MotoGP: Marc Marquez Crashes, Still Gets Pole Position At Rainy Le Mans (Updated)

MotoGP: Marc Marquez Crashes, Still Gets Pole Position At Rainy Le Mans (Updated)

© 2019, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. by David Swarts

MotoGP Race Lap Record: Maverick Vinales, 1:32.309, 2017

MotoGP All Time Lap Record: Johann Zarco, 1:31.185, 2018

2019 FIM MotoGP World Championship

Bugatti Circuit

Le Mans, France

May 18, 2019

Qualifying Results (all on Michelin tires):

From Qualifying Session Two (wet conditions):

1. Marc Marquez, Spain (Honda), 1:40.952, crash

2. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Ducati), 1:41.312

3. Jack Miller, Australia (Ducati), 1:41.366

4. Andrea Dovizioso, Italy (Ducati), 1:41.552

5. Valentino Rossi, Italy (Yamaha), 1:41.655

6. Franco Morbidelli, Italy (Yamaha), 1:41.681

7. Takaaki Nakagami, Japan (Honda), 1:42.059

8. Jorge Lorenzo, Spain (Honda), 1:42.067

9. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Aprilia), 1:42.450

10. Fabio Quartararo, France (Yamaha), 1:42.509

11. Maverick Vinales, Spain (Yamaha), 1:42.555

12. Pol Espargaro, Spain (KTM), no lap time recorded in Q2

From Qualifying Session One (wet-dry conditions):

13. Francesco Bagnaia, Italy (Ducati), 1:39.982

14. Johann Zarco, France (KTM), 1:40.029

15. Cal Crutchlow, UK (Honda), 1:40.114

16. Miguel Oliveira, Portugal (KTM), 1:40.385

17. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Ducati), 1:40.482

18. Joan Mir, Spain (Suzuki), 1:40.606

19. Alex Rins, Spain (Suzuki), 1:40.706

20. Tito Rabat, Spain (Ducati), 1:41.351

21. Hafizh Syahrin, Malaysia (KTM), 1:41.717

22. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Aprilia), 1:41.786

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Marquez equals Rossi with pole, Petrucci and Miller complete the front row

A 55th premier class pole sees the number 93 draw equal with the ‘Doctor’, with three Ducatis lurking close behind

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has equalled Valentino Rossi’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) premier class pole position tally after mastering the damp qualifying conditions at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking his 55th pole despite crashing in Q2. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and top Independent Team rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) join the Championship leader on the front row for Sunday’s race, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) making it three Ducatis on Marquez’ tail.

Question marks over which tyres to go with were obvious ahead of the green light and as the riders ventured out, only three riders gambled on slick tyres: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), teammate Maverick Viñales and fellow Yamaha man Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). But it didn’t pay off as the rain started to fall slightly heavier at Le Mans, so the M1 trio came straight back into pitlane to switch bikes.

Meanwhile, the riders who had gone for wets were busy getting their first laptimes on the board, and it was Marquez who went to the top of the standings after Petrucci and Miller had taken turns to go P1. The Spaniard’s advantage was nearly 0.4 seconds as he set off on another hot lap but at Turn 6 it came to an abrupt halt as the Repsol Honda rider slid out, trying his best to save it but it wasn’t to be this time around. Miller would also later crash, as would a fair more more.

Conditions were getting ever so slightly worse as the rain continued to fall, and Q1 graduate Rossi was now out on wet tyres, gradually climbing his way up the timing screens as the field struggled to improve on their personal best laps. Marquez stayed out after his crash but the Championship leader wasn’t able to find any more time, with Rossi one of the only riders to find some; the 40-year-old jumping up to fifth on his final flying lap and set to line up alongside Dovizioso.

Closing out the second row is Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who was the last rider within a second of Marquez, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), who heads row three despite suffering his first crash of the season. He has Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) alongside him as the number 99 had his best qualifying yet on the Honda. The six-time Le Mans winner was one who, like Rossi, was able to improve despite the worsening conditions. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was next up in P9 and that was another notable result; the Noale factory’s best of the season so far.

Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, looked disappointed with P10, but it’s a impressive result for the rookie as he had to get very quickly accustomed to a MotoGP™ machine in the wet. The Frenchman will start ahead of Viñales too after a disaster for the Spaniard, who had looked immensely strong in all conditions throughout the weekend. Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crash means he’ll start 12th on the KTM after failing to set a time, although it’s a step up from last season for the Austrian marque.

A notable name missing from the list? Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Despite good speed in a wet FP4, the Spaniard struggled in qualifying and will start the French GP down in P19. Can he pull his usual race day pace out the bag and slice back to the front? All eyes will be pointing to the skies tomorrow to see what the weather will bring but whatever the conditions, it looks set to be a French phenomenon in Le Mans. Don’t miss the premier class race at 14:00 local time (GMT+2).

Qualifying results:

1 – Marc Marquez (SPA – Honda) 1’40.952

2 – Danilo Petrucci (ITA – Ducati) +0.360

3 – Jack Miller* (AUS – Ducati) +0.414

*Independent Team rider

Navarro beats Lüthi to pole after both go from Q1 to front row

The leading two in qualifying progress from Q1 to head the Moto2™ grid, Marquez joins them on the front row

After edging through Q1 by just 0.012, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) has taken his second consecutive pole position of the season to head fellow Q1 graduate Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) joining the duo on the front row in third. Like in Moto3™, the top two made a little history.

Damp and tricky conditions greeted the field in Q2 and it was Lüthi who set the pace in the early stages; the Swiss rider dialled in from a 15-minute Q1 session. Navarro was also up there alongside another rider who progressed from Q1 – Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), with Marquez going well in the early stages too.

However, it was far from a smooth ride for the top two in qualifying as both then crashed. Lüthi hit the deck at the notoriously difficult Turn 3, while Navarro went down just after fourth-place Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had gone down in front of him at Turn 8. All three riders were ok and in the end, none ended up threatened as they watched the rest of the field push on from the sidelines. Only Marquez was within a little over half a second, and he remained third, with Pasini also not overtaken despite his crash and the impressive Italian taking P4.

Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will launch from fifth for the French GP after a solid Q2, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) continuing his good weekend to earn his best qualifying position since starting seventh at last season’s Dutch GP. Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh after improving his time in the latter stages, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Q1 graduate Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) also improving their times on their final flying laps to earn third row starts. This is Tulovic’s first top 20 start in the premier class; an impressive showing in the wet from the German rookie.

Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes the top ten in qualifying as the latter stages bumped Dixon down to P11 although the rookie’s Q1 time, if replicated, would have been enough to put the 23-year-old on the front row. Nevertheless, a great personal best qualifying and a top-notch return to action for the number 96 rider after missing the Americas and Spanish GPs through injury.

Who will take Moto2™ victory on Sunday? The question mark over the weather will be playing on everyone’s minds as we look ahead to Round 5 of the season. Don’t miss the intermediate class in action in Le Mans at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).

Qualifying results:

1 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) 1’49.055

2 – Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) +0.078

3 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) +0.530

McPhee becomes the first to take pole after topping Q1

Since the introduction of the format, it hadn’t been done until a stellar day for the Scotsman at Le Mans

Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee made a little history at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, becoming the first rider to progress from Q1 to then go on to take pole position in Moto3™. It’s his first pole position since Argentina 2017 – although he started from the front at Mugello the same year – and he’s joined on the front row by Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Friday’s fastest man, impressive rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).

McPhee moved through from Q1 ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with Argentina winner Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) surprisingly one to lose out. Once in Q2, McPhee set a 1:42.277 on slick tyres, with the track having dried from this morning’s wet FP3 session, and that was enough to earn him pole.

For Ogura, it’s his career best qualifying and therefore evidently his first front row. The Japanese rider beat compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) to the honour by just over half a tenth, so Jerez podium finisher Suzuki starts fourth at the head of row two. Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo was fifth quickest, ahead of Q1 graduate Ramirez as the Spaniard completes the second row.

Despite a third crash of the weekend, and a second at Turn 3, SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli responded by setting a lap that will see him front row three of the grid in P7. The Italian is aiming to become the first double race winner of the 2019 season, as is Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba, who joins Antonelli on row three after going ninth quickest. The man between the two, Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), won’t be starting eighth due to a 12-place grid penalty, however – so Toba will start P8, and he’ll be joined by Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) on row three as the Italian also gains a place due to the penalty. Sergio Garcia, after moving through Q1, also drops 12 places on the grid despite having gone tenth quickest.

That means Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) starts 10th, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) 11th – the Italian still feeling some effects of his Friday highside – and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) 12th, with a good few names looking to slice back through the order on Sunday.

The lights go out for the Moto3™ race at 11:00 (GMT +2), don’t miss it!

Qualifying results:

1 – John McPhee (GBR – Honda) 1’42.277

2 – Tony Arbolino (ITA – Honda) +0.190

3 – Ai Ogura (JPN – Honda) +0.238

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM Tech3:

Oliveira and Syahrin master tricky conditions in French GP Qualifying their best

Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider Miguel Oliveira will start the squad’s home round from the sixth row of the grid, while Hafizh Syahrin is set to launch from row seven.

Following a dry Friday, the Le Mans weather played a major role in today’s proceedings as some rain and cooler conditions delivered an adventurous poker in the Free Practice sessions and the Qualifying. Premier class rookie Oliveira, who was riding on a wet track for the first time in MotoGP this morning, took the gamble in Q1 and switched to Slicks around half time. He managed to safe sixth position through a minor fall ended his game a bit earlier.

On the other side of the garage, Syahrin, who likewise experienced the rain with the KTM RC16 for the first time, switched his bike even twice during the 15 minutes session after he had a better feeling on the wet rubber, but was running out of time in the final seconds to improve any further. Therefore, the Malaysian concluded Qualifying one in eleventh, yet he is ready to attack in tomorrow’s 27 laps encounter for the fifth round of the 2019 World Championship.

Miguel Oliveira

Position: 16th

Time: 1:40.385

Laps: 7

“My first experience on the wet was quite positive. This morning I felt good, my speed was ok and I had a decent feeling going into the Qualifying. The weather was quite strange, we didn’t know what to use. After doing two laps, I decided to risk using the slick tyre and I could not heat up the tyre at all and suffered a crash. It’s a shame because I think with the wet tyres I could have been a bit faster. I don’t know if it would have been enough to go to Q2, but for sure to be one row in front. But overall, it’s an ok day and Qualifying for us with 16th position. For tomorrow the forecast is similar, which is a good indication to do a decent race.”

Hafizh Syahrin

Position: 21st

Time: 1:41.717

Laps: 7

“The conditions have been tricky today, but I felt better step by step in the wet and also build some confidence with the wet tyre. It’s difficult to say, because nearly all started with the wet tyres in Qualifying. Valentino (Rossi) was the cleverest rider as he commenced with the slicks, but I guess this is due to his experience. Anyway, I hope that we can make another step tomorrow and then enjoy the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia Gresini Racing:



Aleix Espargaró had lain the groundwork for his outstanding undertaking yesterday when, in perfect conditions on a dry track, he had finished in the top ten to go straight through to Q2, the second qualifying session that decides the top end order on the starting grid. Today, in entirely different conditions that were difficult to interpret, with light rain that left everyone in doubt as to which tyres to use, he repeated the performance, doing the ninth best time which earned him a spot on the third row of the starting grid. Going out on track with rain tyres, Aleix did his fast lap on the second of the eight he turned, before the rain began to fall harder. For Aprilia, this is one of the best MotoGP qualifiers and confirmation of how much the RS-GP has grown in these early stages of the season.

Andrea Iannone was unable to get over the Q1 hurdle. Still dealing with difficult physical conditions, partly due to persistent pain in his left ankle after his crash in Jerez, Andrea battled hard, even taking a gamble on slicks when it seemed like the track might have conceded a small window of improved conditions. Making the day even more difficult was the fact that this was Andrea’s first time ever riding the Aprilia in the wet. The gamble did not pay of – it happens – and Andrea had to settle for 22nd place.


“The conditions today were extremely complicated. It was like riding on ice. When it rains lightly, there is less grip compared to heavy rainfall, plus the asphalt temperature was only 15°C. The third row is not bad at all. It will certainly make my life easier in the race. With a dry track, I am rather certain that I can still battle for a top-ten finish, but in the wet, I don’t have the best feeling. In qualifying, I didn’t feel much support from the rear tyre in acceleration. I took a few risks on my flying lap, but it would be difficult to do that for the entire race distance.”


“Having to tackle conditions like today for the first time with a new bike is certainly not easy. In Q1, a lot of riders started on slicks, managing to do a flying lap in the few moments of dry track, whereas when I went out, it started raining again. My time with rain tyres wasn’t bad. In Q2 I would have been in seventh place, but unfortunately things went differently. In addition to the pain in my ankle, today I also had some stomach problems, but we are not giving up. We’ll keep giving it our best all the time.”

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Unstoppable Marquez back on pole in France, Lorenzo improves to eighth

Even a crash during Q2 couldn’t stop Marc Marquez from claiming his third pole position from five races, teammate Lorenzo taking a season-best eighth.

Wet and cold conditions, the track just 14°C and a brisk air temperature of 12°C, provided a gloomy welcome to the Le Mans circuit for Saturday’s running. Both Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo remained competitive, finishing second and seventh respectively.

Conditions remained equally treacherous in FP4, Marquez suffering a harmless fall at Turn 9 early in the session. The reigning World Champion went on to set the fastest time of the session, completely unphased by the off.

Rain returned to the 4.2 km long Le Mans circuit the same moment as pit lane opened for Q2. A second fall of the day, this time at Turn 6, after setting his fastest lap could not stop Marquez taking pole position for the French GP, his third pole from five races. Marquez’s 55th premier class pole draws him level with Valentino Rossi and just three behind Mick Doohan’s record 58 premier class poles.

Saturday in France presented Jorge Lorenzo with new conditions to learn on the Honda RC213V. Lorenzo and his Repsol Honda Team crew were able to adapt well, getting faster with each lap and claiming eighth place on the grid for Sunday’s race – his best grid position of the year. The result continues Lorenzo’s steady improvements over the course of the French GP.

Tomorrow’s 27-lap French Grand Prix will take place at 14:00 local time, the weather forecast remaining unpredictable. The race presents Honda with the first opportunity to seal their 300th premier class victory.

Marc Marquez

1ST 1’40.952

“Today was one of those days! The conditions meant you didn’t know if a slick or a wet tyre would be best with the light rain, it was really difficult. In Qualifying we knew we had to push on the first lap when there was the least water on track. Then with more water on track it got more difficult. I’m happy with this pole because it was a day where you could easily start from the back if you weren’t careful. Now we see what the weather does tomorrow!”

Jorge Lorenzo

8TH 1’42.067

“Very tricky conditions, especially in Qualifying today. There was one sector where it was full wet with no grip and then the others were almost dry – it was tough to stay on the bike. We could have made the front two rows I think but I chose to use the soft tyre first and the medium second, with the medium first I think we could have achieved more. But we have achieved our best position of the year, that’s the positive.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:


Takaaki Nakagami will start from the front of the third row at the French Grand Prix after securing his best-ever qualifying result on Saturday. Wet weather at Le Mans made life difficult for the MotoGP field, but the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider showed skill and composure to take seventh position in Q2 and give himself every chance of challenging in Sunday’s race.

The damp conditions in France ensured Nakagami was rewarded for his efforts on Friday, when he finished inside the top 10, as he progressed straight into Q2 with the riders unable to improve their times in FP3. Although he struggled in FP4 as well, Taka bounced back in Q2 and posted his career best grid result despite a late fall in the session.

Takaaki Nakagami – 7th

(1’42.059 – lap 3 of 6)

“Overall today, all sessions were quite tricky, especially FP4 and qualifying. I saw that Q1 was really tough, but also in Q2 it was really difficult to make the right tyre choice. Some people went for the slicks, but for us it was too risky and we used two wet tyres. But even for us it was confusing, we went out with a medium rear but at the end changed to a soft and it was the wrong choice as I had a crash at the last moment. But it was ok, I’m really happy with the result, seventh is my personal best on the grid, so that’s good. Tomorrow it’s difficult to know about the track condition with the weather, if it’s like this then the first priority will be to finish the race. We have to think about improving the set-up of the bike and the grip, but I’m happy with the result.”

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Second row start for Morbidelli after tricky qualifying

The Italian rider gets through Q1 and will start from 6th on the grid at Le Mans. Fabio Quartararo will begin his home race from 10th place.



PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo overcame difficult conditions at Le Mans to qualify in the top ten for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix. Morbidelli will start from sixth on the grid, having successfully made his way through Q1, while Fabio Quartararo will start from tenth at his home Grand Prix.

Both FP3 and Qualifying for were contested on a wet surface this Saturday, and the sessions were punctuated with numerous falls on track. The conditions meant that there was no change in the qualifiers for Q2 on Saturday, but the MotoGP riders used the FP3 session to test their wet set-ups and tyres comprehensively. It was Quartararo’s first time in such conditions in the premier class. He had already secured a spot in Q2 and finished 13th in FP3 with a 1min 44.197secs lap.

Morbidelli, who would have to go through Q1 for the first time this season, led the third practice session briefly and finished 16th thanks to a 1min 44.403secs time.

In Q1, Morbidelli set the second fastest time of the session with wet tyres. The Italian’s 1min 39.262secs earned him a place in Q2. In that second qualifying session, Franco set a best time of 1min 41.681secs, to secure him a spot on the second row for tomorrow’s race. The Italian rode with wet front and rear tyres for the entire Q2 session. Team-mate Quartararo started out with slicks for Q2, but reverted to wet tyres during the runout. He claimed 10th thanks to his 1min 42.509secs lap.

The 27-lap MotoGP race will start tomorrow at 2pm local time.

#21 Franco Morbidelli

“Q1 went well. I set a good lap time with the wet tyre and I felt good. Later on, I saw that Rossi was fastest and was on slicks, so a lot of riders went in to change tyres -just as it started to rain again. We went back to the pits and we waited to see what the other riders were doing. Finally we were able to break into Q2. I didn’t have a new tyre for that session, so I did what I could. Our performance was good, since I managed to set a 1min 41.6secs and reached sixth. I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow, so we’ll see. I’ve been somewhat faster in the wet than in the dry, but I also have faith that we can improve on the pace we showed on Friday in dry conditions.”

#20 Fabio Quartararo

“I’m a little frustrated with how Q2 went, but we had to try going out with slicks. It wasn’t the right decision, but the important thing is that we were able to improve our time with the wet tyres. My first lap was the best, but it started to rain more and more. We tried many things to get our fastest time as soon as possible, but the lap never came. In the end my time wasn’t so bad, considering the conditions. The bike feels good even if the grid position doesn’t look as good as I wanted. We are ready for the race tomorrow; in FP3 we worked hard to get a good race pace with the wet tyres, so I am positive for tomorrow whether it is wet or dry.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:


Cal Crutchlow endured a day to forget at Le Mans as he qualified in 15th position for Sunday’s French Grand Prix. Mixed weather meant qualifying for the fifth round of the world championship was complicated for the MotoGP class, with riders struggling to adapt to the changing conditions at the historic French circuit.

Crutchlow paid the price for missing out on a top 10 position on Friday as, with riders unable to improve their times in FP3, he was forced to compete in Q1. Although he had demonstrated his pace by going sixth fastest in FP4, the Briton could not find the tyre selection he needed during a hectic qualifying session and ended down in fifth position, meaning he will start tomorrow’s race from the fifth row of the grid.

Cal Crutchlow – 15th

(1’40.114 – lap 8 of 8)

“The mistake was yesterday, I crashed in FP2 and had to go into Q1 and then didn’t make it through to Q2. Obviously I’m disappointed, it’s a bad day. I was actually pleased with my lap at the end, it was just too wet. It’s easy to say go out on slicks at the start of the session, but I felt I could go quicker with the medium rain tyres than with the slicks. I went out with a soft rear, thinking that if I then came in I could change to a medium and go faster, but then when I came in Valentino was on the slicks and putting red sectors everywhere, so I took the slick when I should have taken the medium and I would have been able to go fast. It was too late for slicks when I went back out and it was impossible to generate any heat. It’s a bad day, I’ve qualified 15th, but my race pace isn’t 15th that’s for sure. I’m not too optimistic in these wet conditions, I would prefer a dry race and then I have the pace.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

#FrenchGP Quali. Miller Thriller: splendid front row start! Pecco one step away from the Q2

Jack Miller celebrates in the Parc Fermé the second front row start of the season after a crazy qualifying due to the weather conditions. Pecco pushes hard in Q1 but an unlucky choice doesn’t allow him to go to Q2.

FP3 (Practice Conditions: Wet – Air 15° – Ground 26°)

P3 Jack Miller (1’42.951, + 0.453 from P1)

Jack is incisive on the wet track and is immediately the fastest with the soft rubber at the rear. In the second part of the session, he returns to the track with the medium tyre and the results are excellent.

P17 Francesco Bagnaia (1’44.989, +1.123 from Top 10, +2.491 from P1)

A very important session for Pecco who, for the first time, can ride consistently in MotoGP on a wet track. The times are not indicative. The most important thing is the 19 laps completed with a good progression.

FP4 (Practice Conditions: Mixed – Air 14° – Ground 15°)

The track conditions are particularly insidious with some sectors completely dry and the second sector still wet. Pecco did a few laps without taking risks. Jack preferred not to go out.

Q1 (Practice Conditions: Mixed – Air 14° – Ground 16°)

P3 Francesco Bagnaia (1’39.982, + 2.315 from P1)

Pecco goes back to the pits with 3 red helmets to put on slicks tires. Unfortunately, however, the rain fell again not allowing him to improve to get the qualification for Q2.

Q2 (Practice Conditions: Mixed – Air 15° – Ground 17°)

P3 Jack Miller (1’41.366, + 0.414 from Pole Position)

A pyrotechnic qualification characterized by many crashes. Jack sets his best time on the first lap on the wet track. He returns to the track for the second time attack pushing to the maximum but crashes, however, conquering a great front row.

P13 – Pecco Bagnaia

“There was a misunderstanding when I got back to the garage after the second run. We could have fought better to get the Q2 that was within our reach. It’s a mistake we need to experience. I am very happy with the feeling with the bike in wet conditions. Tomorrow we can have a good race”.

P3 – Jack Miller

“I’m happy with the way things went today. The feeling with the bike is very good and we are doing a great job. I’m just sorry with the team about the crash in Q2 but I was pushing hard. We are fast and I am sure I am competitive in all conditions”.

More, from a press release issued by Mission Winnow Ducati:

French GP: splendid first row for Petrucci, 2nd in Qualifying at Le Mans. Dovizioso 4th on the grid

The Ducati Team put up a strong performance in the qualifying session of the French GP, held in particularly difficult conditions due to the intermittent rain that hit Le Mans since early morning. Danilo Petrucci qualified in first row for the first time in 2019, posting the second-best time with a 1:41.312, while Andrea Dovizioso secured second row in fourth position after clocking a personal best of 1:41.552.

Both Ducati factory riders gained direct access to Q2 thanks to the lap times posted yesterday in dry conditions. Petrucci, after showing promise during FP4, confirmed its competitiveness on the French track, where he finished second in 2018, posting his fastest lap at his second attempt. About two tenths of a second behind his teammate, Dovizioso was, on the other hand, one of the few riders capable of improving his lap times in the second and last stint despite progressively worse track conditions.

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1:41.312 (2nd)

“I’m very happy because we finally managed to show our potential also in qualifying and tomorrow we’ll start from a good position on the grid. Together with my team, we adopted what turned out to be a good strategy, pushing hard early on in the session with a medium rear tyre, since track conditions became progressively worse as the time passed. At any rate, it wasn’t easy to do a quick lap time: the rain wasn’t intense enough for the tyres to work perfectly, so it was particularly difficult to find the limit in terms of grip, as the many crashes seem to show. Today we did a good job, but the race is tomorrow so we need to stay 100 percent focused.”

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1:41.552 (4th)

“I’m quite happy with fourth position on the grid because, given the conditions out there today, it was easier to make mistakes than to be fast. It was really difficult to find the right feeling on the bike, especially in the second part of the session. We bet our chips on that, and we were able to improve our lap time, but unfortunately the track was faster in the opening minutes. We couldn’t do many laps in properly wet conditions, so we still have a few question marks regarding tomorrow, but I hope to have a dry track since the morning warm-up session in order to be able to work on some details that could make a big difference during the race. There are many riders with a strong, similar pace so anything can happen tomorrow, but for sure we have the potential to be competitive.”

The Ducati Team will resume action tomorrow, May 19th, at 09:40 for a warm-up session ahead of the race, which is scheduled to start at 14:00 local time (CET).

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:


Joan Mir: 18th – 1:40.606

Alex Rins: 19th – 1:40.706

• Joan Mir has first experience of GSX-RR in the wet.

•Alex Rins forced to fight against tightly packed field.

•Team prepare for hard race day with 18th and 19th grid spots.

The classic Le Mans circuit brought its typical unsettled conditions for Day 2, making for a difficult day of track sessions for the entire field. Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s riders were keen to build a good rhythm ahead of race day but found themselves down the order as Saturday drew to a close.

Rookie Joan Mir had his first taste of wet conditions on board his GSX-RR, getting to grips and gaining experience. He suffered a small crash without consequences during FP3. Meanwhile, Alex Rins placed himself in 4th at the flag. The FP4 session required the riders to be tentative as chilly track temperatures dominated the half-hour stint, Rins completed this session in 5th, while Mir was 17th.

A tumultuous Q1 session put pressure on all the riders participating, with tough decisions being made between wet and dry tyres. Rins and Mir began the session on wets, before switching to slicks. A cautious approach was necessary on track to avoid mistakes. Alex aimed to at least put himself up a few spots, but in the end he was 9th in the Q1 session, 19th on the grid. Joan was one spot ahead, 8th in the session and 18th on the grid.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“Unfortunately, Q1 didn’t go as we were hoping. The track was very mixed, and we saw that it was a case of being out at the right time with the right tyres. We missed being out at the optimum time. Anyway, we’re looking forward to tomorrow, whatever the conditions. We’ll put in a lot of effort and try to collect as many points as possible. It will be a difficult race, but that’s the game!”

Joan Mir

“It’s been a tricky day. I felt really good and comfortable in FP3, despite it being my first time in the wet. In Q1 I was on slicks at the wrong time, and by the time I changed the tyres the conditions changed too. It was really hard to put together a strategy, but nevertheless I feel that my pace is quite good. I would prefer tomorrow to be dry; I think I could make a great comeback.”

Alex Rins

“We had a bit of a problem during qualifying, and it was difficult to have a strategy. I started on wets, then I changed to slicks, but it started to rain more, and it was too risky to push. The session is short, and the time ran out. I’m starting near the back, but I’ll try to overtake as many riders as possible. I feel calm and good with either conditions; and let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:


Le Mans (France), 18th May 2019



Tricky qualifying conditions at the Le Mans – Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit resulted in Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Valentino Rossi turning his French GP Day 1 misfortunes around and secure 5th on the grid for tomorrow‘s race, despite having to come through Q1. Maverick Viñales had shown competitive speed throughout the weekend but was unable get in the hot lap he aimed for in Q2 and ended in 11th place.

5th VALENTINO ROSSI 1’41.655 / 8 LAPS

11th MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’42.555 / 8 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi delivered a masterstroke today during qualifying at the Le Mans – Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. He gambled on slicks in a damp Q1 session and went on to secure 5th place in Q2. Maverick Viñales had a less fortunate second day at the Grand Prix de France. His initial tyre choice didn’t work for him in the Q2 shoot-out and he qualified in 11th place.

Faced with damp conditions in FP3, Rossi found himself on the entry list for Q1. As the drizzle continued throughout the afternoon, the Italian made the bold decision at the end of FP4 to head out on slicks at the start of Q1 – the only rider to do so. With the track temperature between 15-17?, his first lap put him in 11th place, but it was all part of the plan. His next attempt put him in first place with a 1‘39.074s, and he was only getting faster.

With the tyres up to temperature he dropped a 1‘37.667s, giving him a 1.595s lead over his closest rival, whilst his opponents were in the box to change to slick tyres. His time remained unthreatened for the remainder of the session and saw him through to Q2.

The Doctor stuck to the same strategy in the second 15-minute shoot-out, but this time the gamble didn‘t pay off. He quickly switched to wets and set the provisional eighth fastest time on his first try. He gained another place on his next lap and kept firing in personal best sectors. Despite the rain intensifying, he moved up to fifth with a 1.41.655s, 0.703s from first. His hard work today earns him a place in the middle of the second row.

Viñales had watched his team-mate‘s performance in Q1 and decided to also opt for the slick tyres at the start of Q2. He had let everyone leave pit lane ahead of him in order to have clear space on track, but with the rain becoming heavier, he had to return to the garage immediately to change to wet tyres.

With a little less than eleven minutes to go, he was back out to set his first flyer, that moved him up to ninth position. However, with the pace increasing he was pushed down to tenth place. He improved his time on his fourth lap to 1‘42.555s, but it kept him in eleventh place, 1.603s from first. The Spaniard will start tomorrow‘s race from the fourth row.



“Again, we have mixed emotions in our pit box. Valentino was in a difficult situation this morning, because the FP3 was wet, so he had to go through Q1. The conditions were constantly changing, but it was never fully dry or fully wet, so making the right decision between slicks and wets was really key. The gamble to use slicks at the start of Q1 really paid off for Vale, but when we tried the same strategy in Q2, we were unlucky that it started raining harder again. Vale lost some time, having to come back in for wet tyres, but he still managed to secure a place on the second row, which, considering the situation this morning, is a positive outcome. The heavier rain in Q2 was also disappointing for Maverick, who, like Vale, attempted to start his first run on slicks. Mack has been fast all weekend, but his Q2 strategy didn’t work out for him, which is a shame, because P11 doesn‘t reflect his level of competitiveness. He will have to start the race from the fourth row, which is a big challenge, but his race pace is quite strong, so we know he can fight his way up the order. Tonight, we will gather the data for the wet and prepare some setting updates, but it depends on the weather whether we will be able to test them in tomorrow’s Warm Up. Either way, we keep our fingers crossed for either a completely wet or a completely dry race.”


“I‘m very happy, because this morning I was out of the Q2 and we needed to find something to improve our starting position. We took a gamble in Q1 and put in the slicks, and that was the right choice. It was a risk, but it paid off, because there wasn‘t too much water on track and I was able to get through to Q2, which was very important. Also in Q2, with the wet tyres in the wet, I was quite competitive. I‘m fifth, but I also have a good pace in case we have a wet race tomorrow. In the dry I wasn‘t very strong yesterday. We have to try some setting modifications, but today we didn‘t have time for that, so we have to wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow.”


“The strategy didn‘t quite go to plan. We decided to give the slick tyres a chance at the start of Q2, but it started to rain more. We lost two or three laps at the moment the track was in the best condition to set a fast time. Anyway, I think we are doing well this weekend. We are trying to improve ourselves, and in the wet we improved a lot. In the dry I always felt great, so it‘s a good track for us. It‘s true that I have to start the race from 11th, but we‘re going to do our best to be on the podium. We have confidence, because I understand how to ride the bike and how to be faster. The bike, right now, is on a good level. We still have to improve in some areas, but it‘s coming. Nothing is impossible, so we are going to push tomorrow, give our best, and see what we can achieve. We‘ll try to be strong tomorrow, especially in the first half of the race, because it‘s going to be very important to overtake.”

More, from a press release issued by Red Bull KTM:

MotoGP 2019 – Round 5, Le Mans (FRA)
Red Bull KTM have showed promising speed in the first two days of the Grand Prix of France and Pol Espargaro was able to enter Q2 directly, eventually taking 12th position in difficult mixed conditions at Le Mans. Johann Zarco was also competitive and will sit 14th on the grid for his home event and for what is round five of nineteen in 2019.
For the last twenty years the Bugatti section of the famous Le Mans circuit has hosted the French stop of MotoGP. The fifth round of the 2019 calendar took place on the layout that was resurfaced in 2016 and is renowned for heavy braking zones and tight, relentless corners. Red Bull KTM came to Le Mans in the wake of a private test at the venue three weeks previously and after two days of more work at Jerez.

Espargaro made the most of new upgrades to the KTM RC16 to set lap-times throughout Free Practice 1 and 2 to vie for positions on the first two rows of the provisional grid. Johann Zarco eagerly approached his home Grand Prix and was also impressive in Free Practice. Friday was chilly but sunny and Pol’s lap to sit 7th quickest (and just half a second from the top time) was enough to enter directly to Q2, particularly when the weather turned and Saturday was dark and showery.

Riders were surprisingly able to use slick Michelins through Q1 and as Le Mans started to develop a dry line. Zarco was less than a second from grabbing the last slot to make the Q1 cut but still posted his best Qualification of the year in 14th. The rain then fell for Q2 and Espargaro was caught out at Turn 6 where he slipped off and could not post a significant lap.

Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira was edging towards the top of Q1 when the Portuguese could not generate sufficient heat in his rear slick and crashed. Saturday represented #88’s first wet outing in MotoGP and he will set-off from 16th tomorrow. Hafizh Syahrin was 21st.

Pol Espargaro: “This morning we made some changes on the bike that I really liked and in FP4 I was fast over one lap. We had a few problems in the end but that first lap out of the box was really fast. I had good feelings for the Quali, but Le Mans is complicated! Things change very quickly with the weather. It was much more slippery and it was hard to find a good feeling. I stopped to fit a softer rear tyre to find more grip and in the end, nothing. On the first lap I crashed. I don’t understand [why] that well because I was 7ks slower and not leaning more or pushing more on the brakes. In the dry we have top ten pace but if it is wet we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

Johann Zarco: “My best qualifying so far but I was disappointed after Q1 because we missed the strategy with the tyres. I left the box with the slick and it was too late to do something. It was a shame. There were conditions where I felt good I think we could have played for Pole Position today. To miss the Q2 I was on-fire inside! But, positive for tomorrow, I think in mixed conditions we have the chance to do a good race. It is also the first time since I have been on the KTM that I can feel some strong points on the bike. Don’t forget the target is to be at the top and when we have a day when something is possible then you must trust and remember this target.”

Miguel Oliveira: “My first experience in the wet was quite positive. This morning I felt good, my speed was OK and I had a decent feeling going into the Qualifying. The weather was quite strange, we didn’t know what to use. After doing two laps, I decided to risk using the slick tyre and I could not heat up the tyre at all and suffered a crash. It’s a shame because I think with the wet tyres I could have been a bit faster. I don’t know if it would have been enough to go to Q2, but for sure to be one row in front. But overall, it’s an OK day.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “The conditions have been tricky today but I felt better step by step in the wet and also built some confidence with the wet tyre. I hope that we can make another step tomorrow and then enjoy the race.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Brad Binder set the fastest Free Practice lap-time to head straight into the Moto2 Q2 with his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine. The South African then placed 8th in the wet, five slots ahead of his teammate Jorge Martin in 13th. In Moto3 Raul Fernandez of the Sama Qatar Angel Nieto team took his KTM RS250GP to the eighth fastest time but was later hit by a penalty that shifts the Spaniard to the seventh row of the grid. Andrea Migno will start from 8th place.

Races: May 19, 2019 – Moto3 11.00 | Moto2 12.20 | MotoGP 14.00 CET

Results Qualifying MotoGP Le Mans 2019

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 1:40.952
2. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati +0.360
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +0.414
4. Andrea Dovizoso (ITA), Ducati +0.600
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha + 0.703
12. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM NA
14. Johann Zarco (FRA), Red Bull KTM 1:40.029 (Q1)
16. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:40.385 (Q1)
21. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:41.717 (Q1)

Results Qualifying Moto2 Le Mans 2019

1. Jorge Navarro (ESP) Speed Up 1:49.055
2. Thomas Luthi (SUI) Kalex +0.078
3. Alex Marquez (ESP) Kalex +0.530
8. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.872
13. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.987

Results Qualifying Moto3 Le Mans 2019

1. John McPhee (GBR) Honda 1:42.277
2. Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda +0.190
3. Ai Ogura (JPN) Honda +0.238
27. Can Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo 1:45.796

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