MotoGP GP of France: Vinales leads all-Yamaha front row at Le Mans

  Qualifiers for the Grand Prix of France at Le Mans saw Yamaha riders take the top three fastest lap times to fill up the front row of the starting grid. Maveick Vinales led team mate Valentino Rossi, who in turn led Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco. Zarco was third fastest in the Satellite Yamaha.

Championship rivals Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa were out of luck at Le Mans, having qualified fifth and thirteenth fastest. Marquez crashed out the fourth practice and during the second qualifiers due to a less-than-perfect bike. Both incidents affected his qualifying performance somewhat, while Pedrosa lost his provisional second place to Zarco by just 48 thousandths of a second. He therefore had to settle for a fifth-row spot despite the fact that his QP1 lap time would have placed him on the second row.

Having topped the fourth practice, Viñales stepped aboard his YZR-M1 with great confidence at the start of the qualifying session. As one of the last men to leave pit lane, he enjoyed some free track space and went directly on the attack. He took the top spot with his first flying lap, a 1:33.134s, before being pushed back to sixth place when the pace quickened.

With more than seven and a half minutes to go, he came into the pits for a fresh set of rubber. Two minutes later the Spaniard was back on track, now in seventh place in the timings, and had just enough time left for three more hot laps. He put his mind to it and produced a strong 1:32.146 for provisional pole, but further underlined his incredible speed with a 1:31.994 on his next lap, that earned him his second pole position of the season.

Rossi, who usually does well at Le Mans, proved to be a top runner as he moved up to second place on his third attempt. Six minutes from the end, he went from fourth to second and avoided a Jack Miller crash right in front him during a hot lap. He improved to 1:32.100 to hold second best overall.

Andrea Dovizioso was sixth, while team mate Jorge Lorenzo struggled to a sixteenth place finish in the qualifiers. Dovizioso was unable to get into the top 10 in FP3. He then had to make his way through Q1, which he finished in first place with a time of 1:32.298, thus gaining access to the successive Q2. Lorenzo, meanwhile could not establish a good feeling with the track conditions, and the Spanish rider also had to take part in the first qualifying run, which he finished in sixth. The former MotoGP champion will start the French GP from row 6.

2017 MotoGP GP of France Le Mans qualifying Q2

1 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’31.994
2 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’32.100
3 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’32.229
4 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 1’32.300
5 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’32.493
6 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’32.726
7 REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing Ducati 1’33.119
8 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1’33.399
9 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team Ducati 1’33.517
10 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1’33.629