LE MANS. It was the ‘Doctor’ ahead as that last lap dawned, before an uncharacteristic mistake let Viñales back through and the number 46 pushed hard to close back in. Close in he did, before the final stroke of drama for the day suddenly found the nine-time World Champion sliding out, watching his teammate disappear into the distance. Home hero Zarco kept it calm under the huge pressures of the incredible home crowd to then cross the line in second behind the factory Yamaha drama – with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completing the podium after an awesome slice through the field.
Pedrosa began the race in P13, was seventh after the first few laps and then pushed his way past Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) to set off after the frontrunners – closing in on Marquez before watching his teammate slide out. The number 93 pushed too hard and Pedrosa, after a magnificent win in Jerez and the drama in Le Mans, is now the man second in the title standings – only 17 off Viñales’ lead.
‘DesmoDovi’ fought off Crutchlow to take fourth from the Brit; Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) took a top six finish with Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in seventh. Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) again hit his 2017 target despite a huge crash on Saturday to cross the line in the top ten in eighth, ahead of a fantastic home showing for Frenchman Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) in ninth. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten.
In the midst of an exciting comeback ride that had taken him from the 18th spot on the starting grid all the way to eighth place, Aleix Espargaró was forced to throw in the towel just five laps from the end due to a breakdown - currently being investigated by the team - that shut down the V4 on his RS-GP.
It was a race that, even with the unlucky outcome, confirms all of his value and that of his Aprilia that had never had a similar problem in two seasons and that had served him so well, allowing him to catch up position by position and lap at increasingly interesting times. As has happened in the past, the second half of the race was becoming the hunting grounds for Aleix, motivated to reap those results that had seemed to be within reach on several occasions in this first part of the season. Even in the morning Warm Up session, Espargaró had ridden an RS-GP that seemed more and more convincing just behind the leaders.
Aleix Espargaró: DNF
“It was a difficult race. Starting so far back does not make things easy. Battling for the top 10 demands maximum concentration. I have to give 100% the entire weekend. In the race I was competitive. After overtaking Miller I was making up ground on Lorenzo and lapping very fast but unfortunately the engine failed just a few laps from the end. A real disappointment. We are working much better than our position in the standings would lead to believe. Unfortunately, this is part of racing. The team and I will continue to give 100% and to work nonstop as we have up to now.”