LE MANS, May 16 — Enea Bastianini grabbed his third MotoGP victory in seven races this season as he took the French Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Italian, riding a Gresini Ducati, cruised home 2.718 sec ahead of Australian Jack Miller on a factory Ducati.
Bastianini overtook compatriot Francesco Bagnaia in the late stages when the factory Ducati rider made an error. Bagnaia reacted to his first mistake by at once making another, falling off his bike as he tried to hit back in the 20th lap.
At one stage there had been a three-way battle for first, but Joan Mir rode his Suzuki off the track in the 13th lap, managed to steer the bike back onto the tarmac but then immediately fell off.
“I’m really happy with this race because this victory is unexpected,” said Bastianini. “During the race I saw that my rhythm was really good.”
Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, on an Aprilia, was third after holding off championship leader Fabio Quartararo over the closing laps.
“I knew Fabio was behind me but I knew it was difficult for him to overtake me,” said Espargaro. “The race was about not making mistakes.”
“It was a very difficult race, the most difficult of the season so far,” said Espargaro.
Frenchman Quartararo retained the championship lead, but his advantage was reduced to four points over Espargaro and eight from Bastianini.
The other French rider of the race, Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), who started ninth on the grid, finished fifth after having overtaken the multi-world champion, Marc Marquez to the cheers of the huge crowd.
In addition to Bagnaia and Mir, the other Suzuki rider, Alex Rins, the two KTM-Tech3 riders, Australian Remy Gardner and Spaniard Raul Fernandez all crashed while Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) dropped out. — AFP