With a reasonable track temperature and the enticing promise of top ten potential at the iconic French facility (that first hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix in 1969 and has been a popular draw for MotoGP since 2000), both Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith set off from the sixth row of the grid. The Le Mans asphalt counted out a number of names, riders like Andrea Iannone, Andrea Dovizioso and home favourite Johann Zarco, but #44 and #38 KTM RC16diligently pushed for the best points and positions throughout the 27 laps.
Espargaro duelled with Alex Rins and then had to cope with an ailing Cal Crutchlow and was eventually less than five seconds from his best result of the campaign.
With 18 points Espargaro is 13th in the MotoGP table. Smith is 22nd and Mika Kallio already has enough points to sit in 20th.
“We made a good start with six places on the first lap and made my way into that group ahead of me. I then tried as hard as I could to finish as fast as possible and make that eleventh place. We’re almost twenty seconds faster than we were last year and this is very nice because we have been working very hard. We’re still looking ahead and we have some way to go. Mugello next and our bike is fast on the straight – I think today we had the fourth best speed in the traps – this means our engine is working well and I’m hopeful and positive that we’ll be consistent.”