Jorge Lorenzo with a clear advantage over the rest of the field in Le Mans, Iannone and Marquez the only riders within half a second
In the morning session it was Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) who led the way with a 1’34.042, the Spaniard showing well after a fruitful test in Jerez. His time wouldn’t stand for long as riders were immediately pushing in the second session.
Free Practice 2 for the MotoGP World Championship began with Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) setting a string of fast laps. Clouds began to gather overhead as the session got underway, the rain fortunately holding off and allowing all the riders to improve their times. Results from Free Practice 2 could be vital for passage into Q2 as the morning sessions in Le Mans are often quite cool.
After his blazing start to the session, it came as little surprise that Jorge Lorenzo concluded Free Practice 2, and the day as a whole, as the fastest rider. Lorenzo’s fastest time, a 1’32.830, came towards the end of the session. The only rider in the 1’32s, Lorenzo leave the Le Mans circuit on Friday evening with a 0.339s advantage over Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team).
The Le Mans circuit has often seen Ducati riders perform well, Andrea Iannone continuing the tradition as he wrapped up Friday in second place on the combined timesheets. Iannone’s best time came on his final lap of the day, the problems of Jerez long gone for the Desmosedici GP.
Once again it was Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who completed the top three, the final rider able to get within half a second of Lorenzo’s time. Marquez’s performance made it three different brands inside the top three, proving that a variety of styles are competitive at the French GP.
Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) achieved his first, and so far only, MotoGP front row start in Le Mans during his rookie campaign. After a troublesome year in 2015, the Spaniard is again performing well and concludes Friday at his team’s home race in fourth and as the leading Independent Team rider, ahead of Rossi on the factory bike.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the top five, making Ducati the only factory team with both their bikes inside the top five. The Italian was 0.744s back on Lorenzo’s time as he looks to maintain a run of five straight front row starts in France and shake his bad luck from the start of the year.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) rounded out the top ten.
While Lorenzo improved his time from FP1 by 1.2 seconds, Rossi was only able to improve by half a second and ended 1.1 seconds behind his teammate.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) concluded Friday in 11th on his MotoGP return after injuring his hand in both the Phillip Island test and the Qatar GP.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was the victim of a crash at Turn 13, jumping to his feet and jogging back into the pits for his second RC213V. It was a difficult day overall for Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) as he suffered a second crash, coming off at Turn 6 with less than five minutes of FP2 remaining.
On his final lap of the day, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) crash at Turn 7, removing any chance he had of getting into the top ten.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat made major improvements to their pace in surprisingly hot conditions on the opening day of MotoGP practice at the historic Le Mans track.
Australian Miller was able to knock an impressive 0.8s off his best time in the two 45-minute sessions, which took part in front a huge French crowd already packed into the legendary Bugatti venue.
Miller ended the day in 18th position on the combined leaderboard and he thinks there’s plenty more to come from his Honda RC213V package after he finished just 0.7s behind Jerez winner Valentino Rossi in 10th position.
Jack Miller – P18
“I feel pretty good and I don’t think the final position shows how happy we are with our performance today. The lap times are pretty close and we know we have a lot of margin to improve, but overall it was a good day and we’ll keep working hard to be even stronger tomorrow.”
MotoGP FP3 will be broadcast live on FoxSports 5 from 1815 this evening before an hour of live coverage of qualifying starting from 2205, also on FoxSports 5.
Zarco gives home fans something to cheer about in Le Mans
After a slow start to FP2, times quickly fell as fan favourite Zarco led Friday from Tom Luthi and Jonas Folger
By the time the Moto2 World Championship were out on track for Free Practice 2 the clouds had gathered considerably. As the session began Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) was the man to beat after topping FP1.
As in the previous two sessions, the fastest times of the day came towards the end. Fastest of them all was Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), the reigning Moto2 World Champion sending the sizeable crowd into a frenzy as he ended Friday as the fastest rider. A 1’37.370 saw Zarco just edge out Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) by 0.065 as the top three were once again locked together.
Second was Luthi, the Swiss rider continuing his strong form at the French track. Le Mans is one of just two tracks where Luthi has won more than once, having crossed the line first a total of four times in France. Luthi is also the most recent Moto2™ winner, having won the 2015 French GP.
Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) set a 1’37.557 to end 0.187s off the top spot of the day. With his MotoGP future now secure, Folger already looks more relaxed on the bike and in the pits. The young German can now focus on challenging for the intermediate class title, focusing on consistently scoring points.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) was able to join the leading three in the 1’37s, able to improve his FP1 time by three tenths of a second. Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) held onto the top five thanks to his session topping time from FP1, he was one of only four riders unable to improve their time in the second session.
Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was also unable to go faster, but ended Friday in sixth. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) and Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) formed a competitive top ten.
Championship leader Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) had a frustrating day, made worse by a fall at Turn 7. He wraps up Friday down in 13th place.
Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) fell at Turn 9 late in the session but was unharmed in the fall.
Late burst puts Binder on top
After a tricky FP1 session, Brad Binder regained control of the Moto3 class ahead of Fenati and Jules Danilo
The sun continued to beat down on the Le Mans circuit, allowing riders in the Moto3 World Championship to make the most of their Free Practice sessions. Initially the track had been somewhat greasy during Free Practice 1, but steadily improved as the day went on. For Free Practice 2 the track temperature increased by 20°C, reaching up into the 30s.
On his last lap of the session, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was able to set a 1’43.365 to lead the opening day of practice at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. It was another mixed session for Binder who had several small technical issues at the start but, as in Jerez, when the pressure was on the South African excelled. His final time was over a second and a half quicker than in FP1.
Like Binder, Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) was a late improver, as he became one of 12 riders to drop into the 1’43s. 0.076s separated the Italian from the top spot, all of the top four within just 0.2s.
Local rider Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) is in the best form of his career, fresh off back-to-back ninth place finishes and full of confidence. The confidence continued to grow in front of his home crowd as the French rider set a 1’43.535 to shake up the established order and end the opening day of his home GP in third.
Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was one of the first riders in the top three to improve his time from the earlier session, managing a 1’43.557 which would see him eventually finish in fourth. Behind him on the combined times was Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) who continues to look like a podium threat yet again.
Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) and Livio Loi (RW Racing GP) all managed to improve their best time to a 1’43 and finished the day inside the top ten on combined times.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was the first faller in the session, crashing unhurt at Turn 7 within the first ten minutes. Fellow Italian Stefano Valtulini (3570 Team Italia) suffered a ferocious highside as he exited Turn 14 but was immediately on his feet.
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.