American Racing faced an uphill battle at Le Mans after Marcos Ramirez and Cameron Beaubier qualified deep in the 31-rider field for the Grand Prix of France, Round 5 of the FIM Moto2 World Championship.
Located southwest of Paris, the 2.6-mile Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix Race Circuit has 14 corners, nine rights and five lefts. Beaubier, who last raced at Le Mans in 2009, struggled to reacquaint himself with the track amid rapidly changing weather conditions.
“It’s been pretty wild—wet, dry, wet, dry,” said the 28-year-old American. “That made it a little bit tough to learn the track in dry conditions, because everyone just lays the hammer down when it’s full dry. I’m just trying to improve step by step.”
Following the cold, wet morning warmup, partly cloudy skies, temperatures in the low 60s and a light wind greeted riders on the starting grid for the 25-lap race. The track surface was drying quickly, and all the three-cylinder Triumph 765-powered machines were fitted with Dunlop slicks.
Beaubier took advantage of early attrition, marching quickly from his 23rd starting spot into the top 15. By lap 7, he was ninth. Three laps later, the five-time MotoAmerica Superbike champion was seventh.
Beaubier was sixth, leading a group of five and lapping in the low- to mid-1:38s, when he crashed at Turn 3 with five laps remaining in the race.
“Thanks to the team,” he said, “I’ve been getting more comfortable on the bike and making some progress, but sorry at the same time, because we were so close to a good result.”
Ramirez didn’t move forward as quickly as his teammate, even going backward in the opening laps. The 23-year-old Spaniard steadily worked his way into the top 20 and all the way to 14th at the checkers, dipping into the 1:37s on the final lap.
“After some problems yesterday for the qualifying, I’m happy about taking two points,” said Ramirez. “The race was strange: I lost so much time in the beginning. Then, I started to recover a lot. The last 10 laps were so good.”
KTM Ajo rider Raul Fernandez won the race. His teammate, Remy Gardner, was second and leads the title chase by one point. After five rounds, Beaubier is 16th in the championship standings. Ramirez is 21st.
Round 6 of the FIM Moto2 World Championship, the Grand Prix of Italy at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, is May 28-30.