Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) continued to stamp his authority on the 2018 World Championship at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking his third straight victory of the season to extend his overall standings lead to 36 points over compatriot Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
His Le Mans victory also meant he equaled Casey Stoner’s 38 premier class wins record, a great achievement for the six-time World Champion, but there was more to Marquez’ victory than the 25 points he earned. The number 93 was the only rider on the grid to race with harder rear Michelin compound tyre, something that he tried in the morning warm up. “The first move was on the tyre choice, I was the only rider with hard rear, this morning I feel really good and this was key for the race, I was able to keep a constant pace,” explained a strategic Marquez.
Marquez equals Stoner as Rossi gets back on the podium ????????— MotoGP™???????????? (@MotoGP) May 20, 2018
The Championship leader matches the Australian’s premier class win record with victory in Le Mans ????????#MotoGP | #FrenchGP ???? https://t.co/nMQlqo6CvH pic.twitter.com/I5anDwDaqy
That was his first “move”, in a race where the reigning Champion reminded everyone he has the tactics as well as the speed. After getting edged out by Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) at Turn 3, then almost hitting Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) when the Italian fell at la Chapelle, Marquez told himself to keep cool, and wait for his tyres to reach optimum temperature.
“Then we started the race, I knew the first two laps I would struggle because it takes time to get the correct temperature. Then everything becomes more difficult, Johann overtook me on the third corner, I was wide then Iannone overtook me, then he crashed on Turn 5, I nearly hit him, two riders overtook me and then I say ok, cool down a little bit.”
Then, Marquez admits to having his radar firmly set on Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), before the Italian crashed out of the lead. “And then I was pushing hard, trying to get the correct temperature in the tyres. I was looking at Dovi, because he had the best pace all weekend, he crashed and then my approach to the race changed a little bit,” expressed the Repsol Honda rider. “Then I was more clam, I took my time, because I saw that the front tyre was so critical.”
Turn 3 was a particular corner Marquez was approaching with caution during the race, after the Spaniard crashed there during FP3. That fall though, as he explains, helped him save another potential lowside during the race. “Yeah in Turn 3 I had a moment like I did in FP3, I crashed there, and this crash helped me to save (this one) in the race, because when I crash in Turn 3, since that moment during the race I was always careful there. My elbow was so stiff, it was like a stick and then yeah when I lost the front I just put the elbow (down) and I picked up the bike.”
The race in Le Mans was another that, like Jerez, played right into the hands of Marquez. But next up its Mugello and a very different track – on very different turf. Can he extend his lead again in Italy? Find out next time out on 3rd June.