News 15 May 2023

Bezzecchi closes in with victory at 1000th GP

Arbolino, Holgado extend with wins in Moto2 and Moto3 at Le Mans.

Image: Supplied.

Mooney VR46 Racing Team’s Marco Bezzecchi has closed to within just one point of the 2023 MotoGP World Championship lead, taking victory in the 1000th GP at Le Mans while reigning champion Francesco Bagnaia and Maverick Vinales collided. Meanwhile, championship leaders Tony Arbolino and Daniel Holgado extended with wins in Moto2 and Moto3.

Bezzecchi survived what were chaotic opening laps at the French GP to work his way to the lead, ultimately stretching out his advantage at the front to take a 4.256s victory ahead of sprint race winner Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing).

A late fall from the returning Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) elevated Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) to P3 – a popular podium at his home GP. Rookie Augusto Fernandez (GasGas Factory Racing Tech3) withstood the charge of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) to secure a season-best P4, with the number 41 completing the top five.

Despite being pushed wide at turn six by Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing) in the early stages and later serving a long lap penalty for not relinquishing enough time after running through the chicane in sector two, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) finished in sixth, 13.638s from the lead. Notably, Marquez received a three-place grid penalty post-race for the early incident with Binder to be served at the next grand prix.

In P7 was Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha), leading Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha).

Notably, Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Vinales (Aprilia Racing Team) collided in the early laps while battling for second, both riders during the incident in the final sector and unable to finish the race.

Luca Marini (Mooney VR46) and Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing) came together the next lap when the Italian saved a front-end slide out of turn three and his trajectory left the number 73 with nowhere to go to avoid the incident. Both riders were battling for podium positions at the time and ultimately did not finish the race.

Australia’s Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) led throughout the opening laps but began to drop through the field as the race progressed. He ultimately retired from the race following a fall in sector two in the final laps.

Just one point separates Bagnaia and Bezzecchi at the top of the MotoGP World Championship standings, with Binder in third and 13 points from the top.

Image: Supplied.

A commanding performance saw Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing) stand tall in the fifth round of the Moto2 World Championship, fending off Filip Salac (QJMOTOR Gresini) to win the restarted 14-lap outing.

A multiple bike incident involving Albert Arenas (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) and Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Mastercamp) brought out the red flags, with pole-setter Sam Lowes suffering a highspeed incident at turn one before the race was stopped.

Lowes was permitted to restart but his team faced a race against the clocks to repair his damaged bike. While he missed the sighting lap, the Elf Marc VDS Racing Team were able to get Lowes back out for the race, starting from the back of the grid.

Lowes recovered to ultimately finish 15th, but it was Arbolino who took the race-winning glory, finishing six-tenths ahead of Salac as Alonso Lopez (Lighttech SpeedUp) completed the top three. Australian Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) finished the bout in 19th.

Disaster struck for title contender Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who crashed out of the race while running second, allowing Arbolino to leave Le Mans with a 25-point advantage in the championship standings.

Image: Supplied.

In Moto3, immense pace from Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado in the closing stages allowed him to hold on for victory, besting pole-setter Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) and Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) who completed the top three.

Australia’s Joel Kelso (CFMOTO Racing Pruestel GP) charged through the field to narrowly miss a top 10 position, finishing P11 as he continues to build in his return from injury.

After five rounds, Holgado holds a healthy 21-point lead ahead of Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) – who was fourth at Le Mans – as Masia is third in the Moto3 World Championship standings, also 21 points back.

The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup also competed in France, as Australians Jacob Roulstone and Carter Thompson took to the grid. Roulstone notched 11-6 finishes, while Thompson – who started from a season-best P5 – concluded the weekend with a 10-DNS scorecard.

Detailed results