The MotoGP field returns to France this weekend for the fifth round of 2014. Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez has dominated proceedings so far this year, already making him the 16th most successful rider for race wins in the history of the World Championship.
Based on results from both qualifying and races so far this year, rivals of Marquez are likely to be wondering what can possibly be done to halt the 21-year-old’s charge. He has become the first rider to win the opening quartet of premier class races from pole position since MotoGP legend Giacomo Agostini in 1971 and, amongst other things, is the first rider to clinch five consecutive pole positions since Casey Stoner in 2011. On top of this, one has to look back to Valentino Rossi in 2005 to the last time one rider carried such a points lead after four races, as Marquez now leads by 28.
Jerez also saw Marquez winning at the Andalucian venue for the very first time in the World Championship, meaning there is no longer a single race track on the calendar on which he is yet to claim a victory. Should he also reach the top step of the podium at Le Mans this weekend, the Repsol Honda Team man will become the youngest ever rider to win five consecutive Grands Prix in the premier class; the mantle would be taken away from Englishman Mike Hailwood, who achieved the feat in 1962.
With Dani Pedrosa’s second position in the classification sealing a one-two for Honda, Valentino Rossi leads the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP charge from third place as he continues to use a new chassis, based on improving braking stability. Jorge Lorenzo is now up to fifth place in the standings and intends to work more around the Soft compound tire, while Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso was in the news last week as his management confirmed talks with Suzuki for a possible ride in 2015.
Danilo Petrucci will not be racing in France, as the IodaRacing Project rider recovers from an operation on his right wrist following a heavy accident in the Jerez Warm-Up session. In fact, he was the third MotoGP rider to undergo surgery last week, as both LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and the aforementioned Pedrosa were treated for arm pump. Both now hope to achieve the highest possible levels of fitness as they head to Le Mans – where 12 months ago Pedrosa was able to claim victory.
Last year, the French Grand Prix was affected by inclement weather conditions; perhaps a repeat could be something to prevent the Marquez charge. Considering a quarter of the season will already have gone by the time the checkered flag falls on Sunday afternoon, the rest of the field will certainly be hoping that this is the case…Le Mans, Marc Marquez, MotoGP