MOTORCYCLING

Jorge Lorenzo cruises to top of MotoGP standings in crash-strewn French Grand Prix

Yamaha rider finishes well clear of teammate Valentino Rossi, with Maverick Vinales third; eight riders failed to complete the race

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 May, 2016, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 May, 2016, 11:03pm

Jorge Lorenzo put in an exhibition ride to win a thrilling French MotoGP Grand Prix yesterday and go top of the world championship standings.

I could breathe a little more when Marquez and Dovizioso crashed
Jorge Lorenzo

The Yamaha rider crossed the line more than 10 seconds clear of his teammate Valentino Rossi, with Maverick Vinales on a Suzuki in third.

Lorenzo, who takes over the lead of the 2016 title race from Marc Marquez, was completing a perfect weekend in Le Mans after setting a record-breaking lap in qualifying on Saturday.

The defending world champion enjoyed a serene afternoon at the historic Bugatti circuit, avoiding mayhem behind with no fewer than eight riders failing to complete the 28 laps.

“This was a very important race, a great race for the championship,” said Lorenzo, who now leads Marquez by five points.

With 13 laps to go Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso exited the scene in carbon-copy crashes on turn seven, their bikes slipping from underneath them, to promote Vinales to third. Marquez manfully climbed back on board to trail in at the rear of the pack.

British Yamaha rider Bradley Smith slithered out of the race at turn seven.

Lorenzo, who was never in danger of being caught by Rossi in the closing stages, reflected on his 63rd overall victory and 42nd in MotoGP.

“I wanted to keep a high pace and not lose concentration, I kept pushing on the throttle,” he said. “I could breathe a little more when Marquez and Dovizioso crashed.”

Rossi was a relieved man to add 20 points to his championship standings tally.

“I lost a lot of time at the beginning but that’s normal when you start from the 10th row,” the Italian said.

“After good pace, I got in front of Marquez and Dovizioso but Lorenzo was too far in front. “I’m happy, after a difficult weekend – 20 points is good for the championship.”

Vinales, after securing his first MotoGP podium and his team’s first since 2008, said: “We did a good job, I lost many places on the first few laps then I recovered and pushed, pushed, pushed.”

The next race in the series is in Italy on May 22.