Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) was in unstoppable form at the Circuito de Jerez, closing the gap between him and Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) to just nine points, with the gap between the top three in the standings just ten points. Will it be the two Italians battling it out at Le Mans?
Turn the clocks back to almost a year ago, and it was another Italian, Franco Morbidelli, who took victory on French soil. However, Bagnaia was his closest challenger on that day, in only his fifth Moto2™ start – a track it seems the future Alma Pramac Racing rider gets on well with.
Baldassarri will have something to say about it though, especially if he can carry his blistering Spanish form into northern France. Although, Le Mans is a track the 21-year-old has yet to score points at in the intermediate class. But, like he’s said himself after his Jerez win, Baldassarri has grown this year and with a victory already under his belt, confidence on his side of the garage will be sky high.
Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had a great weekend in Jerez – in more ways than one – as he looks to mount a serious title challenge this year. The Portuguese rider put pen to paper on a KTM Tech 3 MotoGP™ deal for 2019, while on track, Oliveira crossed the line second after starting P14 on the grid. Is a fourth podium of the year – and a first win – on the cards for Oliveira at Le Mans?
It’s not just the three Championship leaders who will have a say in France though. Argentina winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), who lies fourth in the overall standings, was fifth at Le Mans last year. Meanwhile, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will need to bounce back after his Jerez crash. He finished just off the podium at Le Mans last year in fourth, but could it be at least one better in 2018?
Fabio Quartararo (Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing) comes into his home round off the back of his best result of the season in Jerez. The Frenchman will be aiming to replicate his P10 on home soil, his previous best result here was sixth in the Moto3™ class. Jules Danilo (Nashi Argan SAG Team) is another French rider coming to Le Mans, can he try and battle for his first points of the season?
The stage is set for another crucial round in the intermediate class, will there be a new Championship leader come Sunday afternoon?
1 – Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 73 points
2 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) KALEX 64
3 – Miguel Oliveira (POR) KTM 63
4 – Mattia Pasini (ITA) KALEX 58
5 – Alex Marquez (SPA) KALEX 47