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REPORT: Martin masters Le Mans, Marquez mugs Bagnaia

Matt Clayton
Monday, 13 May 2024

Jorge Martin’s championship lead ballooned after winning both the Sprint and Grand Prix in France, while Marc Marquez made light of a bad qualifying to snare two dramatic second places at Le Mans.

Jorge Martin extended his MotoGP™ world championship lead to 38 points after doing the Sprint-Grand Prix double at the French Motorcycle Grand Prix, the Spaniard edging out Ducati stablemates Marc Marquez and Pecco Bagnaia in a tense 27-lap battle on Sunday at Le Mans.

Martin, who cruised to victory in Saturday’s 13-lap short-form race from pole, was on his back foot as soon as the lights went out for Sunday’s main race, Bagnaia getting the holeshot from second on the grid and leading the Pramac Ducati rider for the first three-quarters of the race.


Martin failed with an attack on Bagnaia at the Turn 3-4 chicane with eight laps remaining, but made the move stick at the same corner a lap later to take a small but significant advantage that he held until a mistake three laps from the end brought Bagnaia back into contention.

By then, Marquez – who had stormed through from 13th on the grid to finish second in the Sprint – had scythed his way up to third, and the trio began the last lap separated by less than half a second. With Bagnaia unable to reel Martin in, Marquez launched an audacious passing attempt on the Italian at the Turn 9-10 chicane to steal second place with just five corners remaining, Martin using the squabble behind him to extend his lead to a decisive 0.446secs by the chequered flag.

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It was the full stop on a bounce-back weekend for last year’s championship runner-up, who crashed from the lead at Jerez two weeks previously. Martin led both Friday practice sessions, set a new circuit record on Saturday to take pole (1min 29.919secs), led every lap of the Sprint and tallied 25 points on Sunday for his first victory since Portugal in round two.

Marquez banked his second second place in succession to rise to third in the championship on the 2023-spec Gresini Ducati, while Bagnaia – just 0.585secs from victory – took 16 points from the weekend after a poor start and technical difficulties saw him retire from Saturday’s Sprint after just three laps.

Elsewhere, it was another underwhelming weekend for Australia’s Jack Miller, who finished eighth from 11th on the grid in the Sprint to earn two world championship points, but crashed out of Sunday’s Grand Prix while running in 12th place on lap 17.

Surprise packet

Franco Morbidelli has been completely overshadowed by teammate Martin in his first season at Pramac Ducati after crossing from Yamaha, but the 2020 championship runner-up scored more points on Sunday for finishing seventh (nine) than he had in nine Sprints and Grands Prix combined beforehand (six) to show welcome signs of progress.

Morbidelli, who qualified inside the top 10 for the third straight race, dropped to 14th on lap one and looked destined for another lonely race towards the back of the pack, but held off KTM’s Brad Binder in the closing stages to finish 9.868secs from victory, by far his most convincing showing of the season to date.

Number to know

0: With Pedro Acosta (GasGas) and Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) crashing out, and with Miguel Oliveira (Aprilia) retiring with an exhaust problem after 17 laps, no rider has finished all 10 races across Sprints and Grands Prix this season.

French Motorcycle Grand Prix: top 10

  1. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 41mins 23.709secs
  2. Marc Marquez (Ducati) +0.446secs
  3. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) +0.585secs
  4. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) +2.206secs
  5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) +4.053secs
  6. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Ducati) +9.480secs
  7. Franco Morbidelli (Ducati) +9.868secs
  8. Brad Binder (KTM) +10.353secs
  9. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) +11.392secs
  10. Alex Marquez (Ducati) +13.442secs

Riders' championship standings (top 5)

  1. Jorge Martin (Ducati) 129 points
  2. Pecco Bagnaia (Ducati) 91
  3. Marc Marquez (Ducati) 89
  4. Enea Bastianini (Ducati) 89
  5. Maverick Vinales (Aprilia) 81

What's next?

Round 6: Catalunya (Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya), May 24-26