The newest brand and one of the oldest race circuits on the MotoGP™ calendar came together at round seven of twenty-one in the 2022 world championship.
‘Le Mans’ needs no introduction to people who can associate the town in northern France with motorsports. MotoGP™ however have been using the smaller ‘Bugatti’ section of the famous course for more than twenty years as the home of the Grand Prix de France, and the fourteen-corner layout hosted round seven of the current championship. The track mixes hard braking with strong acceleration and both rewards decent ‘flow’ while tempting the most ambitious racers into overtaking moves through the twisty chicane sections.
Le Mans was unusually sunny and warm throughout Friday and Saturday which provided consistent conditions for the CFMOTO Racing PruestelGP to get to work in terms of set-up and refining the motorcycles for the 22-lap race on Sunday morning. Carlos Tatay and Xavier Artigas qualified with 5th and 15th places on the start grid.
It was the Moto3™ thriller that pushed the Grand Prix day into motion during a cooler and cloudier Sunday morning. In fact, a quick rain shower as the race began meant the red-flag was quickly shown on the second lap and led to a 14-lap restart. The sprint provided close and riveting entertainment ahead of Moto2™ and then MotoGP™ races. The French fans, and many more visitors from northern Europe, packed the fences and gave noisy appreciation of the action.
Tatay was immediately into contention among the front section of the leading pack. It was a large group in Le Mans with Artigas further back in the melee but also with options for the points. Tatay had a busy time swapping positions and trying to get near the podium spots but finally cut through to 6th and less than two seconds from the winner. Artigas was on the edge of the top ten until he tumbled at Turn 7 with three laps to go.
When the flag had fallen, the bikes cooled and the team debriefs had been completed at Le Mans, the standings revealed that Tatay is 8th in the championship and Artigas is 11th while the team are 5th in the teams’ standings.
At the end of May, MotoGP™ has the next ‘double’. Next stop is the Mugello circuit in Italy, where the team arrive with mixed feelings. In honor of Jason Dupasquier the team will run a special performance. A week later, back-to-back is the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in northeast Spain.
#99 Carlos Tatay I P06
“It was a really positive weekend. We worked on a lot of things and I was feeling better and better on the CFMOTO bike. I’m improving all the time. I’m happy about this and the team are pushing, so thanks to them. The race could have gone better but I’m heavy and this means I have to push a lot in the braking. The bike was working great for this. We’ll try again in Mugello.”
#43 Xavier Artigas I DNF
“We couldn’t finish the race but I’m OK from the crash. Importantly I know what I need to work on to be better for Mugello. Thanks to the team for all their work here and we’ll aim to be better in two weeks.”
Results Moto3™ SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Jaume Masia (ESP) KTM 24:04.119
2. Ayumu Sasaki, (JPN), Husqvarna +0.150
3. Izan Guevara, (ESP), GASGAS +0.220
6. Carlos Tatay, ESP, CFMOTO +1.594
DNF. Xavier Artigas, ESP, CFMOTO