Sergio Garcia rides a perfect race to win the French Grand Prix, after sustained pressure throughout by Filip Salac.
A wet start to the race was the setting for the Le Mans Grand Prix. The sun was out, but after this morning’s deluge, it was soaking wet on the track.
Poleman Andrea Migno got the initial hole shot, but went across the first chicane. The early leader was Jaume Masia, but he ran wide at Garage Ver corner and Niccolo Antonelli took over at the front. Pedro Acosta had a great start and was in 11th by the end of the first lap.
Leader Antonelli went down at the end of the first lap at Turn 14 with a high side, allowing Riccardo Rossi to take the lead into the second lap. Tatsuki Suzuki went down at Turn 4, he looked a bit winded as he laid in the gravel.
Jeremy Alcoba went down at Turn 7, on the second lap, but managed to remount. He had a big highside out of Museum Curve and rolled off into the gravel. Early leader Jaume Masia went down at Turn 14 out of 3rd place, with a high side on the exit of the corner, and this was quickly turning into a race of attrition. He was later taken to the medical centre for a check-up.
As GASGAS Gavoiota Aspar rider Sergio Garcia moved into the lead with Filip Salac in his wheel tracks, Championship leader Pedro Acosta fell at Turn 3 out of 5th position. The front washed out as he hung on to his bike. He re-joined behind the Honda Team Asia bikes in 23rd position.
Gabriel Rodrigo was the next in the gravel at Turn 8, as Segio Garcia and Filip Salac started to make a break at the front, three seconds ahead of Riccardo Rossi.
Wildcard, Takuma Matsuyama fell out of 16th at Turn 14. His first attempt at Moto3 hasn’t been a welcome one with a couple of big crashes over the weekend. Pedro Acosta started to work his way through the field and was up to 17th, three laps after his crash.
Sterilgarda Max Racing Team rider Adrian Fernandez was up to a magnificent 11th on Lap 6, after starting on the back row of the grid. Pole position rider Andrea Migno plummeted to 13th after a cautious first few laps.
Pedro Acosta worked his way to 15th as his Red Bull KTM Ajo colleague and Moto2 pole position holder Raul Fernandez hung from pit wall gesticulating, “use your head”. He was setting quick laps and soon caught Stefano Nepa in 14th.
Darryn Binder crashed out of 6th at Turn 3. He looked to be setting good laps but the front end slid from underneath him and he ended up laying on the run-off area.
The second group of three, Riccardo Rossi, Ayumu Sasaki, John McPhee were 5 seconds behind the leading two on lap 9, but were an incredible 14 seconds clear of the rest of the field, with Adrien Fernandez leading the chase group.
Pedro Acosta was up to 11th by Lap 10. He started to look controlled and incredibly fast as he worked his way back through the points-paying positions. This started to look like damage limitation for the young Spaniard, as he looks to extend his championship lead because of the fallers and already passing Andrea Migno and Romano Fenati.
Leader Sergio Garcia started to break away from Czech rider Filip Salac on Lap 10, and looked very comfortable at the front. Salac responded with the fastest lap of the race on Lap 11, as the chasing three started to string some fast laps together. He really started to close Garcia down and looked like he belonged at the front. This is the first time he has been in this position. Garcia went wide at Turn 8 on Lap 13, and Salac took over at the front. Garcia tucked in behind the Rivacold Snipers bike as Salac told him to stick to his tail. Garcia soon took over the lead again as Salac moved over onto the wet part of the track to cool his tyres. The pair were 7 seconds clear of Riccardo Rossi in 3rd at this point.
Pedro Acosta was in 8th position with 7 laps to go. He is an incredible rider, and looked calm and collected after a nightmare start to the race. He had a 5 second gap to bridge to fellow rookie Xavier Artigas, as his team told him “8th is OK” from the pit wall.
John McPhee passed Ayumu Sasaki into 4th on Lap 17 with a neat move into the first chicane. There was a clear dry line now and McPhee looked to be using the improving track conditions as he started a pursuit of Riccardo Rossi, in attempt to get onto the podium. He ran wide at Garage Ver with 5 laps to go and was clearly pushing. He set the fastest lap again with 3 laps to go as he tried to bridge the gap again.
As we moved onto the last lap, John McPhee set an incredible lap to close the gap to Rossi to 0.9 seconds. He really wanted that podium.
GASGAS Gavoiota Aspar got their first win with Sergio Garcia, as he rolled over the line nearly 3 seconds clear. Filip Salac got his first podium in 2nd with a brilliant ride, and Riccardo Rossi managed to cling on to 3rd with his first podium in the class also. John McPhee took a valiant 4th with Ayumu Sasaki behind him. Adrien Fernandez finished in a brilliant 6th place after starting on the back row, and probably could have been with the leaders with a better starting position. Pedro Acosta miraculously managed to extend his championship lead, finishing in 8th.
Not the action we are used to in Moto3, but a tense race all the same. Acosta again showed his brilliance after making a mistake, picking the bike up off the floor and still finishing 8th in an incredibly competitive field. He is the real deal.
In 2 weeks we head to Italy for the Gran Premio d’Italia Oakley, see you then!
Feature Image: MotoGP.com