The Grand Prix of France produced a race which fans will remember for a long time, so here are my five takeaways.
This is the point of the season where we really know who is on top form and who is set for a tough season, albeit with a few surprises along the way.
Anything could still happen as it usually does in MotoGP, but let’s get into what we can take from yesterday’s race.
Miller is back
After the Grand Prix of Portugal, Jack Miller sat outside the top-ten of the championship in 12th place with just 14 points and was 47 points from the top.
Fast forward two rounds later and the Australian is now fourth with 64 points to his name and sits just 16 points shy of championship leader Fabio Quartararo.
I think Miller himself would be the first to admit 2021 got off to a rocky start, finishing the first two rounds in ninth and crashing out of the third race; pressure was starting to mount to find strong form.
The Ducati rider has no doubt given the best response to his tough start with victories in the past two rounds at Jerez and Le Mans. MotoGP heads to Mugello next, which in recent years has proven to be a Ducati favoured circuit meaning Miller could make it three victories in a row.
The 26-year-old is doing everything right if he is to mount a serious title challenge.
If he continues to perform as he has in the past two rounds, the Australian could be on track to win Ducati’s first (and second in total) MotoGP Championship since Casey Stoner in 2007.
Marquez found the limit
As the rain fell at Le Mans, it looked like Marc Marquez was on course to win his first MotoGP race since returning from injury. But whilst leading the race by quite some distance, the Spaniard crashed coming out of the final corner on lap 8, dropping him to 17th.
His race was then put to an end 10 laps later after a fast crash at Turn 6 which ruined the Honda bike.
There’s no doubt the eight-time World Champion was lucky not to suffer any kind of injury, especially as both crashes were quite violent. I think we saw the kind of Marquez that began to push just that little bit too much and ultimately it cost him both the race win and reaching the finish.
The 28-year-old will use that as a learning curve as he continues his development back on the MotoGP grid. Whilst he failed to finish, I think we saw as he was leading the race that he is starting to build back up and is becoming faster and faster as the races go by.
Tech3 needed that result
A stand-out from yesterday’s race for me was Tech3’s solid result as they crossed the line with both riders featuring in the top-ten, Danilo Petrucci in fifth and Iker Lecuona ninth.
The French team have struggled to find any strong pace in the first rounds, but a result like that is just what they need to raise confidence heading into the rest of the season.
Both riders finished above the likes of Maverick Vinales, Valentino Rossi and the sole-factory KTM of Brad Binder, who’s teammate Miguel Oliveira failed to finish. This will be a huge morale boost for both Petrucci and Lecuona, who have come under pressure after a slow start to 2021.
This doesn’t mean they will suddenly be right in the mix with the mid-pack, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Rins needs to find his form quickly
In the past three rounds, Alex Rins has been in contention for a podium finish but has crashed out in each race. After Joan Mir took the title last year when Rins was arguably Suzuki’s lead rider, the Spaniard needed to come into 2021 and give out a statement.
The Suzuki rider was in a position for a podium in the Grand Prix of France, but crashed coming out of the pits at Turn 3 after a bike swap.
So far this year, he can’t seem to find his rhythm and keeps faltering at crucial times, meaning pressure will be mounting on the 25-year-old to find strong form in the next few races.
It’s clear he has the pace, we can see that as he is always fighting towards the front of the pack. But he needs to find more consistency and get some more points on the board if he is to have a good season.
Rins definitely has the talent and the speed to be a top contender, had he not crashed out of the past three rounds he would have been in the mix for championship contention, but he needs a good result and he needs it quickly to take the pressure off.
The championship fight is on
After five rounds, the top-four in the Riders’ Standings are separated by just 16 points and the battle for the championship is really heating up.
So far it looks like Fabio Quartararo is the man to beat, with two victories to his name and a strong performance at Le Mans yesterday. He looks ready to win this year.
But with the likes of Jack Miller on a charge, the young Frenchman needs to keep an eye on his rivals.
Pecco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco are hungry for their first victories in the MotoGP class and are no doubt in the position to do just that. Both riders have been close to a victory this year and the next race in Mugello could be the track either one of them achieves that feat and take hold of the championship lead.
After a drama filled Grand Prix of France, what are your takeaways? Be sure to let us know!