Fabio Quartararo ninth at Le Mans and extends championship lead; Morbidelli retires after crash
The Grand Prix de France proved to be a difficult one, with rain delaying the start and mixed conditions during the 26 laps. PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo rode a smart race around the Le Mans circuit and managed to increase his championship lead, crossing the line ninth. Team-mate Franco Morbidelli was forced to retire after a Turn 4 crash on lap 19.
Quartararo struggled on the race start, which had been delayed, and found himself dropping through the field to fourth in the opening corners. With the championship in mind, the Frenchman kept his head and rode his own race. Although he found himself eleventh at the halfway point, Fabio made sure to keep his closest championship rivals behind him. Ensuring no mistakes were made in the final stages of his home GP, Quartararo crossed the line ninth and increased his championship lead to ten points.
Team-mate Morbidelli didn’t have the best opening lap, which was hampered by having to avoid another rider’s crash in the first corner, leaving the Italian 17th at the end of the first lap. Struggling to make progress in the wet conditions, Franco slipped down to 19th as the rain started to fall again. Unfortunately, a Turn 4 crash on lap 19 brought the French GP to an early conclusion for Morbidelli, who was forced to retire after due to a mechanical problem.
There will be no rest for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT, who have increased their lead in the teams’ standings, as they head to Spain to prepare for their tenth race of the year: the Gran Premio de Aragón (16-18 October).
We were all on the grid about to start the race and then it started raining, which was disappointing. We knew dry conditions would have been better for us. It was a hard race but I’m happy because we never gave up fighting; on the last lap when Joan [Mir] overtook me I was able to get straight back past him. It was important to score as many points as possible and actually we were able to extend our lead slightly. We will see what will happen in Aragón but I’m really pleased with my first race in these tricky conditions. Being on pole position at home with the fans was really special, there were only 5,000 of them here but they really helped me.
DNF (+8 laps)
I had a good start but unfortunately I was caught up in the incident with Valentino [Rossi], which lost me a lot of positions. From then on it was a really hard race, I had to take it step-by-step and find my rhythm. In the last ten laps when I decided to push a little bit more, to try to catch the group in front, I made a mistake in Turn 4 and lost the front end. It’s a shame because I think eighth or ninth position could have been possible, but the mistake was my fault and I haven’t scored any points. Apart from this mistake it has been a positive weekend and I was super fast, especially this morning. Now we need to take this speed to Aragón.