MOTOGP LE MANS
Marc Márquez returns to the battle for victory
The rain accompanied the riders throughout the morning of Friday, as they began to roll on the asphalt of the Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans, for the French Grand Prix. Fortunately, the rain subsided and gave way to a clearer sky that the riders took advantage off. Without going any further, Pol Espargaró, on board of his Honda RC213V, finished the morning as the fourth fastest rider. During the free practice 2, the Catalan rider continued setting good times, specifically a 1'32.137 that allowed him to finish the day in fourth place overall, just 0.001 seconds behind third place.
On the other side, Marc Márquez was able to maintain a position in the top ten for the majority of FP1. He finished the morning in fifth place, just one spot behind his teammate. Already in FP2, Marc continued to improve his pace without losing his place in the top ten at any time. At the end of the day, Márquez finished in eighth position.
The rain that fell before the start of the free practice 3 already presaged an intense qualifying day, although it was hard to imagine how exciting the session would end up being.
During free practice 3, Marc was able to show that every day he feels better from his injury. In fact, his very successful performance made him finish the session at the top of the standings, with the Cervera rider returning to lead a session since the 2020 Spanish Grand Prix.
Neither Pol's crash at Turn 3 nor Marc's at Turn 9 were enough to cause neither of them to miss a second of Q2. What followed was the most exciting Q2 session so far this season. Márquez starred in an impressive first fifteen minutes, launching himself into the battle for pole position. However, the rain returned to Le Mans and Marc could not improve the sixth place that he already achieved on his return to Portugal.
Pol's performance during Q2 was equally spectacular, joining his teammate in a healthy battle for pole. In addition, they were joined by Takaaki Nakagami, making these three provisionally a Honda front row during the final minutes of Q2. Unfortunately, a second crash for the Granollers rider saw him slide down to eighth for the following day's race.
Sunday morning started the same way as the previous two, wet and humid. Already after noon the sky began to clear, giving way to an apparently sunny afternoon. Although the clouds were filling the sky again just as the MotoGP grid was lining up for the 27-lap race. Only five laps after, the riders had to enter the pits to change the slicks for the rain tires.
For Pol, the start was not easy, as a contact with Morbidelli forced him to back off and get out of the top five. After the call to the pits, Espargaró returned to the battle for the top five, until a dry Le Mans circuit again made life difficult for the Repsol Honda Team rider, who kept the rain tires together with the other riders. At the end of the day, the youngest of the Espargaró equaled his best result in the Repsol Honda team colors so far, with a very fought eighth place.
A perfect start of the race, even with the difficult conditions he encountered, saw Marc Márquez position himself as the race leader when he returned to the track from the pit lane. The eight-time world champion kept increasing his lead steadily until the last corner sent him to the ground. Showing off his champion spirit, Márquez returned to the track to try to get the best possible place after the incident.
Marc kept advancing, setting the fastest times on the track, but a second crash - this time at Turn 6 - put an end to Márquez's career at this French GP. Fortunately, he did not suffer any injuries, but disappointment and frustration accompanied him for a few days. Although not too many, because in two weeks he will surely be prepared, in the same way as his teammate Pol Espargaró, to give it all at the Oakley Italian Grand Prix at Mugello.