Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), fresh from signing a new two-year contract with the Borgo Panigale factory, was the quickest man on the opening day at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, setting a new circuit record with a 1:31.936 – the only rider to delve into the 1:31s. FP1 and World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ended the day in second, 0.168 behind and after having trialed a new aero fairing, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) only another 0.075 seconds back on board his M1 as the ‘Doctor’ ended the day P3 overall.
Despite track temperatures rising from 19 degrees to over 40 degrees between FP1 and FP2, there were a whole host of crashes early in the session. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), LCR Honda Idemitsu rider Takaaki Nakagami and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) all fell, riders ok.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) ended the day fourth overall, the Spaniard was third in FP1, but left it late to jump up into the top five in FP2. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was fifth in front of his home crowd, with the Frenchman also fifth in FP1, confirming his solid pace in Le Mans.
Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller was sixth on the combined Free Practice timesheets, the Australian was in and around the top eight throughout FP2 and could be looking good for an automatic Q2 spot after ending FP1 in P12. Pol Espargaro had a good showing on the KTM, despite his early crash, and ended the day seventh quickest, building on his P10 in FP1.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), sporting a new aerodynamic fairing in FP2, jumped up to eighth on his final lap to grab a provisional Q2 spot. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed again to finish ninth in FP2, getting himself into the top ten after ending the morning session in P14. Rounding out the top ten was Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), the Spaniard finished eighth this morning, dropping two positions in the afternoon.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who was inside the top three for most of the session, crashed on his final run to end the day outside the top ten in P11 after a flurry of quick times from the riders on fresh rubber – rider ok.
With less than a second covering the top 16, the battle to make it into Q2 should be very interesting.
Despite suffering from shoulder ligament damage, Marcel Schrӧtter (Dynavolt Intact GP) topped the Moto2 combined Free Practice timesheets on Friday at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France. The German was 0.081 seconds ahead of World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46), who was second overall despite a big crash in FP1, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) third overall and just 0.093 behind Schrӧtter’s fastest time. The Spaniard was also a faller, crashing at the final corner late in FP2 – rider ok.
Despite conditions seemingly more suited to setting quicker lap times this afternoon, both Schrӧtter and Marquez failed to improve on their FP1 times, with Bagnaia going over half a second quicker in FP2 to top the session. Just behind his teammate in fourth on the combined times was rookie sensation and reigning Moto3 World Champion Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who finished FP2 in second.
Despite finishing P19 in FP2 and crashing twice in the session, Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was fifth overall on Friday – his FP1 time an indication he could fight it out for a front row start in qualifying. Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2’s Simone Corsi put in a strong showing in FP2, climbing up to sixth overall after finding himself P17 after FP1. Argentina race winner Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed at Turn 8 mid way through the second Free Practice session, however he still managed to improve on his FP1 time by over 0.6 seconds to end the day seventh fastest – rider ok.
Another faller in FP2 was Championship contender Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo). The Portuguese rider was ok, improving one position up to eighth in FP2 from this morning. Rookie Romano Fenati (Marinelli Snipers Team) improved from P13 in FP1 to end the day P9, setting his quickest time right at the end.
Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), who suffered a crash in the morning, rounded out the top ten on his KTM machine and was one of four riders in the top ten to not go quicker in the second session. Home favourite Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up Racing) was just outside the top ten after both sessions. The Frenchman improved by over 0.8 seconds in the afternoon, jumping up from P15 in FP1 to end the day P12.
Jerez winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) and teammate Hector Barbera both crashed in FP2, with the Italian finishing the day just outside the top ten in P11 – slipping five places from his FP1 position.
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), who was 20th in FP1, was the rider to beat on the opening day at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, setting his quickest time of FP2 with two minutes to go. Despite a late crash in the session at Turn 11, second quickest in the lightweight class was an awesome performance from the first ever Asia Talent Cup Champion, Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), with Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) rounding out the top three.
After a chilly morning in northern France, track temperatures were up and the lap times for most of the grid tumbled. Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) cemented P4 in the afternoon, improving his time but not improving his position, with World Championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PrustelGP) in fifth, jumping up one position in FP2.
Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), who’ll start from the back of the grid on Sunday due to a penalty, was sixth quickest on the combined timesheets, improving his time on his final run of the day after finishing this morning’s session down in P15. Del Conca Gresini Moto3 rider Fabio Di Giannantonio was back on track in the afternoon after a big off this morning and the Italian ended the day in P7 – important track time after last year’s podium finisher completed just six laps in FP1.
Behind him on Friday was FP1 leader Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), who was one of only four riders who failed to improve their time in the afternoon; the Spaniard eighth quickest on the opening day in Le Mans. Jerez winner Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing) confirmed his strong pace this weekend in P9, with Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto Team Moto3) rounding out the top ten.
Migno and rookie Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) crashed in the second session – both were ok – as well as Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider), both of whom were taken to the medical centre for check-ups.
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