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26 days ago

Morbidelli? Marquez? Or a dark horse in Le Mans…

EG 0,0 Marc VDS look to continue their 100% win record in France – on triumphant turf for Tom Lüthi

After winning the first three races of the year, Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) seemed to be unstoppable until the paddock arrived in Jerez – where the pendulum swung to the other side of the garage. Teammate Alex Marquez topped almost every practice, started from pole, and took the lead – with Morbidelli making a mistake trying to keep the pace and crashing out. Marquez took his first win in Moto2™ - and at a track that traditionally has been more difficult for the rider from Cervera.

Le Mans is much the same, but with a win under his belt, Marquez may fully rip up the formbook in France. But it surely won’t be easy, as Morbidelli’s record at the Bugatti circuit is solid. A top ten in his first race at the track and two top fives thereafter, the Italian will be ready to bounce back and knows he is on a good stage to do so.

Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) could be the man in the way. With four wins at the track – two in 125cc and two in Moto2™ - the Swiss veteran is a force to be reckoned with in France. On pole last year and winning in 2015 by an impressive margin, Lüthi will know Le Mans is a place to try and strike back. With some podiums in 2017 at venues usually more difficult for the 2016 runner up, the Championship gap went down to only 11 points again in Jerez – so the stage could be set for a first win.

Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took his first podium in Jerez in a stunning ride, and he will be looking to keep his form going and stay in with the frontrunners – with ‘Rookie of the Year’ the goal. But there’s another rookie ready to get in his way in France – home hero Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40), who has also shown an impressive adaptation to Moto2™.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) will be pushing hard once again on the new KTM intermediate class chassis – already on a 50% podium rate so far – with the likes of Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) and Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) to contend with. Aegerter also has a new teammate joining Kiefer from Le Mans – British Supersport Champion Tarran MacKenzie, who will want to hit the ground running and kickstart his Moto2™ career.

MacKenzie’s first taste of Moto2™ is FP1 at 10:55am (GMT +2) on Friday, with the intermediate class showdown set for 12:20 on Sunday.