Joan Mir struck a huge early blow in the battle for the Moto3 world championship with victory in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. The Spaniard took advantage of a crash for Romano Fenati to claim his third win of the year but the race will be remembered for an extraordinary second lap pile-up which caused a half-hour stoppage.
The problems started at the Dunlop chicane as four riders collided on lap one, among them was Adam Norrodin. The Malaysian remounted and continued, unaware that his Honda was leaking fluids and when the field came back around on lap two, no fewer than a dozen riders barrelled straight into the gravel trap at La Chapelle due to the lack of grip. Mir and Fenati were two of the names to crash out, as was polesitter Jorge Martin.
With track safety in question and almost all of the pre-race favourites picking their bikes up out of the gravel trap, race direction had no choice but to red flag the race, and the action wouldn’t resume for another 30 minutes. Martin wouldn’t fare much better at the restart, falling at exactly the same corner, as Fenati and Mir broke away at the front.
Just as Mir was building up a head of steam in his chase of Fenati, the Italian lost the front end of his Honda at Musee, handing his championship rival a lead he would maintain until the finish. The traditional Moto3 pack racing would instead centre around the battle for second with Darryn Binder losing his chance at a rostrum by making an identical error to Fenati, only his came heartbreakingly on the final lap.
Aron Canet emerged though the chaos to claim second, following up his maiden win from Jerez, while Fabio Di Giannantonio returned to the podium in third. Marcos Ramirez matched his career best, finishing fourth for the second race running ahead of Juanfran Guevara, while sixth-placed Enea Bastianini edged out Jules Danilo who was the first French rider home.
Andrea Migno was eighth for Sky VR46 after his team-mate Nicolo Bulega was forced to ride in agony after the early pile-up. Bo Bendsneyder took ninth while Danny Kent marked his wildcard outing with a top ten finish.
Moto3 HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France – Race Result
|1||36. Joan Mir||Honda||Leopard Racing||27:37.830||25|
|2||44. Aron Canet||Honda||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+4.252||20|
|3||21. Fabio Di Giannantonio||Honda||Del Conca Gresini Moto3||+4.365||16|
|4||42. Marcos Ramirez||KTM||Platinum Bay Real Estate||+4.469||13|
|5||58. Juanfran Guevara||KTM||RBA BOE Racing Team||+4.845||11|
|6||33. Enea Bastianini||Honda||Estrella Galicia 0,0||+5.463||10|
|7||95. Jules Danilo||Honda||Marinelli Rivacold Snipers||+5.652||9|
|8||16. Andrea Migno||KTM||Sky Racing Team VR46||+5.821||8|
|9||64. Bo Bendsneyder||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+6.049||7|
|10||52. Danny Kent||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+6.193||6|
|11||84. Jakub Kornfeil||Peugeot||Peugeot MC Saxoprint||+7.504||5|
|12||17. John McPhee||Honda||British Talent Team||+8.741||4|
|13||41. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat||Honda||Honda Team Asia||+16.006||3|
|14||48. Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Mahindra||MAHINDRA Northgate Aspar||+16.405||2|
|15||12. Marco Bezzecchi||Mahindra||CIP||+16.514||1|
|16||11. Livio Loi||Honda||Leopard Racing||+16.639|
|17||8. Nicolo Bulega||KTM||Sky Racing Team VR46||+16.752|
|18||96. Manuel Pagliani||Mahindra||CIP||+16.996|
|19||71. Ayumu Sasaki||Honda||SIC Racing Team||+17.046|
|20||6. Maria Herrera||KTM||AGR Team||+17.206|
|21||65. Philipp Oettl||KTM||Südmetall Schedl GP Racing||+28.501|
|22||14. Tony Arbolino||Honda||SIC58 Squadra Corse||+33.398|
|23||4. Patrik Pulkkinen||Peugeot||Peugeot MC Saxoprint||+24.059|
|NC||40. Darryn Binder||KTM||Platinum Bay Real Estate||+1 Lap|
|NC||24. Tatsuki Suzuki||Honda||SIC58 Squadra Corse||+2 Laps|
|NC||27. Kaito Toba||Honda||Honda Team Asia||+2 Laps|
|NC||23. Niccolo Antonelli||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||+5 Laps|
|NC||88. Jorge Martin||Honda||Del Conca Gresini Moto3||+6 Laps|
|NC||5. Romano Fenati||Honda||Marinelli Rivacold Snipers||+9 Laps|
|NC||75. Albert Arenas||Mahindra||MAHINDRA Northgate Aspar||+13 Laps|
|NC||7. Adam Norrodin||Honda||SIC Racing Team||+16 Laps|
|NS||19. Gabriel Rodrigo||KTM||RBA BOE Racing Team|