Having also topped the timesheet in the morning session, Marquez quickened the pace in the afternoon sunshine, registering a 1’33.452 best time, which is under the fastest lap in a race at Le Mans set by Dani Pedrosa in 2011.
Behind Repsol Honda man Marquez in FP2 was the impressive Iannone (Pramac Racing) who appears to be enjoying his riding more than ever this season. He was just 0.007s behind Marquez whilst GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider Bautista was just over 0.2s down.
Making up for a big crash in FP1, Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) was fourth best with a time less than 0.5s off Marquez’ pace – whilst Pedrosa was fifth with a similar pace to Smith.
Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP), Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) were also within a top ten which was completed by Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Rossi produced a slight, late improvement to move up from 11th, despite a run off track towards the end of the session.
A crash for Moto2™ 2013 Le Mans race winner Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) with 15 minutes to go disrupted his FP2 workout at turn 9 but he was not hurt and went straight back out on a second bike. A long run-off around turn 7 (Museum Corner) saw the older Espargaro brother do well to keep bike upright through the gravel.
In the second Moto2™ practice at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France on Friday rookie Luis Salom was the fastest rider on track, in front of Tito Rabat and Maverick Viñales, with a best lap right at the end of the session.
Pons HP 40 man Salom was already leading in the final stages but improved to 1’38.254 to end Friday ahead of his fellow intermediate class riders.
Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) also pushed hard late in the practice but was ultimately 0.06s off the pace of his young compatriot, with Viñales (Pons HP 40) in third by a 0.1s margin.
Dominique Aegerter (Technomag carXpert) was fractionally (0.004s) slower than Moto3™ World Champion Viñales in fourth, with Jonas Folger (AGR Team) making it three rookies in the top five.
Completing the top ten were Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing), Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team), Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing Team), Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team) and Alex De Angelis (Tasca Racing Moto2).
A big crash for Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) early in FP2 at turn 3 saw a high speed lowside take him into the gravel, before Tetsuta Nagashima (Teluru Team JiR Webike) quickly rejoined having dropped his bike on track and then restarting at trackside. Towards the end of the practice Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) crashed to end his session prematurely, but he, Luthi and Nagashima were all unharmed.
In the Moto3™ FP2 session on Friday afternoon at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France it was Alex Marquez who notched the quickest lap of Le Mans, followed by Alex Rins and Jack Miller at the top.
Indeed the fastest ever lap of Le Mans on a Moto3 machine (1’43.395s) gave Marquez the lead in the session by 0.041s from his Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammate Rins, whilst Miller was third (0.048s).
FP1’s fastest rider Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team) and Italian youngster Enea Bastianini (Junior Team Go&FUN Moto3) were both in the top five.
Meanwhile, the top ten also featured Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46), John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG), Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra Racing), rookie Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46).
There were light crashes for Alessandro Tonucci (CIP Mahindra) and Niccolo Antonelli (Junior Team GO&FUN) who were both able to continue, but French wildcard Reynald Castillon (Team RMS) was carried away from a highside and later attended to due to pain in his left wrist.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track today at the historic Le Mans circuit in France, working through their first free practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
Lorenzo was able to make a half second improvement from the morning to the afternoon session as he focused on his set up. He led the second practice for most of the session, only dropping in the last ten minutes as his rivals switched to new rubber. He finished the day in seventh in the combined times, 0.6 seconds from first.
Teammate Rossi had a less fortunate day, the nine time world champion struggling in several set up areas on the notoriously unpredictable French track. Rossi ended the day in 10th place in the combined times, just over a second from the front.
Jorge Lorenzo – 7th / 1’34.054 / 21 laps – “I’m satisfied with the pace which is constant and with my riding. We are not in a position that reflects our performance in the time sheets; we were the only one with the same tyre the whole session instead of putting a new tyre on at the end or running an open tyre. I think with a new tyre we could have improved half a second at the end.”
Valentino Rossi – 10th / 1’34.498 / 21 laps – “I’m not happy about today, especially this afternoon. I wasn’t able to be strong and near the top. I have a lot of problems with the bike especially in acceleration, I have a big problem to open the throttle because the bike is very nervous. We tried to modify something during the practice but we didn’t fix the problem. I’m too far from the front so for tomorrow we have to check the data and improve to be more competitive; it is important to start in the top five here. The difference between Jerez and here for the settings is unbelievable so we have to change a lot of things. Le Mans is always like this!”
Massimo Meregalli – “We started today’s first practice with a base set up from our Jerez test last week. The first impressions from the morning were quite good. We then didn’t make big changes between the sessions because we were expecting track conditions to improve in the afternoon to suit the setting of the bike better. Unfortunately the track did not improve for us that much. We made a change from the soft front to the medium for the afternoon and adjusted the electronics but we still need to make some steps forward for tomorrow. Jorge was very consistent; his place in the timings doesn’t necessarily reflect his performance. Vale is having more issues with his set up than Jorge so we have some work to do with his set up to be ready to step up for the third practice in the morning.”
Bradley Smith – 4th / 1’33.920 / 37 laps – “After starting the day in a less than ideal way, I am really pleased with what we managed to achieve this afternoon. I am feeling very happy with the bike now, as due to some of the issues we have experienced recently we decided to divert back to the what I was using in Qatar. Therefore, I am confident and I know that I can go fast with it. At the same time, I am slightly disappointed that we couldn’t succeed with our experimentation, but I am excited to continue in this manner during the next sessions. Tomorrow the plan is to fine-tune the setup and then try my best in qualifying to get as high up the grid as I can. Again, I feel confident, am back on the road to completeness and can’t wait to put on a good show for the fans. ”
Pol Espargaro – 11th / 1’34.506 / 45 laps – “All in all it has been a positive day. This morning we had a really good start and after FP2, I have to say that I’m satisfied with our rhythm as we used the same front tyre for the whole session, and were still able to improve our lap time at the end. We tried different geometric modification on the bike, but not everything went according to plan. So therefore, we went back to our setting from this morning and were able to improve again. This also gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow and I think we are in better situation than in Jerez.”
Aleix Espargaro – 9th / 1’34.134 – “I’m quite satisfied even though I expected to be more competitive with the soft tyre. We are in the top 10 and the gap from the front riders and the other Yamahas is not so big, so I’m quite confident for tomorrow and the race. We will keep on working aiming at finishing in the first 2 rows tomorrow in the qualifying.”
Colin Edwards – 15th / 1’35.089 – “Today we focused on working on the set up of the machine. I struggled a bit to be consistent. In the afternoon we tried some solutions and we improved and tomorrow we will keep on working. My priority is to focus on the electronics and to be consistent lap after lap.”
Repsol Honda Report
In an unusually sunny Le Mans, it was Championship leader and reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, who was fastest in both sessions today with teammate Dani Pedrosa finishing second this morning and 5th in the combined times.
After a chilly morning with and ambient and track temperatures of just 12ºC and 13ºC respectively, temperatures rose in this afternoon’s FP2 session to 20ºC – air – and 39ºC on the track. Marc tested both option rear Bridgestone tyres but recorded his fastest time of 1’33.452 on lap 14 of 20 on the softer option – beating Dani’s record race lap from 2011 (1’33.617). It was a positive day also for Dani, who had surgery to treat compartmental syndrome in his right forearm last week. Again he used both option rear tyres and also preferred the softer, completing 22 laps in the afternoon with his best time of 1’33.942 arriving on lap 17.
Marc Marquez – 1st – 1’33.452 – “I felt comfortable right from the start today. We began with the base setup from Jerez and worked from there. In the afternoon we tried things out with the tyres and tweaked the setup further to keep going forward. Besides being the fastest over a single lap, our pace was also really good today, so I am happy with how everything went in general. Tomorrow we shall try to do even better, because I’m sure that the rest of the riders will take another step forward.”
Dani Pedrosa – 5th – 1’33.942 – “Today was basically a day to see what kind of shape I am in, and it went well. For the first time using my arm in ten days, the feeling is okay. I took things carefully and didn’t push too much, because I didn’t want to go 100% too soon. The initial feeling was pretty good, and we hope that things will improve further overnight. In theory today should be the toughest day, and I hope to be better tomorrow. On track I focused on putting in a lot of laps, but without making too many changes to the bike. We basically tried out the tyres, and at the moment the soft option seems to be the most adequate”
Today was a day of highs and lows for the Ducati Team at the Le Mans circuit in France. While Andrea Dovizioso managed to be competitive in the two free practice sessions, his British team-mate Cal Crutchlow struggled to find a good feeling with his Desmosedici GP14.
The Italian rider, seventh in the morning session when the temperature was quite cold, was even at the top of the timesheets for a short period of time in the afternoon, but after setting a best time in 1’34.117, had to settle for a provisional eighth place.
Crutchlow on the other hand encountered a few more problems, and despite knocking half a second off his time in the second session, was unable to establish a good feeling with his bike.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 8th (1’34.117) – “I am very happy with the pace I had today when I lapped with the same tyres as the other riders. We are in the group at the front, in amongst the fastest riders, and this is positive. So I’m satisfied with the work we did today, even though I think that we can still improve the set-up. At the end of the session I didn’t put on another tyre because I had already set a good time and I was sure I was going to be in the top 10. In any case the weekend has started well and my feeling with this track here at Le Mans, is positive as always.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 13th (1’34.907) – “It wasn’t a good day for me; we tried a few different things with the bike but it felt exactly the same as always. Everything I tried with the settings, the bike feels like it has understeer and I cannot turn, so we lose in the braking area and in turning. It seems that nothing we tried at the test at Mugello is working here at the moment but we have to work with the team tonight and see what we can come up with for tomorrow because I have to improve.”
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez led the field on the opening practice day for the French Grand Prix, as the current championship leader went quicker than the Le Mans Circuit Record with a time of 1’33.452 in Free Practice 2.
Marquez ended the day just 0.007 seconds ahead of Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone in second overall, while third quickest today was GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who was 0.216 seconds behind Marquez. Marquez and Bautista set their quickest times on the combination of the soft compound rear and medium compound front slicks, while Iannone’s best time was achieved using the extra-soft rear slick paired with the medium front.
Fine track conditions greeted riders for Friday practice at the French Grand Prix, with track temperatures reaching a peak of 44°C during FP2. All slick options front and rear were evaluated by riders today but predictably, the riders opted for softer slick options front and rear in the cooler morning session. In the warmer FP2 session, many riders assessed their harder rear slick option; soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders and medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, but the softer rear options proved to be more popular on the low-grip Le Mans track. The higher track temperatures in FP2 also saw front tyre choice shift towards the medium compound front slick for most of the riders
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Warm and dry conditions gave us a good start to the race weekend here at Le Mans with the pace of the riders already extremely quick. Compared to last year’s Friday practice sessions, the riders on average are lapping around half a second quicker so as well as being safer, it seems our 2014 specification tyres have also given a boost to performance to the riders here at Le Mans. Similar conditions to today are forecast for the rest of the weekend, and I think some riders already have a good understanding of what their race tyre choice is, although more data will still need to be collected tomorrow. If the riders continue to push at this quick pace and can improve their setup further, I predict we will see some super-quick lap times in qualifying tomorrow.”