After a rough and tumble start that resembled a more junior class of racing, the French Grand Prix quickly turned into a meat grinder that saw a large number of crashes, technical faults and aggressive passing maneuvers. In the end, only one rider was left unscathed by action, race winner Jorge Lorenzo.
Starting from third position on the grid, Lorenzo out ran others to quickly take the lead by the end of the first lap, a position he would never relinquish. As with his commanding performance at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez two weeks ago, Lorenzo utterly dominated the day’s racing, setting a pace none could match and above all, showing the computer like precision he is so famous for.
Close behind, less than 3 seconds away, was his teammate Valentino Rossi who clawed his way up from a poor qualifying position to finish second, thereby keeping his lead in the world championship. Rossi had to get past defending champion Marc Marquez plus the hard riding Ducati factory riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, who with Lorenzo quickly asserted themselves as the men to beat. It took until nearly half race distance, where he rode clustered with the Ducatis, Rossi and leader Lorenzo, but Rossi systematically matched then cut in front to second place.
The real story of the race was the poor early pace of Marquez, who started badly, then overshot a turn in the first lap to fall back to 7th place, at one time trailing the leaders by 11 seconds. Marquez seemed unable to overcome Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith, who was continuing his good weekend by threatening Andrea Iannone for 4th. Eventually, an error by Smith gave Marquez the opportunity he needed passing Smith and starting an almighty 2 lap battle began between Marquez and Iannone. Eventually, Marquez got past Iannone definitively, but not after trading places in some exciting and very aggressive overtaking.
Iannone was suffering from a dislocated right shoulder, so his tough performance was particularly impressive. Less so was Dani Pedrosa, who ran wide, then crashed early on. He remounted and continued to race, albeit in last place to gain some exercise and practice after missing three races already this year.
It was a brutal race for crashes and attrition. Aleix Espargaro, who crashed heavily in qualifying Saturday retired early, presumably from the pain of his injuries. Meanwhile, Stefan Bradl, Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding, Jack Miller and Mike DiMeglio all crashed out. Czech rider Karl Abraham retired with a technical problem.
Jorge Lorenzo now sits second in the world championship points standings behind Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi. Andrea Dovizioso is third in the standings, and Marc Marquez fourth.