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Bezzecchi brilliant in breathless French Grand Prix

Monday, 15 May 2023

The 1000th world championship Grand Prix served up a race befitting a momentous milestone, with Marco Bezzecchi's cruise to victory in stark contrast to the chaos that ensued behind the Italian.

Ducati's Marco Bezzecchi won a drama-filled French Grand Prix at Le Mans, the Italian narrowly avoiding being caught up in a lap six crash between his Mooney VR46 teammate Luca Marini and Gresini Ducati's Alex Marquez and storming to the lead five laps later, taking his second career victory by 4.256secs.

Pramac Ducati pair Jorge Martin and Johann Zarco rounded out the podium for the 1000th world championship Grand Prix after Marc Marquez (Honda), returning after a three-race absence, crashed out with two laps left while fighting Martin for second place.


Marquez was one of eight riders not to see the chequered flag after 27 laps, Australia's Jack Miller one of the non-finishers after leading for eight laps. Championship leader Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) was another high-profile casualty, crashing out in an incident with Aprilia's Maverick Vinales on lap five that ended with a heated argument between the pair in the trackside gravel trap.

Bezzecchi's victory, which came after he won for the first time in Argentina in round two, brings him to within one point of Bagnaia's series lead.

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Martin's second place saw him leave France with a haul of 32 world championship points after winning the Sprint Race on Saturday, the Spaniard beating KTM's Brad Binder and Bagnaia over 13 laps.

Aussie watch

Jack Miller left Le Mans with no points to show for a weekend of pace and promise, the Australian crashing out from seventh place at Turn 3 with three laps left in Sunday's feature race after falling on lap two of the sprint race 24 hours earlier.

The KTM rider came to France with podiums on his previous two visits to the famous track, including a win in 2021, and pushed past Marc Marquez to take the lead on lap three, which he held until lap 11 when Bezzecchi demoted him at Turn 3.

Miller soon fell backwards from there as tyre wear pumped the brakes on his podium chances, but he looked secure in seventh and set his fastest lap of the race on lap 24 before falling on the following lap.

In Moto3™ action in France, Australia's Joel Kelso finished just a tenth of a second from the top 10 for the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP squad, the Darwin teenager coming home 11th from 16th on the grid at Le Mans.

Senna Agius, again deputising for the Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP team in Moto2™ for injured South African Darryn Binder, started 24th and finished 19th in a 14-lap dash after the original 25-lap race was curtailed by a red flag on lap two.

Surprise packet

Spanish rookie Augusto Fernandez was a brilliant fourth for the GasGas Factory Racing Team, the 2022 Moto2™ champion finishing just 1.4secs from the podium in only his fifth MotoGP™ start.

Fernandez, whose previous best result came at the Circuit of the Americas in round three when he finished 10th, showed prodigious pace all weekend, making Q2 for the first time and qualifying 12th, and spent the entire race inside the top 10 after muscling his way through to ninth on the opening lap.

Number to know

4: Having never won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans until 2020, Ducati has now won the past four with four different riders (Danilo Petrucci in 2020, Jack Miller in 2021, Enea Bastianini in 2022 and Bezzecchi this year.)

French Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

1. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 41mins 37.970secs
2. Jorge Martin (Ducati) +4.256secs
3. Johann Zarco (Ducati) +4.795secs
4. Augusto Fernandez (GasGas) +6.281secs
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +6.726secs
6. Brad Binder (KTM) +13.638secs
7. Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) +15.023secs
8. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +15.826secs
9. Takaaki Nakagami (Honda) +16.370secs
10. Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) +17.828secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

1. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 94 points
2. Marco Bezzecchi (Ducati) 93 points
3. Brad Binder (KTM) 81 points
4. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 80 points
5. Johann Zarco (Ducati) 66 points

What's next?

Round 6: Italy (Mugello), June 11