However, at the end of the race, Zaccone was handed a one-place penalty for exceeding track limits at Turn 14, meaning it was Casadei that took P2. Granado’s win beings him right back into the title frame having crashed in Jerez, with Casadei level on points with fourth place finisher Aegerter now after his P2. Zaccone, despite a P3, extended his lead to eight points.
Rins was second as the riders re-entered the track, but at Turn 4, the Spaniard was down. This left Marc Marquez and Quartararo clear of Miller at the front, but the eight-time World Champion was then down at the final corner. Unrelenting drama at Le Mans, Marc Marquez squandered his lead but the 93 did manage to get back on track. Now, Quartararo was the race leader again but Miller was rapidly closing in. As we know, the Australian had two long laps to take, he did so on Laps 9 and 10, before immediately closing the gap to Quartararo.
Undeterred though, Raul Fernandez was holding his nerve. As he clocked another lap and headed onto Lap 23, the Spaniard set his fastest lap of the race and his lead was now 1.8s. And with one lap remaining in France, Fernandez’s gap to Gardner was 1.9s, with the latter 2.9s ahead of Bezzecchi in third place. No mistakes were made from the rookie sensation on the final lap, and Fernandez crossed the line to win his second race of 2021. Aki Ajo has unearthed a new star, with Gardner making it a Red Bull KTM Ajo 1-2 as a single point splits Gardner and Raul Fernandez in the overall standings. For Gardner, that’s now four podiums in five to begin the campaign.
At the halfway point, Salac had now set the fastest lap and was now back to under a second behind race leader Garcia. A 1:54.709 was slammed in by Salac, the gap just six tenths to Garcia, and there was an encouraging head nod from the lanky Honda rider heading onto Lap 13 as if to say, ‘this is on, let’s go.’ Half a lap later, Garcia was wide at Turn 8, and Salac was now the race leader. But not for long, Garcia grabbed P1 coming back onto the front straight with nine laps to go as McPhee was now the fastest rider on track, but the Scotsman was 11 seconds off the leaders in P5.
It had stopped raining ahead of the MotoGP™ stint but due to the sheer amount of water that had fallen through the night and this morning, it was a soaked Le Mans layout that greeted all three classes. World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) was fourth fastest, the Italian has work to do from P16 on the grid later on, Mir was able to recover to P5 after his early tumble.
World Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) suffered an issue with his machine at the beginning of Warm Up, the Australian stopped out on track but managed to get his bike back to the box and head back out with nine minutes to go. Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) were the other top five finishers in the wet.
Andi Izdihar (Honda Team Asia) went fastest in a seriously wet Moto3™ Warm Up session at the SHARK Grand Prix de France as the heavy rain arrives at Le Mans for race day. The Indonesian set a 2:02.818 to beat World Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) by 0.202s, Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) was third best.
2021 MotoGP Round Five Le Mans Qualifying
Rain, shine, or something in between? Saturday at the SHARK Grand Prix de France presented quite a challenge for the MotoGP grid, but the final few minutes of Q2 eventually delivered a stunning shootout for pole on a dry track. And who came out on top? Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the Frenchman taking back-to-back poles at Le Mans to pip teammate Maverick Viñales to the top and make it a factory Yamaha team 1-2 on the grid for the first time since 2017. Third went to Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), the Jerez winner just a tenth off pole.
MotoGP Rider Quotes Qualifying
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“I think this was the qualifying I was the most nervous for. Not because it’s in France, but I was supposed to go out with a soft front and medium rear wet tyre combination, and I never tried the medium. In mixed conditions we are bad, but I saw it was dry and said, ’It’s time for slicks.‘ And then on the last lap I was like, ’Okay, now is my time to send it and do my best. I either get front row or I crash.‘ There were some wet patches in the last sector. I was sideways everywhere, but we made it. The goal was front row, but pole position is even better.”
Maverick Vinales – P2
“It went quite well today. We’ve secured a good starting position, and this is important. But I made many mistakes during the lap, and this cost us the pole position. Anyway, I have a good rhythm, which is good for tomorrow, and in FP4 I just kept running with used tyres to see how that would work for us, and it actually went quite well. So, I’m very happy, and let’s see if we can improve to be faster for the race.”
Jack Miller – P3
“Just before Q2, the sun came out, so we decided to keep one of the bikes in full dry configuration. I went out first on wet tyres, but I soon realized that the track was almost dry, so I came back in as quickly as possible to change my bike. The conditions here are really unpredictable, and you have to try and make the most of all the opportunities. In fact, just before I set my fastest lap, it started raining again! Starting from the front row is really important, considering that it will probably rain tomorrow. Anyway, we’re ready to face the race in whatever weather conditions”.
Franco Morbidelli – P4
“I’m happy with this fourth position. It has been a difficult day with tricky conditions, but we were able to overcome them and had a good strategy in qualifying. We were rewarded with this place at the head of the second row, so I’m happy about that. My knee is okay and Clinica Mobile has been helping with some treatment for it. It feels alright while I am riding. It’s going to be a tough race and we know that it will be important to start it from the front two rows. Let’s see what we can do, we’re ready to fight for the podium tomorrow.”
Johann Zarco – P5
“I am happy, I cannot complain. The track conditions were strange, so we started out with rain tyres with the aim to test them in case of wet conditions tomorrow. As soon as we set up the dry tires, I was able to play the game my way. I set a good time and I feel I am ready for tomorrow.”
Marc Marquez – P6
“This morning in the wet I was feeling more ‘normal’, because it’s less demanding on the physical side. I was riding well in FP4 and also in Qualifying, but the conditions weren’t perfect and the grip was low which meant slower lap times. When it’s like this I am riding better but when you have to really push to the limit, that’s when it is harder with my physical condition. It was a bit of a shame in Qualifying as I was the first rider to take the flag and it looks like one more lap could have been a big help. But I am pleased with what we have accomplished today.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P7
“Qualifying was very tricky as we always had to keep checking the track condition. There was some wet, some rain and some sunshine. It went really quickly from wet to dry and our strategy was really good as we waited at the start of the session and then realised we could go with slick tyres. Lap by lap we tried to develop the lap time and I felt really good on the bike. In the last minutes I slightly misread the conditions as I felt some rain drops and slowed down and missed the opportunity to improve the lap time. Anyway, P7 is good and we are ready for the race and have good confidence, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Pol Espargaro – P8
“I’m disappointed with myself. After some hard races, we had a chance to fight for the top three or even pole. I was taking it easy two laps from the end because it started to rain but these two laps cooled the tyre a bit too much, then when I asked more from the tyre it couldn’t take it and I went down. I was two tenths faster than Fabio and Jack through the first sector and they ended on the front row. We showed the potential we have, which is good, but it’s also a shame because there was a lot on offer today. Tomorrow is a new day and a lot can happen in the race.”
Valentino Rossi – P9
“We did the right strategy, going with the slick tyre, in qualifying and it gave us a small advantage. Unfortunately I had a moment in the second lap because I touched a damp patch, and I could not be at 100% in the final two corners without taking too much risk and I did not have complete confidence after this. This weekend though we have improved the pace, compared to the first few races, and the feeling. We will see tomorrow what happens because the weather is really unpredictable. The race is about 42 minutes long and in that time today it changed from wet to dry three times, this will make it very difficult. Personally I would prefer it to be a dry race, because this is where I feel more comfortable. Starting from the third row we have to try to have the best race possible.”
Miguel Oliveira – P10
“It was a good day overall and I was competitive in every condition. It was a bit chaotic and strange day for the weather but we could be competitive. In qualification it was a shame to crash but I got to the first sector to find it was raining there! The marshals were not showing the rain flags and by the time I realised it was fully wet it was too late. It was unfortunate because I think I could have done much better than I did but we have good pace for tomorrow and I’m confident. I’m having fun on the bike and everything is coming easy. For sure we are optimistic for the race.”
Lorenzo Savadori – P11
“I am incredibly happy with these qualifiers, especially because it honours Aprilia’s hard work and the trust this team has always placed in me. In these conditions, with the bike moving around a lot, I am able to find a good feeling because the sensations come close to the ones I’m used to coming from the factory derivative categories. In fact, in the dry, where it takes a lot of precision and stability, I am still lacking the experience to ride the way I’d like to. As for tomorrow, above all, we need to be ready and reactive to the changing weather. Managing the race will be fundamental.”
Luca Marini – P12
“With the whole team we did a great job to better manage the mixed conditions on the track. It was important to make the right decisions and not make mistakes. We reached Q2 and I must say that I have a good feeling in the wet. It is a kind of condition in which to continue working because it opens up more possibilities. In the dry it would have been impossible to think about getting into Q2, but on wet asphalt the bikes are more similar and the slopes are different. In the dry, we fight more, I lack confidence, experience, we only rode a little here, but the difference from the beginning is not bad at all. For tomorrow I don’t think we will change much on the bike even if we are not at 100%, but the Warm Up is very early in the morning and probably in the wet. We continue to work on the data to take a step forward in the race”
Aleix Espargaro – P13
“A pity about the qualifiers. Unfortunately, I made a mistake not boxing to put on the medium rain tyre. With the track drying out, the soft tyres got too hot and the bike moved around a lot, especially at the front. I tried to do a slow lap to let them cool, but it wasn’t enough. The position definitely does not reflect the feeling I had. If it’s a dry race tomorrow, I think we’ll be fast, despite not having much data. In the eventuality of a wet track, things will be less predictable but I’m comforted by the fact that the 2021 RS-GP works well in any conditions.”
Joan Mir – P14
“Overall it hasn’t been a bad day, but this isn’t the best track for us, and I feel that 14th place on the grid is not showing my real potential – I felt quite strong in both conditions, in wet and dry, and my pace was quite nice. I lost a couple of laps at the end of qualifying, I think maybe I overcooked the tyres or something because the track dried out quickly. But anyway, it’s all useful experience and lessons that I will use in the future, and I am pleased because I’ve already improved my performance in the wet compared with last year. The team have done a really great job with the bike. Starting 14th on the grid is manageable as long as I stay focused; it’s not so different to other recent grid slots, so I’m optimistic.”
Alex Rins – P15
“It’s been a difficult day ‘at the office’ and I have quite a bad grid position for tomorrow. I made a mistake with my strategy; I chose the medium front and soft rear tyres to start, and I think with the medium rear I would’ve been able to push more and then maybe my grid place would have been better, but there was no time to stop. Let’s see what the weather is like tomorrow, we could have wet, dry, or mixed conditions and for sure it will be a big show. If the race is dry I think I have a chance for the podium because I feel good in the dry and my base settings and confidence are good. If it’s wet or mixed I will flow with the bike, work with a good strategy – prepared for all scenarios – and give my best.”
Francesco Bagnaia – P16
“After a good session in the wet this morning, I wasn’t able to repeat myself in Q1 this afternoon. In qualifying, we made a wrong tyre choice and unfortunately, I didn’t have time to come back in and change it. Today it went like this and, as always, tomorrow we will try to fight for the best possible result in the race”.
Danilo Petrucci – P17
“It was a crazy Qualifying and I needed to recover from a difficult setup from yesterday. To be honest, with the weather today we couldn’t really do anything, but at least we managed to close the gap to the front. For sure, it’s not the place we want, but at least we understood the way to follow. We need to continue like this. Tomorrow it would be very, very good to score some points and be in the mix. It won’t be easy, but I’m happy about the work the team did today.”
Iker Lecuona – P18
“It was a difficult day. This morning in wet conditions I felt really good and very fast. In dry FP4 I was well inside the top 10, so I felt pretty good and strong to make it to Q2, but it started to rain a few minutes ahead of Q1 and that made our life difficult. Finally, I was struggling a lot and it’s definitely not the position we wanted and we deserved because we have been working very well throughout the weekend. Tomorrow we try to push!”
Álex Márquez – P19
“In the morning in the wet we were not bad; we had a good shape and I was happy with that as I had a good feeling. Then in FP4 it was half and half conditions, but I felt we took a step in the dry compared to yesterday and I was feeling ok with the lap time. Then in Q1 it started raining and it was a good opportunity for us to go to Q2, but it seems that whatever I try this year, goes wrong. I’m sad for me and sad for the team, but tomorrow we have another chance and I will try again.”
Tito Rabat – P20
“The track conditions are not easy, I am trying to do everything possible and tomorrow I will give my all. I would like to have a good race tomorrow. I slipped in turn six, but I didn’t hurt myself. There were not any consequences.”
Brad Binder – P21
“Difficult, difficult day. I haven’t had the speed this weekend. I haven’t been uncomfortable…but I haven’t been fast! I need to translate the good feeling tomorrow into speed. Qualifying was a bit of a disaster because there were yellow flags for two laps and I had to sit up and not cook the rear tyre and then just ran out of time. Not the best scenario. Tomorrow we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure we can do a far better job.”
Enea Bastianini – P22
“It was a great chaos and I wasn’t lucky, because they gave me the checkered flag and I couldn’t finish the last lap well because there were yellow flags and I would have done 1’44.5 that they canceled me. It would be a better starting position but in the end we started on the 22nd. For tomorrow I would like it to be the dry race because already in FP4 I had a good rhythm that has positioned me 12 and only improve T4 which is where I lose a bit. In case it has to rain tomorrow that I’m not yet comfortable with this bike, I prefer the Warm Up to also be in the wet to pick up the pace and ride the bike better in these conditions.”
French GP Qualifying Report
In Q1, a drying track made it anyone’s game and there were a few spills, some thrills and definitely a couple of surprises. Crashing early on despite his impressive pace in a damp FP3, Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was jogging back to the pits as the rest got down to really testing out the conditions… but there was a real phoenix moment on the way.
As the track improved more and more, so did the laptimes at the top. But none more than Savadori. The Italian was back out and flexing his wet weather prowess once again as the clock ticked down, and crossing the line the Italian topped the session by a whopping eight tenths of a second. From whom? Fellow rookie Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia). Tagged on to the back of Championship leader and compatriot Francesco Bagnaia, Marini improved and then improved again on his final push to top the session, just before Savadori’s final wonder.
The two rookies moved through then, leaving Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just knocked out by his teammate, as well as reigning Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) next up and his teammate Alex Rins. Championship leader Bagnaia? He’ll be 16th on the grid…
And so Q2 began, with no more rain having come down. Decisions needed to be made for the Q2 runners at the beginning of the pole position fight, and we witnessed Valentino Rossi and Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate Franco Morbidelli gamble on slick tyres.
It looked like the Petronas Yamaha SRT squad had made the right call as Miller, Quartararo and Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) pulled straight back in to switch. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Savadori were also all on slicks, but Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) wasn’t and was soon on his way back to pitlane for a tyre change – as was Viñales.
By then, the riders on slick tyres were lighting up the timing screens. Rossi was out of the seat at the final corner; his lap was ruined and Morbidelli eclipsed Zarco’s best wet tyre lap, but then Miller demolished them all to go 1.2s quicker than anyone. Pol Espargaro slotted into an early P2 as Quartararo and Savadori clocked into P3 and P4, Morbidelli next to improve to move back up to second. Incredibly though, Miller then cut his best by a second again, and Pol Espargaro once more came through as the Aussie’s closest challenger.
It was far from over. Everyone was constantly improving, and Zarco briefly went provisional pole, Miller beat him by nine tenths and then Pol Espargaro finally demoted Miller to second by 0.157s. Marc Marquez then joined his teammate on the front row with four minutes to go, and Nakagami made it three Hondas in the top four for the time being.
Morbidelli hit back next for second, but not for long. Marc Marquez beat teammate Pol Espargaro by 0.113s, before Nakagami split the two to make it a Honda 1-2-3… and rain then started to fall at Turn 1. It looked like the three HRC men had timed their laps to perfection, but no. Suddenly, Viñales and Zarco set red sectors, before Quartararo did too.
Viñales was the first to cross the line and break Repsol Honda hearts to grab provisional pole position off Marc Marquez, Zarco then took second and Morbidelli also got the better of the number 93’s time.
Quartararo was the rider to watch though and, laying it all on the line in the final sector, it was going down to Yamaha vs Yamaha for pole. Could he hold on? he could. El Diablo beat his teammate’s time by 0.081s, and a shadowing Miller came through to snatched a late front row as well.
The first factory Yamaha 1-2 since 2017, when a certain Viñales went on to win, joined by the most recent race winner? Another stellar Saturday that – for the third time in a row – belonged to Quartararo. Arm pump surgery to home GP pole is the story of his last couple of weeks, that’s two in a row for Quartararo at Le Mans to boot.
Morbidelli and Zarco’s final flying laps ensure they have solid grid positions for the French GP, in fourth and fifth, with Marc Marquez left down on the outside of the second row by the end of the shuffle. Nakagami and Pol Espargaro – who suffered a late crash at Turn 7 – will also have to settle for les than it seemed had been promised, taking P7 and P8 respectively.
Rossi was able to better his time on the last lap to earn P9 and his best grid position since the season opener with Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) completing the top 10, despite a crash, ahead of Q1 graduates Savadori and Marini. With Bagnaia and the Suzukis looking for quick progress too… Sunday promises plenty.
MotoGP Combined Qualification
|13||Aleix ESPARGARO||APRILIA||Q1||(*) 0.868|
|14||Joan MIR||SUZUKI||Q1||(*) 0.872|
|15||Alex RINS||SUZUKI||Q1||(*) 0.973|
|16||Francesco BAGNAIA||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 0.980|
|17||Danilo PETRUCCI||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.307|
|18||Iker LECUONA||KTM||Q1||(*) 1.774|
|19||Alex MARQUEZ||HONDA||Q1||(*) 2.596|
|20||Tito RABAT||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 3.040|
|21||Brad BINDER||KTM||Q1||(*) 3.361|
|22||Enea BASTIANINI||DUCATI||Q1||(*) 3.573|
MotoGP Championship Standings
There’s something about Red Bull KTM Ajo rookies in 2021! Moto2’s Raul Fernandez clinched his maiden intermediate class pole position thanks to a 1:50.135 in a damp Q2 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France, beating Marco Bezzecchi (SKY Racing Team VR46) to the top by over two tenths. Q1 graduate Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) completes the front row, the American pulling some pace out of the bag on Saturday after a difficult Day 1.
A dry Q1 saw Roberts, Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Simone Corsi and MV Agusta Forward Racing teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri earn themselves a shot at pole position in Q2, but a spanner was thrown in the works before the green light. Rain once again started to fall at Le Mans, but once more, it didn’t stay around for long. It was in the air and the surface was damp but tyre choice was far from cemented.
Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) was out on slick tyres at first and his closest Free Practice challenger Raul Fernandez initially went out on wet tyres, then got a box call, but the Spaniard went straight back out on the wets. Roberts ran straight into the gravel at Turn 8 in some early drama too, as then Lowes pulled into pitlane for… wets.
On track meanwhile, Championship leader Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the early pacesetter from Ogura, but there was plenty of drama to come. Ogura crashed unhurt on the exit of Turn 7, Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) went down at Turn 14 shortly afterwards and then Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) was the next to crash at Turn 8. Raul Fernandez was just behind his compatriot and ran straight on too. Nicolo Bulega (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Corsi were the next riders to crash as the field tried to find the limit.
All that while at the top, Roberts was provisional pole, but it didn’t last too long. Raul Fernandez pulled out 1.2s on the American with four and a half minutes to go, but the number 16 soon returned the favour to go back to P1 by 0.6s. Roberts improved his lap again thereafter to go a second clear of the competition, but Gardner was on a charge and was next to take over. Lowes, back out on the wets, moved himself into third in the meantime… but Raul Fernandez was lighting up the timing screens. This time round, it was seventh tenths in his pocket at the top.
With conditions continually improving, Roberts then slotted back into P2 as Gardner made a mistake in the third sector to end his hopes of a pole position. No such mistake came from his teammate. Raul Fernandez pulled out even more time to take over at the top once more, with Bezzecchi then shooting up the timesheets to slot into second. Roberts was demoted to third, but holds on to an impressive front row after a tougher Friday. And Raul Fernandez? No one had an answer for the Moto2 rookie sensation and the young Spaniard claimed his first intermediate class pole position.
Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) left it late to claim P4 in qualifying, his best of the year, and the Spaniard is joined by compatriot Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) and Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team) on the second row. Gardner slipped down to P7 in the closing stages and was over a second adrift of his teammate after running wide at Turn 8 on his last lap.
Hector Garzo (Flexbox HP40) recovered from his big Friday crash to pick up a best Saturday result of the season in eighth, just ahead of his teammate Stefano Manzi. And Lowes? There’s work to do for the man second in the Championship after his worst Q2 of the season, the Brit starting down in 10th.
That’s it from a tricky Saturday at Le Mans, with the weather likely to change again on Sunday! Can the rookie hold on, or will it be another shuffle come race day?
Moto2 Combined Qualification
|13||Lorenzo BALDASSARRI ITA||MV AGUSTA||Q2||+2.452|
|15||Fabio DI GIANNANTONI ITA||KALEX||Q2||+3.263|
|17||Simone CORSI||MV AGUSTA||Q2||+5.274|
|19||Tony ARBOLINO||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.483|
|20||Somkiat CHANTRA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.520|
|21||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA ITA||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.560|
|22||Marcos RAMIREZ||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.567|
|23||Thomas LUTHI||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.615|
|24||Cameron BEAUBIER||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.840|
|25||Albert ARENAS||BOSCOSCURO||Q1||(*) 0.885|
|26||Jake DIXON||KALEX||Q1||(*) 0.893|
|27||Hafizh SYAHRIN||NTS||Q1||(*) 1.005|
|28||Celestino VIETTI||KALEX||Q1||(*) 1.287|
|29||Barry BALTUS||NTS||Q1||(*) 1.479|
|30||Tommaso MARCON||MV AGUSTA||Q1||(*) 1.818|
|31||Alonso LOPEZ||BOSCOSCURO||Q1||(*) 2.483|
Moto2 Championship Top Five
|5||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Kalex||52|
Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) pulled out an incredible two seconds on the field in a damp qualifying session at the SHARK Grand Prix de France, the Italian getting into the groove on slicks and the clock proving his only rival by the end of the session. 2.001 is the gap back to a career best qualifying for Riccardo Rossi (BOE Owlride) in second, with Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) completing the front row. The gap from Migno back to Rossi is the largest margin for the rider on pole in Moto3 history.
All eyes were on Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in Q1, with the Championship leader not moving through on Friday – and FP3 then dawning wet. The bad news continued as well, with the number 37 not quite able to make it happen and left a little out of position on the grid outside the top 20. Polesitter in Jerez, it was Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) who topped the session from Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) to move through, the two joined by Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3). And then the rain came down…
A few drops at first saw many head out early, but they soon scuttled back into pitlane as it became a very real, although brief, downpour. Suzuki was the first to set a real time once riders headed back on track, before Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) took over. Early drama struck for Rossi and Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) as they both tumbled out at Turn 11, but riders ok and able to get back out. The rain wasn’t coming back either, so it seemed like whoever went last could well be first..
Masia took to the top three minutes later, but the Spaniard was soon deposed by Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3). And then came Migno. Fastest and then improving a couple of minutes later to go even faster as he got the slicks in the zone, the Italian was on a roll. So too was compatriot Rossi, however, and the BOE Owlride man was able to take over on provisional pole in an impressive bounce back from his earlier crash. But Migno remained on track, and the red sectors were lighting up the timing screens…
Incredibly, as he rounded the final corner and gunned it to the line, the Italian had over two seconds in hand, taking his second pole position of the season in stunning, if damp, style to start the SHARK Grand Prix de France from the front with the largest margin ever. Rossi retains second for his best ever qualifying, with Masia locking out the front row.
Former Le Mans winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) heads up Row 2, joined by Rodrigo and Antonelli despite the crash for the latter early in the session. Salač, despite a highside at the final corner, is another whose damage control was on point as he takes seventh, up and back on track right after the incident. Sergio Garcia (GASGAS Gaviota Aspar Moto3) and Suzuki complete Row 3.
Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) and Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP) lock out the fourth row, ahead of Öncü, Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) after a crash for the latter dented his Q2.
That leaves Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) down in P16 and the South African will be joining Pedro Acosta on the charge forward on race day. Will it be wet, will it be dry? Will there be yet more drama waiting in the wings?
Moto3 Combined Qualification
|19||Kaito TOBA||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.270|
|20||Carlos TATAY||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.283|
|21||Pedro ACOSTA||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.356|
|22||Maximilian KOFLER||KTM||Q1||(*) 0.373|
|23||Yuki KUNII||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.616|
|24||Andi Farid IZDIHAR||HONDA||Q1||(*) 0.643|
|25||Takuma MATSUYAMA||HONDA||Q1||(*) 1.264|
|26||Izan GUEVARA||GASGAS||Q1||(*) 1.415|
|27||Lorenzo FELLON||HONDA||Q1||(*) 1.764|
|28||Adrian FERNANDEZ||HUSQVARNA||Q1||(*) 4.061|
Moto3 Championship Top Five
Eric Granado (One Energy Racing) is two from two on Saturdays so far in 2021, the Brazilian ultimately coming out on top in a wet, delayed and difficult E-Pole at Le Mans. If the session is declared wet it’s a maximum of six laps each, including in and out laps, with all riders on track in a shortened session. So after a delay, a number of crashes and then plenty Yellow Flag infringements, the number 51 takes it… and that despite his first MotoE highside! Second went to impressive rookie Miquel Pons (LCR E-Team), with 2019 Cup winner Matteo Ferrari (Indonesian E-Racing Gresini MotoE) emerging in third.
But let’s rewind back to the start. Just before most of the MotoE riders were about to head out, there was an almighty downpour and the Red Flags came out, with those who had headed out quickly making it back. The rain didn’t stay around long but it was certainly still wet, wet, wet on track by the time the session restarted, and it was Dynavolt Intact GP’s Dominique Aegerter’s 2:03.417 that proved the first benchmark time.
Lukas Tulovic (Tech3 E-Racing) then hit the deck at Turn 3 on his second flying lap, before Yonny Hernandez (Octo Pramac MotoE) crashed at the final corner. Granado next pulled out three seconds on his second lap to take over at the top with a real stunner, before the Brazilian was next to crash as he highsided at Turn 3. Thankfully he was back up on his feet quickly, but in the meantime rookie Pons had cut the advantage to 0.1s…
Aegerter was then at the summit with a 2:00.251, 0.064s ahead of Granado, but Pons then moved the goalposts to a 1:58.384. Aegerter, on his next lap, returned to P1 by 0.101s but just ahead of him, Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse) crashed at the final corner.
Initially it was Aegerter on top but there was post-session drama. Because of a number of crashes, a whole host of riders were having their laps cancelled for Yellow Flag infringements – including the Swiss rider. Pons and other parc ferme attendee Hikari Okubo (Avant Ajo MotoE) also had their laps chalked off, and so did fourth place Fermin Aldeguer (Openbank Aspar Team). This promoted Granado to P1, with all the other changes eventually seeing Pons hold onto P2, with 2019 Cup winner Ferrari completing the front row. The two veterans said of the drama that it’s nice to have the dice roll your way, but one day the luck won’t be on your side with the rule – and that overall, safety comes first with Yellow Flags.
So on Row 2, Xavi Cardelus (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) and title leader Alessandro Zaccone (Octo Pramac MotoE) will sit ahead of Aegerter, in P4 and P5 respectively, with the Swiss rider shuffled down to sixth.
Andrea Mantovani (Indonesian E-Racing MotoE) was another rider to profit from cancelled laps in P7 as Aldeguer slips to P8, and the 16-year-old is one place ahead of former MotoGP rider Hernandez. Okubo, who was in parc ferme, will be starting P10 in the end… just ahead of reigning Cup winner Jordi Torres (Pons Racing 40), who will be one rider especially eager to make short work of the start, as will Tulovic next to him.
|1||51 Eric GRANADO||ENERGICA||2m00.315|
|2||71 Miquel PONS||ENERGICA||+0.101|
|3||11 Matteo FERRARI||ENERGICA||+0.340|
|4||18 Xavi CARDELUS||ENERGICA||+1.122|
|5||61 Alessandro ZACCONE||ENERGICA||+1.882|
|6||77 Dominique AEGERTER||ENERGICA||+3.102|
|7||9 Andrea MANTOVANI||ENERGICA||+3.457|
|8||54 Fermín ALDEGUER||ENERGICA||+4.527|
|9||68 Yonny HERNANDEZ||ENERGICA||+4.930|
|10||78 Hikari OKUBO||ENERGICA||+5.546|
|11||40 Jordi TORRES||ENERGICA||+5.652|
|12||3 Lukas TULOVIC||ENERGICA||+6.320|
|13||19 Corentin PEROLARI||ENERGICA||+8.837|
|14||80 Jasper IWEMA||ENERGICA||+9.106|
|15||14 Andre PIRES||ENERGICA||+9.396|
|16||27 Mattia CASADEI||ENERGICA||+9.430|
|17||21 Kevin ZANNONI||ENERGICA||+10.033|
|18||6 Maria HERRERA||ENERGICA||+12.593|
MotoE Top Five
Cheers to a front row start for race day 🤟
Source: Jack Miller on Facebook
It was polesitter and rookie Rossi Moor (FAIRIUM Next Generation Riders Team) who took the holeshot, but the Hungarian was soon hit by bad luck in the first dose of drama: overcooking it out of the chicane, the number 92 slid out the lead, leaving Luciano to take over. From there, experience and speed from some familiar 2020 frontrunners started to show as Luciano led from Gurecky, and Kocourek, Jacopo Hosciuc (Hos Racing Team) and Niklas Kitzbichler (Racing-Team-Kitzbichler) squabbled it out.