Honda’s top Moto3 riders race at Le Mans hoping for a lot more luck than they had at Jerez two weeks ago. Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) and Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) had gone into the race holding first and second positions in the championship. But a multi-bike crash in the closing stages took out the two Spaniards, as well as Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) and Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda NSF250RW). Canet was deemed responsible for the incident and as a result will start Sunday’s race from the back row of the grid.
Martin, who carries a hand injury to Le Mans, and Canet now lie second and third in the points chase, just ahead of fourth-placed Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) who finished seventh at Jerez. Last year at Le Mans Di Giannantonio finished on the podium after taking third place, just behind Canet. Bastianini’s Jerez no-score drops him to sixth overall, two places ahead of Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW)
Twenty-year-old Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) has high hopes for Le Mans after scoring his first top-ten of the year with a hard-fought sixth-place finish at Jerez. The Chiba rider is equal on points with 17-year-old Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) who has scored points at three of the first four races.
Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit is one of the oldest tracks on the MotoGP calendar. Constructed in 1965, it is much shorter than the mostly public roads course used for the famous Le Mans 24 car race. The Bugatti circuit has hosted motorcycle GPs on and off since 1969. The layout is characterised by low-speed corners and straights, making acceleration and braking performance the most important elements of a fast lap time.
Honda riders have won 13 premier-class Grand Prix races at Le Mans, which has staged every French GP since 2000. Winners include Freddie Spencer on the NS500 and NSR500 two-strokes, Mick Doohan and Alex Criville on NSR500s, Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau and Marco Melandri on RC211V four-strokes, Casey Stoner on the RC212V and Pedrosa and Marquez on the RC213V. Next races on the calendar are the Italian GP on June 3 and the Catalan GP on June 17.