2020 MotoGP Round Ten – Le Mans
It was a mixed bag greeting the grid on Day 1 at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with a wet FP1 giving way to a dry-ish FP2 and that presenting an interesting set of challenges for the grid. The man on top by the end of play was Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), with the Australian demonstrating his by-now characteristic mastery of tricky conditions to grapple to the top of FP2.
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) wasn’t far off in second, a tenth and a half down, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the top three but a good three tenths off the top.
In contrast to the intermediate and lightweight class sessions, MotoGP FP1 actually went pretty smoothly without incident. In the wet, cold morning conditions it was Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) who struck late to take to the top, the Brit a tenth and a half clear. Overnight rain and a continued light mist of dampness and rain kept it wet, but by the end the laptimes were coming down.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was quickest in the early stages before Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took over at the summit, with Jack Miller then taking P1 with just under 25 minutes to go despite a small scare when entering pitlane. Teammate Francesco Bagnaia next made it a Desmosedici 1-2-3, before Maverick Viñales went fastest. Wet weather specialist Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was next up as he took over by nearly two tenths, before compatriot Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) hit back with around 15 minutes to go.
With eight minutes left, Miller and Petrucci exchanged fastest laps before Viñales ruined the Borgo Panigale party, but ultimately, it would be Smith who rose to the fore to claim a memorable P1. Home hero Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) then impressed to take second on his last flying lap.
Zarco became the first of a Ducati armada completing the top five, with Petrucci, Miller and Dovizioso making it four out of five for the Bologna bullets near the top. Viñales was sixth ahead of Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) pipped Pol Espargaro to P9.
So where are the top two in the Championship? Leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was down in P18, and closest challenger Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in P13. Mir, however, was just behind teammate Alex Rins as both Suzukis put in high 1:44s.
As the riders emerged for FP2, track conditions were still very tricky but most definitely improving. Valentino Rossi was first out on slick tyres but nearly four seconds slower than early pacesetter Mir, the Spaniard completing two flying laps on wets tyres to set a 1:43.515. Miller and Quartararo were two of a few riders who went out on slick tyres early on too, but they immediately came back into pitlane; risks seemingly outweighing rewards at that stage.
Zarco was then lapping on wets over five seconds quicker than Rossi, confirming that track conditions weren’t good enough for slicks just yet. Zarco had got his time down to a 1:40.943 though, nearly three seconds quicker than Bradley Smith’s FP1 pace, but a brave Australian was about to move the goalposts. In a classic Miller move, the Pramac rider headed out on slicks again in iffy conditions… and started setting red sector times. The Aussie slammed in a 1:39 and then got down to a 1:37.738 to go two seconds quicker than Zarco, proving it could well be slick tyre territory with half an hour of Friday action to go.
Miller was soon well into the 1:36s and lapping over three seconds quicker than anyone else. This, of course, convinced many to try the same. Mir slotted into second, but 3.2 seconds adrift of the Ducati man, although by 20 minutes to go the Suzuki rider had chopped Miller’s advantage down to under two seconds. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech3) then shot up to P2 with an impressive 1:36.967, just half a second off Miller.
All the riders were then out on circuit and the times just kept tumbling. Nakagami demoted Miller to P2 before Alex Rins took over at the top, but the Japanese rider then became the first rider to dip into the 1:35s and hit back. With around 10 minutes left, the riders were starting to push. Some, too much. Aprilia duo Smith and Aleix Espargaro were down at Turn 12 and Turn 3 respectively, Smith suffering a nasty-looking highside but rider ok, and then Dovizioso crashed. We don’t say that too often, but the Italian slid into the gravel at Turn 3, rider ok.
In the meantime, Rossi had slotted himself into P4 behind Nakagami, Rins and Lecuona, with early hero Miller shuffled down to P5. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) then found himself at the summit, but it wasn’t for long for the Brit. First Morbidelli and then Miller again beat the British rider’s time, the Australian 0.8s clear at the top to move the goalposts again.
Viñales then cut the gap to half a second despite running off and into the gravel a lap earlier at Turn 8, before Petrucci and then Nakagami pipped the number 12. The conveyor belt of faster laps looked like it would continue too as with a minute to go, Nakagami set three red sectors. Alas, the Japanese rider then suffered a small tip-off at Turn 11 – rider ok but out of the battle for the top on Day 1, also bringing out the Yellow Flags and that causing a couple of late cancellations for those behind him…
That included Miller as an even quicker lap from the number 43 got cancelled, but the Aussie retained his place at the top. That coupled with a P4 in FP1 sees Miller on form in France; a venue where Ducati have never won. Viñales, who has won at Le Mans, took second overall by a tenth and a half, moving up from P6 on Friday morning. Nakagami completed the top three despite the late incident.
Petrucci ended the day P4 to make it a good Friday for the Italian, he leads fifth place Crutchlow as the duo claim double top 10s in FP1 and FP2 to head into Saturday’s in good shape. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) went well to claim P6 in FP2 and overall on Day 1.
Morbidelli and Pol Espargaro finished P7 and P8 respectively, another two riders to be inside the leading 10 riders in both the wet and dry-ish conditions. Mir was ninth on the opening day to finish just over a second off Miller’s time, ahead of Zarco in P10. The Frenchman lost a lap in the aftermath of Nakagami’s crash, but he edges out Championship leader and compatriot Fabio Quartararo as ‘El Diablo’ ends Day 1 in P11.
The man in 12th suffered the same fate, Rossi losing his last lap, and Alex Rins was shuffled down to P14 overall. Dovizioso, after his crash, ends Friday in 19th and with an even bigger mountain to climb.
Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crashed in the latter stages at Turn 7 – rider ok.
Friday MotoGP Rider Reflections
Jack Miller – P1
“It was a very positive first day. I’m happy for the work done with my team, this morning the weather conditions were complicated but we were fast. Fortunately this afternoon my feeling was good with the track conditions that were very strange because the asphalt was drying out but it wasn’t completely dry. We did an amazing job.”
Maverick Vinales – P2
“These were very difficult conditions on the slick tyres. I tried to keep pushing, but it was hard to make a good lap time. In the end I found a way. I‘m happy that I already have a provisional place in Q2. Today was positive, and I felt good overall. For sure, there‘s still work to do, but as we couldn‘t push 100% with these track conditions, we don‘t know for sure if the bike is good like it is or if it needs further changes. But what I like about the bike is that I could ride fast, both on a wet and on a drying track, which is always very important. I hope for better weather tomorrow, so we can fully push, because I love this track and I want to ride at my best here.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P3
“It was a pretty good start for us on this first day. At the end of FP2 I had a small crash in sector 4, I just lost the front end after touching the white patches, but I’m ok and the bike was ok. I’m sorry to the team for giving them extra work today! We had good pace today and showed good potential for a dry session and also in FP1 in full wet conditions we were not too bad. So it was a good first day as we were able to ride well in wet conditions and also dry conditions. We ended up in a good position today so I’m pretty comfortable on the bike and we’ll now prepare for qualifying.”
Danilo Petrucci – P4
“Both this morning in the wet, and this afternoon with the mixed conditions of the track, I managed to have a good feeling with the bike right away. In FP2 the track was very cold and humid, but I went out with the slick tyres managing to be equally fast. In general, I am satisfied with this first day. We still have some things to improve, and we will aim to do so tomorrow, hoping that the weather will also be more lenient and that the rest of the weekend will remain dry.”
Cal Crutchlow – P5
“It was good to be able to get out on the track at Le Mans today. With one session being wet and one session being dry, we have now have a feeling for both. Obviously the second session had some damp patches, but I believe we did a good job in both sessions with my team. I found not a bad feeling with the bike, I think we need to improve the setting, but we can look at that tonight. We’re looking for some dry days now on the Saturday and Sunday.”
Alex Marquez – P6
“Today we got to try the bike in the wet, it’s only really the second time riding a MotoGP bike in the wet. The tyres are really different to in Moto2 and the Michelin wet tyre gives you a lot of confidence. Normally I am quite fast in the wet and I am pleased to feel good on the MotoGP bike in the wet. From now to the end of the year there could be a lot of wet races, so it is important to get a base setting for these conditions. Saturday and Sunday are looking colder than today, but dry, this might complicate everything a bit but I think we can manage it well.”
Franco Morbidelli – P7
It was a tricky day because this morning was wet and cold, but this afternoon was half and half. In FP2 we went out on track to see how the conditions were, saw they were improving and so we stayed out on the soft slick tyres. The aim was to get used to the conditions, adapt to them and not to over-push in any area. We were fast enough to get into the top ten, which was the aim of today. Hopefully it will be dry on Saturday so we can experience a dry track and work on some things. It will be important to do a good job tomorrow to see how fast we are in the dry, because we know how quick we are in the wet and in mixed conditions here.
Joan Mir – P9
“Today was quite difficult with these hard conditions for everyone, but I’m fairly satisfied with how the day went, especially in the morning where I felt good. The track was mixed wet and dry so it was tricky to work on settings because it was constantly changing. At the moment I’m just trying to find my optimum feeling but tomorrow I want to focus my work on the front end of the bike, take another step forward, and hope to improve my lap times ahead of qualifying.”
Johann Zarco – P10
“It was a good first day, the first practice in the water helped us to continue learning how the bike behaves in the wet. At the end of the session I pushed to the maximum getting to finish in second position. In the afternoon, I decided to go out on wet tires and set a fast time in case it started to rain. Instead, the track started to dry out and the other riders started going fast on slick tires. When I put on the slicks I had a technical problem in turn 5, so I lost a few minutes in the box. Despite this I managed to set a good time that allowed me to finish tenth and be provisionally in Q2 positions.”
Fabio Quartararo – P11
“We had tricky conditions both this morning and this afternoon, so today was about getting the feeling of the bike around this track. At the end of the FP2 session we put a new tyre on, because most people were using the soft, but I wanted to continue with the medium because I was improving. But the most important thing today was to understand how the tyres and bike felt on the track in these conditions. It was very easy to make a mistake, we saw Luca [Marini] in Moto2 have a big crash, and I hope he is okay, so that’s why I took it easy today. I think tomorrow will be busy for everyone, as no one was at full pace, and it will be vital to have a good FP3 session to get into Q2.”
Valentino Rossi – P12
“I like the track, but today was a very tricky day in difficult conditions. Because it was half wet, half dry, and especially very cold. This morning was better because it was wet, so you could use wet tyres. But this afternoon with mixed conditions you had to use the slicks. You have to push, but at the same time it‘s really cold, and the track had some wet patches. It was dangerous and you needed to pay attention. But my feeling is not so bad. In the two practices I was quite fast. I had a good pace and a good feeling with the bike. Unfortunately, in the last lap I took the yellow flag, if not I would have been in P5. Now we hope that tomorrow, and especially Sunday, will be dry and a little warmer and then we‘ll see.”
Miguel Oliveira – P13
“Today has been a strange day with not much dry time, but we did our plan in the afternoon to adapt quickly to the situation and managed to do a couple of laps in the dry. I felt well with the bike, so we just hope that we can have a dry session tomorrow and qualify directly for Q2.”
Alex Rins – P14
“Today wasn’t easy because of the weather, but I’m happy because in both sessions I was around the top positions. When the track was fully wet in FP1 I was pretty strong. I lost one quick lap at the end of FP2 because of a yellow flag, but overall I feel really good about how everything went, especially in these tough conditions which are so varied. I’m really keen to get out there tomorrow when it should be drier! I feel confident.”
Pecco Bagnaia – P15
“This morning during the FP1 I experienced riding on a wet track for the first time in MotoGP. I finished in 11th in front of other riders with my same experience, it took me a few laps to start speeding up, but I think it is understandable. I didn’t have troubles and I worked to find the right feeling while driving, as it was a whole new scenario for me. We chose a different approach in the afternoon, hence, I completed 20 laps in a row without ever getting back to the box trying to get used to the track given the hostile weather conditions.”
Iker Lecuona – P16
“In FP1, I struggled a little bit, as it was my first time in MotoGP with these tyres and everything in the wet. After the Barcelona GP, I also lost quite a lot of confidence to the front, so it was not easy, but on the second run, I changed something on the base of the bike and I improved. I was closer to the top guys, so I was happy. This afternoon, there were some wet parts on the track, the conditions overall were far from perfect, so I tried to ride a lot. My first run was really good and when I tried to improve I had two times yellow flags on my last two laps, so it was impossible to go faster. In the end, I’m quite happy about my comeback and about improving my feeling on the bike. We will see how the weather is going to be tomorrow.”
Stefan Bradl – P17
“We come here after an important test in Portimao, I was very happy to be there to help HRC. Our trip here meant we arrived very late, then when we saw the weather conditions today myself and the team decided it was better to stay inside because there was a lot to lose and not a lot to gain from conditions like this. But in the afternoon I felt quite good, it looks like missing FP1 did not hurt us. Let’s see what tomorrow brings with the weather and where we can improve.”
Bradley Smith – P18
“Aside from a little pain, it wasn’t a bad day for us. This morning I really felt at ease in the wet and, for what it’s worth, it is always great to take the Aprilia to first place, also as a sign for everyone working from home. To be honest, I had a good feeling this afternoon too until a wet spot sent me to the ground. Unfortunately, in these conditions there’s not much you can do. Even the electronic controls struggle to detect such rapid changes in grip. In any case, it is still important for us to get out on the track and understand it and how it behaves. I prefer a crash today over ruining something more important on Sunday.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P19
“Although we hadn’t been riding in the wet for a long time, this morning I was able to have a good feeling with the bike right away. This afternoon, however, the conditions were very difficult: the track was not yet completely dry, but we went out early to try to improve our lap time from this morning. Unfortunately, as the front tyre was still too cold, I had a small crash.”
Aleix Espargaro – P20
“Not exactly an easy day. I hadn’t yet had the chance to try the new RS-GP in the wet and it is clear that there is still work to be done. The positive side is that Bradley demonstrated an outstanding level in those conditions, so that gives me confidence. In the afternoon, the situation was complicated. Although the track seemed dry, it wasn’t entirely, so that made it easy to make mistakes. I had a small crash, tomorrow we’ll basically be starting from scratch and I hope to be fast. Also because FP3 will be a qualifying session, with asphalt that will probably be dry but cold.”
Tito Rabat – P21
“In the morning, especially in the first outing, I had a very good feeling. As the track dried, it took me a bit more, the set-up was a bit soft for the dry conditions. In FP2 it was very difficult for me to warm up the tires, but my best lap was canceled due to a yellow flag. Despite this, we are motivated for tomorrow and look forward to continuing to improve.”
Massimo Meregalli – Monster Yamaha Team Director
“Today‘s circumstances were quite difficult, as expected when coming to Le Mans at this time of year. It was cold and wet, and the track conditions also changed in the afternoon when the circuit was drying. This makes it very tricky to ride here. It‘s easy for the riders to make a mistake, and the punishment doesn‘t always fit the crime in these conditions. But, so far, we are satisfied with the work we‘ve done. Maverick and Valentino are as comfortable as we can expect them to be on a mixed day like today. It’s a shame that Vale’s last lap was cancelled, else we would have had both riders comfortably inside the top 10. We expect that tomorrow’s FP3 session will be dry and, though it will be cold, we will be fully focused on getting both riders in Q2 straight away.”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“It was a valuable day and we actually didn’t mind the rain this morning because it gave us a chance to work on wet settings. Also Joan was able to gain some more experience in these conditions, which he hasn’t faced often on a MotoGP bike so far, so that was good. The afternoon was quite difficult because of the mixed wet and dry track but both riders found good feelings with the bike so we’re looking forward to tomorrow, which we hope will be dry. We’ll be aiming to do well in FP3 and take that through to qualifying.”
Friday MotoGP Combined Practice Times
Jake Dixon (Petronas Sprinta Racing) put in a superlative performance on Day 1 at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France to top the timesheets, pipping Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) to the honour as Yellow Flags caught the Spaniard out on a late charge. Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top three, although it was his teammate and Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) who stole the headlines for different reasons. The number 10 suffered a huge highside early on in FP2, heding to hospital for a check up but ultimately declared fit.
Kasma Daniel (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took to the top near the end of a crash fest Moto2™ FP1, the Malaysian impressing to take the reins ahead of Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP 40) and teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri, the latter only another 0.003 in arrears.
Fourth went to American Joe Roberts (Tennor American Racing), an oft-quick presence on the timesheets in the wet, with that also something to be said of the man just behind him: Jake Dixon, who ended the session 0.572 off the top. The Brit was leading until some late charges, getting shuffled down thereafter.
Jorge Martin was sixth in the morning ahead of Bezzecchi and Le Mans specialist Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP), with Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Hafizh Syahrin (Inde Aspar Team) completing the top ten, the latter the early leader in the session by some whopping margins before Bulega had hit back mid-way through.
Incident wise, the first to go down was Championship leader Marini as he exited pitlane and then promptly slid out at Turn 3 for his first crash of the day. Andi Izdihar (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) then went down at Turn 14, before the same happened to Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) as both highsided. Termozeta Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro then came a cropper at Turn 9, before Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) at Turn 14 and Somkiat Chantra (Idemistu Honda Team Asia) at Turn 8 – the three incidents in the space of 40 seconds.
NTS RW Racing GP’s replacement rider Piotr Biesiekirski crashed not long after at Turn 14, before early leader Syahrin hit the deck at Turn 3. Kasma Daniel then crashed at the same place five minutes later, although he’d go on the bounce back in some style. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Termozeta Speed Up) next went down at Turn 14, and Izdihar had a second crash there soon after. Finally, Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) crashed at Turn 9 and Joe Roberts at Turn 4.
Di Giannantonio and Biesiekirski will be assessed ahead of FP3 to see if they are able to take part in the rest of the Grand Prix.
The conditions were much improved by the time it came round to FP2, making the session timesheets effectively also the overall standings. The session still started with plenty of drama on a drying track, however, with FP1 pacesetter Kasma Daniel suffering a highside at Turn 11 before we then witnessed Marini’s huge crash coming over the brow of the hill at Turn 5. The Italian was absolutely launched off his bike and the machine then slid through the wet grass and back onto the circuit, bringing mud onto the racing line. That brought out the Red Flag as Marini limped away with the help from the marshals. The Italian was transported to the medical centre immediately thereafter, and then had a check up at hospital before being declared fit to continue.
Back on track after the Red Flag, Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) was top of the pile first off before Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) took over, with Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) then setting the fastest time of the day. The times were tumbling all the time though, and the ever-improving Dixon sat quickest late on. There he would stay, ultimately, as Martin was slamming in a serious laptimes – but it was deleted for Yellow Flags in one sector of his lap.
That leaves sophomore Dixon fastest in the intermediate class on Friday, and after finishing FP1 in P5. Martin takes second overall ahead of old Moto3 foe Bezzecchi, who went from seventh in the wet to third overall. Lowes is once again up at the sharp end after Day 1 at Le Mans, up to P4 on the combined timesheets from his P19 finish in the tricky FP1 conditions.
Lowes’ teammate Augusto Fernandez makes it two EG 0,0 Marc VDS machines in the top five as he too found the going a little less tough than FP1, with Termozeta Speed Up’s Jorge Navarro another rider who moved much higher up the timing screens in the dry, the Spaniard finishing FP2 and the day in P6.
Rookie Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team Moto2) claims P7 on Day 1 at Le Mans, under two weeks from right arm pump surgery, after ending FP1 in P26. Lüthi managed to get the better of teammate Schrötter as the Liqui Moly Intact GP squad ended the day in P8 and P9, with Vierge rounding out the top ten.
Chantra, Roberts, Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) and second in the Championship Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) are the final four currently set to move through to Q2, but everything can still change in FP3…
Friday Moto2 Combined Practice Times
|29||F.Di Giannanto||SPEED UP||+16.322|
Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) got the best measure of the drying but still cool and difficult conditions in FP2 at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Czech rider’s final lap in the afternoon proving enough to see him end the day on top and overhaul an ominous half-second gap previously enjoyed by Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). The Italian was left 0.039 in arrears in FP2 and overall, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completing the top three.
FP1 was characterised by one thing: crashes. By the end of the wet and chilly session there had been 17 incidents, and it was 2019 winner McPhee who emerged on top as he beat fellow veteran Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) to the honour by two tenths. Another experienced runner took third, with Championship challenger Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) completing a top three split by four tenths.
The crashes – not crashers as some riders suffered more than one incident – were the biggest headline, however. The first to go down was, surprisingly, wet weather master Fenati when he crashed at Turn 4, before Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) went down at Turn 3 as he started his first flying lap. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü became the third rider to crash before five minutes had even been completed.
SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli also crashed at Turn 3, as did Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered a nasty-looking crash at Turn 2, before both Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) then crashed at the by-now ominous Turn 3. Sky Racing Team VR46’s Celestino Vietti had his first crash at Turn 4 not longer after, before World Championship leader Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) went down at the same place just over ten minutes later. Next up it was a second incident for Antonelli and a first for Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as they hit the deck at Turn 14 a few minutes apart, before Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ended up in the gravel trap at Turn 10.
In the closing stages, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was the final man to go down at Turn 3 before Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) highsided at Turn 2 and Dupasquier went down again at Turn 14.
After that shuffle, Salač kept it upright for fourth on the timesheets, half a second clear of Fernandez in fifth. Leopard Racing’s Jaume Masia was 1.667 seconds adrift of Migno but up in sixth, with Garcia and Nepa seventh and eighth despite their crashes. Rounding out the top ten were impressive rookie Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) and veteran compatriot Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
By the end of play, the quickest lap in the afternoon was 11 seconds quicker than McPhee’s morning masterpiece, making FP2 and the combined timesheets interchangeable. Salač vs Fenati was the duel at the top for much of the last half hour of the day, but the Czech rider’s 1:44.820 means he ultimately leads the provisional Q2 entrants. Fenati is forced to settle for second but had a good consistent run at or near the top, with McPhee retaining a place in the top three overall after backing up his FP1 pace with some serious speed in the afternoon too. The Scot also spent some time on track with teammate Khairul Idham Pawi as we saw some Petronas Sprinta Racing formation running in FP2.
Jaume Masia was on a charge late on, duelling McPhee at the top for a while before ending up P4 overall, with Migno completing the top five on Friday and proving another with consistent speed in both conditions. The number 16 was also the last man within a second of Salač’s timesheet-topping scorcher, if scorcher is the word for it at a very cool Le Mans.
Pawi slots into sixth overall as the Malaysian got back into the mix in the top ten after a tougher time of it of late, ahead of Championship leader Ai Ogura as the number 79 pipped Celestino Vietti by just 0.006. Niccolo Antonelli was only another few hundredths off in ninth, with rookie Yuki Kunii impressing once again as he completes the top ten overall following a P10 in FP1 to boot.
After 17 incidents in FP1 – and a few names crashing twice – the afternoon was comparatively docile, with no one taking a tumble at all and that, as well as the laptimes, testament to the improved conditions. Will they improve again for FP3 or are Friday’s fastest 14 heading through to Q2? If no one can go quicker on Saturday morning it’ll be Gabriel Rodrigo, Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Albert Arenas and Sergio Garcia joining the top ten in heading straight through – but anything can still very much change overnight…
Friday Moto3 Combined Practice Times
Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) staked an early claim on home glory at Le Mans on Day 1, the Frenchman topping Friday practice for the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France. It was a close-run contest at the top, however, with Alex de Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) just 0.041 off as the Sammarinese rider completed his last Free Practice sessions before retirement. Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) was third quickest and the fastest of the top four Cup contenders.
The day was a tale of two halves for the electric class, with a wet FP1 giving way to a dry FP2 – and the latter therefore becoming even more vital, as Saturday’s forecast for E-Pole and the race looks to be dry. In the wet morning session though there was data and experience to be gained, of the venue and the machinery in the wet for some, and everyone headed out.
De Angelis was the fastest by far: 0.451 clear, the Sammarinese rider was in a class of his own in the wet. Xavier Simeon (LCR E-Team) was second, with reigning Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) just under a tenth in further arrears as he completed the wet-weather FP1 top three. Casadei crashed at Turn 7, rider ok.
Once the sun had almost returned and the track dried out, there was another shuffle on the timesheets and the FP2 times became the combined times as everyone improved. Di Meglio more than most, the Frenchman moving from P11 in the morning to fastest overall. De Angelis completed his consistent Friday in second as he found even more speed in FP2, with Casadei moving up from P9 in FP1 to complete the top three – although he did suffer another tip off, this time at Turn 4.
Simeon showed good speed overall on Day 1, taking fourth overall and only 0.035 off Casadei, with the timesheets remaining tight thereafter. Ferrari was just 0.049 further back in P5, with Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team) slotting into sixth only 0.011 off the points leader.
Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) was seventh by less than a tenth, the Australian having had some success in the 24h race at the venue and his MotoE speed also impressive on Day 1, with Cup contender Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40) down in eighth. Niki Tuuli (Avant Ajo MotoE) put in a solid day’s work to end Friday less than a tenth off Torres, in ninth, and the Finn was a whole 0.381 ahead of the man in tenth: Dominique Aegerter (Dynavolt Intact GP).
Aegerter is only four points off leader Ferrari in the standings and the Swiss rider will want more on Saturday. He’ll also be heading out in E-Pole – with the fastest on the combined timesheets going out last – a little earlier than he’s used to, which could make for a nail-biting session. Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) is another further down than expected as he ended the day in P11, so qualifying will be a stunner.
MotoE Combined Practice Times
|1||Mike DI MEGLIO||Energica||1m44.141|
|2||Alex DE ANGELIS||Energica||+0.041|
2020 MotoGP Calendar
|10||11 October||Le Mans|
|11||18 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|12||25 October||MotorLand Aragón|
|13||08 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|14||15 November||Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo|
|15||22 November||Autodromo Internacional do Algarve|
MotoGP World Championship Points
SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France Schedule (AEST)
|0015 (Sun)||MotoE||Race 1|
|0040 (Mon)||MotoE||Race 2|