NOT the MotoGP News: Le Mans – Merde on the dance floor
Welcome to NOT The MotoGP News – our blog by Guy Anderson. Oh – and when you’re done, make sure to go follow Guy on Twitter – @SirGuyGuisborne
We love Le Mans – It’s in France, it’s spectators are brilliantly mad, it holds the best race in the world – the 24-hour Endurance race and it’s bloody lovely. However, it doesn’t often serve up the best MotoGP races. Absolutely no idea why; the French love a good bit of bike racing even on the short circuit, and they have one of the best riders in the world at the moment, the garlic gargling, back-flipping Johan Zarco. Zut, and quite literally, alors!
Moto3 was, shall we say, a bit meh. And no real reason either. The track was re-surfaced last year, and looked as good as a plate of steak and frites. With the obligatory French onion rings. By the second lap Jacub Kornfeil and Martin had already staged a mini-breakaway. But like any French military advance, this was soon over. Lap 2 also provided a bit of a laugh for “not-quite-French, but Belgium doesn’t have a race” Livio Loi who copped a ride-through penalty for a jump start. It’s all going a bit Brad Smith for Loi really.
Just as we thought the race was doing its best Moto2 impersonation, the cavalry charged to the rescue. Bez, DiGi and Bastardsurnametospell hauled their arses up to the front two to make a race of it. This stirred the blood a bit down in our bunker and cheered us no end.
But at this point we have to note two different and distinct things. Nicolo Bulega. What the actual….? The long-haired fop needs a haircut, and needs it now. He also needs a kick up the fundament too. Crashing out from 23rd isn’t the best way to attract attention to yourself; he’d do better telling knob jokes to be honest. Well unless he pulls the proverbial out, he’ll be on his way back to wherever – you don’t get signed up by the VR46 Academy and not perform. The other thang is Race Direction. They said they’d do it and they have; they’ve gone bat-shit crazy and have started handing out time penalties. First of these was to Kornfeil for running off the track twice and gaining an advantage. However, as you no doubt know, things got even more draconian. More of that anon mon amis!
With 11 laps of a much more interesting race to go, the front five were caught by the second group of five and once again we had 4 abreast diving into corners. The balance of the universe was restored. #yay. Like just about every other Moto3 race this was what we wanted – a mass of mad-cap youths mugging the heck out of each other without using knives. God only knows how they manage to get on with each other in the paddock. Probably because they haven’t met girls yet. Look what that does to the MotoGP riders……
And then it happened; you’d have to have avoided the whole of the internet since Sunday not to have seen Kornfeil hit Basti’s fallen bike and then manage to land wheels down in the gravel and stay upright. The BMX boys on the industrial estate do better every night, but we don’t believe that. All that left Bez in the lead looking for a win. Except Martin wanted it too. So, the gods decided neither would win with Bez falling at the last corner of the last lap and taking Martin off as well. This left DiGi as the first over the line. Winner Winner, chicken dinner! Well no. Race Direction did decree that verily DiGi took a short cut at Turn 9 and therefore the handed down a 3 second penalty. Welcome to racing in the office……
Next up was Moto2….! Oh gawd….. But what’s this? Excitement on the grid? Xavi Vierge’s fuel pump went pop and he had to start from the back of the grid. Fast riders at the back of the grid through no fault of their own is pretty much like Rod Stewart being let lose in a fertility clinic; mayhem followed by a happy ending ….. as they say in downtown brothels in Le Mans.
From the start Baggy Bagnaia and Teacher’s Pet Marquez stole a lead. And nervy newcomer Garzo (standing in for shackle dragging Remy Gardner) jumped the start and copped a ride through for his endeavours. Ce la vie eh?
After two laps Vierge was 13th. Bloody hell. Turn 8 has a reputation that’s well deserved; one of taking absolutely no prisoners for the slightest indiscretion – say hello to Navaho Navarro who slid off to an early shower; one lap later and Bus-Pasini did the same, but rejoined; you can’t knock the old guy for effort.
Badass Baldassarri decided this looked like a club worth joining and livened us all up by taking himself out at Turn 3 or 4, and dumping his bike back on the circuit. Vierge? Oh with 17 laps to go he was up to eighth whilst Danny Kent was being passed by WSS rider and Moto2 stand-in Tuuli. Where has it all gone wrong?
Just to make sure the Moto2 riders knew Race Direction was still awake they gave Bo’Selector a 1.7 second time penalty for cutting turns 3 and 4. And still Vierge came on and on. By now he was chasing down Oliveira whilst Nagashima became the 100th crash of the weekend. We bet he doesn’t say that on his postcard home. Turn 8 scalped another rider – this time Smokin’ Joe Roberts and up ahead Vierge was battling Olivera for 5th.
All the time Bagnaia was looking class having lead from the start with Alex Marquez holding station in second. Joan Mir is a class act for a rookie and scored his maiden Moto2 podium though ride of the day has to go to Vierge for finishing 5th from last.
We felt quite revved up for the MotoGP race; home-boy Zarco was on pole and looing to cover himself in glory. Unsurprisingly Marc Marquez was second on the grid and Petrux was third. Utterly surprisingly it was mentally-beaten up Lorenzo who whanged open the growl-valve better than anyone and took the lead. Blimey O’Riley – could we be about to see the re-birth of the Majorcan?
Ian No-Knee had had enough after five corners and considered he’d given his fans enough value for money so crashed at turn 6. Allez and off to the motorhome no doubt.
By lap 4 there was a gap big enough to get Lorenzo’s ego between Pedrosa in 8th and and Rins in 9th. A long way back from even Rins was Cal Low Crutch who had suffered the mother of all crashed on Saturday and was lucky to even be out of hospital let alone racing. Drugs eh kids? No organisation other than Clinica Mobile has such a dazzling array of legal supplements to aid recovery apart from John down this pub we’ve been told about. Honestly.
Lap 5 and Dovi put the move on Lorenzo just to show him who’s boss in the ducati garage, but he lost the front at turn 6 moments later. Ouch – that hurt his championship standing as much as it hurt him. The laughter from Lorenzo was pretty clear to hear for all. We think. Three laps later and a cocktail of Armagnac and adrenalin took Zarco at turn 6 too. Turns 6 and 8 seemed to be in competition to see who caused the most crashes.
By lap 10, Marc was onto Lorenzo and past him pretty quickly too. No surprise really, but it must have been nice to Jorge whilst it lasted. The trouble is he then seems to have a a bit of a breakdown and sees how fast he race to the back. Whilst old man Rossi was performing miracle on his M1, by contrast Viñales was trying his hardest to copy Lorenzo. By lap 12 Morbid-deli was ahead of him; on a customer Honda with temporarily no team manager (we’re not stupid – we ain’t saying no more guv’ not without a lawyer).
The rest of the race became a little bit boring really; Lorenzo was caught and caught by successive riders finishing 6th. Marc won with Petrucci second and Rossi third.
Kinda of a bit flat really which is a shame – less 3-star Michelin, more Hungry Horse.