Who’s Hot, Who’s Not – French GP
Before each race, our team analyzes the MotoGP riders along with various factors that impact race day. After studying historical data, bike set up, circuit configuration and climate profiles, a “Rider Watch List” is compiled. Think of it as a “who’s hot, who’s not” list where we examine a handful of the top riders, some of the “up and comers” and a few that are stuck on the struggle bus.
Let’s dive into this week’s picks! We have ranked the riders by their historical combined index. Not familiar with our incredible indexing system? Let’s break it down…
The indexes listed below are a fusion of historical consistency and speed indexes from the past five years. To obtain a historical combined index, our team takes a rider’s average speed index and weights it with their consistency index. This means that if there is an incredibly fast rider that lacks consistency in their sector times, their combined index will ultimately be handicapped.
A lower index indicates historically faster and/or more consistent sector times.
A lower index = less potential errors.
The combined index represents all four sectors of the circuit combined. After gaining a general understanding of a rider’s past performance through their combined index, we break down each circuit into the four sectors and determine how each rider ranks against their opponents. By calculating these key performance attributes, we are able to paint a landscape of the series and then zero in on the fine details regarding each rider and bike on any sector of any circuit.
Supplementary analysis on this circuit is available in regards to circuit configuration and climate profile. Click here to learn more about the technicality levels of the four sectors and the eight components that feed this analysis.
Le Mans Historical Combined Indexes
This Week’s Riders
All rider photos sourced from MotoGP.com
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini –
A. Espargaro is one to watch as the riders head to the 5th race of the 2019 season. Do we consider him a podium contender? Not exactly, but we do believe he has the potential to qualify for Q2 and bring home some championship points for the Aprilia team. Aleix has an interesting past at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit where he has crashed every other year since 2014, which happens to always be the first year of a team switch. Having two years under his belt on this circuit with Aprilia, we hope to see Aleix fine tune and round out his performance from last year where he placed 9th. So what exactly needs to be rounded out? Aleix’s historical performance in T 2 and T3 are superior to T1 and T4. With a dependably strong consistency and speed index in T3, Aleix has made this his “territory.” If he can focus on improving his consistency through the remaining three sectors, we may see an improved prey index as he fluidly moves his bike and catches other riders. While Aleix does not have a historically competitive prey index at Le Mans, he does hold a strong predator index that ranks him 5th in the group for this circuit. With an average gird placement of 13th over the past four years, we hope to see Aprilia in Q2 as Aleix has not only studied this bike for over two years, but has also proven his ability to ride with a predator mindset at Le Mans.
Mission Winnow Ducati –
Currently sitting in 5th for the World Championship rankings, Ducati rider, Danilo Petrucci faces a 20 point gap between himself and Valentino Rossi who is rocking 4th. The newest member of the Factory Ducati team, Petrucci’s goal this season is to show his team, his opponents and MotoGP spectators why he deserves a spot on the Factory team. Ranking 9th by historical combined index, Petrucci is in a coin-flip situation. His historical consistency is superior to almost all other riders so his performance may go one of two ways. 1 – His factory bike will provide him with the power and speed he has been lacking in the past and will ultimately create a machine out of Danilo. 2 – Petrucci will struggle to handle his new beast of a bike on this unique circuit and will jeopardize his historically dominant consistency. Given his performance in the 2019 season thus far, we expect a strong fight from Danilo and look forward to seeing him unleash the power of the Ducati.
LCR Honda Castrol –
LCR Honda rider, Takaaki Nakagami is coming in HOT to his second season in the MotoGP series. With an average grid position of 10th thus far, Nakagami is no stranger to Q2. Currently tied for 7th in the World Championship rankings with Jack Miller, the Japanese rider has some weight on his shoulders going into the French GP if he wants to maintain a high profile in the Championship rankings. Since this is only Nakagami’s second year at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit with the Honda team, we don’t have extensive historical data. So let’s lay out what we do know… Nakagami’s average predator index ranks him mid-pack while his prey index is highly competitive. He holds a very strong consistency index across all sectors but hasn’t been able to match that with dominant sector times. So what do we hope to see from him? An effort to maintain his already superior consistency but a significant push in sector speeds. If Nakagami can qualify for Q2 and study his more seasoned opponents with a predator mindset, he may be able to not only learn from their techniques, but mimic them.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing –
All aboard the struggle bus! Hi and welcome to Johann Zarco’s brutal 2019 MotoGP season. It’s no secret that the start of the season has posed quite a few challenges for KTM / French rider Johann Zarco. Having found his groove with Yamaha surprisingly fast in 2017 (his first season!), Zarco earned a P3 grid position and earned 2nd at the French GP that year. Giving the spectators a good tease at his home circuit last year, Zarco started from pole position but ended with a big DNF. So what the heck can we expect from him this weekend? That’s a good question… Over the past four races, Zarco has an average finish of 14th place. He is historically very strong at Le Mans with the strongest consistency index in 2017 and second strongest speed index. More specifically, his ability to match speed and consistency through T2 and T3 gave him an advantage over others. We hope that riding at his home circuit will give Zarco the confidence to push himself on his new bike and if nothing else, find his historically superior consistency to find harmony with the KTM.
Team Suzuki Ecstar –
Currently ranked 2nd in the World Championship standings, Alex Rins is dangerously close to overtaking Honda rider Marc Marquez. Now let’s lay out a few facts about Rins in regard to Le Mans… He’s raced there once while in the MotoGP series. The one year that he did race, he managed to rank #1 in predator index and is currently looking to improve his weak prey index on this circuit. With a poor qualifying followed by a fantastic start off the grid in 2018 (classic Rins…), we saw a strong 10th place finish from the Suzuki rider. Alex’s start to the 2019 season has fans pumped up as he continues to “wow” not only spectators but also his team and opponents. Rins shows a maturity in his riding when it comes to his predator style as he patiently identifies his biggest competitors, studies their techniques and overtakes at the most optimal time, risking his position or expending unnecessary energy. The Suzuki rider has an incredibly smooth riding style which will enable him to preserve his tires around this demanding circuit. With numerous tight turns, attention to detail in breaking and acceleration points will be essential for each rider.
Monster Energy Yamaha –
Yamaha rider, Maverick Vinales, has an inconsistent history at Le Mans with both his grid and final positions varying greatly year to year. Showing competitive indexes in T1 and T3, Vinales has historically relied more on his consistency than speed to get him over the finish line. With a pole position in 2017 matched with a 1st place finish, Maverick has proven his ability to lead the pack on this fast-paced circuit. The difference in his past grid positions to his final placing positions alludes to his evenly matched predator and prey indexes. Regardless of his starting grid position, Vinales always uses his predator skills to climb his way through the pack. We hope to see a repeat of Jerez as the Yamaha rider heads to the French Grand Prix. What exactly did we LOVE about his performance in Jerez? If you missed our post-race analysis on Maverick, we loved three things: faster average times than we’ve seen from him all season, a solid average consistency and a significantly stronger prey index. Riding with a defensive riding style, he was able to keep others from overtaking him and study his leading opponents to match their predator styles.
All eyes ahead as the teams head to the second European GP of the season!
Be sure to place your bet on which of the “Dream Teams” you think will bring home the most cumulative points this weekend in Le Mans!