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French riders return each year to give their all in front of the wild fans in Le Mans.
France has a proud history of riders, champions, constructors and key figures in the World Championship. Specifically in Le Mans there have been five French riders who have taken victory throughout history, the first was Jean Aureal in the 125cc class race in 1969.
A decade later Guy Bertin took victory while compatriot Patrick Fernandez did the same in the 350cc class. More recently Mike Di Meglio won the 2008 125cc race and Louis Rossi amazed fans with his Moto3™ win in 2012.
Christian Sarron remains as the icon for a generation of riders, winning the 250cc title in 1984 and regularly battling with the Americans who ruled the 500cc class. In 1988 the Frenchman managed a run of five consecutive pole positions in the 500cc class in Austria, Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia and Paul Ricard.
Before Zarco’s Moto2™ World Championship victory, Mike Di Meglio took the 125cc crown in 2008, a highlight of French racing in recent years.
Few can forget the memorable 2015 season of Johann Zarco in Moto2™, incredible consistency saw him take eight wins and a record 12 consecutive podium finishes. Zarco currently stands as the most successful rider in the intermediate class for France and could very well become the most successful Moto2™ rider in 2016.
French victory last came in the lightweight class for Alexis Masbou at the Qatar GP in 2015, the lightweight class veteran surprising many as he snatched a last lap victory from the title favourites.
The last French rider to win at the Le Mans circuit was Louis Rossi in 2012. A soaking wet Grand Prix saw many struggle, but the local rider handled the rain like an expert. Against all the odds the French national anthem rang out as he climbed to the top step of the podium for the first, and so far only, time in his career.
Loris Baz is now the leading representative of France in the premier class, impressing in his rookie season in 2015. The tall Frenchman battled with Hector Barbera for the Open Class title, taking a sensational fourth in Le Mans. It has so far been a difficult second season with bad luck and other rider’s mistakes forcing Baz off track in the opening races.
It was recently announced that Johann Zarco will race the Suzuka 8 Hour for Suzuki and test the Suzuki MotoGP™ bike, Baz may not be the only Frenchman in MotoGP™ for long.
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