McPhee tops perilous Moto3™ FP1 involving 17 crashes

Wet, cold and pretty miserable were words uttered by all of the lightweight grid as the French Grand Prix got underway in Le Mans

Petronas Sprinta Racing's John McPhee set the fastest lap of the opening Moto3™ session at the SHARK Helmets French Grand Prix, held in treacherous conditions with rain and very low track temperature an extremely challenging combination for the lightweight class to tackle.

In the end, it was the Scotsman who topped the timesheets at the circuit he clinched his only victory of 2019 at, with Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team) completing a top three split by three tenths of a second.

The session was littered with crashes, however, as the lightweight class struggled with the track conditions. In total, 17 crashes were registered throughout FP1 as some riders went down more than once. The first was Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) when he crashed at Turn 4 as he exited pitlane. Jason Dupasquier (CarXpert PrüstelGP) then went down at Turn 3 as he started his first flying lap before Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü became the third rider to crash out with just over five minutes completed.

SIC58 Squadra Corse's Niccolo Antonelli also crashed at Turn 3, as did Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) suffered a nasty-looking crash at Turn 2, before both Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) and Carlos Tatay (Reale Avintia Moto3) also crashed at Turn 3.

SKY Racing Team VR46's Celestino Vietti had his first crash at Turn 4 before picking the bike up and crashing moments later at Turn 6. World Championship leader Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) went down at Turn 4, with Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) hitting the deck at Turn 14 and Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) finding the gravel trap at Turn 10.

In the closing stages, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) was the final man to go down at Turn 3, Stefano Nepa (Gaviota Aspar Team) highsided at Turn 2, Dupasquier went down again at Turn 14 and was joined there by Antonelli, who had his second off of FP1.

Rivacold Snipers Team's Filip Salac kept it upright throughout the 40-minute session and found himself fourth on the timesheets, half a second clear of Fernandez in fifth. Leopard Racing's Jaume Masia was 1.667 seconds adrift of Migno in sixth, with Garcia and Nepa seventh and eighth despite crashes. Rounding out the top ten was the Japanese pair of Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) and Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo).

Top 10:
1. John McPhee - (Petronas Sprinta Racing) - 1:55.217
2. Andrea Migno - (SKY Racing Team VR46) - +0.215
3. Albert Arenas - (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) - +0.372
4. Filip Salac - (Rivacold Snipers Team) - +0.628
5. Raúl Fernández - (Red Bull KTM Ajo) - +1.132
6. Jaume Masià - (Leopard Racing) - +1.260
7. Sergio García Dols - (Estrella Galicia 0,0) - +1.272
8. Stefano Nepa - (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) - +1.473
9. Yuki Kunii - (Honda Team Asia) - +1.540
10. Kaito Toba - (Red Bull KTM Ajo) - +1.603

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