Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoGP class in Le Mans:
Le Mans, France
The sun shining over Le Mans came with a cold track and breezy conditions, making it a tricky proposition for the premier class on their final practice outing. The package deal also included several crashes and a red flag coming out 12 minutes into the session, when Miguel Oliveira’s KTM started smoking and leaking out of turn 7. After an impressively rapid clean-up operation, Fabio Quartararo resumed his even more impressive pace on worn rubber, although teammate Franco Morbidelli came within five thousandths of a second of demoting the Frenchman from top spot.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Le Mans:
Results and summary of qualifying for the MotoE class at Le Mans:
The intermediate class enjoyed their first fully dry session of the weekend on Saturday morning but that did not seem to halt the gravel trap party at all. Joe Roberts spent most time at the top of the timing screens, with brief interruptions from the likes of Jorge Navarro and Marco Bezzecchi, but the American retook the lead on his penultimate flying lap, going on to crash at turn 8 on his final flying lap. One tenth down on the timesheets, Bezzecchi also closed the session with a tumble at turn 13, while Augusto Fernandez joined the top three without any incident.
The premier class finally got a dry session in Le Mans, albeit still cool under the deceptively bright sun. After taking it very easy in the tricky conditions on Friday, Fabio Quartararo was quick to put his name back at the top of the timesheets and went on to set a fine pace. The home favourite entered the shootout in prime position and ended it there too, a tenth of a second faster than a resurgent Miguel Oliveira. Franco Morbidelli was one of his teammate’s main challengers throughout the session but had to make do with third, while showing decent pace on used rubber.
After a wet cold Friday, Le Mans greeted the lightweight class with a dry track on Friday, although the temperature was still not particularly impressive. Regardless, the improved conditions saw improved laptimes across the board from the very beginning of FP3. Gabriel Rodrigo was the early leader, keen to make an impression on the timesheets before sitting out the final 15 minutes of the session through a penalty earned in Barcelona.
"It was a very tricky day in Le Mans, like always," was the verdict of Fabio Quartararo on Friday evening, after a wet morning session and afternoon practice on a track which was rapidly drying, but never quite dry. He spoke for just about everyone, the track proving especially treacherous in the afternoon, ending FP2 almost completely dry with a few damp patches, enough to catch a few riders out, including Aprilia's Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, KTM rookie Brad Binder, and the LCR Honda of Takaaki Nakagami.
Most were just harmless falls, the front washing out on a damp patch, but Bradley Smith found himself propelled into the air when the traction control on his Aprilia RS-GP couldn't react quickly enough to the rear spinning up when he hit a damp patch on track. "I was feeling alright this afternoon, the wet patches were quite scary," he said. "I felt like I was managing the situation quite good but just got caught out by that one. TC didn’t catch me in time! And down I went."
The Moto3 class got some dry running to close the action on Friday and Mike Di Meglio enjoyed some time in the limelight as he finished the day fastest, although only half a tenth ahead of early session leader Alex de Angelis. Mattia Casadei was another two tenths back, while Xavier Simeon and Matteo Ferrari completed the top five. Niccolo Canepa, Josh Hook, Jordi Torres and Niki Tuuli also finished within a second of the leader, with Dominique Aegerter rounding out the top ten.
Although still on the chilly side, the Le Mans circuit had dried up nicely in time for the Moto2 show and it allowed the times to become more competitive. However, there was a bit of early drama as championship leader Luca Marini suffered a spectacular highside at turn 5, prompting a red flag for track clean-up. The Italian limped away and worryingly missed the remainder of the session as he visited the medical centre and then the local hospital with a suspected ankle injury.