World champion Marc Marquez won the French Grand Prix at Le Mans yesterday to maintain his 100 per cent record this year and become the youngest rider to win five races in a row in the top class of motorcycling.
The 21-year-old Spaniard broke the record set by British great Mike Hailwood who won five successive 500cc races in 1962 aged 22.
Marquez had started on pole position for the fifth time in five races this season but had to fight back from 10th place at the end of the first lap after a poor getaway.
He reeled in Italian Valentino Rossi, who had led from the start, with 16 of 28 laps to go and pulled away to become the first rider to win five races in a row from pole since Australian Mick Doohan in 1997 and the first man since Italy’s Giacomo Agostini in 1972 to win the first five races of a season in the top class.
Rossi finished second on a Yamaha, for his 150th podium in the top category, with Spaniard Alvaro Bautista third on a non-works Gresini Honda. “Today was a little bit harder than the other races, especially in the beginning,” admitted Marquez.
“On the first two corners I was too calm, I need to be more aggressive like last year because many riders overtook me. But I’m really happy for this victory. We must enjoy the moment because five victories in a row is not easy.”
Britain’s Bradley Smith was 10th, immediately ahead of compatriot Cal Crutchlow. Marquez now leads Dani Pedrosa by 42 points in the overall standings.