The number 22 takes a dominant win in the end after heartbreak for Dixon and a drama-filled comeback for Roberts.
Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took a stunning win in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Brit crossing the line in a class of his own to launch himself well back into the title fight. Compatriot Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) suffered some late heartbreak after a crash out the lead, with Remy Gardner (ONXOX TKKR SAG Team) then taking second as he attacked Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) on the last lap. Drama hit for polesitter Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing) before the race as he had a problem on the grid and was forced into pitlane to try and get the bike going, managing that and heading out late on the Warm Up lap… and not making it round quite in time before the lights went out…
Gardner took the holeshot from Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with the Australian streaking away in the lead initially and Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) heading through into second. Lowes was then soon through into the top three too, and the Brit then hopped past the two men ahead to take over at the front early doors.
Dixon was on a charge, however. The 96 sliced through to second not long after, with Martin an early casualty as he then crashed out. Next was Vierge, the number 97 highsiding in front of Gardner and that seeing Bezzecchi home in on third.
A moment then hit for Gardner too and the Australian was swarmed by Bezzecchi, as similar hit at the front too for Lowes. Into Turn 9, the Brit had a huge moment and headed off onto the run off and Long Lap penalty area, saving it but then left with quite a deficit to Dixon, who’d taken over at the front…
The laps ticked on, Dixon marched on and Lowes was left with the task to reel him in as the fight for third between Bezzecchi and Gardner stayed incredibly tight. Roberts, meanwhile, was absolutely charging through from the back, and the American was already picking off riders in the top ten…
Then, suddenly, disaster struck for Dixon. With a comfortable lead still intact, the tricky conditions suddenly caught the number 96 out – and out he slid. Heartbroken in the gravel trap as he lost out on the chance of a first win, Lowes was back in front and Dixon unable to restart.
For the number 22, that was all she wrote. Lowes kept it tidy over the last handful of laps to cross the line with an impressive near four-second gap, back on the top step for the first time in a few seasons – and putting himself right back in the title fight. Meanwhile, it all went down to a dramatic final lap for Gardner and Bezzecchi, the Italian defending throughout the final lap until an absolute last minute final corner lunge saw Gardner beat him to the line. For Bezzechhi though, the points are a valuable haul as the Italian moves up to within five points of Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) in second.
Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took fourth after a solid ride, the last man in touch with the podium fight, with veteran Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) taking a solid fifth place. And then came Roberts…
Despite the drama at the start and beginning the race even further back than the back of the grid, the American’s stunning charge saw him take home an awesome sixth place. A win it wasn’t and he’ll rue his luck, but it was a true stunner.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Termozeta Speed Up) put in an impressive performance riding a little sore following his crash earlier in the weekend as he took P7, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) next up as they took solid results in difficult conditions to score some big points hauls. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) completed the top ten despite a tougher weekend for the German.
So where were the top two in the title? Bastianini took P11 in the end, a handful of points not seeing him gain big ground but he was ahead of Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), who failed to score. After a big highside on Friday left him bruised, the Italian impressed to finish but just missed out on points in P17.
Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40), Marcos Ramirez (Tennor American Racing), Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) completed the points.
That’s it from Le Mans. No it’s on to Aragon and a whole new challenge, with Lowes in P4 now only an apt 22 points off… can Marini bounce back at MotorLand? Find out next weekend!
1 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex 41:27.648
2 Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +3.822
3 Marco Bezzecchi- Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +4.184
Sam Lowes: “You know I felt sorry for Jake and I want to say well done to him because he’s been doing well in the last few races and he was riding good then. It was easy to crash in those conditions but I felt really good, apart from locking the front into Turn 9, I just got it a little wrong a little bit on the damp patch. You could see it coming up and I just caught the edge of it and yeah, I was lucky to stay on, so then after I just took it easy. Jake had good pace and I didn’t want to get too close to him because when I’m behind I have a tendency to rush in a little bit, so I wanted to look after the front. So I tried to keep about a second and a half and then push towards the end but he was real strong but unfortunately he went down and yeah, I felt good, I felt good all weekend and that’s three podiums in a row and I’m really happy to get this win because it has been a long time since I won a race and we’re going into Aragon next week which is where my last win was so it was nice to get it before going back there. It’s really nice for me at the SHARK Helmets French Grand Prix, obviously being a long time SHARK rider, thanks to everyone for their support but yeah, it has been a very good day!”
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