until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


What was so extraordinary about Martin's Le Mans MotoGP win

by Simon Patterson
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

MotoGP race victories might at this point be nothing particularly special for now seven-time winner Jorge Martin. But as the Pramac rider continues to establish his credential for a factory ride next season, Sunday’s French Grand Prix success might well be one of his most important so far - and that's all down to the way in which he did it.

Fast since his very first MotoGP race back in 2021, Martin has sometimes been accused of being, if anything, too fast - relying on his raw aggression and talent to carve his way through the grid and occasionally eschewing strategy and patience in the process.

That of course works perfectly in his favour in the sprint races - Martin has won 10 of the last 12 - but there’s still occasionally been something missing when it comes to the main event 24 hours later.

Martin has made some improvements over the season, of course. And he didn’t fight for a title until the final race of the season against Pecco Bagnaia last year without picking up more than a few lessons from a double champion who's often been the other side of the coin: a rider who is always thinking about the bigger picture and when to play his cards.

Despite the slow change in attitude from Martin, there’s still rough edges - like at the Spanish GP two weeks ago when he threw away a huge points haul by crashing out of the lead while allowing Bagnaia to close down his championship lead in the process.

That’s why Sunday’s race at Le Mans was important to prove that he’s still on the correct learning curve to become a future MotoGP world champion, because he made exactly the right move at exactly the right time not once but twice during the 27-lap race.

The first of those decisions came early on in the race when he realised that the smartest place to be was not in front of Bagnaia like the last time out at Jerez but rather right behind him instead, letting the Italian set the pace and simply tucking in behind him as they distanced the pack behind.

That’s a somewhat bold strategy, given just how good Bagnaia is at both controlling races from the front while managing his tyres and how frustratingly hard he is to overtake - Bagnaia's has very much built up a reputation that his defensive riding is among the very best in MotoGP.

Martin showed why he was so comfortable to do so in the final third of the race once a hard-charging Marc Marquez made his way past Fabio Di Giannantonio and started to close down the leading duo, though, by sticking a hard move on his title rival - at the second attempt, it must be said - into the Dunlop chicane in order to make Marquez Bagnaia’s problem rather than his.

“I knew that Marc was behind,” said Martin, when asked by The Race in the press conference about the closing stages at Le Mans. “I saw that Diggia [Di Giannantonio] was getting dropped, and I said to myself, 'OK, I’m quite comfortable here behind Pecco'. Even Marc was at over two seconds [behind].

“But he took one second in almost one lap, and I knew that I had to make the move and start to push because he would arrive and I could have finished third, not even second.

“I knew he was coming and that’s why I tried to make the moves as fast as possible, to try and set my pace to make a small gap.”

And he made that work. His overtake, and subsequent defence, ensured it was Bagnaia - not Martin - who Marquez was forced to pull an ambitious late move on to steal second with only a few corners to go.

There was more to the win than just the 25 points this weekend - and it’s something that bodes well not just for Martin’s second title tilt in a row but also his hopes of a factory promotion for 2025.

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