In this atypical World Cup , the great prizes were concentrated in just five months, the champion was absent, multiple protagonists, only missing an unpredictable and rainy race. And there was this Sunday at the French Grand Prix. Traitorous the weather in Le Mans, which hides more dangers than chicanesof the French track, a downpour disrupted the plans of the teams and drivers just when the day seemed calm and pleasant, despite the cold. The grill was formed. Runners ready. But four minutes before it was time to see the traffic light go off, a curtain of water began to discharge a heavy rain from one side of the circuit to the other. Time stopped for an instant. The bikes returned to the pits and, after the appropriate change of tires and settings, the race was declared wet.
The work done over the weekend and the forecasts for Sunday were ruined. And the strategy gave way to the one who wins the best . And Petrucci won. And Márquez shone, the youngest of the brothers, the newcomer Àlex. Two riders who, curiously, were left without a motorcycle for 2021 before the year even started .
The race started, the asphalt soaked and so delicate that no knee dared to touch the ground and the times, so slow, were unprecedented on a circuit that, without rain, the Yamaha had always been so good at. This was not the case this Sunday, when Rossi crashed on the first lap and World Cup leader Quartararo had enough to maintain the first overall position after a discreet ninth place. Especially because he finished with a beastly overtaking Mir, 11th in the race and his rival in the World Cup.
The day was not for fancy stuff. Less, of those who play the World Cup. The one from Nice knew. He also knew that it was the day for supporting actors. For guys like Petrucci, judged by the lack of results since he arrived at Ducati as an official pilot a year and a half ago. So comfortable competing in extreme situations, with the cold track and even if they hit the tips. Few pilots are so robust and burly. And that, which is a handicap in normal conditions because it takes away a necessary point of speed in MotoGP, it makes life easier in these cases, when speed gives way to technique and daring. Able like few others to put temperature on the tires quickly, Petrucci came out convinced from the first lap and just lost the first position for a few moments, when his teammate Dovizioso overtookten laps from the end. But he did not want to give up the 9. And he gave it back. And he began to open distances with the rest. Until the final triumph, the first since the Italian GP last year.
From the first seconds the Ducati of Petrucci, Dovizioso and Miller had taken the reins of the race – he had to abandon due to a mechanical problem – a motorcycle that always knew how to shine in the rain. And as the laps progressed, drivers who no one expected began to appear among the top positions, with nothing to lose. It was the case of Alex Rins, who wanted to sign another of his usual comebacks. Ranked 16th, he made a brilliant start to finish the first lap in sixth position. He rolled in second position. And when many awaited the final assault, he went to the ground. He doesn’t have much to blame himself for. After such a mediocre Saturday, he finished the race on Sunday on the 16th after putting on a magnificent show.
He was not the only one who gave the paddock the creeps . So did Alex Márquez , another whom nobody expected in this crazy race. Much less on the final podium. Ranked 18th on Saturday, he was climbing positions, like a little ant, constant turn after turn, confident, ambitious in his overtaking, comfortable in conditions where his Honda is less brave than usual. He only stopped when he ran into Dovizioso’s bone on the track, so good a brake, so experienced, the Ducati so fantastic in acceleration out of the corners, that there was no way to overtake him.
The little one of the Márquez did it, his audacity was magnificent in the last eight laps, three laps from the end. “Easy, Marc, I’m here,” he snapped when interviewed on television as soon as he got off the podium. It was a message for the other Márquez, who has no choice but to watch the races on TV since he was injured in July .
Two laps from the end, it was also Pol Espargaró who managed to overtake Dovizioso. And he returned to the podium with that KTM that is already measured Sunday to Sunday with the best.