Jack Miller became the first Australian rider since Casey Stoner in 2012 to win consecutive MotoGP races with his Shark Helmets French Grand Prix victory at LeMans on Sunday. After winning his first MotoGP race in 2016, Miller’s back-to-back victories were incredibly just the second and third of his career.
In a race that started under dry conditions, it didn’t take long for rain to develop. On Lap 5 of the 27 lap race, heavy rain fell creating chaos and bringing the riders down pit road for a change of bikes. On this stop, Miller was hit with a penalty for speeding on pit road.
In his third race back from arm surgery, Marc Marquez took the lead during the exchange. It didn’t last long. Marquez went down in the final turn. He laid his bike down and high sided into the gravel. He was able to remount, but would retire later with another crash on Lap 18.
Crash #2 for @marcmarquez93! 💢
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) May 16, 2021
Marquez’s crash handed the lead over to Fabio Quartararo, but when that rider also served a long lap penalty, Miller was able to take the top spot.
Miller held onto the lead and beat Johan Zarco for second and Quartararo for third.
“Hectic, very hectic,” Miller described the race afterward. “Like now, it was perfectly still before, but halfway through the race when the rain came that wind came with it. As I came down pit road a barrier blew into pit lane. I thought they’re going to red flag this race for sure. But then it dropped off relatively quickly.
“The first couple of laps were real dodgy on wet tires, but I had to get going. I had the long laps. I wasn’t sure why, but apparently speeding. I generally do get speeding tickets here in France. I was able to catch up pretty quickly and just get to work on Fabio. I got in front of him and just felt comfortable.”
With his third-place finish, Quartararo held onto the championship lead.
“”It was such tricky conditions. We saw (Alex) Rins crash immediately (after the rain),” Quartararo said. “We made it quite well. I’m so happy. It’s like a victory to me.”
In Moto2, Raul Fernandez finished ahead of Remy Gardner and Marco Bezzecchi.
A series of accidents in the early laps eliminated several contenders, including Sam Lowes who fell to fourth in the points.
Huge blow to @SamLowes_22's championship hopes! 👀
— MotoGP™🏁 (@MotoGP) May 16, 2021
American riders Joe Roberts and Cameron Beaubier also flamed out in dramatic fashion.
One lap after the Lowes crash, Roberts went down while riding second. It was a huge disappointment for a rider whose rollercoaster weekend seemed to be trending up.
“We were kind of down in the dumps yesterday,” Roberts said following qualification. “I was looking forward to coming to this circuit a lot. It was one of my picks for the season to be a strong track for me.
“It was a bit of a weird start. We didn’t know what was going on. We had some kind of technical issues in the first session. In the second session, we started to put it together at the end, but then my laps got canceled for the yellow flag.”
Beaubier climbed to sixth in the race and was in route to a career-best finish when he also crashed five laps from the finish.
At the head of the pack, Fernandez’s advantage steadily grew. He posted his quickest trip around the circuit on Lap 23 and had an almost two second lead over Gardner as the field took the white flag.
Gardner had a three second lead over Bezzecchi.
This was the second win in the last three Moto2 races for the Red Bull rookie, who moved to within one point of Gardner for the championship lead.
Gardner earned his fourth podium in the first five races of 2021.