Le Mans can always be counted upon to be an eventful race, usually courtesy of the rain. The 2016 MotoGP was a similarly eventful 28 lap affair despite abundant sunshine. Lorenzo leapt off the line and hightailed it to the first corner with the rest of the field in tow. Marquez’s wheezing Honda slipped down to fifth place, outpaced by even the Tech 3 Yamahas. The Andreas aboard the Ducatis slotted into second and third a few corners later. By the sixth lap, the pecking order was Lorenzo, Iannone, Dovizioso, Marquez and Rossi as the top five. On the very next lap, Iannone dumped it at turn 6, costing himself and Ducati Corse another possible podium. On the following lap, Crutchlow ended the race in what is turning out to be his position of choice for four of the five races in the season – the gravel trap. Rabat followed soon at turn 6 and Hernandez crashed on lap 9. Rossi overtook Marquez at Garage Vert on lap 13 and proceeded to actually pull away from Marquez on the straight. Rossi made it a Movistar Yamaha 1-2 by overtaking Dovi at the Museum corner on the next lap.
Dovi and Marquez crashed simultaneously after hitting a patch of tarmac that was lighter than the surrounding track on lap 16. This tandem crash occurred at exactly the same moment, with both riders low siding into the gravel and away from the podium. The luckless Dovi seems to be pursued by some nasty karma, and had to once again endure the evaporation of a possible podium opportunity with another DNF. Marquez hopped on his battered Repsol Honda and continued onward. The rest of the race progressed rather uneventfully save for Miller crashing out on lap 18 and Smith crashing out on lap 20. The Le Mans GP saw a Yamaha 1-2, a historic podium for Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales, and eight riders crashing out. Marquez did salvage 13th place.
Lorenzo’s dominant showing serves to remind us of his clinical precision and metronomic speed. He was largely unchallenged and decisively romped home. However, his move to a more inferior Ducati next season begs the question – Why would a world champion leave a sure world championship winning bike for a possible contender? Lorenzo’s win may have further persuaded Vinales to take his place, given the M1’s domination thus far.
The surprising state of the RC213V being down on power has led to the mercurial Marquez being the only rider capable of challenging for the podium. If Pedrosa switches to Yamaha as rumoured, that could leave Honda in a fair mess next season if the woes continue. As the GP circus continues onward to Mugello, all eyes will be on Ducati and the Doctor as home favourites. The fast track should compound Honda’s troubles and give Ducati Corse the incentive to pick up some much-needed podium finishes. However, the real race is between Rossi and Lorenzo as they seek to stamp their authority at Mugello and all over the competition.
*A lot of the silly season has been cleared up after this article has been written. Dovizioso has signed for two more years at Ducati, Pedrosa has signed for two more years at Honda and Maverick Vinales seems to be pretty much confirmed at Yamaha. We wait for the remaining slots to be filled, with announcements most likely to happen at Mugello.