MotoGP 2023 - Round 5 of 20, Le Mans, France – Qualification and Sprint
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing injected some orange color into the first day of the SHARK Grand Prix de France as Brad Binder rode from 10th on the grid to 2nd at a packed Le Mans for his third Sprint podium result from five rounds this season.
- Binder soars to Sprint runner-up status after qualifying 10th at Le Mans and rises to 2nd place in the world championship standings.
- Jack Miller, 1st through Practice on Friday and 4th in qualification, slips out of 3rd place on the second lap of the Sprint after a second row start in France.
- Daniel Holgado takes a front row berth for Moto3™ as the Spaniard sets the 3rd best time with his RC4. Pedro Acosta slides his way to 5th on the grid in Moto2™
Onto Le Mans, and the short Bugatti layout of the famous 24hr course for round five of 2023 MotoGP. Le Mans celebrates its centenary this year and the MotoGP series also reached a historic 1000th Grand Prix at a venue fit for the occasion. The 4.2km layout favors acceleration and hard braking and the KTM RC16s were in contention for top of the time sheets from the first laps in northern France.
During sunny but cool and windy conditions on Friday Jack Miller was the fastest rider at a circuit where he had taken Moto3 victory in the past and had also stood on a MotoGP podium. The Aussie maintained P1 through both Practice 1 and Practice 2 putting him into Q2. He was just two tenths of a second off Pole Position on a sunny Saturday and began the 13-lap Sprint from 4th; the same position he’ll line-up for the Grand Prix distance tomorrow. Jack was running 3rd in front of a packed attendance and the best Saturday crowd for MotoGP this term but slipped out at the Le Musée curve on lap two.
Brad Binder was also directly into Q2. The South African was seven tenths from Pole and accepted 10th place on the grid but full in the knowledge that his starting expertise would help move him into contention. In the Sprint he took advantage of the dispute between Marc Marquez and Francesco Bagnaia to brilliantly pass both rivals out of Turn 4 and occupy 2nd place. Brad tried to catch leader Jorge Martin but made sure of his third Sprint medal (from five Grands Prix in 2023) and the points haul brings him up to P2 in the championship table.
The red light disappears at 14.00 CEST to open 27-laps of racing action on Sunday.
Brad Binder, 10th in qualification, 2nd in the Sprint: “I knew the start was everything for the Sprint. If I could just cut through and hang with the boys at the beginning then I knew I could run at the front. I gave my best out there today and I have to thank my awesome team because we did an incredible job again. It is clear what we can improve for tomorrow so I’m really looking forward to it: I think we can do a much better job in the long race.”
Jack Miller, 4th in qualification, DNF in the Sprint: “Unfortunate crash because we’d been having a strong weekend so far. I put the Medium front on and it came-up a bit. I should have listened more to my own feeling with the bike because, from the get-go, I was struggling a bit, and on the second lap I wasn’t able to stay up. It was a shame but we learnt from it. We’ll see what we can do in the full race tomorrow because we had a great qualifying and the bike is really good here. I feel really strong.”
Francesco Guidotti, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager: “Bittersweet emotions today. Jack was 3rd and suddenly crashed. We still need to check the data but maybe it was too early to push the Medium tire that much. Brad was on fire, as usual, he attacked at the beginning to be in the leading group and then made that fantastic double overtake. Martin had a gap but it was a clever race to stay in 2nd. Another small brick in our decent wall so far! It looks like the weather will be stable for tomorrow and the Sprint today helped us to be ready for tomorrow.”
SHARK Grand Prix de France photographs can be found HERE
Results Qualifying MotoGPSHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 1:30.2705
2. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +0.058
3. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati +0.137
4. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.279
10. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +0.740
Results MotoGP Sprint SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 19:59.037
2. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.840
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +2.632
DNF. Jack Miller (AUS) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
KTM GP Academy
Moto3 was a happy domain for the KTM contingent as the KTM RC4 filled seven of the first ten positions. After a damp start to proceedings on Saturday, the Moto3 riders were able to enjoy sunny and bright conditions for Q1 and Q2. The KTM GP Academy was best represented by Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Daniel Holgado. The championship leader was close to Pole Position – less than half a second was the distance to Ayumu Sasaki – but was satisfied with 3rd place and the front row of the grid.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Deniz Öncü wasn’t far away and his quickest effort was good enough for 4th and the top of the second row. Teammate Jose Rueda was 10th while Filippo Farioli made it to Q2 and was 17th on the list.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Pedro Acosta was again a front-running figure in Moto2 practice and qualification. The world championship leader ended up 5th on the grid after Q2 was ended prematurely with a red flag. The unexpected end of the sessions prevented Albert Arenas from improving on his 12th spot but the Spaniard was a narrow seven tenths of a second from Pole.
Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup rounded Le Mans for the third fixture of their comprehensive 2023 calendar. The development series has been a happy hunting ground for Spanish youngster Angel Piqueras with multiple victories in both Portugal and Spain. In France it was the teenage again who ruled the first outing on Saturday after the 16 lap distance and by just a tenth of a second from Finland’s Rico Salmela.
Results Qualifying Moto3 SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna 1:41.630
2. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM +0.309
3. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.328
4. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.471
10. Jose Rueda (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.055
17. Filippo Farioli (ITA) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.805
Results Qualifying Moto2 SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Sam Lowes (GBR) 1:35.791
2. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +0.245
3. Tony Arbolino (ITA) +0.262
5. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.378
12. Albert Arenas (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.746
PR Specialist MotoGP
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