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Old May 14th, 2024, 02:40 PM   #1
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[cycleworld.com] - Martín Wins 2024 French Grand Prix

Jorge Martín dominated the French Grand Prix weekend, winning both races and setting pole.

Click here to view on their site.


Jorge Martín topped the charts at the French Grand Prix, setting pole, winning the Tissot sprint, and winning Sunday’s race. (MotoGP/)Jorge Martín (Prima Pramac Racing) has done it again: He set pole, won the Saturday sprint, then rode to a calculated (but by no means certain) strategic victory. Following current champion Francesco Bagnaia (factory Ducati) for 20 laps, Martín then made two pass attempts. The first failed in a classic “cross-over” after Martín ran wide, allowing Bagnaia to accelerate under him. The second worked “perfectly,” with Martín holding line to block Bagnaia’s stronger acceleration.

Meanwhile, Marc Márquez (Gresini Ducati), lined up 13th on the grid, started so strongly that he gained five places in the first lap. He continued to move forward, becoming third on L14, and passing Bagnaia for second on the last lap.


Marc Márquez made a last-lap pass for second. (MotoGP/)The 2024 point leader, Martín; the reigning champion, Bagnaia; and the resurgent six-time MotoGP champion, Márquez, had an all-in battle until the last lap. This was exactly what 297,471 spectators at trackside, plus the vast worldwide TV audience, hoped to see. And the riders themselves are saying these three will be the show in the races to come.

Related: 2024 MotoGP Jerez Report


The French Grand Prix had a record attendance of 297,471 fans. (MotoGP/)Martín said, “…going behind Pecco was a nice strategy because I was studying him…”

This was the strategy most used by Márquez in his championship years—stalk the leader, waiting for him and his tires to fatigue, then strike.

“I was confident behind him and with seven or eight [laps] to go I said it was time to make the move.

“…it was the moment I saw he was struggling a bit on some corners. It was difficult to make the move. He was strong, and I went wide the first time.

“The last five laps were so long. I tried to push and I was a bit tired because it was a really long race.

“I had to go fast, [yet] avoid crashing with the tires that were not at their best.

“Enjoying riding is very important but those five laps were really long and not fun for me.”


Martín stalked Francesco Bagnaia until the time was right to pass, and when he made the second attempt stick, he did not immediately pull away. (MotoGP/)Bagnaia said, “I tried to stay as close as I could to Martín [after he passed me] in order to try and pass him at turn 13.”

Martín, being the stronger in certain corners, was able to maintain a lead of just under half a second, but could not pull a gap.

“Martín was able to bring more speed than me in the corners,” Bagnaia said.


Bagnaia led much of the French Grand Prix, but ended up third after two brave passes from his Ducati-mounted rivals. (MotoGP/)Bagnaia’s strength was in the first two track sectors, preventing Martín from pulling clear.

Márquez’s race, starting so far back, was one of discovery. He described thinking, “I say, ‘OK the top-five is my target’…but then I saw that [my] pace was there.”

After getting past Fabio Di Giannantonio on lap 18 he raised his sights again: “Third position is OK, but I saw that [my] pace was there.”

And finally, “…when I arrived to [the leaders] I was completely exhausted. I was pushing all the way… I was catching them and the pace was there.

“I tried to attack Pecco but…I’m not feeling well now on the bike.

“I saw also that Pecco has strong acceleration so it was difficult to find the point to overtake.

“He was defending well at turn 3.

“But on that last lap I say, ‘I will be there to see if something happens.’ I saw that Pecco was not attacking Martín [and I was able to pass him].”


Márquez celebrating his last-lap pass and second place finish. (MotoGP/)Enea Bastianini on the other factory Ducati remained close to the leaders to the end, finishing fourth only 2.2 seconds from Martín.

Maverick Viñales, fifth, was 5.5 seconds behind Bastianini. Viñales said, “On a weekend when we did not find the right feeling, taking third in the sprint and fifth in the race is a positive outcome.”


Maverick Viñales finished fifth, a positive result in his words. (Aprilia/)The rest were in another race, 10 and more seconds back. The excellent performance of the top three finishers was based not only upon ability to keep the pace, but also upon managing tire and rubber resources, making decisions about when to change engine mapping (to compensate for tire “drop,” reduced weight from fuel burn-off, and evolving traction conditions). A rider whose bike doesn’t quite fit him is straining to quickly and solidly assume the necessary positions for cornering, for strong acceleration, for braking. Riding for a team that has trouble achieving a workable setup tempts the rider to try to compensate. This is why old-timers say, “There’s nothing more dangerous than trying to make up for a bike that can’t quite do the job.”

Dorna has achieved admirable closeness of performance in riders and equipment—something lacking in Formula 1—which is why so many of the riders who are low on the point standings have nevertheless managed to win some races or at least to finish well up now and then. Can all MotoGP crew chiefs and software specialists be of a similarly high and uniform standard? Are they all equally expert at understanding their rider’s needs and manner of expressing them? I think of riders Mick Doohan (1990s) and the late John Surtees (1950s), both of whom were obliged to insist that no change of any kind be made to their factory motorcycles without their knowledge and agreement. Might some teams continue the questionable practice of making unannounced changes, in the hope they may be successful?

Less-well-financed teams save money by reusing part-worn carbon brake pads (four grand a set) for practice, and by having to seek lodging outside the circle of price elevated by the event. Travel time to and from the track is subtracted from sleep.

Success in practice is a strong determinant of whether the rider will reach Q2, or will be forced to struggle through Q1, qualifying down-field and being forced in the race to recoup positions by sacrificing tire life. Márquez showed his experience by finishing second despite starting 13th on the grid. In general, success comes most easily to those who roll out for first practice fully prepared and able to continue as they began. Yet time and again riders shrug off “black Fridays” as if they were just to be expected—like colds or parking tickets.

Aleix Espargaró, fifth in the sprint, ninth on Sunday, said, “I’m quite disappointed because I don’t understand how the clutch of my RS-GP [Aprilia] works, and I don’t like it. Almost in every race I have risked [a jumped] start, and here it happened to me (resulting in a double long lap penalty).” He doesn’t describe the specifics of the problem, but it can happen that the friction coefficient (“grippiness”) of clutch friction material rises suddenly with temperature (as did the carbon brake material on Wayne Gardner’s NSR500 in 1989, causing him to crash at the US round at Laguna Seca). Occurring in a clutch being slipped at the start of a race, this could lead to unexpectedly early solid engagement. When combined with launch control software the result could even be oscillatory and jerky, as the system interacts with varying friction.


Aleix Espargaró is struggling with clutch engagement on starts. (Aprilia/)During a standing start, the clutch acts as a power divider. Although the engine must be revved enough to give the necessary torque, initially almost none of its power goes into turning the barely moving tire, so the surplus power goes into driving clutch temperature steeply upward. As the start proceeds and the vehicle gains speed, more of the engine’s power is consumed by the accelerating bike and less heats the clutch. At full engagement, 100 percent of the power accelerates the bike and zero to clutch slip.

How are the once-dominant Japanese teams faring in their efforts to rearm in the din of battle?

Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) said, “This morning we made big changes on the bike that have been quite positive.”

In the race he had moved up to sixth by lap 14, but crashed out two laps later.

His response? “…I feel better to crash when I’m P6 than P12.”

Johann Zarco, 12th, was the highest-finishing Honda rider.

Pedro Acosta (GasGas/KTM), from whom so much is expected, crashed out early, saying, “We’ll try again in Barcelona.”

Catalunya in two weeks.
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