Round Five – Le Mans
Qualifying Results / Report
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has equalled Valentino Rossi’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) premier class pole position tally after mastering the damp qualifying conditions at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking his 55th pole despite crashing in Q2. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and top Independent Team rider Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) join the Championship leader on the front row for Sunday’s race, with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) making it three Ducatis on Marquez’ tail.
Marc Marquez – P1
“Today was one of those days! The conditions meant you didn’t know if a slick or a wet tyre would be best with the light rain, it was really difficult. In Qualifying we knew we had to push on the first lap when there was the least water on track. Then with more water on track it got more difficult. I’m happy with this pole because it was a day where you could easily start from the back if you weren’t careful. Now we see what the weather does tomorrow!”
Danilo Petrucci – P2
“I’m very happy because we finally managed to show our potential also in qualifying and tomorrow we’ll start from a good position on the grid. Together with my team, we adopted what turned out to be a good strategy, pushing hard early on in the session with a medium rear tyre, since track conditions became progressively worse as the time passed. At any rate, it wasn’t easy to do a quick lap time: the rain wasn’t intense enough for the tyres to work perfectly, so it was particularly difficult to find the limit in terms of grip, as the many crashes seem to show. Today we did a good job, but the race is tomorrow so we need to stay 100 percent focused.”
Jack Miller – P3
“I’m happy with the way things went today. The feeling with the bike is very good and we are doing a great job. I’m just sorry with the team about the crash in Q2 but I was pushing hard. We are fast and I am sure I am competitive in all conditions”.
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“I’m quite happy with fourth position on the grid because, given the conditions out there today, it was easier to make mistakes than to be fast. It was really difficult to find the right feeling on the bike, especially in the second part of the session. We bet our chips on that, and we were able to improve our lap time, but unfortunately the track was faster in the opening minutes. We couldn’t do many laps in properly wet conditions, so we still have a few question marks regarding tomorrow, but I hope to have a dry track since the morning warm-up session in order to be able to work on some details that could make a big difference during the race. There are many riders with a strong, similar pace so anything can happen tomorrow, but for sure we have the potential to be competitive.”
Question marks over which tyres to go with were obvious ahead of the green light and as the riders ventured out, only three riders gambled on slick tyres: Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), team-mate Maverick Viñales and fellow Yamaha man Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). But it didn’t pay off as the rain started to fall slightly heavier at Le Mans, so the M1 trio came straight back into pitlane to switch bikes.
Meanwhile, the riders who had gone for wets were busy getting their first lap-times on the board, and it was Marquez who went to the top of the standings after Petrucci and Miller had taken turns to go P1. The Spaniard’s advantage was nearly 0.4 seconds as he set off on another hot lap but at Turn 6 it came to an abrupt halt as the Repsol Honda rider slid out, trying his best to save it but it wasn’t to be this time around. Miller would also later crash, as would a fair few more.
Conditions were getting ever so slightly worse as the rain continued to fall, and Q1 graduate Rossi was now out on wet tyres, gradually climbing his way up the timing screens as the field struggled to improve on their personal best laps. Marquez stayed out after his crash but the Championship leader wasn’t able to find any more time, with Rossi one of the only riders to find some; the 40-year-old jumping up to fifth on his final flying lap and set to line up alongside Dovizioso.
Valentino Rossi – P5
“I‘m very happy, because this morning I was out of the Q2 and we needed to find something to improve our starting position. We took a gamble in Q1 and put in the slicks, and that was the right choice. It was a risk, but it paid off, because there wasn‘t too much water on track and I was able to get through to Q2, which was very important. Also in Q2, with the wet tyres in the wet, I was quite competitive. I‘m fifth, but I also have a good pace in case we have a wet race tomorrow. In the dry I wasn‘t very strong yesterday. We have to try some setting modifications, but today we didn‘t have time for that, so we have to wait to see what the conditions will be like tomorrow.”
Closing out the second row is Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT), who was the last rider within a second of Marquez, ahead of Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), who heads row three despite suffering his first crash of the season. He has Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) alongside him as the number 99 had his best qualifying yet on the Honda. The six-time Le Mans winner was one who, like Rossi, was able to improve despite the worsening conditions.
Franco Morbidelli – P6
“Q1 went well. I set a good lap time with the wet tyre and I felt good. Later on, I saw that Rossi was fastest and was on slicks, so a lot of riders went in to change tyres -just as it started to rain again. We went back to the pits and we waited to see what the other riders were doing. Finally we were able to break into Q2. I didn’t have a new tyre for that session, so I did what I could. Our performance was good, since I managed to set a 1min 41.6secs and reached sixth. I don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow, so we’ll see. I’ve been somewhat faster in the wet than in the dry, but I also have faith that we can improve on the pace we showed on Friday in dry conditions.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P7
“Overall today, all sessions were quite tricky, especially FP4 and qualifying. I saw that Q1 was really tough, but also in Q2 it was really difficult to make the right tyre choice. Some people went for the slicks, but for us it was too risky and we used two wet tyres. But even for us it was confusing, we went out with a medium rear but at the end changed to a soft and it was the wrong choice as I had a crash at the last moment. But it was ok, I’m really happy with the result, seventh is my personal best on the grid, so that’s good. Tomorrow it’s difficult to know about the track condition with the weather, if it’s like this then the first priority will be to finish the race. We have to think about improving the set-up of the bike and the grip, but I’m happy with the result.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P8
“Very tricky conditions, especially in Qualifying today. There was one sector where it was full wet with no grip and then the others were almost dry – it was tough to stay on the bike. We could have made the front two rows I think but I chose to use the soft tyre first and the medium second, with the medium first I think we could have achieved more. But we have achieved our best position of the year, that’s the positive.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was next up in P9 and that was another notable result; the Noale factory’s best of the season so far.
Aleix Espargaro – P9
“The conditions today were extremely complicated. It was like riding on ice. When it rains lightly, there is less grip compared to heavy rainfall, plus the asphalt temperature was only 15°C. The third row is not bad at all. It will certainly make my life easier in the race. With a dry track, I am rather certain that I can still battle for a top-ten finish, but in the wet, I don’t have the best feeling. In qualifying, I didn’t feel much support from the rear tyre in acceleration. I took a few risks on my flying lap, but it would be difficult to do that for the entire race distance.”
Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, looked disappointed with P10, but it’s a impressive result for the rookie as he had to get very quickly accustomed to a MotoGP machine in the wet. The Frenchman will start ahead of Viñales too after a disaster for the Spaniard, who had looked immensely strong in all conditions throughout the weekend.
Fabio Quartararo – P10
“I’m a little frustrated with how Q2 went, but we had to try going out with slicks. It wasn’t the right decision, but the important thing is that we were able to improve our time with the wet tyres. My first lap was the best, but it started to rain more and more. We tried many things to get our fastest time as soon as possible, but the lap never came. In the end my time wasn’t so bad, considering the conditions. The bike feels good even if the grid position doesn’t look as good as I wanted. We are ready for the race tomorrow; in FP3 we worked hard to get a good race pace with the wet tyres, so I am positive for tomorrow whether it is wet or dry.”
Maverick Vinales – P11
“The strategy didn‘t quite go to plan. We decided to give the slick tyres a chance at the start of Q2, but it started to rain more. We lost two or three laps at the moment the track was in the best condition to set a fast time. Anyway, I think we are doing well this weekend. We are trying to improve ourselves, and in the wet we improved a lot. In the dry I always felt great, so it‘s a good track for us. It‘s true that I have to start the race from 11th, but we‘re going to do our best to be on the podium. We have confidence, because I understand how to ride the bike and how to be faster. The bike, right now, is on a good level. We still have to improve in some areas, but it‘s coming. Nothing is impossible, so we are going to push tomorrow, give our best, and see what we can achieve. We‘ll try to be strong tomorrow, especially in the first half of the race, because it‘s going to be very important to overtake.”
Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) crash means he’ll start 12th on the KTM after failing to set a time, although it’s a step up from last season for the Austrian marque.
Pol Espargaro – P12
“This morning we made some changes on the bike that I really liked and in FP4 I was fast over one lap. We had a few problems in the end but that first lap out of the box was really fast. I had good feelings for the Quali, but Le Mans is complicated! Things change very quickly with the weather. It was much more slippery and it was hard to find a good feeling. I stopped to fit a softer rear tyre to find more grip and in the end, nothing. On the first lap I crashed. I don’t understand [why] that well because I was 7ks slower and not leaning more or pushing more on the brakes. In the dry we have top ten pace but if it is wet we’ll have to see tomorrow.”
A notable name missing from the list? Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Despite good speed in a wet FP4, the Spaniard struggled in qualifying and will start the French GP down in P19. Can he pull his usual race day pace out the bag and slice back to the front?
Alex Rins – P19
“We had a bit of a problem during qualifying, and it was difficult to have a strategy. I started on wets, then I changed to slicks, but it started to rain more, and it was too risky to push. The session is short, and the time ran out. I’m starting near the back, but I’ll try to overtake as many riders as possible. I feel calm and good with either conditions; and let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
MotoGP Combined Qualifying Times
|13||Francesco Bagnaia||Ducati||1’39.982||(*) 2.315|
|14||Johann Zarco||KTM||1’40.029||(*) 2.362|
|15||Cal Crutchlow||Honda||1’40.114||(*) 2.447|
|16||Miguel Oliveira||KTM||1’40.385||(*) 2.718|
|17||Karel Abraham||Ducati||1’40.482||(*) 2.815|
|18||Joan Mir||Suzuki||1’40.606||(*) 2.939|
|19||Alex Rins||Suzuki||1’40.706||(*) 3.039|
|20||Tito Rabat||Ducati||1’41.351||(*) 3.684|
|21||Hafizh Syahrin||KTM||1’41.717||(*) 4.050|
|22||Andrea Iannone||Aprilia||1’41.786||(*) 4.119|
After edging through Q1 by just 0.012, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) has taken his second consecutive pole position of the season to head fellow Q1 graduate Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) joining the duo on the front row in third. Like in Moto3, the top two made a little history.
Damp and tricky conditions greeted the field in Q2 and it was Lüthi who set the pace in the early stages; the Swiss rider dialled in from a 15-minute Q1 session. Navarro was also up there alongside another rider who progressed from Q1 – Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), with Marquez going well in the early stages too.
However, it was far from a smooth ride for the top two in qualifying as both then crashed. Lüthi hit the deck at the notoriously difficult Turn 3, while Navarro went down just after fourth-place Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had gone down in front of him at Turn 8. All three riders were ok and in the end, none ended up threatened as they watched the rest of the field push on from the sidelines. Only Marquez was within a little over half a second, and he remained third, with Pasini also not overtaken despite his crash and the impressive Italian taking P4.
Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will launch from fifth for the French GP after a solid Q2, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) continuing his good weekend to earn his best qualifying position since starting seventh at last season’s Dutch GP. Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh after improving his time in the latter stages, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Q1 graduate Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) also improving their times on their final flying laps to earn third row starts. This is Tulovic’s first top 20 start in the premier class; an impressive showing in the wet from the German rookie.
Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes the top ten in qualifying as the latter stages bumped Dixon down to P11 although the rookie’s Q1 time, if replicated, would have been enough to put the 23-year-old on the front row. Nevertheless, a great personal best qualifying and a top-notch return to action for the number 96 rider after missing the Americas and Spanish GPs through injury.
Moto2 Combined Qualifying Times
|Pos||Rider||Motorcycle||Time Lap Total||Gap|
|1||Jorge Navarro||SPEED UP||1’49.055||0.000|
|7||Lorenzo Baldassarri Ita||KALEX||1’50.726||1.671|
|19||Luca Marini||KALEX||1’49.748||(*) 0.646|
|20||Fabio Di Giannantonio Ita||SPEED UP||1’50.297||(*) 1.195|
|21||Steven Odendaal||NTS||1’50.571||(*) 1.469|
|22||Iker Lecuona||KTM||1’50.972||(*) 1.870|
|23||Somkiat Chantra||KALEX||1’50.981||(*) 1.879|
|24||Stefano Manzi||MV Agusta||1’51.313||(*) 2.211|
|25||Dominique Aegerter||MV Agusta||1’51.855||(*) 2.753|
|26||Sam Lowes||KALEX||1’52.016||(*) 2.914|
|27||Marco Bezzecchi||KTM||1’52.268||(*) 3.166|
|28||Dimas Ekky Pratama||KALEX||1’52.355||(*) 3.253|
|29||Joe Roberts||KTM||1’52.355||(*) 3.253|
|30||Xavi Cardelus||KTM||1’53.385||(*) 4.283|
|31||Tetsuta Nagashima||KALEX||1’53.397||(*) 4.295|
|32||Philipp Oettl||KTM||1’53.893||(*) 4.791|
Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee made a little history at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, becoming the first rider to progress from Q1 to then go on to take pole position in Moto3. It’s his first pole position since Argentina 2017 – although he started from the front at Mugello the same year – and he’s joined on the front row by Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) and Friday’s fastest man, impressive rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia).
McPhee moved through from Q1 ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with Argentina winner Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) surprisingly one to lose out. Once in Q2, McPhee set a 1:42.277 on slick tyres, with the track having dried from this morning’s wet FP3 session, and that was enough to earn him pole.
For Ogura, it’s his career best qualifying and therefore evidently his first front row. The Japanese rider beat compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) to the honour by just over half a tenth, so Jerez podium finisher Suzuki starts fourth at the head of row two. Kömmerling Gresini Moto3’s Gabriel Rodrigo was fifth quickest, ahead of Q1 graduate Ramirez as the Spaniard completes the second row.
Despite a third crash of the weekend, and a second at Turn 3, SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Niccolo Antonelli responded by setting a lap that will see him front row three of the grid in P7. The Italian is aiming to become the first double race winner of the 2019 season, as is Honda Team Asia’s Kaito Toba, who joins Antonelli on row three after going ninth quickest. The man between the two, Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), won’t be starting eighth due to a 12-place grid penalty, however – so Toba will start P8, and he’ll be joined by Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) on row three as the Italian also gains a place due to the penalty. Sergio Garcia, after moving through Q1, also drops 12 places on the grid despite having gone tenth quickest.
That means Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) starts 10th, Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) 11th – the Italian still feeling some effects of his Friday highside – and Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) 12th, with a good few names looking to slice back through the order on Sunday.
Moto3 Combined Qualifying Times
|Pos||Rider||Motorcycle||Time Lap Total||Gap|
|15||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||Honda||1’43.519||1.242|
|19||Alonso Lopez||Honda||1’44.516||(*) 0.522|
|20||Filip Salac||KTM||1’44.589||(*) 0.595|
|21||Celestino Vietti||KTM||1’44.643||(*) 0.649|
|22||Jakub Kornfeil||KTM||1’44.710||(*) 0.716|
|23||Jaume Masia||KTM||1’44.776||(*) 0.782|
|24||Ayumu Sasaki||Honda||1’44.837||(*) 0.843|
|25||Vicente Perez||KTM||1’44.913||(*) 0.919|
|26||Riccardo Rossi||Honda||1’45.116||(*) 1.122|
|27||Darryn Binder||KTM||1’45.535||(*) 1.541|
|28||Can Oncu||KTM||1’45.796||(*) 1.802|
|29||Tom Booth-Amos||KTM||1’46.092||(*) 2.098|