Maverick Vinales has increased his lead in the Moto3 World Championship after a classy victory at Le Mans, seeing off the challenge of Alex Rins and Luis Salom. The Team Calvo rider was shadowed by his Spanish rivals for much of the race before upping the pace in the closing laps to leave them behind.
After early morning rain, the track was damp in places at the start but every rider had slicks fitted and Jonas Folger seemed to have the most confidence in his, powering from the outside of the front row into the lead. The three Spaniards latched onto the back of the Aspar Kalex-KTM as the race settled down with Jakub Kornfeil and Alex Marquez disputing a distant fifth. The front group should also have included front row starter Miguel Oliveira but the Mahindra rider speared off at turn one after just four laps.
Folger, who had opted for the softer of the two tyre options, kept Vinales at arm’s length initially but the championship leader only bided his time until lap nine, and swept through at turn one before outbraking Jonas into Dunlop. Folger’s next task was to ensure he wasn’t dropped by the leaders but a crucial error on lap twelve wrecked those chances when the German ran straight on a Chemin aux Boeufs while trying to fend off Rins. The error relegated him to fourth and that was a position he would be nailed in for the remainder of the race.
Despite the best efforts of Rins, Vinales was simply too good as demonstrated by back-to-back fastest laps on the final two laps of the Grand Prix, moving him 1.2s clear by the chequered flag. Rins was instead forced to fend off a late challenge from Salom for second but the Estrella Galicia rider hung on by a tenth of a second.
Folger faded so badly that he was fourteen seconds adrift in the final reckoning but he was still comfortably clear of the fight for fifth, won by Alex Marquez ahead of Jakub Kornfeil. Zulfahmi Khairuddin had seventh in the palm of his hand until a horrible highside four laps from home which also eliminated Niklas Ajo. The ultimate beneficiary was Romano Fenati who inherited seventh ahead of Brad Binder, home rider Alexis Masbou and Isaac Vinales.
John McPhee won the all-Racing Team Germany battle for eleventh with Jack Miller just 0.140s behind as they crossed the line but Danny Webb couldn’t add to his tally after picking up injuries in a qualifying crash.