The rankings are clear. After the Barcelona Grand Prix, Fabio Quartararo and Joan Mir are attempting to breakaway, even if timidly. The two riders have separated, but with still six races and 150 points to be awarded, the games are far from over. But the French rider from Petronas can arrive at his home race at Le Mans psyched because of his recent victory. The same goes for the Spanish rider from Suzuki, who’s still without a victory, but with four podiums in the last five races, nobody has been as consistent as he has.
So it's all in the hands of the challengers who, for one reason or another, want to forget the Catalan stage as soon as possible, starting with Maverick Vinales, who continued his impressive swing of results, but still held on to a third place in the World Championship, with 18 points behind his teammate.
The situation is more critical for Andrea Dovizioso, involved in Zarco’s fall, and who went from 1st to 4th in the standings. Now the Ducati rider is twenty-four points behind Quartararo and is in desperate need of a turn around. The rider from Forlì, after a good start with a podium in Jerez and then a victory in Austria, could only rely on his continuity to keep himself in the game. But that wasn’t enough. Counting only on the difficulties and mistakes of your opponents is not a winning strategy, and he has to start going fast again, as he showed he was able to do in the past.
Le Mans already seems like a last chance for Dovi. Theoretically, the track is not that bad for him to try and risk everything. Le Mans is a circuit made up of braking and acceleration - stop & go, as they say - and it would have been the ideal track for #4’s Desmododici, up until a few months ago. Too bad though that Andrea’s world is topsy-turvy this year and, what was his strong point, fast breaking, has become his weak one.
After eight races, he still hasn’t been able to find the solution to his problems caused by the new Michelin tire that, however, Miller and Bagnaia, with the same bike, are able to take advantage of to a tee… or almost. But Dovizioso is running out of time if he really wants to remain one of the title contenders.
Now it’s all in his hands… more or less, since Le Mans will also be complicated for two other reasons. The first is the weather. The French GP is ever rarely remembered for its mild temperatures in May, imagine the situation as being much worse in October. The forecasts are uncertain, with a cautious promise of dry weather for Saturday and Sunday, but the temperatures will be the real problem. The higher temperatures will probably not reach more than 15°C or 16°C, the lower could reach 5°C. It’s time to turn on the thermostats more than try elbow-to-ground bends.
If the weather can’t be controlled, not much can be done about the opponents. The rankings will also be taking shape, but the number of riders who can aim for the podium or a victory is certainly not decreasing. In no particular order, there’s Bagnaia and Miller – eager to greet the Pramac team with a victory, Morbidelli and Rossi – who have definitely demonstrated their speed, Alex Rins – on the rise after a subdued start to the season, and then the entire KTM squadron, with little to lose in the standings and a lot to gain towards a good result. These are all riders who, for now, aren’t thinking about the title (even if Franco and Jack are respectively 31 and 33 points behind Quartararo), but who can put themselves in positions that matter and, therefore, take away or give important points to those who are racing for the title.
This season has gotten used to uncertainties. La Mans has everything it takes to offer the same once more.