag Sam Lowes, who has improved this year, okay?, was chasing the charming Jake Dixon, on his way to his first grand prix podium, never mind win. Dixon had managed the gap with Lowes since Lap 12, when suddenly he slid out of the lead at Turn 14 of Lap 22, on his own, handing the win to the undeserving Lowes. Remy Gardner put a move on Marco Bezzecchi at the final turn to capture second place, which kind of made up for the whole Lowes thing.

Dixon’s ordeal calls to mind one of our core beliefs: 

     Good judgment comes from experience.

     Experience comes from bad judgment.

Here’s an irritating outcome from the MotoGP race: Fabio Quartararo extends his series lead while finishing in P9.

The top ten in the premier class, after Le Mans:

1        QUARTARARO        115

2        MIR                       105

3        DOVIZIOSO            97

4        VIÑALES                96

5        NAKAGAMI             81

6        MORBIDELLI           77

7        MILLER                   75

8        P ESPARGARO        73

9        OLIVEIRA               69

10      PETRUCCI               64

Now it’s on to Aragon, in the dusty Spanish plain, for a doubleheader. Nine rounds in, five rounds left. Contested championship races in all three classes. Seven winners in nine races in the premier class thus far. There would seem to be some growing concerns about engine supply, especially with the Yamaha and Ducati contingents. Pit lane starts will do nothing to help the prospects of the gaggle of Yamaha contenders.

We hope to bring you something in the way of an Aragon I preview mid-week, but it’s a bit of a chore these days, life happening. Please keep those cards and letters coming

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One big old church.

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23 Responses to “2020 MotoGP Le Mans Results”

  1. Mike Coleman Says:

    Hello Bruce,
    Good job for Danilo, he deserved it. Alex M appears to be getting the hang of it too, lets see how these two guys do in the dry now that they have had their confidence boosted.
    Mike
    The old man from Ontario

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Starmag Says:

    Rain sure throws a spanner in a race and produces fluke results. Still, Ant brother was fairly remarkable today. I have my doubts about that transferring to dry conditions, but I hope he proves me wrong.

    Thanks for the “eight or so riders who had never completed a wet race lap in MotoGP” info, I didn’t know that.

    Talk of a 10th for Methuselah should finally be snuffed out now. With Antman out, it was his best last chance. It’s said hope springs eternal, but his last championship was in 2009, which is eons ago in manically competitive world racing. I doubt Yamaha would have demoted him if they thought there was any chance at all of a 10th.

    Like

    • Starmag Says:

      By the way, sorry to hear of your wife’s health issue. I’m sending her good, good, Good Vibrations, I hope it helps. : 7 )

      Like

      • Dale Mensch Says:

        Never clear where people like that keep their internal organs?

        Like

        • Starmag Says:

          They are very talented harpists playing a great uplifting pop classic. If you can do that, it never hurts to be cute. They are shocking though, given the obesity rates in the US.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Mad4TheCrest Says:

            Judging from the vegetation in the background, I would guess they are in Australia or New Zealand, though even where there is less obesity, these ladies are slender. I think you can SEE their internal organs!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Starmag Says:

              I don’t know where that was shot, but I think they are from Chicago. They do odd covers, metal tunes, odd Nordic things, etc. I just did a search for covers of Good Vibrations. Here’s another cool one A cappella by one guy split screen of himself 16 times:

              Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Allen Says:

        Thanks. Cheers to Mrs. Starmag, too. 🙂

        Like

  3. Old MOron Says:

    I love wet races. Had a great time watching all three contests today – even if I was disappointed with certain results.

    In Moto3 Lopez made real boner, running into the back of his teammate, Fenati. They were both setting hot laps and working their way forward. Fenati, known for his temper, was actually forgiving and sweet.

    In Moto2, Joe Roberts’s team made a boner of a tire change. They couldn’t even change a tire?! Oh well, we’ve seen similarly bizarre things on the starting grid. Remember when Dani Pedrosa’s team couldn’t remove a tire warmer? But the biggest mistake was starting the race before Joe even got to the grid. What the hell was that? I understand that everyone else’s tires were getting cold. Why not just send them on another warm-up lap? Or maybe they should not have let Joe leave pit lane. I don’t know. Somebody blew it.

    MotoGP, great race. Enjoyed every minute. Bummed for Valley, but he’s a living legend. He can take it. I wish Zarco could’ve fought his way onto the podium. His medium tires came into operating temperature a little too late. Congrats to Alex Marquez, that dick.

    See you in a week, Brucey. Take care of your family.

    Like

  4. Dale Mensch Says:

    A MOST interesting MotoGP race, I need to watch it again to catch all the stuff I missed.

    VERY happy for everyone on the podium. I can honestly say that I’m excited for every winner this year: I don’t really have a favorite.

    Was anyone else astounded that Rossi didn’t take out half the field with his crash? Amazing reflexes all around him! (although it looked to me like Mir ran over Rossi’s leg?)

    I definitely need to start watching Moto2/3…

    Like

  5. Allison Sullivan Says:

    “scratches head”

    Well, if I’d had ten dollars on that podium, I’d be buying a house in France instead of watching it on TV. Whoever’s in charge of the script this year must be smoking the good stuff …

    A surprise but not a surprise from Danilo – if we were picking form at the horse races, he was a horse for the course – and then the rain came down. Dude’s also a known mudder. He looked nothing but solid all day. Marquez Minor in second looked cooler and calmer than James Bond every shot I saw – stellar job from him, and his team at the end were SO excited. They’ve not had a lot to celebrate all year, so I’m sure they enjoyed today.

    Jack Miller – ah, dammit. Alex Rins – double dammit, Both looking so strong before it all went sideways. And Dovi with absoutely no rear tire for the last three laps, dude did super well to keep it upright and finish where he did, with FQ down the field behind him. Keeps him at the sharp end of the title race … six rounds to go? It gets more and more interesting with every race.

    Not so good in the minor leagues – Tatsu in Moto3 returned from injury and promptly crashed out, and Jorge Martin did the same in Moto2. Another good result for Marco Bezzecchi though. Celestino Vietti is starting to look like the Next Big Thing in Moto3.

    Marc Marquez … “See y’all in Aragoin!” Everybody else … “Don’t hurry back, we’re not missing you!”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Vrooom Says:

    What happened to Miller’s bike? All I could see was smoke coming out of the tail pipe,and the broadcast I watched didn’t say anything more. He was doing well and holding on to second. Alex Marquez was certainly a surprise, not too surprising to see Petrux do well in the wet on his home track. Rossi going out in turn 3 of lap 1 was disappointing and dangerous. Mir got screwed on that one, falling way back.

    Like

    • Old MOron Says:

      Have you googled around? I found an interesting story that described the situation, but not the cause of the engine failure.

      Miller’s #1 bike had an engine issue during the morning warm up, so for the race, he was all set to go on his #2 bike. His #2 bike was set for a dry race, then the rain came. His #1 bike had been set for rain, just in case, so that’s the one he raced. Just had to hope for the best.

      As we know, it didn’t work out.
      I don’t think that Ducati will broadcast the cause of their engine problems. We never really learned what troubles the Yamahas, either.

      Like

      • Dale Mensch Says:

        I’ve read several times that Yamaha’s problem was a bad batch of valves. The other teams wouldn’t okay a mechanical update without lots of engineering details, so Yamaha instead reduced the redline to keep engines alive longer. Still haven’t seen details on what exactly was wrong the valves though.

        Like

  7. Old MOron Says:

    Oh, Valentino Rossi tests positive for COVID-19!
    Previously it was six Yamaha engineers.
    I hope the Petronas crew was not cross infected.
    C’mon, Fabio!

    Like

    • Bruce Allen Says:

      Not surprised that someone got the Rona, just surprised it was the grizzled veteran. As we’ve observed previously, though, he does get more ass than a toilet seat in a sorority. Not social distancing.

      Like

    • Starmag Says:

      I know you are of the Yellow Horde, but I wouldn’t be too worried about him. Loads of scientists are saying the PCR tests are ran for too many cycles producing false positives. The NYT no less:

      A medical “case” used to refer to someone with actual symptoms of disease. Now it’s just someone who failed a PCR test. Outright fraud really.

      Like

      • Old MOron Says:

        While I don’t see evidence that the current testing scheme is fraudulent, I do agree the article presents a cogent new perspective on testing. It makes sense that as our experience with the virus and with COVID-19 grows, our testing and coping strategies should evolve. I hope they do. Thanks for the link.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Buzz Says:

    Just learned Rossi has the ‘rona so he won’t have to bother with crashing in the first turn on Sunday.

    Like

  9. Old MOron Says:

    Hey Bruce, we love you, man! http://disq.us/p/2cjojn5

    Liked by 1 person

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