Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V) came home in sixth place at the end of today’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans, one position ahead of fellow RC213V rider Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda RC213V).
Both Honda men had hoped for cooler weather this afternoon but the conditions were the hottest they’d been all weekend, reducing grip, which is currently an issue for the all-new 2022 RC213V.
As always Marquez gave it 100% from lights out to chequered flag, riding a typically determined race, this time from the fourth row of the grid, which he shared with Nakagami and Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team Honda RC213V).
The first lap was particularly frantic, with Marquez and Nakagami immediately attacking to make their way through the pack, ending the lap seventh and ninth, after starting from tenth and 12th.
Marquez did everything he could, but as the hot track took its toll on the tyres he struggled to hold his usual tight lines, despite changing his front tyre on the grid, from the softest compound to the medium, which had been tricky in the cooler conditions on Friday and Saturday, especially through the track’s few left-handers.
The hot track became too much for some riders, with seven of the 24 starters sliding off, all without injury, during the 27 laps. Despite the challenges Marquez kept everything under control and the 29-year-old Spaniard and six-times MotoGP king will take everything he learned from this race and use it to further development of the latest RC213V.
Once the race had settled down Nakagami had a mostly lonely ride in seventh place, crossing the finish line 1.5 seconds behind Marquez. This equalled his fine seventh place at the Spanish GP two weeks ago and suggested that the 30-year-old from Chiba is starting to get into his stride as the 2022 MotoGP World reaches one-third distance.
Espargaro didn’t have as strong a start to the race as his fellow RC213V riders ahead of him. The 30-year-old lost a couple of places in the melee, ending lap one in 13th, leaving him deep in the pack, with lots of work to do.
The former Moto2 World Champion did everything he could to make forward progress but spent much of the race in a group at a track where it’s particularly difficult to overtake. And he lost positions in the final stages when a rival crashed in front of him at Turn Three, forcing him to slow right down and take avoiding action.
Nakagami’s team-mate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda CASTROL Honda RC213V) did well to score two World Championship points in 14th, after starting from 21st and taking a long-lap penalty.
The 26-year-old Spaniard, who took his debut MotoGP podium here two years ago, made a strong start and got into a small group of riders fighting for the final championship points.
The MotoGP paddock now gets to enjoy a weekend off before entering into a very hectic period, with the Italian and Catalan Grands Prix on May 29 and June 5, followed by the German GP and Dutch TT on June 19 and 26.