Andrea Iannone: 4th – 1:31.454 (+ 0.269)
Alex Rins: 15th – 1:32.401 (+ 0.583)
• Strong pace from Iannone with second row start.
• Challenging day for “rookie” Rins.
• Improvements found despite difficult day.
Le Mans’ varying track temperatures caused difficulties for many riders during Saturday’s session, with crashes and errors dominating proceedings.
FP3 saw temperatures ranging from 12c to 25c over the lap, meaning riders had to adapt fast to the changing conditions and focus on keeping heat in their tyres. This made it difficult for anyone to improve, despite the Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders hoping to secure direct passage to Q2. Andrea Iannone pulled out all the stops during the tense session, and managed a strong lap time while running a soft-soft combination, this elevated him to 4th and simultaneously secured his place in the Top 10 overall. Alex Rins also worked hard to improve, and was able to do so, but when the chequered flag flew he just missed out on Q2 pace.
Rins, who suffered a crash without consequences during FP4, started Q1 with the medium-soft combo and began to improve further, staying close to the top three and briefly placing himself in the top two. But unfortunately his best time of 1:32.401, just +0.583 from the top, left him 15th on the closely packed grid.
Andrea Iannone confirmed his promising form during FP4, and carried this pace into the 15-minute Q2 session. With the soft-soft combo he was able to place himself 3rd, just +0.247 from pole position. He continued to push on his last run and moved to 2nd place with a 1:31.454 in the closing moments of the session. However, he was bumped onto the second row at the last second, and will start tomorrow’s race 4th, +0.269 from pole.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“Andrea has done a good job so far this weekend, and it’s very nice to start on the second row because he has shown fast pace throughout the practice sessions. Starting 4th on the grid, Andrea could be able to stay in the top group during the race. For Alex things have been more complicated today; he was a bit unlucky when he crashed on some gravel which was on the track, and then in qualifying things got more complicated. Starting 15th won’t be easy tomorrow, but we will keep our heads up and try our best. This circuit isn’t easy for overtaking but let’s see what can happen.”
“I’m really happy about the qualifying, I pushed more than 100% and today we improved a lot compared to the morning. We used FP4 to find a better set-up and improve my pace, so I think despite struggling a lot on acceleration, the feeling with the bike, even on the braking point, isn’t bad. We have good pace, not the best pace, but it’s possible to fight. We are close to the podium, so depending on the temperature and other factors, we will see what can happen. There are seven or eight riders all very close, and this year has been crazy like that.”
“I was a bit surprised to miss out on Q2, I had expected to get there. But everyone is very close and the margins are small. In general we have a good rhythm, we just need to improve the ‘one lap’ pace. Anyway, for tomorrow’s race I will try to make a good start and try to overtake as quickly as possible. Together with the team I have set a target of Top 10, and I will try to do all I can to achieve that. In the last few races I have crashed, but whilst fighting with the front group, so I have been happy to be able to aim for the win. I need to work more to be back in that position.”
GP of France – Qualifying Classification:
1. Johann ZARCO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’31.185
2. Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1’31.293 0.108 / 0.108
3. Danilo PETRUCCI Alma Pramac Racing 1’31.381 0.196 / 0.088
4. Andrea IANNONE Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’31.454 0.269 / 0.073
5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1’31.553 0.368 / 0.099
6. Jorge LORENZO Ducati Team 1’31.590 0.405 / 0.037
7. Jack MILLER Alma Pramac Racing 1’31.683 0.498 / 0.093
8. Maverick VIÑALES Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’31.784 0.599 / 0.101
9. Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’31.900 0.715 / 0.116
10. Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1’32.024 0.839 / 0.124
11. Tito RABAT Reale Avintia Racing 1’32.049 0.864 / 0.025
12. Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’32.455 1.270 / 0.406
13. Cal CRUTCHLOW LCR Honda CASTROL 1’32.315 Q1
14. Hafizh SYAHRIN Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’32.397 Q1
15. Alex RINS Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’32.401 Q1
16. Franco MORBIDELLI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’32.770 Q1
17. Bradley SMITH Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’32.795 Q1
18. Pol ESPARGARO Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1’32.988 Q1
19. Takaaki NAKAGAMI LCR Honda IDEMITSU 1’33.062 Q1
20. Alvaro BAUTISTA Angel Nieto Team 1’33.324 Q1
21. Thomas LUTHI EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1’33.439 Q1
22. Scott REDDING Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’33.676 Q1
23. Xavier SIMEON Reale Avintia Racing 1’33.802 Q1
24. Karel ABRAHAM Angel Nieto Team 1’33.839 Q1
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