Luthi Takes Comfortable Victory at Le Mans

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Thomas Luthi dashed any hopes of a home win for Johann Zarco with a superbly judged victory at Le Mans. The Swiss rider overtook the home favourite early in proceedings and controlled the race from that point onwards, keeping his rivals at arm’s length while they fought over the remaining podium spots.

With Zarco starting from the outside of the front row, the capacity crowd had every reason to feel a home victory was possible and their hopes were boosted at the start as Zarco outdragged Sam Lowes on the run towards the Dunlop chicane. Polesitter Alex Rins was swallowed up after appearing to react slowly to the lights changing while Tito Rabat slotted into fourth behind Luthi.

Luthi, a former winner here in the intermediate class, looked dangerous right from the off and under braking for Dunlop on lap two, the Interwetten rider eased past Lowes into second. Given his impressive pace all season, Zarco was expected to put up a much stronger defence but just two laps later, the Ajo rider succumbed in similar circumstances with Luthi taking a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.

Zarco’s attention soon turned to safeguarding second but Rabat’s practice running was starting to pay dividends in the closing stages as his Marc VDS Kalex protected it’s tyres, allowing him to snatch P2 at Dunlop on lap 19. Johann had no answer to the defending champion and despite fading in the last couple of laps, he held off a fast-closing Lowes to claim the final podium position.

After his disastrous start, Rins looked on course to salvage fifth but a crash at Dunlop three laps from home dropped him out of the points altogether. Franco Morbidelli took advantage to finish fifth, the fourth time in five races he has ended up in that position, although the Italian was lucky to see the chequered flag himself after being tailgated by Rins’ teammate Luis Salom.

Julian Simon and Takaaki Nakagami claimed season’s best results in sixth and seventh with Xavier Simeon, Hafizh Syahrin and Dominique Aegerter rounding out the top ten but Jonas Folger’s inconsistent campaign continued, the German following up his Jerez win with a crash at Le Mans.



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