2021 Le Mans MotoGP FP2 Result: Zarco Leads On Home Soil

It was a dry start for the second practice session of the day but black clouds threatened riders as they left pitlane. That meant soft slick tyres were getting stressed straight away, in an early bid to secure a precious top 10 placement but the weather let them run around on a dry playground for a while longer. Although the clouds stayed to spectate for the remainder of the session, they didn’t take centre stage and the premier class could battle it out in a final time attack that ended in a French 1-2, with Johann Zarco snatching top spot away from compatriot Fabio Quartararo by less than a tenth of a second. Yamaha enjoyed their afternoon much more than the wet morning, seeing all four machines inside the top 10, although Quartararo also suffered a little crash at popular turn 3. Maverick Viñales added a second Yamaha to the top three, while Pol Espargaro missed out by one thousandth of a second, the Honda man showing good speed throughout the session.

Franco Morbidelli eventually joined the top 10 for the final five minutes, ending the session fifth, while Miguel Oliveira was the sole KTM provisionally in Q2 from sixth position. After outsmarting rivals in FP1, Jack Miller had it all to do all over again in FP2 and it didn’t prove as easy the second time around. The Ducati man took time to join the top 10 and when he did, he promptly crashed at turn 7 and his fastest time got cancelled for a yellow flag infringement. However, the final time attack allowed him to climb back into seventh position.

Marc Marquez kept himself entertained with some off-roading at Garage Vert, which hampered his progress in the early part of the session but the Spaniard recovered to climb into eighth place, eight tenths of a second off top spot. Valentino Rossi served us a rarity as he joined the top 10 in the closing stages of FP2, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami and pushing out Alex Rins. The Spaniard did not help his cause by crashing out at turn 3 and teammate Joan Mir soon followed his example at turn 8, leaving both Suzukis provisionally out of Q2. Championship leader Pecco Bagnaia found himself in the same position, the Italian joining the gravel trap at turn 3 early in the session and although he rejoined the action, he could not improve on 12th position. Turn 3 also got two visits from Aleix Espargaro, the frustrated Aprilia man left in 14th place by his two mishaps.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
1 5 Johann Zarco Ducati 1'31.747    
2 20 Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'31.842 0.095 0.095
3 12 Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1'32.136 0.389 0.294
4 44 Pol Espargaro Honda 1'32.137 0.390 0.001
5 21 Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'32.279 0.532 0.142
6 88 Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'32.296 0.549 0.017
7 43 Jack Miller Ducati 1'32.361 0.614 0.065
8 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1'32.632 0.885 0.271
9 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'32.669 0.922 0.037
10 30 Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'32.711 0.964 0.042
11 42 Alex Rins Suzuki 1'32.762 1.015 0.051
12 63 Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'32.800 1.053 0.038
13 36 Joan Mir Suzuki 1'32.908 1.161 0.108
14 41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'32.946 1.199 0.038
15 27 Iker Lecuona KTM 1'33.040 1.293 0.094
16 33 Brad Binder KTM 1'33.117 1.370 0.077
17 73 Alex Marquez Honda 1'33.204 1.457 0.087
18 53 Tito Rabat Ducati 1'33.361 1.614 0.157
19 23 Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'33.536 1.789 0.175
20 32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'33.985 2.238 0.449
21 10 Luca Marini Ducati 1'34.147 2.400 0.162
22 9 Danilo Petrucci KTM 1'34.520 2.773 0.373
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Poor Petrux is sure having a tough go getting Orange on the pace this yr eh? He was all smiles until he rode it. I dated someone like that. Both sides of that dynamic, come to think if it. Anyhoo, poor guy. Herve as well, we might need to get some extra seratonin in the fellow until he signs one of those fabulous pipeliners. 

French 1 - 2, then three tenths gap. Old school home turf stuff. Good session from Pol and Oliveira. 

This track has some interesting bits. Conditions mixing is atop the order of thought. There will be much tire talk again. Going to go watch those crashes and see what the F tire and tarmac are doing...

Question: So are we generally openly accepting as of recently that this year there is a front tire problem, that a mistake was made mismatching the compound difference on the two sides of all the asymmetrical tires? A few steps too far apart? No need to bash anyone, the last yr has been odd and tough. And, if course, this is atop the already imbalanced rearward bias of the 2020 tires. Which was atop the already slight bias that direction of the DNA of the French rubber anyway relative to the front smasher Bstones? No wonder riders struggle to bite their tongues. 

A curious bit may be with specifically the struggle of Suzuki relative to Yamaha with these tires. Conventional wisdom would seem to have Suzuki least affected. How the Ducati is looking better balanced on them is interesting. Pondering the tire modelling software, and if it is for not just tire wear but set up? 

^ Any tech geeks in the house?