Weatherman: Miller takes the reins on Day 1 in Le Mans

2017-05-19 15:25
FP1 at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France started wet and was eventually just dry enough for slicks for those who dared – and Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) did, as the Queenslander set a blistering 1:37.467 to top the session. With conditions worsening in FP2, the Aussie remains top on combined times and fastest on Friday in another show of mastery in tricky conditions.

Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was second quickest in FP1 and again in FP2, taking P2 on the timesheets after action ended ahead of home hero and rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completed the top four overall, despite a slightly more difficult FP2 down in P13.

Loris Baz was another home stunner for Reale Avintia Racing to complete the top five, and the Frenchman was twelfth in the second session – then just ahead of Crutchlow. Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was another flying the Independent Team flag, taking P6 on combined timings.

Bradley Smith took his first top ten for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in an impressive P7 in FP1 and overall on Friday, just ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).

Alvaro Bautista was a top ten presence in both sessions – P9 in FP1 and P6 in FP2 – ending Friday in ninth. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top ten ahead of Andrea Iannone. The ‘Maniac’ was fifth in the afternoon but ended the day in eleventh, just ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Jonas Folger.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was one of only two riders to improve his laptime despite worsened weather in FP2, and the Italian topped the timesheets in the second session to take P13 overall – ahead of Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) put on an impressive display in FP2 and was third, the Italian completing the top fifteen overall just ahead of teammate and fellow FP2 frontrunner Scott Redding. Redding joined ‘DesmoDovi’ as the other rider to improve in the more difficult conditions.

Despite the difficult conditions, there was only one incident as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) didn’t quite stop before the gravel trap – with early reports on the new track surface at the venue seemingly holding true.

Next is FP3 and the fight for automatic entry to Q2 qualifying, with that practice beginning at 9:55am (GMT +2). Qualifying sessions begin with Q1 at 14:10.

Weather worsens with Baldassarri quickest on combined times

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) topped combined times on Day 1 in France, as the Italian led a trio of his compatriots to lock out the top four: Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team). The top two were split by only 0.011, with weather then worsening in the afternoon to leave them unchallenged.

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completed the top five overall despite a more difficult FP2 down the timesheets, ahead of Tech 3 Racing’s Xavi Vierge. Vierge was one of those to remain a key presence in wet or dry.

Dominique Aegerter was first Suter in P7 for Kiefer Racing, ahead of Italian veteran Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) and compatriot Luca Marini (Forward Racing Team). Marini was also quick in the rain of FP2.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the fastest in the wet on a last lap dash, and completed the top ten on Day 1 from his time in FP1. The early hero of FP2 was Yonny Hernandez (AGR Team) and the Colombian was P11 on combined times, ahead of Isaac Viñales (BE-A-VIP SAG Team), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) – with the Malaysian another of those to have proved their wet weather prowess in the second session.

Championship hopeful Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) had a difficult first day in France in P17, but has a stunning record at the circuit to bounce back on Saturday. Moto2™ begin qualifying at 15:05 (GMT +2).

Norrodin fastest in France on Friday

Adam Norrodin (SIC Racing Team) topped wet Friday practice at Le Mans for the French GP, setting the best lap in FP1 and weather conditions worsening slightly by the afternoon for the Malaysian to keep his dominion at the top - despite a crash in FP2.

It was close amongst the fastest, however, with Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Niccolo Antonelli only 0.040 off Norrodin and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) only another 0.004 back to complete the top three.

Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) was fourth fastest overall, with Marco Bezzechi putting in an impressive showing for CIP to lock out the top five on Mahindra machinery. Rodrigo then suffered a crash in FP2, with the Argentine rider then sadly diagnosed with his second collarbone fracture of the season and declared unfit.

Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was sixth, ahead of another Mahindra in the form of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Aspar Mahindra Moto3) – and a solid return for 2015 Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo). Kent, who returns to the fray as a wildcard, was P8 overall and second in FP2 despite a crash.

Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was behind his new teammate in P9, with Jerez winner Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) completing the top ten.

Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was eleventh, ahead of Enea Bastianini (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Tony Arbolino (SIC58 Squadra Corse), John McPhee (British Talent Team) and Jakub Kornfeil (Peugeot MC Saxoprint).

Some of those further down the timesheets in FP1 mastered the conditions in FP2 but didn’t move up on combined times, with Del Conca Gresini Moto3 duo Jorge Martin and Fabio Di Giannantonio two of the biggest movers from session to session – the Spaniard was fastest in the afternoon, with ‘Diggia’ in the top five despite both riders ending the day just inside the top twenty on combined times.

Moto3™ get back on track at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday, before qualifying at 12:35.

Source: MotoGP

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