Hometown hero Fabio Quartararo topped the opening MotoGP free practice session at Le Mans this morning, going well inside the lap record on soft Michelins front and rear to fend off a late charge from Andrea Dovizioso.
The French youngster put in a 1’31.986 on his final lap for top spot on the Petronas Yamaha and it was enough to keep Ducati’s Dovizioso in second. The Italian also bolted on softs all round for his last run for a 1’32.113.
Team-mate Danilo Petrucci charged into third with the same tyre combination, setting a 1’32.193 to finish two-tenths off the pace.
Monster Yamaha experienced completely different fortunes in the session. Maverick Vinales took fourth place on the timesheets on a 1’32.203 but with an 18-lap old medium rear Michelin while Valentino Rossi’s chain broke with 20 minutes left.
The Doctor was left to get a lift back to the pits with some small child on a scooter and mustered a 1’32.760 on soft rubber all round to take tenth place - which could be crucial as the forecast is for rain on and off this weekend.
Lorenzo goes kerb-crawling
It was also a mixed session for Repsol Honda as Jorge Lorenzo crashed early doors, losing the front on the kerbs at Garage Vert. Team-mate Marc Marquez made exactly the same mistake later in the session but stayed on to complete the session in fifth.
Like Vinales, Marquez stayed on the same medium rear for the session and ended some eight-tenths ahead of Lorenzo who is down in 14th place.
Pol Espargaro briefly topped the timesheets and was around the top five all session but slipped back to sixth place in the final analysis. His 1’32.237, set on used soft/medium rubber, was enough for sixth place.
Pramaxc Ducati’s Jack Miller didn’t opt for a soft tyre at the end and finished in seventh one ahead of Suzuki rookie Joan Mir who did stick in a new soft for his eighth-placed lap.
Johann Zarco found some form in front of his home crowd to end in ninth place with Rossi in tenth. Cal Crutchlow was 11th, Franco Morbidelli - using the new Yamaha aero package - 12th with Bagnaia, Lorenzo and Taka Nakagami completing the top 15.