Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on twenty-nine previous occasions, including the Grand Prix “Vitesse du Mans” in 1991, which is the only year that two grand prix events have been held in France in the same year. 2017 is the 18th successive year that the Le Mans circuit has hosted a motorcycle Grand Prix event.
It was first used for a Grand Prix event in 1969, when the 500cc race was won by Giacomo Agostini on an MV Agusta as he lapped all the other riders in the race!
In addition to Le Mans, there have been seven other circuits that have hosted the French GP: Paul Ricard (13 times), Clermont-Ferrand (10), Nogaro (2), Reims (2), Rouen (2), Albi (1), Magny-Cours (1).
Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda have had seven wins at Le Mans, the last of which was three years ago with Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). Yamaha have also had seven MotoGP wins at Le Mans, including for the last two years.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) is the rider with the most Grand Prix victories at Le Mans, having stood on the top step of the podium on six occasions at the French circuit; a single win in the 250cc class to add to his five MotoGP wins.
Last year at Le Mans, Jorge Lorenzo crossed the line 10.654 seconds ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi – the five-time World Champion’s largest margin of victory in a dry MotoGP race.
Chris Vermeulen took his single MotoGP win at Le Mans in 2007 riding a Suzuki. Prior to Maverick Viñales winning at Silverstone last year, this was the only GP victory in the four-stroke MotoGP era for the Hamamatsu factory. Viñales finished third at Le Mans last year for his first rostrum in the premier class, which was also the first MotoGP podium for Suzuki since Loris Capirossi was third at Brno in 2008.
The best results for Ducati at the Le Mans circuit are second place finishes for Loris Capirossi in 2006 and Valentino Rossi in 2012.
Of the fifteen MotoGP races held at Le Mans, nine have either started in wet conditions or have been rained on during the race.
Ze French, n’est ce pas…
Johann Zarco is the top rookie in the MotoGP championship classification in sixth place, which also makes him the top Independent Team rider in the championship standings.
Zarco has the highest point score by a French rider after four races since Randy de Puniet had 36 points after the opening four races of 2010.
In the MotoGP era, starting in 2002, only six rookies have scored more points than Zarco over the opening four races of the year: 2002 - Daijiro Kato, 2003 – Troy Bayliss, 2006 – Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner, 2008 – Jorge Lorenzo and 2013 – Marc Marquez.
Zarco is the first French rider since Regis Laconi in 1999 to score three successive top five finishes in the premier-class of Grand Prix racing.
Johann Zarco and Loris Baz between them have scored 47 points so far in 2017, which is already - after just four races - the highest single season points total by French riders in the MotoGP class since 2012.
Zarco and Baz will be joined at Le Mans by 2014 WorldSBK Champion and former MotoGP rider Sylvain Guintoli, who is substituting for the injured Alex Rins on the factory Suzuki. This is the first time since the Italian Grand Prix in 2007 that three French riders will line up on the grid for a MotoGP race; on that occasion it was Randy de Puniet, Sylvain Guintoli and Olivier Jacque, who was making his final Grand Prix appearance.
The last time that three French riders lined up on the grid for a MotoGP race at Le Mans was in 2002, when Regis Laconi, Jean-Michel Bayle and Olivier Jacque all started.
There have been five GP wins by French riders at the Le Mans circuit: Jean Aureal won the 125cc race in 1969, Guy Bertin the 125cc race in 1979, Patrick Fernandez the 350cc race in 1979, Mike di Meglio the 125cc race in 2008 and Louis Rossi the Moto3 race in 2012.
The best result by a French rider at Le Mans in the MotoGP class is 4th by Olivier Jacque in 2003. French riders twice finished on the podium in the 500cc GP class at Le Mans; Raymond Roche was second in 1985 and Christian Sarron third in 1987.
Season so far
Only four riders have scored points in all four of the MotoGP races in 2017: Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) and Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing).
The Spanish Grand Prix resulted in the first Honda one-two since the German Grand Prix last year, when Marc Marquez won from Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).
With Marc Marquez following Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) across the line at Jerez it was the first time since the German Grand Prix in 2015 that these two teammates have taken the top two places in a MotoGP race.
The first three riders across the line in Jerez were Spanish, the first all Spanish podium in the MotoGP class since Jorge Lorenzo won at Valencia in 2015 from Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
The Spanish Grand Prix was the 16th all Spanish podium in the premier-class of Grand Prix racing, fifteen of which have been the when Marquez, Lorenzo and Pedrosa have been together on the podium. Only three nations have filled all three podium places in the premier-class of grand prix racing more often than Spain; Italy – 17 times, Great Britain – 23 times and USA – 24 times.
At the Spanish Grand Prix Jorge Lorenzo finished on the podium for the first time on a Ducati. This was the first podium finish for Ducati at the circuit since Nicky Hayden was third in 2011.
There were no Yamaha riders on the podium in the MotoGP race at Jerez; the first time that this has happened there since 2006.
Following the Spanish Grand Prix, Valentino Rossi heads the Championship table with 62 points. This is the lowest points total for the rider leading the premier-class Championship after four races since the current scoring system was introduced in 1993. Rossi is also the first rider to head the MotoGP standings after four rounds without winning a race since Nicky Hayden in 2006.