MotoGP: Bez-krieg at Le Mans, world champion Bagnaia crashes out

In a drama-filled 1000th GP, VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi wins the French Grand Prix, late crash mars Marc Marquez’s return.

MotoGP 2023
This was Bezzecchi’s second MotoGP win this season after the Argentina victory

The 1000th MotoGP race kicked off in some style with a record crowd of 278,805 fans who witnessed Marco Bezzecchi comfortably taking the chequered flag at the Le Mans circuit. The French Grand Prix was so chaotic that out of 21 riders only 13 managed to finish the 27 lap race. Following the VR46 man were the Pramac duo Jorge Martina and crowd favourite Johan Zarco who rounded up the podium positions.

French Grand Prix: Bezzecchi, a force to reckon with

Marco Bezzecchi had a memorable debut year in 2022 by bagging the Rookie of the Year award. Fast forward to the 2023 season and the young Italian rider has become a title contender after winning the French grand prix at the iconic Le Mans. After five races, Bezzecchi is only one point behind championship leader Ducati’s Francesco Bagnaia.

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Starting from seventh, the VR46 rider patiently took his time while crashes took place and by lap 9 Bezzecchi was battling for P2 with Honda’s Marc Marquez. As the Italian forced Marquez off the track, he was ordered to drop a position. This only fired up Bezzecchi as he blazed past Marquez and KTM’s Jack Miller to take an unassailable lead on Lap 11. This was Bezzecchi’s second MotoGP win this season after the Argentina victory. 

French Grand Prix: Crash to Scuffle

In five out of the three races, the defending champion Bagnaia has ended up as a non-classified rider meaning he didn’t finish the GP. Sadly, Le Mans was the latest race to add to his tally. Fighting for third place against Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, the Ducati rider crashes into the former Yamaha man. Vinales was in the inside turn and ended up colliding with Bagnaia. That wasn’t the end of the incident as Vinales was in a rage and charged up to Bagnaia which resulted in a minor scuffle between the two. Later on, the Ducati rider shrugged it off as a racing incident and even the stewards didn’t think much of this.

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French Grand Prix: Late drama for Marquez

The highly anticipated return of Marc Marquez was almost a fairy tale comeback as he started from P2. The Spaniard was in the thick of things from the word go and took the lead in Lap 1. Things started to heat up after Bezzecchi overtook the Honda rider and Marquez’s second place was under threat by Martin. The dogfight between the two riders got even more intense and on the final laps of the race, Marquez lost control of his motorcycle and crashed out. Hence, it was a double whammy for team Pramac as Martin and Zarco finished second and third respectively.

Rookie rider Augusto Fernandez finished a career-best fourth position after starting from 12th. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, KTM rider Brad Binder and Fabio Quartararo finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Fabio Di Giannantonio of Gresini Racing, LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Franco Morbidelli rounded up the top 10.

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First published on: 17-05-2023 at 11:26 IST