Vinales takes pole, Oliveira still on front row despite missing most of qualifying, Rins in doubt
The weather forecast proved to be correct on Saturday at Le Mans, with the expected rainfall coming down just before Moto3 qualifying. The conditions failed to hinder Maverick Viñales, who took pole position ahead of Efrén Vázquez and fellow Repsol rider Miguel Oliveira — who took third on the grid despite a crash. Álex Rins was not so fortunate, as he crashed when in the top ten and suffered a small fracture to his right little finger.
Morning spots of rain still allowed for a dry practice session, in which Miguel Oliveira was fastest with a time of 1’44.381. Maverick Viñales, yesterday’s fastest rider was second quickest at little over a tenth of a second behind the Portuguese. Álex Rins was fourth as he opened up his second day of riding at Le Mans.
In a twist, just before the qualifying session start, a brief shower left the track damp and requiring wet tyres for the Moto3 bikes. Viñales again showed that he was just as strong in the wet as in the dry, claiming pole position by almost a second over nearest rival, Efrén Vázquez.
Miguel Oliveira took a tumble 21 minutes from the end of the session, when he was in a provisional pole position. Accelerating out of turn nine, Oliveira lost grip on the rear and was unable to avoid a crash. Despite spending almost the entirity of the remainder of the session in the pits (he reemerged with less than a minute on the clock), the Repsol rider nonetheless earned a front row start.
Álex Rins had impressed in the dry and was riding with confidence in the wet, until a big crash in qualifying threw him off his bike when accelerating out of turn three. The Spaniard suffered a fracture to the little finger of his right hand in the incident, was unable to get back on track and will start from twenty-sixth at Le Mans if cleared by doctors tomorrow.
A visit to the circuit medical centre provided the diagnosis of trauma to his hand and identified the fracture. The Repsol rider later received treatment at the Clinica Mobile.
Miguel Oliveira FP3 – 1:44.381, 18 laps, 75 km. QP – 1:57.114, 9 laps, 38 km.
“We did a good job in the morning, mostly due to the hard work of the team. We didn’t ride so much in the afternoon. We were only able to complete seven laps, although in that short time I felt comfortable on the bike. We still have some problems with the rear, which we should look at with the mechanics to solve for tomorrow.
My crash came about precisely because I didn’t feel at ease with the rear, but the positive is that I was able to put in a fast lap beforehand and not too many riders were able to go faster because of all the crashes. The track was very slippery and made things hard for us all. We have the pace to be up at the front and it will be very important not to make mistakes. Our aim is to pick up points”.
Álex Rins FP3 – 1:44.872, 19 lap, 89 km. QP – 1:59.888, 5 lap, 21 km.
“I was exiting turn 3, opened the throttle a little earlier than normal and it didn’t work out. It was an unfortunate crash and we will have to wait to find out if we can take the start tomorrow. If it is possible, then I will be riding for enjoyment”.
Maverick Viñales FP3 – 1:44.483, 18 Laps, 75 km. QP – 1:55.865, 18 laps, 75 km.
“I felt comfortable in the practice sessions, both in the dry and in the wet. We were able to go fast under both sets of conditions. Tomorrow’s race will be a difficult one. We will have to wait on the weather, but we have a gameplan to push hard from the start and establish a gap. It will be a difficult race, because it just as easily be soaking wet as it could be sunny.”
Source: Repsol Media