Miller wins French GP despite penalty, Marquez falls from lead - The Race

Miller wins French GP despite penalty, Marquez falls from lead

May 16 2021
By Valentin Khorounzhiy

Ducati rider Jack Miller claimed a second consecutive MotoGP win in a rain-affected race at Le Mans, taking profit of Marc Marquez crashing from the lead.

Miller’s win came despite him paying a short visit to the gravel in the early stages of the race, and having to serve a double long-lap penalty for speeding on pitlane entry.

As the sole Ducati on front row, Miller had predictably taken the lead into the first corner at the start, with poleman Fabio Quartararo also slipping behind Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales.

But after Miller ran wide at Turn 5 on the second lap and allowed Vinales through, only to re-pass him at the first corner two laps later, Quartararo then lunged past both with an audacious move into the Dunlop chicane.

He then aggressively rebuffed a Miller attack into Garage Vert and ultimately yielded into Turn 9, only to get ahead at Turn 3 again.

But the race out front only got more chaotic from there as the skies opened up, the weather conditions dramatically slowing Vinales and allowing for a breakaway top four of Quartararo, Miller, Marquez and Alex Rins (Suzuki).

On lap five, Miller lost grip and took a big journey through the gravel, and it was that very lap that the whole field filtered into the pits for a change to wet-shod bikes.

Marquez was already side by side with Quartararo entering the pitlane, and when Quartararo came into the wrong pit box he was jumped by both Marquez and Rins – but the Suzuki man crashed immediately at Turn 4 upon returning to the track.

And though Marquez established a two-second lead over Quartararo, he then highsided off his bike at the final corner, somehow able to rejoin but running well down the order. He would recover to 11th before crashing again, this time at La Chapelle.

Quartararo therefore inherited the lead, fending off Miller, who was saddled with his double penalty – but served it in consecutive laps and immediately got back on Quartararo’s tail.

And though Quartararo was soon given a long-lap penalty of his own, for botching the bike swap procedure, Miller was already ahead by then, having dragged past the Yamaha exiting the Dunlop chicane.

Once Quartararo served his penalty, he managed to stabilise the deficit to Miller, but though the two had gone more than 10 seconds clear of the pack they were now being reeled in fast by Zarco – who had passed Takaaki Nakagami at Turn 1 for third.

With six laps left to run, and a clear blue sky meaning the track was now drying rapidly, Zarco picked off Quartararo on the main straight, setting off after Miller. But his advantage of a medium wet rear tyre versus a soft rear tyre for Miller proved insufficient, with Miller limiting his time losses and taking the win by four seconds.

In third place, Quartararo was clearly hanging on by the end, and a charging Francesco Bagnaia – who had served a double long lap penalty like Miller, for the same reason – just ran out of race distance to deny the Frenchman a home podium.

It means Quartararo now leads the standings by one point over Bagnaia, with Zarco and Miller 12 and 16 down on the Yamaha man respectively.

Wet-weather master Danilo Petrucci, who won a rainy Le Mans race last year, was fifth this time, marking what is comfortably his best finish on the Tech3-run KTM so far.

Alex Marquez and Nakagami completed the top seven for LCR Honda, with Pol Espargaro taking eighth for the factory Honda team – his race having never really recovered from a big moment early on that led to Franco Morbidelli crashing.

Petrucci’s team-mate Iker Lecuona overtook Vinales and Valentino Rossi late on to take ninth.

Every finisher bar Morbidelli scored points, the Petronas Yamaha man having been able to rejoin despite appearing to have aggravated his left knee issue.

There were also crashes for Miguel Oliveira (KTM) at the Dunlop chicane and reigning champion Joan Mir – who fell while coming in for the bike swap – while Mir’s team-mate Rins had a second fall at the Dunlop chicane after rejoining the race.

It was a race of wasted opportunities for Aprilia, with Aleix Espargaro and Q1 hero Lorenzo Savadori having to retire with apparent mechanical issues while running sixth and 12th respectively.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Bike Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Jack Miller Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 27 18 47m25.473s 1m33.609s 1 25
2 Johann Zarco Pramac Racing Ducati 27 0 +3.97s 1m33.75s 1 20
3 Fabio Quartararo Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 27 4 +14.468s 1m33.048s 1 16
4 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati 27 0 +16.172s 1m34.809s 1 13
5 Danilo Petrucci Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 27 0 +21.43s 1m33.929s 1 11
6 Alex Marquez LCR Honda Castrol Honda 27 0 +23.509s 1m34.606s 1 10
7 Takaaki Nakagami LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 27 0 +30.164s 1m33.506s 1 9
8 Pol Espargaró Repsol Honda Team Honda 27 0 +35.221s 1m33.643s 1 8
9 Iker Lecuona Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM 27 0 +40.432s 1m33.886s 1 7
10 Maverick Viñales Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 27 2 +40.577s 1m33.108s 1 6
11 Valentino Rossi Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 27 0 +42.198s 1m34.077s 1 5
12 Luca Marini SKY VR46 Avintia Team Ducati 27 0 +52.408s 1m34.506s 1 4
13 Brad Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 27 0 +59.377s 1m34.776s 1 3
14 Enea Bastianini Avintia Esponsorama Racing Ducati 27 0 +1m02.224s 1m34.628s 1 2
15 Tito Rabat Pramac Racing Ducati 27 0 +1m09.651s 1m35.507s 1 1
16 Franco Morbidelli Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 23 0 +4 laps 1m43.803s 1 0
Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team Honda 17 3 DNF 1m33.427s 1 0
Aleix Espargaró Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 15 0 DNF 1m33.968s 1 0
Miguel Oliveira Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 12 0 DNF 1m33.753s 1 0
Alex Rins Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 12 0 DNF 1m33.154s 1 0
Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 11 0 DNF 1m34.89s 1 0
Joan Mir Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 4 0 DNF 1m33.75s 0 0

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