French MotoGP | Miller dismisses rivals, weather, penalties in epic Le Mans win

Ducati's Jack Miller survives the elements and two penalties to keep his cool for his second consecutive MotoGP win at Le Mans

Jack Miller - Ducati 2021 MotoGP


Jack Miller has collected his second consecutive victory of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season in an eventful French MotoGP defined by a flag-to-flag race held in changing weather conditions.

The Ducati man scored his first MotoGP win in five years last time out in Jerez, but while that was achieved on a sun-baked afternoon, his success in France bore more resemblance to his maiden win in soggy conditions at Assen 2016.

An afternoon of survival and skill, several big names failed to make it to the chequered flag but while Miller went about his win the long way - literally - after picking up two long lap penalties, he was arguably quickest in all conditions regardless.

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With dark clouds threatening as the race was due to get underway, whereas in 2020 the heavens opened just before lights out - allowing the teams to switch to the wet bikes - this time the French MotoGP got underway in the dry before the expected deluge descended on lap five.

Making it the first flag-to-flag race since Brno 2017, a scrappy opening couple of laps on a grippy track would see Miller and Quartararo engaged in a boisterous cat-and-mouse, the pair swapping the lead on multiple occasions as they awaited the start of the rain. 

When it came on lap five, Miller held the lead, only to run off at the Esses just before coming into swap to a wet-shod Ducati. As such, Quartararo led Marquez into the pit lane entry, though it was the Repsol Honda rider that came out in front after Quartararo pulled into team-mate Vinales’ garage by mistake, an indiscretion he’d later receive a long-lap penalty for.

The first time Marquez has led a race since returning from injury, the Repsol Honda rider looked comfortable in the dicey conditions to pull out a margin over Quartararo, Miller and briefly Alex Rins, who was fourth coming out of the pit-lane, only fall on the first touch of the brakes at Turn 3 moments later.

It was a fate that would befall Marquez shortly afterwards too when he high-sided off the Honda at the final corner. Despite an impact to his recovering shoulder, Marquez remounted in last place but would crash again on lap 18 to DNF.

Up at the front, Miller closed in on new leader Quartararo, only for him and Ducati team-mate Pecco Bagnaia to be slapped with two long lap penalties each for exceeding the pit lane limit.

Nevertheless, with the rain stopping, Miller quickly made in-roads on the Frenchman again before swooping into the lead on lap 12.

Swiftly putting air between himself and the Yamaha man, Miller proceeded to keep his cool in the second-half of the race despite chunking tyre wear as the once sodden circuit returned to full dry conditions before the flag. His his third career victory, it that lifts him back into the title reckoning. 

Quartararo suffered with his tyres in the closing stages, allowing countryman Johann Zarco through  to fly the flag in second position on the Pramac Ducati on a day to celebrate for the local contingent. 

That was enough to put Quartararo back into the lead of the standings by just a single point over Pecco Bagnaia, who salvaged an impressive fourth place from 16th on the grid, despite two penalties himself.

As the winner of the 2020 French MotoGP in similar conditions, Danilo Petrucci put on another wet weather showcase, recovering from a woeful qualifying to secure a fine first top five finish in KTM colours, ahead of another of last year’s Le Mans podium stars Alex Marquez, who led Honda trio of Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro in sixth, seventh and eighth.

A strong day for Tech 3 KTM, Iker Lecuona passed Maverick Vinales for ninth on the final lap, with Valentino Rossi, Luca Marini, Brad Binder, Enea Bastianini and Tito Rabat sneaked the final points as the last remaining finishers.

2021 French MotoGO RESULTS - Le Mans (Round 5 of 19)

2021 French MotoGP RACE RESULTS - Le Mans - Round 5 / 19
PosRiderNat.MotoGP TeamMotoGP BikeTiming
1Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP2128 Laps
2Johann ZarcoFRAPramac RacingDucati GP21+3.970
3Fabio QuartararoFRAMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+14.468
4Francesco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo TeamDucati GP21+16.172
5Danilo PetrucciITATech3 KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+21.340
6Alex MarquezESPLCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V+23.509
7Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda IdemitsuHonda RC213V+30.164
8Pol EspargaroESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V+35.221
9Iker LecuonaESPTech3 KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+40.432
10Maverick VinalesESPMonster Energy Yamaha Yamaha YZF-M1+40.577
11Valentino RossiITAPetronas Yamaha SRTYamaha YZF-M1+42.198
12Luca MariniITASky VR46 EsponsoramaDucati GP19+52.408
13Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16+59.377
14Enea BastianiniITAAvintia EsponsoramaDucati GP19+1m 02.224
15Tito RabatESPPramac RacingDucati GP21+1m 09.651
16Franco MorbidelliITAPetronas Yamaha SRTYamaha YZF-M1+4 Laps
DNFMarc MarquezESPRepsol Honda TeamHonda RC213VCrash
DNFAleix EspargaroESPAprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia RS-GPMechanical
DNFMiguel OliveiraPORRed Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC16Crash
DNFAlex RinsESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RRCrash
DNFLorenzo SavadoriITAAprilia Racing Team GresiniAprilia RS-GPCrash
DNFJoan MirESPTeam Suzuki EcstarSuzuki GSX-RRCrash

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