Le Mans, France 21 May 2017: In spite of a costly crash to the leading Mahindra rider, the only Indian constructor in the world championship series had three machines in the points in today’s French GP, scoring its best result of the year so far.

Mahindra Aspar team rider Albert Arenas had qualified a career-best fifth and was running a strong fourth when the first attempt at the opening race of the day came to an abrupt end on only the second lap of the 4.185km Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans.

The entire leading group and more than 18 other riders crashed early on the second of 24 scheduled laps on oil spilled by a rider involved in an earlier crash.

With oil on several corners, a massive clean-up operation coincided with frantic repair work in the pits, before the field lined up again for a restart 40 minutes later, for a 16-lap race.

Arenas again started strongly, and was in the lead group when he slipped off and out of the race on the fourth lap. He was one of eight riders who crashed in the second race, robbing Mahindra of a first potential top-ten result as the season gains momentum.

But it was still the best race of the year, three of Mahindra’s MGP3O machines finishing in the points, compensating somewhat for the disappointment.

The best of them was experienced Czech rider JakubKornfeil (24), riding a Peugeot MC Saxoprint team MGP3O wearing a Peugeot badge, for Mahindra’s sister company. He finished 11th, for his first points of the season.

Second Aspar Mahindra rider Lorenzo DallaPorta (19) was 14th, one place ahead of CIP team rookie Marco Bezzecchi (18), both from Italy. It was the first time in the points in 2017 for the pair.

The results show that the Italy-based Mahindra race outfit is picking up the pace after a difficult start to the season. With points in the first two European rounds and a strong, if thwarted, performance by Arenas, who scored his first points at the last round at Jerez, the dedicated hard work is paying off.

Today’s race brought a third victory in five races for Spanish Honda rider Joan Mir.

The next race is the Italian GP at Mugello in a fortnight.

“Quite a crazy race! A crash for me and then the restart, thanks to my team for their hard work to get the bike fixed. In the restart, I was feeling strong and I had a strategy for the end of the race. I had to decide if I would try and win the group, but maybe crash, or settle for good points. I said it was better to take the points because that was really important for us today. I didn’t want to risk and crash. For sure there was more, but we needed the points. If every race is like this, it could be OK. In Mugello, if it’s the same situation then I think I will risk a little more to pass some riders. Five points, quite good.

“I was able to gain a lot under braking. I changed my lines a little bit, braking with the bike more upright and I could catch them. Some of my lines looked a little strange maybe, but it was fast! I took some wider lines, especially near where the oil was spilled, and gained a lot. It also maybe helped with tyre life a little as I wasn’t braking as hard in so many corners.”

JakubKornfeil, Peugeot MC Saxoprint

“Again, we have made some progress this weekend, and three riders in the points makes it our best race of the year. It could have been so much better if Albert Arenas had not been one of a number of riders to crash out. Until then, he’d clearly demonstrated the growing strength of our package. We’ll keep working, and keep making progress, to get the results we know we can manage.”

Mufaddal Choonia, Mahindra Racing CEO