MotoGP: Bezzecchi wins landmark French Grand Prix
The SHARK Grand Prix de France - the 1,000th grand prix in motorcycle racing history, and fifth round of the 2023 MotoGPTM World Championship - was dominated by Mooney VR46 Racing Team's Marco Bezzecchi. The French thriller saw the Italian collect his second victory of the season, ahead Prima Pramac Racing pair Jorge Martin and Johan Zarco. The performance of the MICHELIN Power Slick range contributed actively to the spectacular show which played out in front of a record-breaking audience of 278,805 fans over the weekend.
After winning in torrential rain in Argentina, Bezzecchi was in assertive form again at all-dry Le Mans where Sunday's breathtaking grand prix produced a raft of spectacular overtaking moves.
The Mooney VR46 Racing Team rider fought his way superbly from seventh on the grid to ease ahead on the 11th of the afternoon's 27 laps. Visibly confident in his choice of soft MICHELIN Power Slicks front and rear, he went on to post a sequence of quick laps that took him comfortably clear of his chasers before beating second-placed Martin by a margin of 4.2 seconds.
En route, he clocked the fastest lap of the afternoon with a time of 1m31.855s (Lap 15), frustratingly close to the circuit's benchmark established last May by Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team, 1m31.778s).
Martin followed up his victory in Saturday's Sprint Race with second place on Sunday after a splendid scrap with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who was making his first appearance since late-March's Portuguese GP. The nine-time world champion qualified second on the grid and looked strong throughout, but made a mistake two laps from the flag while running third.
The Spaniard's woes gifted a podium finish to Frenchman Zarco, to the delight of the home spectators. The season's sole rookie Augusto Fernandez (Gas Gas Factory Racing Tech3) was fourth to pocket the best result of his fledgling career at this level, ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing).
Pole-sitter Francesco Bagnaia came third in the sprint race but was forced out of Sunday's grand prix by a tangle with Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) as the two men jostled for position near the front of the field.
Although none of the records for the circuit (all held by Michelin) were beaten this year, the performance, grip and consistency of the French firm's tires played a real part in the weekend's memorable entertainment. All the riders opted for the soft rear for both races, while three different front compounds were chosen.
Bagnaia (94 points) continues to top the provisional Riders' leaderboard, but is now only a point clear of Bezzecchi. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is third on 83 points.
Next round: Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, Mugello, Italy (June 9-11).