In last year’s Moto2 race at Le Mans, Nakagami finished in seventh place behind winner Morbidelli and third-placed Thomas Luthi (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS RC213V) who is Honda’s third MotoGP graduate of 2018. The 31-year-old Swiss rider has endured a more challenging start to his MotoGP career, due partly to an offseason testing programme truncated by injury. Luthi’s best result so far is 16th in Qatar. He crashed out at Jerez.
Francesco ‘Pecco’ Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46 Kalex) was the third man on the 2017 Le Mans Moto2 podium, alongside Morbidelli and Luthi, and he returns this year leading the Moto2 World Championship with two victories, a ninth place and a third place at Jerez. The 21-year-old Italian goes into the French round with a nine-point lead over compatriot Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) who won the Jerez race in style, securing his first victory since 2016.
The Moto2 title race is as close as ever, thanks to a narrow performance gap between all machines which are powered by Honda CBR600 engines. Just one point behind Baldassarri is Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), who finished second at Jerez, between his two Italian rivals. Oliveira won the last three Moto2 races of 2017 but has yet to win a race this year. However, his ride at Jerez suggests that he is building towards a return to the top step of the podium.
Veteran Argentine Grand Prix winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) holds fifth overall, after overtaking Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex) who scored zero points at Jerez following a crash after leading the early stages.
Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) is the Moto2 rider who has made the biggest step forward so far this year. The 21-year-old Spaniard is the only rider in the top six of the championship yet to win a Grand Prix, although he came close in Argentina where he chased home Pasini,
The Moto2 top ten is completed by impressive rookie and reigning Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex), Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM), Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Intact GP Suter) and Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors KTM).