1988 French motorcycle Grand Prix

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France  1988 French Grand Prix
Race details
Race 11 of 15 races in the
1988 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season
Circuit Paul Ricard.png
Date 24 July 1988
Location Circuit Paul Ricard
  • Permanent racing facility
  • 5.81 km (3.61 mi)
500 cc
Pole position
Rider France Christian Sarron Yamaha
Fastest lap
Rider Australia Wayne Gardner Honda
First United States Eddie Lawson Yamaha
Second France Christian Sarron Yamaha
Third United States Kevin Schwantz Suzuki
250 cc
Pole position
Rider France Dominique Sarron Honda
Fastest lap
Rider Spain Juan Garriga Yamaha
First Switzerland Jacques Cornu Honda
Second Spain Sito Pons Honda
Third France Dominique Sarron Honda
125 cc
Pole position
Rider Italy Ezio Gianola Honda
Fastest lap
Rider Spain Jorge Martínez Derbi
First Spain Jorge Martínez Derbi
Second Italy Ezio Gianola Honda
Third Italy Corrado Catalano Aprilia
Sidecar (B2A)
Pole position
Rider Switzerland Rolf Biland LCR-Krauser
Fastest lap
Rider Switzerland Rolf Biland LCR-Krauser
First Switzerland Rolf Biland LCR-Krauser
Second United Kingdom Steve Webster LCR-Krauser
Third Switzerland Markus Egloff LCR-ADM

The 1988 French motorcycle Grand Prix was the eleventh round of the 1988 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season. It took place on the weekend of 22–24 July 1988 at the 5.81 km (3.61 mi) Paul Ricard Circuit.

500 cc race report[edit]

Frenchman Christian Sarron claimed his 5th pole position in a row on his Yamaha YZR500, and his last ever in 500 GP.

Like most of the mid-field, Niall Mackenzie (Honda) jumped the start and raced to the lead, but the race was allowed to continue and no penalties were handed out by race officials. On the 1.8 km long Mistral Straight for the first time Wayne Gardner used the power of his factory Rothmans Honda to shoot to the lead from Kevin Schwantz (Suzuki), Mackenzie and Wayne Rainey (Yamaha).

Gardner and pole sitter Sarron battled for the lead with Schwantz and Eddie Lawson (Yamaha), who was battling a shoulder injury suffered in the previous race in Yugoslavia only one week before and had turned to famed Austrian Willi Dungl to help him get fit to race. Gardner's Honda had the advantage on the Mistral Straight over all but Lawson's YZR500, but Lawson, Sarron and Schwantz had the advantage through the turns, though the Suzuki was clearly the slowest on the Pit and Mistral straights. The quartet gradually pulled away from Rainey, who in turn pulled away from a pack including Randy Mamola (Cagiva), Didier de Radiguès (Yamaha), Pierfrancesco Chili (Honda) and Kevin Magee (Yamaha).

Going into the last lap, Gardner had pulled out a two-second lead over the trio and looked set to win his fourth race in a row. However, going through the Courbe de Signes at the end of the Mistral his bike developed mechanical problems when a crankshaft bolt broke loose and found its way into the water pump, though he had a big enough gap over Wayne Rainey to struggle home in 4th place only 5.720 seconds behind Lawson. Gardner's breakdown allowed Lawson to win the race and extend his lead in the championship. Sarron consolidated his second place in the title race, finishing only 0.22 behind the American. In one of the closest top 3 finishes in history, Schwantz finished in 3rd place only 0.24 behind Sarron and less than half a second from winning. Schwantz came out of the final turn and knowing his bike didn't have the acceleration to pass, pulled a wheelie until after crossing the line and celebrated on the cool down lap for gaining an unexpected podium finish.

Wayne Gardner, back in the form that has seen him win the World Championship in 1987, had the consolation of setting the races fastest lap.

1988 was the final time that the French motorcycle Grand Prix would be held on the full length 5.81 km (3.61 mi) Paul Ricard circuit. When Grand Prix racing next returned to the circuit in 1991, the 3.812 km (2.369 mi) 'Club' circuit was used.

500 cc classification[edit]

Pos Rider Manufacturer Time/Retired Points
1 United States Eddie Lawson Yamaha 42:15.520 20
2 France Christian Sarron Yamaha +0.220 17
3 United States Kevin Schwantz Suzuki +0.460 15
4 Australia Wayne Gardner Honda +5.720 13
5 United States Wayne Rainey Yamaha +17.630 11
6 United States Randy Mamola Cagiva +27.810 10
7 Belgium Didier de Radiguès Yamaha +30.620 9
8 Italy Pierfrancesco Chili Honda +30.870 8
9 Australia Kevin Magee Yamaha +35.110 7
10 United Kingdom Ron Haslam Elf Honda +35.310 6
11 United Kingdom Rob McElnea Suzuki +59.870 5
12 Australia Malcolm Campbell Elf Honda +1:19.040 4
13 United States Mike Baldwin Honda +1:42.640 3
14 Italy Alessandro Valesi Honda +1:46.140 2
15 San Marino Fabio Barchitta Honda +2:02.540 1
16 United Kingdom Donnie McLeod Honda +1 Lap
17 Switzerland Marco Gentile Fior +1 Lap
18 Italy Marco Papa Honda +1 Lap
19 Italy Fabio Biliotti Honda +1 Lap
20 Germany Manfred Fischer Honda +1 Lap
21 Republic of Ireland Eddie Laycock Honda +1 Lap
22 France Claude Arciero Honda +1 Lap
23 Switzerland Nicholas Schmassman Honda +1 Lap
24 Netherlands Maarten Duyzers Honda +1 Lap
Ret France Patrick Igoa Yamaha Retirement
Ret France Rachel Nicotte Honda Retirement
Ret Spain Daniel Amatriain Honda Retirement
Ret France Thierry Rapicault Fior Retirement
Ret Switzerland Bruno Kneubuhler Honda Retirement
Ret Switzerland Wolfgang von Muralt Suzuki Retirement
Ret United Kingdom Niall Mackenzie Honda Retirement
Ret Japan Shunji Yatsushiro Honda Retirement
Ret France Raymond Roche Cagiva Retirement
Ret France Eric Sabatier Honda Retirement
Ret France Jean Luc Demierre Suzuki Retirement
Ret Italy Vittorio Scatola Suzuki Retirement

External links[edit]

Previous race:
1988 Yugoslavian Grand Prix
FIM Grand Prix World Championship
1988 season
Next race:
1988 British Grand Prix
Previous race:
1987 French Grand Prix
French motorcycle Grand Prix Next race:
1989 French Grand Prix