MotoGP’s best crowd has the heroes it deserves


Even the Abu Dhabi Auto Racing League

The Le Mans MotoGP weekend was always something special. This was clear even before the French Grand Prix started.

So, when the final crowd figures on Sunday revealed a record attendance for the weekend, it was not at all surprising, especially in light of the reception 120,000 French fans gave to Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco – local heroes, two long-distance racers after all. Acute now – Sunday.

The first indication of just how big this event was came on Wednesday afternoon when the race first hit the track – discovering the entirety of Le Mans in a state of gridlock as fans tried to get into the spacious campsites as they opened the weekend.

Since then, it has only built and built, with the crescendo arriving just before the start of Sunday's race when over 100,000 people on what is already the noisiest track on the calendar (a curious trick of its architecture and geography) all joined in to completely raise the roof with a rendition of the French national anthem. , La Marseillaise.

Racing was brought forward a week this year in order to enjoy the French public holidays of Wednesday and Thursday, with most turning that into an extended five-day weekend. Those who bought their tickets weeks ago, before they sold out, were exceptionally lucky with the weather too – with unseasonable sunshine pouring down all weekend.

That helped a lot with the Le Mans atmosphere too, because in all honesty, what he did differently from any other race on the calendar was not doing a better job of letting people know the race had started – but of convincing them to stay until the end. Full duration and camping on site.

Only the Assen and Sachsenring manage to come close to the level of sheer chaos, chaos and fun you get at Le Mans – so it's no coincidence that they are also the other two races where people are most likely to camp.

Veteran organizer Claude Mishy has successfully convinced fans that they should view the French Grand Prix as a festival, not just a race day, and it is paying off with record-breaking crowds. Repeating the turnstiles at Le Mans nearly 300,000 times is a new record for modern-day motorcycles.

When you see some of the pictures of the chaos from the campsites that surround the circuit, you might think that many of those who come never plan to see a motorcycle and are just there for the party. You would be wrong.

The truth is that while they may be hardcore party animals in France, they are also ardent MotoGP fans, and the struggling duo of Quartararo and Zarco were left overwhelmed by the response they received from the crowd throughout the weekend.

But to their credit, both Quartararo and Zarco have raised their game in response to the wave of emotional support from the home fans.

Quartararo, a darling of a much younger crowd than most racers these days, managed to produce what was arguably his best Sunday of the season until his crash, with his drop from sixth at least suggesting that things are going slowly but surely for the better for Yamaha because Rebuilding its besieged project.

And although things may be more difficult at Honda, it is a testament to Zarco's determination that he was once again the best in that particular group. Although a Q2 appearance was never on the cards, he pulled his LCR-powered RC213V as close as possible – missing four tenths – to maintain his record as the fastest Honda in every qualifying session so far this year.

His reward for another brilliant job on Sunday was 12th place, within sight of Raul Fernandez's Aprilia Trackhouse at the flag.

Quartararo – who ran a special on Sunday, and unveiled it the night before in front of a large crowd of people in the main straight on Saturday night – admitted after his crash that while he wanted to finish, he would rather fall out of the fight for the sixth place he was in at the time, He returned to a spot outside the top 10, and such was the energy the fans gave him.

“I hit the limit from the first lap, and it's a miracle I didn't have an early accident!” “But when you are in front of your home fans, you want to give it everything,” he said. “I can say I was devastated because I was giving it everything I had.

“It's been a couple of years where we haven't been performing as well as we should have, but to run into the penalty box after the incident and hear the whole crowd chant your name and call you out is really emotional.”



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