MotoGP: Quartararo Earns Pole Position (Updated)

MotoGP: Quartararo Earns Pole Position (Updated)

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

MotoGP Q2

MotoGP Q1

MotoGP Grid

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Magnifique! Quartararo can’t be stopped on home turf

The Frenchman beats Miller to pole at Le Mans, with Petrucci completing the front row and Mir left down in P14

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took a stunning home turf pole position on Saturday at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the Frenchman denying Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) by two tenths after a late lunge for the top. Miller impressed in second to make it an Independent Team rider 1-2, with fellow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) completing the front row as Borgo Panigale machinery shone in qualifying.

Before the final push to decide the top 12 positions on the grid got underway, however, Q1 made some headlines as both Team Suzuki Ecstar machines failed to move through. Joan Mir was left down in P14 on the grid and teammate Alex Rins two places further back, giving the Hamamatsu factory a mountain to climb on Sunday. Can Mir do the damage limitation with Quartararo starting from the front?

Moving through from Q1 instead were Petrucci, who set the fastest lap of the weekend up to that point, followed by Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) as the Italian pipped Mir to it. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) lost out too, with a few final laps chalked off after a late crash for Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) that brought out the Yellow Flags.

Q2 began with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) leading fellow Yamaha riders Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Quartararo over the line, and it was the Italian who set the first benchmark time – a 1:32.393. Bagnaia then went up to P2 with Viñales slotting into P3, but the times were going to change immediately, with red sectors everywhere. All four Yamahas were inside the top four with Quartararo launching to P1 with a 1:31.679, but Bagnaia then improved again to slot into P2 behind the home hero; 0.073 the gap after two flying laps.

Quartararo then improved again to extend his advantage to 0.087, with Morbidelli holding P3 for the time being as the riders completed their first runs. Viñales was P4 and was seemingly – like he did at Misano – on a two-stop qualifying strategy as Petrucci and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) joined Viñales on the provisional second row. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was sitting P10 with six minutes to go, meanwhile Bagnaia hadn’t pitted and after venting his frustrations at Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), although he was on another flyer before it went wrong at Turn 9…

Viñales was then pushing for a lap but it wasn’t happening for the Spaniard, with Dovizioso the man on the move instead as the Italian shot up to P2 to sit 0.082 off Quartararo. On the next lap, he was on it once more. Dovi was over a tenth under, but then lost some time in the last sector and didn’t improve…

It was all go in the final few seconds. Riding wounded Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) seemed to come out of nowhere to set an unbelievable 1:31.686 and take provisional P2, and just behind him on the road, Miller was also setting the world alight. The Aussie was 0.3 under at the third split and despite losing some time in the last sector, Miller demoted Quartararo to P2 and went to provisional pole position by 0.128. Alas for the Aussie, it wasn’t over yet…

There were red sector times across the board, the last push seemingly making it anyone’s game. Viñales improved but couldn’t find his way onto the front row and went to P4, and then Dovizioso was one of the riders who was going faster. Despite setting his personal best lap time, the Italian didn’t improve his position – but teammate Petrucci did. The latter shot up to P3 to beat Crutchlow’s time by just 0.012, and Miller was safe from another threat. But then a Frenchman caught everyone’s attention: Quartararo was determined to make it a home Grand Prix pole position and he was on course to absolutely smoke the competition; the number 20 two tenths under Miller’s time heading into the last sector. And the number 20 kept it pinned and tidy with no mistakes, taking the chequered flag to claim his ninth MotoGP™ pole position, ultimately by 0.222.

Nevertheless, Miller was happy to claim a front row start given his FP3 crash, and Petrucci’s wonderful Saturday afternoon sees the charismatic Italian start from the front row for the first time since the 2019 Italian GP – and we know what happened there. Crutchlow’s P4 was a true stunner given his physical condition, his right arm after surgery still giving him grief but the Brit taking his first top 10 qualifying result in 2020. He’s joined on the second row by Viñales in fifth; the Yamaha star ending Q2 0.4 seconds off Quartararo. He did, however, just edge out Dovizioso by 0.003. Still, P6 is Dovi’s best qualifying since his fourth in Austria.

After coming through Q1, Bagnaia claims P7 as both he and eighth place Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) also sit around 0.4 off pole position, again showing how tightly contested MotoGP™ really is in 2020. Frenchman Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) joins Bagnaia and Espargaro on Row 3, with two Yamahas left disappointed in Q2: Rossi and Morbidelli have work to do on Sunday afternoon after qualifying P10 and P11, and Oliveira was forced to settle too, in his case for P12. The Portuguese rider encountered plenty of troubles in FP4 with a mechanical problem and a crash, but the Styrian GP winner was just 0.694 from pole despite his position.

Quartararo takes full advantage of his main title rival Mir suffering on Saturday. Is a dream home Grand Prix victory going to come his way on Sunday? If it does, he’ll be the first ever French premier class winner at Le Mans. Only time will tell, but judging from FP4, it looks likely that he’s going to take some stopping! Tune in for the French GP on Sunday to see and remember, MotoGP™ kicks off at the earlier time of 13:00 local time (GMT+2).

MotoGP™ front row

1 Fabio Quartararo* – Petronas Yamaha SRT – Yamaha – 1:31.315

2 Jack Miller* – Pramac Racing – Ducati – +0.222

3 Danilo Petrucci – Ducati Team – Ducati – +0.359

*Independent Team riders

Fabio Quartararo: “It feels special because the conditions were really tricky and cold, time to warm up the front tyre but it’s been quite a long time since I was on pole, so I’m so happy because we worked in a real good way. Yesterday I was so confident, I was a bit far yesterday but I knew where we needed to improve, I took no risks and we took the risk when we needed to: today. So happy to exit from the front row we have two Ducatis on the front row so we might struggle a bit off the line, but I’m feeling confident and we have the pace to fight for the win tomorrow!”

Roberts becomes first American to take three poles in a season since 2005

The number 16 hits a milestone, with Lowes second and Gardner third on the grid in France

Not since 2005 has an American taken three poles in a single Grand Prix season, and back then it was the late, great Nicky Hayden doing the business in MotoGP™. Now it’s Joe Roberts in Moto2™, with the Tennor American Racing rider putting in a stunner at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France to take his third pole of the year, ahead of Sam Lowes (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team).

In Q1 there was plenty at stake with some big names looking to move through, and the man second in the Championship, Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team), got the job done to top the session ahead of Tom Lüthi (Liqui Moly Intact GP) – despite a crash for the Swiss veteran – Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) and Fabio Di Giannantonio (Termozeta Speed Up). Then it was time to decide the sharp end…

Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the early pacesetter and went P1, but disaster struck for the Spaniard at Turn 3 as he crashed out, rider ok but then left to watch from the sidelines. Would anyone overhaul his lap? There was still half the session left and more drama came swiftly as Jorge Navarro (Termozeta Speed Up) followed his compatriot into the gravel at the same corner, out of contention.

Back at the top, Martin’s lap was a solid one and it took a few minutes for anyone to depose him. When they did, it was Sam Lowes. The Brit shaved a tenth and a half off it and it was all going down to the final push – but Roberts was lighting up the timing screens on his final lap…

Over the line it was less than a tenth but the number 16 did it by 0.087, making a little history and setting himself up well for a crack at the win on Sunday. If Roberts does take victory, he’ll be the first American winner in the intermediate class since 1990! Lowes is forced to settle for second but was consistently quick once again, with Gardner putting in a late lunge to complete the front row – the Australian delighted with that as he continues to recover from injury and had a more turbulent weekend at Barcelona.

Martin was shuffled down to fourth, with Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46) in fifth and only half a tenth off his old Moto3™ sparring partner. Incredibly, despite his monster highside on Friday, Championship leader Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) starts sixth as he races on, looking at least to not lose too much ground at Le Mans.

Xavi Vierge (Petronas Sprinta Racing) just got the better of teammate Jake Dixon as they launch from seventh and eighth respectively, with Bastianini’s tougher weekend so far seeing him ultimately line up ninth. With Marini not so far ahead on the grid, however, we can guess the ‘Beast”s Sunday target…

Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) took his best grid position of the year as he completed the top ten, ahead of Di Giannantonio and Canet, with Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing) in P13. Lüthi will start P14, ahead of Augusto Fernandez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

It’s set to be an intriguing French GP on Sunday – so don’t miss it. The lights go out for Moto2™ at the later time of 14:30 (GMT +2).

Moto2™ front row

1 Joe Roberts – Tennor American Racing – Kalex 1:36.256

2 Sam Lowes – EG 0,0 Marc VDS – Kalex +0.087

3 Remy Gardner – ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team – Kalex +0.193

Joe Roberts: “We had a plan, because of the new rule with the yellow flag, let’s just go right away but I thought we jumped the gun, but then everyone was there, it was a little bit messy and there was a change I didn’t like, so… I do better alone, so I just came in and changed the tyre and went back out. Honestly I didn’t know if I could do that. That session I was struggling a lot with the bike and that last lap I just, put it down, I did the best I could, something feels different this weekend, something could change tomorrow, and we could go for the win.”

Masia edges out Arenas for masterful French GP pole

The Leopard rider just pips Arenas to the top, with McPhee third and drama for Ogura as the points leader crashes out without setting a lap

Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) put in a stunner to snatch pole from Championship challenger Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, the number 5 judging it to perfection to edge just 0.020 clear at the top. The two riders were ultimately in a class of their own in the final few seconds of Q2, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) taking an important P3 and front row but the Scot left a few tenths in arrears on the timesheets. For Championship leader Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) it was a different story, the number 79 crashing without a lap on the board and left facing a big fight back on Sunday.

At a slightly warmer and certainly sunnier Le Mans, it was Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) topped Q1, heading through to contest the top 18 grid positions alongside Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing), Ryusei Yamanaka (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3). Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was the man who just lost out, the Italian crashing right at the end and unable to improve. Rodrigo also went down, but the Argentinean had already done enough to move through.

With that, the stage was set and as Q2 got underway, it was Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) who held the reins after the first runs, the Spaniard ahead of winner last time out, Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power). Toba crashed early on, the Japanese rider able to make it back to the garage at least, but soon enough the grid headed into the calm before the storm – the classic mid-session lull. Sky Racing Team VR46 riders Celestino Vietti and Andrea Migno were hard at work doing some formation running, however, and they improved, as did Foggia as the Leopard man also stayed out.

With just under five minutes to go, only 11 laptimes were on the board, with many choosing to wait it out. But then some started disappearing, laps cancelled for a few riders and that upping the ante even more. Fernandez remained top as the field filtered out for a final push though – and then some big drama happened.

After only just automatically making it through to Q2, disaster then struck for Championship leader Ogura. Without a lap even set for the Japanese rider, he crashed out and watched his hopes of a solid start position for the French GP evaporate. Rider ok, but in worse news, forced to watch the remainder of the session from the sidelines, unable to get back out.

Meanwhile at the top, Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was first to depose Fernandez, but the Spaniard remained on his roll and soon hit back. Masia was on an absolute charge late on, however, the Leopard Racing rider with a full house of red sectors on the timing screens and out the final corner and over the line, the lap was more than enough to take over on provisional pole – with a few seconds left on the clock and therefore chance for one more lap to boot…

Fenati couldn’t hit back as he completed his final effort, and neither could Fernandez as the two early duellers were forced to concede defeat. But Arenas was on a flier, and as he crossed the line red sectors became provisional pole as the Spaniard tried to put himself in the strongest possible position to try and take back the Championship lead on Sunday. Masia still wasn’t done though, and those few seconds he’d had left to start another lap would prove crucial as the number 5 put in another stunner, back on top and taking his first pole position of the season in some style – by just 0.020.

Arenas will be satisfied with a front row – and some serious speed – as he looks to take the lead back from Ogura on Sunday, although the Spaniard has got a different key rival right next to him: McPhee. The Scot left it late but pulled a fast one out the bad to complete the front row, just over four tenths off Masia but one who, like Arenas, has already enjoyed a trip to the top step at Le Mans.

Raul Fernandez heads the second row, ahead of Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) as his solid form of late continues in France, with Rodrigo ultimately bouncing back from a trip to Q1 and a crash to line up in a solid sixth. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) had a slightly under the radar Saturday afternoon but heads Row 3, just 0.015 off Rodrigo, as he aims to continue his march upwards in the standings. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was eighth quickest and with another tiny deficit as the Japanese rider missed out by only 0.020, with Romano Fenati next up but a larger 0.208 off the number 71. Vietti ended up relegated to tenth, 0.173 off compatriot Fenati.

Foggia, Binder, Migno, Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3), Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) and Toba complete the top 16 as the last riders who set valid laps. Yamanaka crashed, with Migno collected in that incident, and he’ll start P18.

Ogura will start 17th and after his disastrous session the Championship leader is faced with an almighty fight back if he’s to keep Arenas – and McPhee – at bay. Can he do it? We’ll find out at the slightly later time of 11:20 (GMT +2) on Sunday in what is sure to be another stunning Moto3™ race.

Moto3™ front row

1 Jaume Masia – Leopard Racing – Honda 1:41.399

2 Albert Arenas – Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3 – KTM – +0.020

3 John McPhee – Petronas Sprinta Racing – Honda +0.447

Jaume Masia: “I’m really happy with this pole position. Qualifying was a little bit difficult because I was coming with three laps to go with a really good lap and I saw one crash. Lots of yellow flags and I was scared of not finishing the lap because of the yellow flags but, yeah, the feeling was good, we worked really hard this weekend, always on top and it’s good to start from the front row.”

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Saturday in Le Mans leaves Repsol Honda wanting more

Ever-changing conditions made for a demanding day in France, Alex Marquez and Stefan Bradl adapting throughout the day and pleased with the work done in Free Practice 4.

Times were immediately faster despite the cold conditions on Saturday morning, riders setting their best times of the weekend just a few laps into Free Practice 3. Conditions would continue to improve throughout the day, track temperature more than doubling between FP3 and Qualifying.

Alex Marquez was able to keep the pace and improved his lap time on multiple occasions throughout the first session to remain in top-ten contention. Unfortunately, the MotoGP rookie was the victim of a harmless crash at Turn 3, typical of the Le Mans circuit in the cold conditions. A red flag during Free Practice 4 added further disruption to the day, but Alex made a strong start to Q1 and saw himself in contention for a transfer spot. A 1’32.774 will see Alex lining up just behind fellow rookie Brad Binder with the Honda rider eyeing progress forward with so many riders showing a similar pace.

The colder temperatures did not deter a refreshed Stefan Bradl who headed on track as soon as FP3 began. Like his teammate, Bradl suffered a fall during the session at the final corner and walked away unharmed. Cutting 0.8s off his best time from FP3 to Q1, Bradl ended the session as the 11th fastest rider. Stefan’s 1’32.861 was just a tenth of a second off starting two rows further up the grid. Working on used tyres in FP4, Bradl is ready to fight forward on Sunday.

Cal Crutchlow returned to form, battling for pole position in Q2 until the finale moments. The LCR Honda rider will start from the head of the second row as the top Honda.

Sunday’s 27-lap MotoGP race will begin at 13:00 Local Time after the Moto3 race.

Alex Marquez

18TH  1’32.774

“Today we started very well in Qualifying but there was a little bit of misunderstanding about the strategy, so I wasn’t able to benefit from the slipstream like all the other riders who went faster. It was a bit of a shame but our pace is very close to everyone else so I think we can make something happen in the race. We have to be careful because the forecast is looking really cold and making a mistake will be really easy, Turn 2 will be especially important to pay attention to. The plan is to make a good start and then see what the race brings, we are close to Nakagami and this will be a good reference.”

Stefan Bradl

21ST  1’32.861

“Our position is a bit disappointing but to be honest I am quite pleased with how myself and the team have been working. We had a good FP4 where we were able to do a lot with the used tyre and our pace is looking OK. With everyone so close you can gain a lot of positions with just a tenth of a second, so I was a bit unlucky to be just behind those guys ahead. We’ve been managing everything well considering we are on day four of riding. Let’s hope for good weather!”

 

 

 

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

Home GP pole position for Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo to start French GP from pole; Franco Morbidelli 11th

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Fabio Quartararo will start his home GP at Le Mans from first place on the grid, after taking his first pole position since the Andalucia GP. Team-mate Morbidelli will start the Grand Prix de France from 11th.

Quartararo was the man to beat in the sunny FP3 session, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. He ended the session on top with a 1min 32.319secs lap time, securing a Q2 spot. The Frenchman showed his strength in qualifying, staying in provisional pole for the majority of Q2. Although his time was beaten in the final moments of the session, the home-hero set a blisteringly quick final lap – 1min 31.315secs – to take his third pole of 2020.

Morbidelli also joined his team-mate in Q2, after setting the third fastest time in FP3 – 1min 32.476secs. The Italian started the second qualifying session strongly, joining Fabio at the top of the standings in the opening minutes. As the times tumbled in the closing stages, the margins separating the riders also closed. Although Franco was only 0.576secs shy of pole, with a 1min 31.891secs lap, he ended qualifying 11th.

Fabio and Franco will be back on track tomorrow at 9.30am local time (3.30pm MYT) for their Warm Up session, with the 27-lap MotoGP race due to get underway slightly earlier than usual: 1pm local time (7pm MYT).

Fabio Quartararo

1st (1’31.315)

It feels great to be back in pole position, and even more so to do it in France. I feel great on the bike and qualifying was great as well; the first run was really good. At that point I knew I really wanted pole position today. It’s my second pole position at Le Mans, so I am really happy. The focus now is on the first laps of the race, we want to stay ahead of the others and then see what the pace is like. If we do this, I think we can have a really good race. The team has done a really fantastic job with the bike and we will see what we can do tomorrow.

Franco Morbidelli

11th (1’31.891)

It was a strange qualifying today and I’m a little disappointed. I felt great all day, I was fast in Free Practice and I had a lot of confidence on the bike. In qualifying I felt good in the first time attack, I made a decent lap time and I was third. I was aiming for something good, but in the second time attack I didn’t have the same feeling with the new rear tyre. I couldn’t attack like I wanted to and also I didn’t improve my lap time. 11th is not what I was expecting, it’s not what I wanted, but we will try to have a good race tomorrow. Our pace is really strong, so we will try to move through the pack as much as we can, although overtaking will be difficult, and see where we are at the chequered flag.

 

 

 

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

FIFTH AND SEVENTH ROW FOR ALEIX AND BRADLEY AT LE MANS

The sunshine that riders and staff had hoped for finally brightened the French Le Mans track, but not enough to warm up the asphalt and provide the best sensations. Grip and tyre temperature were the two terms used the most during qualifying, with particular concern in view of the race tomorrow which, to top things off, will start at 1 in the afternoon, local time.

For the Aprilia riders, these difficulties made for hard work, both able to demonstrate decent pace, but less incisive in the search for pure performance. Aleix and Bradley contained the gap behind the best during FP4, the most indicative session in terms of the race, but they had to settle for the fifth and seventh row respectively in qualifying.

A bit of bad luck also contributed: in Q1, Aleix had to abort his best lap when a yellow flag came out, just as he was doing some decidedly interesting intermediate times.

ALEIX ESPARGARO’

“Not a simple day. Unfortunately, the frame I had tested and liked in Barcelona didn’t work well here. It was hard to understand yesterday in the wet, but when I went back to my standard bike today, I was immediately able to go faster. I lost my best lap in qualifying due to a yellow flag, so we’ll have to start from the fifth row, but we have the potential to recover positions. The low temperature will certainly be a problem. It will be a tough race.”

BRADLEY SMITH

“We struggled this morning, but the guys worked hard between FP3 and FP4 and I gained a bit of feeling. In FP4, I followed Aleix for a few laps, also managing to identify where he is able to be faster and I got close to his performance overall. I am also satisfied with my qualifying time, especially because I did it on my own and the slipstream can really make a difference here. Obviously, if we look at the positions, our limitations are clear and they are certainly not mitigated by the characteristics of this track and the weather conditions. We’ll have to be very careful tomorrow. It looks like there will be low temperatures for both warm up and the race and, while the rear doesn’t pose a big problem, it will be hard to keep the front up to temp.”

 

 

 

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

FIGHTING SPIRIT NEEDED FOR SUZUKI AHEAD OF FRENCH GP

Grid positions for French GP:

Joan Mir: 14th – 1’32.187
Alex Rins: 16th – 1’32.757

A dry but extremely chilly Le Mans circuit welcomed the riders on Saturday morning, and it would prove to be a tough day for Team Suzuki Ecstar as the riders struggled for feeling.

It became clear that FP3 would be the ‘splitter’ session for passage into Q2 as everyone began improving on their Friday times in the French sunshine. However, attrition was once again high and Alex Rins suffered a crash at Turn 3 towards the beginning of the session. He was uninjured and quickly rejoined the track after a change of leathers. He made good progress up the order during the mid-part of the session and finished up 13th. Joan Mir spent a good portion of FP3 in the Top 5 and was third with just a few minutes to go, but a late crash cost him the chance to go directly into Q2 and he ended up 12th.

A disrupted FP4 saw Rins endure another crash, this time at Turn 9. And both riders would face an uphill battle in Q1. Mir began the session with a hot lap and placed himself in the Top 2, while Rins was close behind in fifth. Yellow flags cost both riders a final flying lap and they closed Q1 in fourth and sixth, meaning they will start from 14th and 16th for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“It’s been a difficult day and we still haven’t managed to find the optimum feeling for the riders here. We have to think about how we can improve before the race. Alex had two crashes today, and Joan had one, so it was difficult for them to find their pace and get into a good rhythm. We’ll be working tonight and tomorrow in Warm-Up and we’ll enter the race as usual; trying our best and trying to pick up positions.”

Joan Mir:

“I’m struggling quite a lot, and it’s tough to be really competitive here. The weather conditions are extreme and the cold affects my feeling with the tyres a lot, especially on the front end. I struggle to keep the front tyre at best working temperature, and this means that it’s tough for me to get a good split in sector 1, in the left-hand corner 2 after the straight. The other sectors were not bad, but we’re always paying for what we lose in sector 1. We need to check the data tonight and try to find some good solutions. It’s going to be tough to recover so many positions, but the first priority is to find the right feeling that would allow me to get the best position possible at the chequered flag.”

Alex Rins:

“It’s not great to have two crashes before qualifying because it affects your confidence – but the positive thing is that we understood why they happened and it’s mainly a problem of keeping the temperature in the tyres. My pace isn’t that bad, I think it was good enough for Top 5, but the cold temperatures made it tough for us today. Tomorrow’s first lap will be key for the race; if I can be competitive at the beginning I believe we can still recover many positions and have a good race.”

 

 

 

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

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP TO COMMENCE LE MANS MANCHE FROM 5TH AND 10TH

Le Mans (France), 10th October 2020

GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE

QUALIFYING

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP‘s Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi were pushing to the maximum in today‘s Q2 session at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. The level was fierce, with less than 0.7s covering all twelve riders. The team-mates will be starting tomorrow‘s race from 5th and 10th place respectively.

LOCAL TIME: 14:57 GMT+2

AIR TEMPERATURE: 17°C

TRACK TEMPERATURE: 26°C

WEATHER: WINDY (SUNNY) / HUMIDITY 45%

MORE CIRCUIT INFO

5th MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’31.719 / 10 LAPS

10th VALENTINO ROSSI 1’31.889 / 8 LAPS

It was a tricky qualifying session for the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP duo this afternoon at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit. Though air and track temperatures measured 17°C and 26°C respectively, the level of competition in Q2 was red hot, with less than 0.7s covering all twelve riders. Maverick Viñales ultimately secured 5th position on the grid, whilst Valentino Rossi will be starting the Grand Prix de France from 10th place.

Viñales was quick to join the 15-minute shoot-out and slotted into third place on his first attempt. He tried to defend his provisional first-row starting position and did improve his time but held fourth place as he pulled back into pit lane.

With a little over eight minutes left, he was on his way for a second run. The Spaniard set multiple personal best times over the next four flying laps, but the Q2 fight was very close, with many riders putting in red and orange sectors. The factory Yamaha man‘s best time of 1‘31.719s, set on lap 9/10, put him in fifth position on tomorrow‘s grid, 0.404s from first.

Rossi also speeded out of the box, pushing from the get-go. He initially held fourth place after his first hot lap. He bettered his time on his next try, but with the pace heating up he was in fifth as he returned to the box for a fresh rear tyre.

With more than five minutes on the clock, The Doctor rejoined the action on track. He was in sixth position when he commenced his next flying lap, but many riders were on a charge. The Italian had three goes at climbing up the order. His best lap, a 1‘31.889s, 0.574s off today‘s fastest time, set on lap 7/8, put him in tenth place on the grid for tomorrow‘s race.

 

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

It was a very tricky day today. Though the riding conditions were completely dry, it was cold. To push on slicks right from the get-go, when the track temperature is this low, is risky and it‘s easy to go over the limit. Both Maverick and Valentino pushed hard in Q2, but the competition was very close, and as a result we got a P5 and P10 start. Maverick is struggling to find a good feeling at this track, but he salvaged a second-row start which could give him the opportunity to fight for a top position. Valentino would have liked to be more towards the front. Starting from the fourth row is never easy, but he showed during FP4 that his rhythm is good, just like Maverick. We will analyse all of today‘s dry session data tonight and work hard to prepare some further setting tweaks that we can try in Warm Up. The forecast predicts it will be mostly dry here tomorrow. The pace seems to be similar for many riders in these conditions, so we expect a hard but also exciting race.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

A second-row start is not bad, but I‘m not really happy about the feeling with the bike. In Montmeló I was already struggling and it continues here in Le Mans, which is strange because usually this is a track where we are quite competitive. Fifth place is the maximum we could do, because the bike is moving a lot and I‘m unable to create grip on banking. Tomorrow will be a tough day. We will try to do our best. We can still try to fight for the top, because in FP4 the rhythm with old tyres was very fast and consistent.

VALENTINO ROSSI

I‘m not happy about my qualifying and my position. I have to do better, because I think that my potential is better, my pace is better than this. The qualifying was a bit difficult, a bit tricky. In the end on the last lap I was not so bad, but I made a mistake. If not, I could have started from a bit more towards the front. Starting from ten is difficult, for sure, but the feeling with the bike is not so bad. We have to fix something, but my pace is quite good, so we have to try tomorrow.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati:

French GP. Front row for Danilo Petrucci, third in qualifying at Le Mans. Sixth Andrea Dovizioso

The Umbrian rider will start from the third position on the grid in the MotoGP French GP that will be held tomorrow at Le Mans;

Andrea Dovizioso will start from the second row of the grid thanks to the sixth-fastest time in qualifying for the ninth round of the 2020 season;

Jack Miller, second, almost took pole position with the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike of the Pramac Racing team.

Danilo Petrucci will start from the front row of the grid in the French GP that will be held tomorrow at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. As he was fast since the early stages of the weekend both in the wet and in the dry conditions, the rider from Terni gained access to Q2 after being the fastest in Q1. In the second and decisive qualifying session, Danilo was able to improve his personal best again, finishing with the third time in 1:31.674, just 359 thousandths from Quartararo’s pole position.

Andrea Dovizioso, who took part directly in Q2 after finishing FP3 with the tenth time overall, will start from the sixth position on the grid in the ninth round of the 2020 MotoGP season. During the second session of qualifying, the rider from Forlì was able to make good use of the soft tyre stopping the clock under 1:32 on several occasions and finished with the sixth time 1:31.722, just 48 thousandths from his teammate.

Jack Miller completes the front row alongside Quartararo and Petrucci with the Ducati Desmosedici GP bike of the Pramac Racing team. The Australian rider set the second-fastest time in 1:31.537, missing out on pole position by just a few thousandths of a second.

Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 1:31.674 (3rd)

“I’m happy to be back on the front row after a long, difficult period. As of this morning, I felt I had the potential to do a good qualifying. Unfortunately, in FP3, I found different yellow flags on the track, and I missed the opportunity to put in a good lap to access directly in Q2. Nevertheless, we managed to make an excellent qualifying. Starting in front is certainly very important for tomorrow, as at least ten riders have the pace to fight for the podium. After the last race in Catalunya, I found a good feeling in braking and even the low temperatures will help me tomorrow, so I am very confident that I can get a good result”.

Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 1:31.722 (6th)

“I am delighted with today’s qualifying. My feeling with the bike was excellent, and although I could not close a perfect lap, we got the start from the first two rows, which is always our main goal in qualifying. Our pace ahead of tomorrow’s race is also positive. We still have to improve some aspects to make sure I can fight at the front for the duration of the race, but compared to other tracks my feeling is a lot better, and that’s why I am confident for tomorrow”.

The MotoGP riders will be back in action tomorrow starting from 9:30 AM for the last 20 minutes of warm-up, before heading into the race, that will be held on a 27-lap distance, at 1:00 PM local time (GMT +2.00).

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by KTM Factory Racing:

ESPARGARO 8TH ON THE MOTOGP™ GRID AT LE MANS

MotoGP 2020 – Round 09, Le Mans (France)

Pol Espargaro is the lead KTM RC16 rider on the grid for the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France after clocking a time in Q2 to line-up on the third row. The historic Le Mans circuit will stage the ninth round of fifteen in 2020.

Pol Espargaro battles for first few rows in Q2 and takes 8th

Miguel Oliveira 12th fastest despite Saturday drama

Albert Arenas is the quickest KTM rider in Moto3 and places his KTM RC4 2nd

MotoGP tackled varying weather conditions at Le Mans and the furthest visit north in Europe this season. Free Practice on Friday was wet and damp and Saturday dawned bright and dry but with a chilly wind. The climate required some diligent set-up work for the Red Bull KTM contingent who went into Saturday’s sessions with two of the four riders making Q2 directly.

Pol Espargaro was again circulating near the top of the practice standings. The Spaniard then reached as high as 6th place with his best flying lap during the short and intense Q2 run but was knocked back two positions as the rest of the riders clocked their efforts in the final seconds of the session. Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira showed his competitiveness around the French layout by entering Q2 directly. The Portuguese had a challenging day after a technical problem in FP4 but took his place on the fourth row with 12th.

Brad Binder quickened his speed from the tricky first taste of Le Mans with the MotoGP bike on Friday to improve his race pace in the final sessions of Free Practice. The South African could not make it through Q1 due to a crash and will begin the 27 laps from 17th. Iker Lecuona is 20th.

There will be a different order for the races on Sunday. Moto3 begins at 11.20 with MotoGP next at 13.00, followed by Moto2 at 14.30 CET.

Pol Espargaro: “It wasn’t the perfect lap. I had an issue with the traction control in Turn 6 and then out-braked myself in the last two corners. I lost a couple of tenths and a chance for the second row which is where I wanted to start tomorrow. The third row is not too bad though and we are fast in the first sector of the track, so we need to get through that without any mistakes and then see how the race goes. Our pace is good. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Brad Binder: “Qualifying didn’t go to plan even if FP4 went quite well and FP3 also, where I narrowly missed Q2. We went out in Q1 and I didn’t get a good lap, so we changed tires but then I crashed on my flying lap. We didn’t have the day we were hoping for…but I think our potential is a look higher than how it looks. We’ll get the job done tomorrow.”

Miguel Oliveira: “I’m a bit disappointed about the Qualifying. FP4 was going really well until I had an issue. I restarted with a new tire but crashed on my first lap and the damage was too big to continue. The team did a great job to repair the bike in time for Qualifying session. After this, I had to recover my feeling. Still I improved my lap time from this morning, which is a positive point. Tomorrow is going to be a hard one, we all need to be safe in the first laps and then do our race. I think my pace is really good, I just need to keep a strong attitude and stay optimistic for tomorrow.”

Iker Lecuona: “It was really difficult to manage the situation today. I felt good, my lap time was also quite strong but everybody improved a lot and finally I’m quite far back in the grid. I think I have a strong pace to fight for the points tomorrow.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM’s Raul Fernandez was one of a small group of riders vying for Pole Position in the cool French sunshine for Moto3 Q2. The Spaniard went close but was less than half a second away from the top spot and will sit on the second row in 4th for the opening race of the Grand Prix tomorrow. KTM’s Albert Arenas will be looking to retrieve his lead in the standings and sets off from 2nd position with his RC4.

In Moto2 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin was 4th fastest on the day – just a quarter of a second from Pole – while teammate Tetsuta Nagashima took 22nd.

 

 

 

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

CRUTCHLOW FINDS FORM WITH FOURTH IN FRENCH GP QUALIFYING

10 October 2020 | French GP Qualifying

After an injury-ravaged season for Cal Crutchlow, qualifying for the French GP saw the British rider back to his best as he just missed out on a front row start for Sunday’s MotoGP race. The LCR Honda CASTROL man is still in recovery-mode from arm surgery, but put the pain to the back of his mind as he pushed his RC213V to fourth on the grid at the head of the second row

Starting from his best grid slot of his season so far, the British rider has high hopes of a season-best result in Sunday’s race. Crutchlow has been fast in all conditions this weekend in France, and with dry weather forecast for the Grand Prix is hoping to back qualifying up with a season’s best race finish.

Cal Crutchlow – 4th

(1’31.674)

“It was a much better day today. It’s nice to be able to put in some good laps of the track this weekend, and I have to give credit to the LCR Honda CASTROL Team because they have worked very hard, as always. Before the qualifying session it seemed we had a slight problem with both of our bikes, but thanks to their hard work they were both ready for the qualifying session. In the end, we have shown good pace over the last two days so far, in all conditions, and now we can really look forward to the race tomorrow.”

 

 

 

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

FIFTH ROW IN FRANCE FOR NAKAGAMI

10 October 2020 | French GP Qualifying

Takaaki Nakagami will start Sunday’s Grand Prix de France from the fifth row of the grid after sealing the 13th fastest time during qualifying practice at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit. With day one on Friday having been badly affected by rain, in contrast Saturday at the French venue was completely dry, however cool track temperatures meant that the MotoGP riders were challenged with finding enough grip.

Despite ending a mixed weather first day in third place, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU man was unable to find enough time to progress directly into final qualifying in the chilly morning FP3 session, however only just missed out on making it through the Q1 route by a tenth of a second. There were positives however, because having set the seventh fastest lap time in the crucial FP4 session, the Japanese star will be confident of making quick progress through the field considering his impressive race pace.

Takaaki Nakagami – 13th

(1’32.179)

“I was trying to push to the maximum and get the most performance out of the bike during qualifying but we definitely saw an improvement in terms of race pace during Free Practice 4. The bike felt much more comfortable and stable then, which is good news for the race tomorrow.

“Qualifying was a bit tricky, and I missed out on Q2 by just over a tenth. 13th on the starting grid is not the best for us, and we certainly weren’t expecting it, but let’s see what happens tomorrow. The warm up will be cold, but our race pace is very much improved so I’m looking forward to it. I will be doing my best as always to make up some positions – especially at the beginning of the race – and then we will see.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

French GP – Jack Miller tomorrow will start from the first row, Pecco will start from the third row

It was a sunny day here in Le Mans for the FrenchGP that tomorrow will start at 1:00 pm. Amazing day for Jack which he conquered the second position. Sensational first row for Jack Miller who take over the second place (1:32.054) very close to the pole. This morning during the FP3 with his best time of 1:32.503  Jack  conquered the Q2,  unfortunately a crashed didn’t allow  him to do his last time attack. Pecco during the FP3 he couldn’t find the feeling with his bike and he finished the practice in 14th place, but during Q1 the Italian rider with his best chrono (1:32.054) gains the access in Q2. Pecco was one of the protagonist of the Q2 because he was 2nd but at the end during his last time attack he was penalized by the traffic. Tomorrow he will start from the 3rd row in 7th place.

Pecco Bagnaia

Starting  from Q1 is never positive, it is always a risk. I was wrong, it took me too long to get used to the cold conditions of the track. I spend a lot of time warming the tires, but it’s not a justification and I have to improve because even today during the FP4 and qualifying I only thought about driving and I pushed a lot and it went much better immediately. Unfortunately when I was doing my best lap in Q2 I found Miguel  and this penalized me, but my reaction was exaggerated and I will apologize to him.

Jack Miller

A really positive day, I am very happy, we have always worked well this weekend and the feeling with the bike and this track is really good. Starting from the first row tomorrow will help me a lot, I will try to make a good start and not risk too much. I’m not  too much worry about the weather conditions, fortunately I can adapt very easily.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Esponsorama Racing:

ESPONSORAMA RACING IS READY TO FIGHT IN THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX RACE

Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat will start from ninth and twenty-second position respectively to the French Grand Prix race.

In the third free practice, Tito Rabat reached the top ten thanks to his lap of 1’33.293, although he finally finished fifteenth.  Johann Zarco for his part, did a session in which he went from less to more to finish getting a sixth position that allowed him to pass to Q2.

After a great FP3 by our riders, Tito Rabat after setting a time of 1’33.610 in Q1 will start from twenty-second position.  The French rider will have to settle for the third row of the grid in his home Grand Prix after setting a time of 1’31.832.

Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. the ninth race of the MotoGP season will begin at the Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans on the occasion of the French Grand Prix.

JOHANN ZARCO – P9

“Third row for tomorrow, I feel good after today as in FP3 we took a big step forward.  We have been improving as the weekend progressed and I hope to continue taking steps tomorrow in the race.  I am very confident with the front end, which I think will allow me to fight for the top 5 tomorrow, and hopefully for a podium in the home race.”

TITO RABAT – P22

“It has been a strange and difficult day, since in FP3 I found myself very comfortable, even reaching Q2 positions.  In the afternoon, both in FP4 and in qualifying, I didn’t feel comfortable with the bike and it was hard for me to get a good time.  Tomorrow we will give everything in the race and we will try to continue improving.”

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