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Saturday at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France saw damp conditions make life that little bit harder for the MotoGP™ riders. But it was extra tough for the four premier class rookies, who got their first taste of wet track action this season.
So how did they fare? Home hero Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was the only rookie to have earned an automatic Q2 spot after Friday’s running, with the Frenchman feeling a little disappointed to have finished P10 in Q2.
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“Well the feeling was good, it’s a shame for qualifying,” reflected the 20-year-old. “We tried to exit with the slick and ultimately it was the wrong decision. We managed to get 10th place so yes, happy with the feeling on the bike but for sure we could do better.”
Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was the next best rookie in qualifying as the Italian placed his GP18 in P13. How did the Ducati man feel after his first experience in the wet on a MotoGP™ bike?
“There was a misunderstanding on my return after the second run,” admitted Bagnaia. “We could have fought better to hit Q2 that was within our reach. It is a mistake that we need to gain experience. I am very happy with the feeling with the bike in wet conditions. Tomorrow we can have a good race.”
Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira will lineup 16th for the French GP, with the Portuguese rider also happy with how he felt in the damp conditions after finishing just two tenths off Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in qualifying.
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“My first experience on the wet was quite positive. This morning I felt good, my speed was ok and I had a decent feeling going into the Qualifying… Overall, it’s an ok day and Qualifying for us with 16th position. For tomorrow the forecast is similar, which is a good indication to do a decent race.”
And what about Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir? It wasn’t the best day at the office for the Hamamatsu factory, with teammate Alex Rins starting P19. But Mir is happy with the feeling despite a less than satisfactory P18 starting slot for Sunday.
“In FP3 I felt really good in the wet with this bike, every time I’m better, I’m more comfortable, faster. But in the qualifying we made a mistake on the strategy, when we had to go with the slick tyres we were with the wet ones and then we stopped to put the slicks on and then it was wet. It was a mistake, these things happen.”
Who will emerge as top rookie in France? Quartararo will be gunning for home glory as they all go for a solid point haul in Le Mans. Racing gets underway at 14:00 local time (GMT+2).