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Miller masters the rain to douse French hopes at Le Mans

·3-min read
Jack Miller won the French MotoGP to follow his victory last time out in Spain

Australian rider Jack Miller made it back to back wins on his Ducati with a dramatic victory in a windy, rain-strewn French MotoGP at Le Mans on Sunday.

Miller, who won the last race in Spain, finished ahead of French pair Johann Zarco, riding for Ducati's satellite Pramac team, and Fabio Quartararo, on a Yamaha, who takes over the lead in the championship.

Quartararo, who has won two races this season and started on pole here, has 80 points, one more than Miller's teammate Francesco Bagnaia who finished fourth.

It was a major bonus for the Frenchman, coming just 12 days after undergoing 'arm pump' surgery following problems with his right forearm, which saw him slip to a 13th place finish last time out at Jerez.

"I'm so happy, it's like a victory for me," said Quartararo whose front tyre was completely worn out at the end of the race.

Zarco is third in the title race with 68 points and Miller is just four points further back, leaving the top four within 16 points of each other ahead of the sixth race of the season at Mugello in Italy on May 30.

"The wind added to the rain and I thought the race was going to be stopped," said Miller who survived two time penalties to become the first Australian ever to win two successive victories in MotoGP.

"I felt very comfortable. It's amazing, I can't believe we have had back to back wins."

The difficult conditions which saw rain sweeping across the Bugatti circuit led to numerous bikes sliding off the track, leading to a mass bike change for wet tyres when the race went 'flag to flag'.

"I know the possibility of a podium is very low," said Marc Marquez just before the race but when the riders reemerged after the change of bikes, it was the six-times world champion who took charge.

In his third race back after a year out with injury, Marquez opened up a promising lead before sliding off with 19 laps remaining.

The Spaniard struggled to get his bike upright but remounted and picked his way through the field before sliding off a second time and out of the race.

Miller had made an excellent start taking the lead from pole-sitter Quartararo and these two battled it out for most of the race before and after the bike change. Both were hit with penalties which allowed Zarco, who was flying after the change, to close up and chase them to the flag.

"Maybe if we had changed bikes a little earlier we could have won the race", said Zarco.

He did overtake Quartararo but did not have enough in the tank to overhaul Miller who crossed the line over four seconds clear to collect only his third MotoGP victory.

- Fernandez takes Moto2 -

Spain's Raul Fernandez won the Moto2 race to climb to just one point behind his Australian teammate Remy Gardner in the championship standings.

The two KTM team riders dominated a race marred by multiple crashes.

Fernandez, 20, is in his first season in Moto2 and he arrived at Le Mans with his maiden win in the category already secured in Portugal last month.

Completing the podium for this fifth leg of the season was Italian Marco Bezzecchi who goes third in the standings.

Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, won the Moto3 division with championship leader Pedro Acosta a valiant eighth after the 16-year-old rookie jumped back onto his bike after a crash.

Acosta has enjoyed a dream start to life in Moto3 with three wins out of the five races staged so far to give him a commanding 54 points cushion over his Spanish compatriot and nearest rival, Garcia.

Garcia's second Moto 3 win after Valencia in 2019 came at the main expense of Czech Republic rider Filip Salac and Italian Riccardo Rossi in second and third.

bsp/nr

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