French GP, Le Mans – Qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took another impressive pole position at a proven venue for the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion, topping the timesheets from teammate Valentino Rossi in a huge leap forward from the more difficult Spanish GP for the two. Home hero Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took his first ever front row start in an electric atmosphere at the Bugatti circuit.
It was a last lap dash for Zarco after also proving a superstar in Q1, the Frenchman getting his head down and into the zone as the factory Yamaha pairing pushed at the front. Seemingly forced to settle for Row 2, the double Moto2™ Champion kept pounding around the 2.6 mile circuit undeterred and lit up the timesheets on his final lap to take back the front row.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was the man just pushed back by Zarco’s last lap and starts P4, ahead of reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) after a more difficult day for the number 93. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – fastest in Q1 from Zarco – completes the second row.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) starts P7 despite a crash after topping FP3 in Le Mans too, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) giving the Austrian factory their best ever qualifying to date in P8 – an awesome achievement in their first season, and with teammate Bradley Smith also in the Q2 shootout and lining up in tenth.
Splitting the two ‘Bulls’ was Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in a solid showing for the Czech rider, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and French favourite Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) completing the top twelve.
After rain affected sessions throughout the weekend, some big names find themselves falling foul of the fight to get through Q1, with Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in P13, ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) to lock out the fastest fifteen. Le Mans’ most successful premier class rider on the grid, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) faces a fight back on Sunday from sixteenth.
The lights go out for the French GP at 14:00 (GMT +2) – with the grid more exciting than ever after the shake up with the weather.
Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) took a record-breaking pole position for the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking a good portion of time off his 2016 pole record – 12 years after the number 12 took his first pole at Le Mans. Rookie sensation Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took his first ever front row the race weekend after his first intermediate class podium in P2 – with Championship leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) locking out the top three.
Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team) impressed in fourth, with Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) taking P5 for Suter. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) starts off the front row for the first time this season in sixth, putting together a solid salvage job after a difficult day in France and a highside crash on Saturday morning.
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) takes seventh ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) and Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completing Row 3, with Sandro Cortese locking out the top ten behind teammate Schrötter.
Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) took P11 despite a crash, ahead of Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Yonny Hernandez (AGR Team), Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and Ricky Cardus (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in twelfth to fifteenth.
Lüthi gears up to try and break the EG 0,0 Marc VDS hold on 2017 at 12:20 (GMT +2).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) will start the French GP from pole position after some spots of rain in the Moto3™ qualifying session left the field on a rush to be the last over the line as it dried out – making it the third pole in five races for the Spaniard. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) had crossed the line with a slightly faster time, but had the laptime cancelled due to exceeding track limits at Turn 8, consequently starting from P2. Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) completes the front row.
Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) heads up the second row in a solid session for the Italian title contender, ahead of an incredible P5 for Albert Arenas (Aspar Mahindra Moto3) after the Mahindra rider also impressed in a damp FP3. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo), fastest before the shower interrupted the session, starts from sixth.
Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate) followed up his impressive P4 over the line in Jerez with more good form to line up in seventh, with Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) in the middle of the third row. Mir is ahead of the second Red Bull KTM Ajo machine of Bo Bendsneyder, as the Dutchman got back at the sharp end. Wildcard and Bendsneyder’s new teammate Danny Kent – 2015 Moto3™ World Champion – completes the top ten.
Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and teammate Aron Canet join Kent on row four, with Livio Loi (Leopard Racing), Mahindra-riding rookie Manuel Pagliani (CIP) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) locking out the top fifteen.
The lights go out for the race at 11:00 (GMT +2) on Sunday, with the contest sure to be another rollercoaster of a Moto3™ ride.