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Bastianini applies pressure and collects French MotoGP win

Enea Bastianini grabbed his third MotoGP victory in seven races this season as he took the French Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Italian, riding a Gresini Ducati, cruised home 2.718 sec ahead of Australian Jack Miller on a factory Ducati. 

“I’m really happy with this race because this victory is unexpected,” said Bastianini. “In the race I saw that my pace was really good.”

Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, on an Aprilia, was third after holding off championship leader Fabio Quartararo over the closing laps.

Starting on the second row of the grid, Bastianini quickly moved up to challenge Miller and Francesco Bagnaia.

He overtook the Australian at the halfway mark, and settled in behind leader Bagnaia. 

“I understand now I have to stay behind,” he said. “At the end I tried to overtake him to make him a little nervous”.

Bastianini overtook compatriot Bagnaia in the late stages when the factory Ducati rider made an error. Bagnaia reacted to his first mistake by at once making another, falling off his bike as he tried to hit back in the 20th lap. 

At one stage there had been a three-way battle for first, but Joan Mir rode his Suzuki off the track in the 13th lap, managed to steer the bike back onto the tarmac but then immediately fell off.

Frenchman Quartararo retained the championship lead, but his advantage was reduced to four points over Espargaro and eight from Bastianini.

“I knew Fabio was behind me but I knew it was difficult for him to overtake me,” said Espargaro. “The race was about making no mistakes.”

“It was a very difficult race, the most difficult of the season so far,” said Espargaro. 

The other French rider of the race, Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), who started ninth on the grid, finished fifth after having overtaken the multi-world champion, Marc Marquez to the cheers of the 110,000 crowd. 

In addition to Bagnaia, the Suzuki riders, Joan Mir and Alex Rins, the two KTM-Tech3 riders, Australian Remy Gardner and Spaniard Raul Fernandez all crashed while  Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) dropped out. 

In Moto2, Spaniard Augusto Fernandez  won for the first time in three years, taking advantage  after  team-mate and  compatriot Pedro Acosta crashed when leading.

Italian Celestino Vietti was eighth but remains at the top of the standings. 

In Moto3, Spanish rider Jaume Masia overtook Ayummu Sasaki on the final corner to win.

The race was red-flagged on the first lap after the forecast rain finally arrived. 

Spaniard Sergio Garcia retained first place in the championship with a seventh place finish.

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