It sounds unbelievable, but no transalpine driver has ever won the Grand Prix on home soil, so Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco are going all out this weekend to write history.
By Diane Tamantini of Corsedimoto
The Circuit Bugatti du Mans will host the seventh round of the 2022 MotoGP season. Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco There will clearly be the most prominent, being the two home drivers. They will also be symbols for a movement that is slowly beginning to “wake up”, marked by initiatives aimed at finding new talent. But the Grand Prix de France will also be a new opportunity to try to lift a taboo: there has never been a victory for a French driver at home in the premier category! The two Frenchmen, protagonists of another double podium in Indonesia, will try the company again. In the meantime, let’s review past results.
In fact, to look for French triumphs, you have to look at the other categories. The Le Mans circuit hosted the first GP valid for the World Championship in 1969, an event immediately celebrated with the first success of a favorite at home. It is Jean Aureal, triumphing over Yamaha then in 125cc. The Circuit Bugatti alternated for years with other circuits and it was not until 1979, on the occasion of the 4th World GP on this circuit to see Guy Martin on the French Motobécane conquers success in 125cc, and patrick fernandez protagonist with Yamaha in 350cc. We then have to move forward several years, to get Le Mans to become the fixed venue for the French GP, and beyond. We stop in 2008, once again to look at the 125cc. It’s the year of Mike Di Meglio, who was world champion in the category, who won his first victory of the season on his own track. Later, it is the Moto3 that brings the glory: Louis Rossi has no rival, and with it comes the last French triumph in front of its public.
Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco will ride for history
There are also some precedents on other French circuits, hosting events valid for the World Championship. The local pilots presented themselves for the first time in 1954 in Reims: Pierre Monneret triumphed both in 350cc (with AJS) and in 500cc (with Gilera). It is the only French victory at home in the premier category of the World Championship. Another truly memorable weekend for the French was the 1982 GP at Nogaro: an event boycotted by many for the dangerous track, but a celebration for local favorites, with three successes in all four classes in action. Jean-Claude Selini (Morbidelli) in 125cc, Jean Louis Tournadre (Yamaha) in 250cc, Jean-Francois Balde (Kawasaki) in 350cc. Only the fourth category, the 500cc, bears the signature of a non-French driver, precisely the Swiss Michel Frutschi on Sanvenero.
The succession of French triumphs ends here. The Circuit Bugatti du Mans also appears to be a real “curse” for local heroes… Johann Zarco failed to win even in two years of glory in Moto2: he was 3rd in 2015, the following year he fell when he was 8th, restarted but only finished 24th. In MotoGP, however, he claims a double second place, the last obtained in 2021 behind his teammate Jack Millerin front of the poleman and compatriot Fabio Quartararo. A podium which, for the reigning MotoGP champion, is also the best result of his career at home!
Once again, it will be the hunt for history for the two Frenchmen and the Pramac Ducati rider in particular: he will be keen to catch up after the zero in Jerez, and he will try once again to stop this record of podiums (13) without ever winning the top class.
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