Le Mans, France, May 17: In a rare flag-to-flag race, Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) – despite two long-lap penalties – became the first Australian since Casey Stoner in 2012 to win back-to-back races in the premier class to lead home a double French podium at Le Mans. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) sprayed the bubbly on the famous rostrum in an unforgettable MotoGP encounter.
Ahead of lights out for the premier class race, the race was declared dry. No rain had fallen since Warm Up and after the Moto3 and Moto2 races, Le Mans was dry. There were some looming dark clouds in the surrounding area though and tensions were understandably palpable on the grid. The entire field had selected the soft-soft slick Michelins to begin the race on, with some forecasts suggesting there might be some rain on the way – drama was on the way.
It was dry for the time being though and as expected, Miller propelled his Ducati off the line excellently and grabbed the holeshot from third on the grid, with both Viñales and Quartararo holding firm to stay inside the top three as Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had two bites of the cherry for P4 against Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). First Turn 7, then Turn 8.
On Lap 1, coming out of Turn 10, Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) then had a huge moment. The Spaniard stayed on but it gave Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and his teammate Franco Morbidelli a sniff. Trying to overtake at the inside of Turn 11, the door was closed on Morbidelli and the Italian ran wide, before crashing in the gravel. It caused Rossi and Pol Espargaro to lose places too, with Morbidelli able to re-join.
It was a frantic start. At the front, Miller, Quartararo and Viñales were your top three with fast-starting Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Marc Marquez inside the top five, as the rain started falling. It was light to begin with and Quartararo made a phenomenal two-in-one move on Viñales and Miller at Turn 3, but the rain then started to fall a lot heavier. On Lap 5, the heavens properly opened and it was time for the field to come into pitlane for their second bikes.