Marc Marquez dominated the French MotoGP at Le Mans to secure Honda’s 300th victory in the premier class.
The reigning champion controlled proceedings and led for the majority of the race, crossing the line +1.984s ahead of Andrea Dovizioso. The 300th win comes 53 year after the first – Jim Redwin at Hockenheim.
Dovizioso struggled in the closing stages and worked hard to keep his team-mate, Danilo Petrucci at bay. This was Petrucci’s first podium on the factory bike.
Jack Miller finished fourth after briefly leading the race in the opening laps. The Australian took the fight to Marquez but appeared to have to issues with his bike during the middle of the race.
Nine-time champion Valentino Rossi took fifth after finding some pace on race day once again. A few more laps and the nine-time champion could have been on the podium.
A fantastic performance from Pol Espargaro saw him secure sixth and KTM’s best-ever result in the dry. Espargaro ended the race +5.935s behind Marquez, which will please the KTM management team.
The Petronas Yamaha duo of Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo were next in seventh and eighth. The latter had great late race pace and did well to recover from a poor start.
Two riders who struggled in qualifying completed the top 10. Cal Crutchlow was ninth, whilst Alex Rins battled from 19th on the grid to take 10th.
Aleix Espargaro and Miguel Oliviera both received time penalties for cutting corners. Meanwhile, Karel Abraham and Joan Mir both crashed on the warm-up lap. Mir would re-join proceedings but failed to make it into the points.
At the beginning of the race Petrucci made a strong getaway and briefly led going through the first turns, only for Marquez to force his way back through at turn three.
Miller passed Petrucci for second on lap three, with Dovizioso and Rossi following him through. Miller’s pace was good and he chased down Marquez to take the lead on lap five.
Marquez kept his cool and retook the lead a couple of laps later, despite the best efforts of Miller. On the same lap, Francesco Bagnaia and Maverick Vinales came together and both riders retired. Moments later, Andrea Iannone returned to the pit lane and retired from the race.
During the midway point in the race Marquez got his head down and began to pull away from the pack. With 11 laps remaining, Dovizioso got by Miller for second. Miller shook his head and may have been struggling for grip.
Meanwhile, down the order, Quartararo was fighting back from his slow getaway. He made easy work of Jorge Lorenzo for ninth and set his sights on Crutchlow. He would get by the Brit on the penultimate lap.
In the closing stages Petrucci was all over the back of Dovizioso. He tried to lunge down the inside on multiple occasions, however he was unable to make a move stick. Dovizioso is one of the smartest riders on the field, making him hard to pass.
Dovizioso held on to take second and, most importantly, remain within touching distance of Marquez in the standings. As a result, after five rounds, he is only eight points behind the reigning champion.
What’s next for Marquez and MotoGP?
Round six of the 2019 season takes place at Mugello on 31 May – 2 June 2019. Lorenzo took his first victory for Ducati there in 2018. Marquez crashed out of that race and as a result he finished 16th.