Raul Fernandez showed he had gotten to grips with the changeable, tricky conditions in Le Mans by securing pole, then seized his opportunity to take the lead and pull away to win the Moto2 French Grand Prix, round five of the championship.

With the race declared dry and the dark clouds temporarily at bay, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider got off to a considered start which saw Marco Bezzecchi fly to the front, with the Spaniard sat in the lead group.

The second victory of his rookie Moto2 campaign came when Joe Roberts slipped out of second, leaving him free to take on the Italian. Pressure saw the Sky bike wobble and run wide, and once ahead Fernandez didn’t look back - leading over the line by 1.490s to match his success in Portugal.

Behind him team-mate Remy Gardner saw an opportunity for a comeback after having dropped down the order following Xavi Vierge’s big lunge on the opening lap which caught out several riders.

Working his way back into the battle for third he then chased down Bezzecchi, making up much of his time by being fastest in the first sector. When the Italian ran wide at turn eight Gardner was straight through, but unable to reel in Fernandez despite a valiant effort.

The Australian maintains his championship lead with a total of 89 points, just one ahead of his team-mate Fernandez, who moves into second.

Bezzecchi had a late track limits warning as he repeatedly had trouble bringing his VR46 Kalex around the final corner which saw him come home a careful third. He remains third in the championship standings.

Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) had a long battle for fourth after Gardner left their group. The Italian rookie eventually pulled away to take the position, with Bendsneyder, who had an operation for arm pump between rounds, fifth - a best intermediate class finish for both riders.

Marcel Schrotter lead the chasing pack over the line in 6th on the second Liqui Moly machine, with positions repeatedly swapping behind him.

Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) snatched up seventh in the run to the line, overtaking Fabio Di Giannantonio.

The Federal OIl Gresini rider had an eventful race - after working his way up to sixth he was penalised for his move on Hector Garzo , which saw the Flexbox rider knocked off into the gravel. Long lap completed, he rejoined back in eleventh - but was shown to have touched the white line on entry - the punishment for that was another long lap penalty.

This time ‘Diggia’ rejoined in 14th right at the back of the chasing group before coming back through to finish eighth after a tussle with his Japanese race rival for position.

The experienced Simone Corsi had a strong handle on the conditions, claiming ninth for his first points finish this season. He was the best of the non-Kalex riders at the chequered flag for Forward Racing MV Agusta.

Jorge Navarro was the top Boscoscuro rider for MV Conveyors Speed Up to complete the top ten.

Somkiat Chantra was right behind in eleventh and very much a part of the very close race for seventh - he was able to get involved despite being handed a pre-race penalty - a six place grid demotion for crashing under yellow flags in FP2.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta came home in twelfth, his best result of the season so far with Italtrans.

The remaining points on offer went to Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini) in 13th, Marcos Ramirez (American Racing) in 14th and reigning Moto3 champion Albert Arenas in 15th for Inde Aspar.

Jake Dixon lead much of the 2020 Le Mans race but couldn’t recreate the same form - he struggled down in 19th, finishing just ahead of Celestino Vietti, who completed a long lap penalty for being deemed to have taken a shortcut in the race.

Aron Canet was the first faller, while Tom Luthi brought up the 110th crash of the weekend. Augusto Fernandez, Stefano Manzi, Joe Roberts, Hector Garzo and Cameron Beaubier all failed to finish.

Sam Lowes collected Xavi Vierge on lap four with Lorenzo Baldassarri sliding out of his own accord at the same corner. They were in sixth, seventh and eighth places at the time.

Alonso Lopez was a late replacement for the injured Yari Montella, he also suffered an early exit.

 

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