In a wonderfully sunny Le Mans, the crowds had no idea what was coming when Johann Zarco set up at the top of the timesheets as soon as the green flag waved. Provisional pole doesn’t count for much when you have the likes of Marc Marquez or Jorge Lorenzo on track but the final shootout was a breathtaking affair until the checker flag. The two Spaniards had raised the stakes but the Frenchman fought back straight away in glorious manner to take his fourth pole position in the MotoGP class and the first home pole for the French in three decades. Needless to say that it was well received.
The world champion came close to breaking plenty of hearts on his final lap but that one tenth was too far even for the Spaniard and he more than settled for second on the grid. Danilo Petrucci was almost helped by his Q1 appetiser and got straight into the rhythm and onto the front row of the grid.
Andrea Iannone always finds a way to creep up the timesheets these days and the Italian was only two tenths of a second away from pole in fourth position. Andrea Dovizioso would have hoped for a little more but can hardly complain with fifth spot, sharing second row of the grid with teammate Lorenzo.
Jack Miller is becoming a familiar sight on the third row, trailing the poleman by half a second. Historically a happy hunting ground for Yamaha, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi will be hoping for their luck in Le Mans to improve on Sunday after struggling to get any higher than eighth and ninth positions.
Dani Pedrosa managed to escape from Q1 and his time didn’t look all that bad until the leading trio turned up the heat. The Spaniard will share fourth row with Tito Rabat and Aleix Espargaro, whose Saturday was a continuous struggle, including an early crash in Q2.
Cal Crutchlow’s weekend went from bad to worse after the British rider suffered a big highside while battling his way out of Q1. He qualified 13th as a result but at this point it is unclear whether he would be fit to race after requiring medical attention. Alex Rins was another of the riders whose weekend was littered with off track excusions and the Spaniard will have to make his way forward from 15th grid position.