MotoGP: Miller Heads FP2 (Updated)

MotoGP: Miller Heads FP2 (Updated)

© 2020, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

MotoGP FP2

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Miller takes the reins on a tricky Day 1 at Le Mans 

The Australian tops Friday in France by a tenth and a half ahead of Viñales, with Quartararo, Dovizioso and Rossi outside the top ten on Day 1

Friday, 09 October 2020

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.

FP1

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.

FP2

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.

How will FP3 change the game? The final session to decide the direct entrants to Q2 begins at 09:55 local time (GMT+2). Will it be dry? Can the field improve their times? Quartararo, Rossi, Rins and Dovizioso will all have their eyes on the sky on Saturday morning, before qualifying then starts at 14:10 and the grid for the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France gets decided.

MotoGP™: the five fastest on Friday

1 Jack Miller* – Pramac Racing – Ducati Team – 1:34.356

2 Maverick Viñales – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP – Yamaha – +0.144

3 Takaaki Nakagami* – LCR Honda Idemitsu – Honda – +0.501

4 Danilo Petrucci – Ducati Team – Ducati – +0.698

5 Cal Crutchlow* – LCR Honda Castrol – Honda – +0.795

*Independent Team rider
Dixon tops Day 1, Marini suffers monster highside

The Brit pips Jorge Martin by just 0.049 in mixed conditions as Championship leader Luca Marini suffers a huge highside in France

 

Jake Dixon (96). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jake Dixon (96). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

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.

FP1

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.

FP2

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…

See how that very FP3 shuffles the entrants to Q2 at 10:55 (GMT +2), before qualifying for Moto2™ begins at 15:10!

Moto2™: the five fastest on Friday

1 Jake Dixon – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Kalex – 1:37.713

2 Jorge Martin – Red Bull KTM Ajo – Kalex – +0.049

3 Marco Bezzecchi – Sky Racing Team VR46 – Kalex +0.304

4 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex – +0.442

5 Augusto Fernandez – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex – +0.472
Salač denies Fenati to top mixed Friday in France

The Czech rider strikes late to take over at the top by just 0.039 as a wet morning gives way to a dry and busy FP2

 

Filip Salac (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Filip Salac (12). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

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

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).

FP2

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…

Tune in for FP3 at 9:00 (GMT +2) to see if the pack shuffles, before qualifying begins from 12:35.

Moto3™: the five fastest on Friday

1 Filip Salač – Rivacold Snipers Team – Honda 1:44.820

2 Romano Fenati – Sterilgarda Max Racing Team – Husqvarna +0.039

3 John McPhee – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda +0.525

4 Jaume Masia – Leopard Racing – Honda +0.616

5 Andrea Migno – Sky Racing Team VR46 – KTM +0.991

 

 

 

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

Tricky opening day on home soil for Red Bull KTM Tech3
During today’s Free practice sessions, the weather played a major role for Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona. While FP1 this morning took place in wet conditions, the Le Mans circuit was drying out in the course of FP2, which made the lap times tumble quite significantly for the entire MotoGP field.

Oliveira was well in the mix, concluding the difficult opening day in 14th overall after adapting to the respective conditions. Yet, Lecuona showed a strong pace in the opening stages of the second practice and eventually ended up just 0.353 seconds behind his teammate in 16th. Both Red Bull KTM Tech3 riders aim to improve in FP3 tomorrow morning at 9.55 local time in order to make the jump to Q2.

 

Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Miguel Oliveira (88). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Miguel Oliveira
 

Position: 14th

Time: 1:35.837

Laps: 30

“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.”

 

Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.
Iker Lecuona (27). Photo courtesy Red Bull KTM Tech3.

 

Iker Lecuona
 

Position: 16th

Time: 1:36.190

Laps: 38

“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.”

 

 

 

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

THE LE MANS MOTOGP WEEKEND BEGINS UNDER THE SIGN OF THE WEATHER

In what, if the forecast is accurate, should have been the worst day of the weekend weather-wise, the riders had no small difficulties adapting to the treacherous French asphalt of Le Mans.

In the morning session, on a completely wet track, Bradley Smith finished at the top of the list, showing incredible feeling astride his Aprilia RS-GP. The afternoon was a different story, with the asphalt drying out, but still maintaining a low level of grip. Both Bradley and Aleix paid the price for it, crashing in FP2, fortunately without suffering any major consequences.

 

Aleix Espargaro (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia Gresini Racing.
Aleix Espargaro (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia Gresini Racing.

 

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“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.”

 

Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia Gresini Racing.
Bradley Smith (38). Photo courtesy Aprilia Gresini Racing.

 

BRADLEY SMITH

“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.”

 

 

 

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

POSITIVE FEELINGS ON FRENCH GP FRIDAY FOR MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP DUO

Le Mans (France), 9th October 2020

GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE

FREE PRACTICE

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team weren‘t fazed by today‘s mixed conditions in the Grand Prix de France free practices. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi adapted smoothly from the morning‘s full wet session to a drying Le Mans track in the afternoon. Viñales secured second place in the combined Friday FP results. Rossi was unlucky to have his fastest lap cancelled. He holds 12th place.

2nd MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’34.500 (FP2) / 21 + 15 LAPS

12th VALENTINO ROSSI 1’35.767 (FP2) / 21 + 22 LAPS

The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team were quick to adapt to the cold and mixed conditions at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit as they used today‘s free practice sessions to prepare for Sunday’s Grand Prix de France. Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi continued the positive momentum gained in FP1 in this afternoon‘s FP2, but with mixed outcomes. Viñales‘ final push earned him 2nd place in the combined timesheets. Rossi was set to take fifth place in the rankings, but his best lap was later cancelled under the 2020 yellow flag rule, dropping him back to 12th position.

Already thinking ahead to tomorrow‘s qualifying, Viñales wanted to optimise his chances for a place in Q2 and aimed to make full use of the drier FP2 after this morning‘s wet FP1. He was determined to obtain a top-10 result, especially since the temperature in FP3 is expected to be colder. The Spaniard spent most of the session tweaking his bike‘s settings to make them suit the mixed track conditions before putting them to the test in the final stages. He wrapped up his outing with a 1‘34.500s, set on lap 15/15. The time earned him second place in both the FP2 and the combined free practice rankings, 0.144s from first.

Rossi started FP2 on slick tyres, but he soon had to return to the box as the track wasn‘t quite dry enough. He then completed a few laps on wet tyres waiting for the right moment to return to the slicks. Meanwhile, he continued to perfect the set-up of his YZR-M1, all the while featuring inside the top 10. In the last minutes of the session he gave an extra push. His best time of 1’35.012s, set on lap 22/22, originally put him in fifth place. However, the lap was later cancelled due to the 2020 yellow flag rule. His next best time, a 1‘35.767s, put him in 12th place in the FP2 and combined timesheets, 1.411s off today‘s fastest time.

 

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

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.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

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.

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

VALENTINO ROSSI

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.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Alex Marquez quickly up to speed in damp Le Mans

A wet morning and drying afternoon presented ever-changing conditions for the Repsol Honda Team, Alex Marquez quickly adapting and posting competitive times with Stefan Bradl.

It was a cold and wet start to the day in Le Mans, France as overnight and early morning rain left the circuit wet. With very limited running on a drying track in Austria earlier in the year, many riders made the most of the wet time.

With a record of being strong in the rain in the smaller classes, Alex Marquez continued the trend as he quickly adapted to riding the RC213V in the wet. Focusing on longer runs during the morning, the MotoGP rookie made constant progress and challenged for a spot in the top ten throughout the session. Free Practice 2 gave Alex a chance to tackle the Le Mans circuit with slicks as a dry line eventually appeared. His pace from the morning remained and a 1’35.337 on his final flying lap saw the MotoGP rookie finish in sixth overall. Not only finishing as the top rookie and ahead of a number of championship contenders, Alex also holds a provisional spot in Q2.

Stefan Bradl arrived in France after two days of busy testing in Portugal. With morning conditions as they were, Bradl and his side of the Repsol Honda Team watched on from inside the box. With conditions improving for FP2, Bradl joined the action and was up to speed straight away. His knowledge of the RC213V allowed him and the Repsol Honda Team to quickly adjust the setup of the bike for the conditions. Bradl heads into Saturday with a best time of 1’36.478 and as the 17th fastest rider overall.

Takaaki Nakagami in third and Cal Crutchlow in fifth made it three Honda machines in the top six.

Weather looks set to once again dictate tomorrow’s action, the MotoGP class first out on circuit at 09:55 for a potentially frantic FP3 session should it be dry as predicted.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Alex Marquez

6TH  1’35.337

“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.”

 

Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Stefan Bradl

17TH  1’36.478

“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.”

 

 

 

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

SUZUKI RIDERS STAY CALM ON FREEZING FRIDAY AT LE MANS

Combined practice times:

Joan Mir: 9th – 1’35.385 (+ 1.052)

Alex Rins: 14th – 1’35.838 (+ 1.482)

As predicted, the opening day of action at Le Mans circuit in France was dominated by damp and chilly weather, and for Team Suzuki Ecstar caution was the order of the day.

With conditions remaining unpredictable for the rest of the race weekend, Joan Mir and Alex Rins wasted no time in getting out on track in FP1. The pair showed promising signs of feeling comfortable on the French track, despite having to venture out on wet tyres and take a steady approach.

Rins spent the majority of FP1 in the Top 3 positions, putting in runs of strong laps and getting to grips with the tight and twisty track. He closed the morning’s action in 12th place. Meanwhile, Mir finished just behind his team-mate in 13th.

The FP2 session was expected to see vast improvements in lap times but a short shower before the green light presented the riders with a challenging afternoon and high attrition. Rins and Mir were once again quick to head out on track, taking time to build up pace and work on settings. Mir ended the day ninth on combined. While Rins was 14th on combined.

Davide Brivio – 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.”

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Joan Mir:

“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.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR:
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki ECSTAR.

 

Alex Rins:

“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.”

 

 

 

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

Risk-free strategy for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT in French GP opening day

Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo end Friday practice at Le Mans seventh and 11th

With six races in seven weeks and mixed conditions at Le Mans, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s two MotoGP riders Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo chose to take no risks during Friday practice. The pair ended the opening day of the Grand Prix de France seventh and 11th respectively.

Morbidelli immediately placed himself in the top-ten at the start of FP1, before taking some time to assess the conditions. The Italian was momentarily at the top of the timings, when he started his time-attack runs, but ended the session seventh with a 1min 44.441secs lap. The afternoon session saw Franco improve in the drying conditions, to finish the session, and combined timings, seventh with a 1min 35.369secs lap.

With the weather forecast due to improve, Quartararo chose to take no risks in the wet FP1 conditions. At the end of the session, his best lap of 1min 46.494secs placed him 18th. The Frenchman continued to play it safe in FP2, knowing that the risks potentially outweighed the rewards, and set a best time of 1min 35.489secs. This placed him 11th in the session and overall.

FP3 gets underway tomorrow at 9.55am local time (3.55pm MYT) for the MotoGP duo, with qualifying due to start at 2.10pm local time (8.10pm MYT).

 

Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Franco Morbidelli

7th (1’35.369)

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.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy PETRONAS Yamaha SRT.

 

Fabio Quartararo

11th (1’35.489)

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.

 

 

 

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

POSITIVE FIRST DAY FOR CRUTCHLOW AT RAINY LE MANS

There were encouraging signs for Cal Crutchlow as free practice for the French Grand Prix got underway at a sodden Le Mans on Friday. While rain and a damp track made life difficult for the premier class, the LCR Honda CASTROL rider equipped himself well in both sessions and finished the day fifth in the overall standings.

With heavy rain falling in FP1, wet tyres were the order of the day and Crutchlow performed well to push into the top 10 in ninth spot. The afternoon session took place on a drying track with riders able to post much quicker times and Crutchlow was top of the pile with just five minutes remaining. Having initially finished seventh, the Briton was later promoted to fifth and is well-placed ahead of a crucial FP3 on Saturday morning.

 

Cal Crutchlow (35). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Cal Crutchlow (35). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Cal Crutchlow – 5th

(1’35.141)

“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.”

 

 

 

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

TAKA GOES THIRD FASTEST AS ACTION STARTS IN FRANCE

Takaaki Nakagami laid down a marker ahead of the Sunday’s French Grand Prix as he finished in third position after the opening day of free practice at Le Mans. With forecast rain complicating matters as expected, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider still managed to demonstrate his class with a strong showing in FP2 to signal he will again be amongst the frontrunners this weekend.

Nakagami took things cautiously on a sodden track in FP1 as he ended in 17th place. However, he was on the pace throughout on a drying/damp surface in FP2 and was leading the field with under 10 minutes remaining. Although he was knocked down the order, he improved again to ensure third overall, before a fall brought his session to a premature end.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 3rd

(1’34.857)

“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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Racing:

GOOD START FOR ESPONSORAMA RACING AT THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX

 

Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Racing.
Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Esponsorama Racing.

 

Esponsorama Racing has made a good start at the Bugatti Circuit despite the difficult weather conditions.

During the first free practice the track was completely wet, which has allowed both Tito Rabat and Johann Zarco to continue learning how the bike behaves in wet situations. Zarco finished the session in second position with a time of 1’43.958, and on the other hand, Rabat finished twenty-first.

In the afternoon session, the track dried out and the times improved. Zarco had a small technical problem that forced him to go through the pits and lose a few minutes, even so he finished the day in tenth position. Rabat, despite having lowered his time in the morning has not been able to climb positions in the combined times table.

Tomorrow will take place the last free practice session and the qualifying sessions where the Esponsorama Racing riders will fight to get the best possible starting position.

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.”

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.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

Petrucci ends fourth at the end of Friday’s free practice of the French GP at Le Mans. Dovizioso suffers a small crash in FP2 and closes 19th

Danilo Petrucci finished fourth overall on Day 1 of free practice of the MotoGP Grand Prix de France, scheduled for this weekend at Le Mans.

Andrea Dovizioso, who suffered a crash in the afternoon, closed Friday with the 19th time overall, after completing only seven laps in FP2.

Jack Miller closes on top the first two free practice sessions with the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike of the Pramac Racing Team.

At the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans, the Ducati Team completed Day 1 of free practices for the French GP, the ninth round of the 2020 MotoGP World Championship. After a first wet run this morning, the MotoGP riders had to face mixed track conditions in the afternoon session. Although a few raindrops started to fall again before FP2, the asphalt had started to progressively dry up, delaying the exit of the riders on track, who were waiting to understand the intentions of the uncertain weather.

After finishing FP1 in third place on the wet, Danilo Petrucci finally returned to the track in the afternoon mounting slick tyres on his Ducati Desmosedici GP bike and managing to find immediately good sensations even with the mixed conditions of the track surface. The rider from Terni managed to improve his morning lap time in FP2, closing in 1:35.054 and getting the fourth overall position at the end of the day.

Fifth after the first free practice session in the rain, Andrea Dovizioso managed to complete only a few laps with the slick tyres in the afternoon. The rider from Forlì closed FP2 with the 19th time overall in 1:38.726, as he fell victim to a small slide that fortunately left him with no physical consequences.

 

Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1:35.054 (4th)

“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.”

 

Andrea Dovizioso (04). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Andrea Dovizioso (04). Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1:38.726 (19th)

“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.”

Tomorrow morning, at 9:55 AM (GMT +2.00) the Ducati Team riders will be back on track for the third session of free practice, before heading into the official qualifying of the French GP starting from 2:10 PM local time, at the end of FP4.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

French GP – Jack did an amazing performance P1, positive day for Pecco P15

 

Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

The FrenchGP in Le Mans started in a very good way for Pramac Racing. A very impressive performance for Jack Miller who takes the lead, good job also for Francesco Bagnaia who despite his 15th place at the end of the first day he felt good feeling while he rode with a strange conditions due to the weather. Jack after a good start during FP1 he finished 4th with wet asphalt. During FP2 the Australian rider managed at his best all his qualities with a track that was drying. First time for Pecco with this track conditions because he never ride a MotoGP with wet asphalt and he finished the FP1 in 11th place very close to the Top10. During FP2 Pecco focused to do many laps as possible to adapt himself to the situation, he finished in 15th place ( best time 1:36.012) after he completed 20 consecutive laps.

Pecco Bagnaia

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.

Jack Miller

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.

 

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