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).

Francesco Bagnaia

Francesco Bagnaia 42

“After four very positive results in a row and last week’s test at Aragon, we arrive at Le Mans, a track that I really like and where I have collected some important results in different categories. In Moto3, I made the podium and last year in Moto2 I was fighting for the victory with Morbidelli until the chequered flag. As always, the unknown will be the weather. I hope for good and sunny weather, but if it does rain, at least since they laid the new tarmac last year there is much more grip.”

SKY Racing Team VR46
Lorenzo Dalla Porta

Lorenzo Dalla Porta 48

“We go into this next race happy with our result at Jerez and already looking forward to another big weekend. Of course, it was great to prove to myself and the team that we can win races, but now we must continue in the same way, working hard throughout the weekend to get us in the best possible shape for Sunday. Moto2 is not an easy class – you have to have everything perfect to be able to challenge for the podium. Le Mans has been a difficult track for me, so this time I hope we can find a better way through the weekend. We will keep our eyes focused on the podium.”

Leopard Racing
Miguel Oliveira

Miguel Oliveira 44

“The aim is to keep up what we’ve been doing in recent Grands Prix, in which we’ve taken three consecutive podiums. Of course, one thing that we can improve is qualifying higher up the order. Last year’s French GP was very difficult for us; we never found the best set-up to adapt the bike to the track. It’s a circuit with hard braking, sharp acceleration and chicanes, so we will work on getting a set-up that allows us to be fast and comfortable. The important thing is to not make mistakes, continue collecting points and increase our run of podiums. Finishing inside the top three would be a great result.”

Red Bull KTM Ajo
HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France

Le Mans, France

Moto2 2018, Round 5

Rider Standings
Sunday, 6 May 2018 - Open world standings grid
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Francesco BAGNAIA 42 ITA 73 SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex
2 Lorenzo BALDASSARRI 7 ITA 64 Pons HP40 Kalex
3 Miguel OLIVEIRA 44 POR 63 Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
4 Mattia PASINI 54 ITA 58 Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
5 Alex MARQUEZ 73 SPA 47 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
6 Xavi VIERGE 97 SPA 41 Dynavolt Intact GP Kalex
7 Joan MIR 36 SPA 32 EG 0,0 Marc VDS Kalex
8 Brad BINDER 41 RSA 30 Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
9 Marcel SCHROTTER 23 GER 24 Dynavolt Intact GP Suter
10 Iker LECUONA 27 SPA 23 Swiss Innovative Investors KTM
11 Dominique AEGERTER 77 SWI 16 Kiefer Racing KTM
12 Remy GARDNER 87 AUS 14 Tech 3 Racing Tech 3
13 Jorge NAVARRO 9 SPA 14 Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex
14 Sam LOWES 22 GBR 11 Swiss Innovative Investors KTM
15 Luca MARINI 10 ITA 10 SKY Racing Team VR46 Kalex
16 Simone CORSI 24 ITA 10 Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2 Kalex
17 Fabio QUARTARARO 20 FRA 7 Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing Speed Up
18 Isaac VIñALES 32 SPA 7 SAG Team Kalex
19 Hector BARBERA 40 SPA 5 Pons HP40 Kalex
20 Danny KENT 52 GBR 4 Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing Speed Up
21 Andrea LOCATELLI 5 ITA 4 Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
22 Tetsuta NAGASHIMA 45 JPN 3 IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia Kalex