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Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Bradley Smith topped a wet MotoGP™ FP1 at the SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France thanks to a 1:43.804, good enough to beat home hero Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) by 0.154 on Friday morning. 2019 Le Mans podium finisher Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was third on the timesheets, the Italian 0.220 adrift of Smith’s pace.
After heavy overnight rain and a continued sprinkling at Le Mans, MotoGP™ FP1 was wet with track temperatures sitting at a very cool 16 degrees. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was quickest in the early stages but as you can imagine, the times were slowly getting faster and faster and the premier class riders got to grips with tricky FP1 conditions. Former Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) then took over at the summit, demoting Pol Espargaro to P2 with just over 10 minutes of the session played.
After having a small scare when entering pitlane, Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) went P1 with just under 25 minutes to go before teammate and future factory Ducati partner Francesco Bagnaia made it a Desmosedici 1-2-3 in the opening Free Practice session of the weekend. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) then went fastest before wet weather specialist and Le Mans fan Petrucci took over P1 by nearly two tenths. Another Italian then decided to set the quickest lap of the session, Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) beating Petrucci’s time with around 15 minutes left of the opening 45-minute stint.
With eight minutes left on the clock, Miller was back to P1 as red sector times lit up the timing screens in the final five minutes, the riders gaining in confidence and going quicker every lap. Petrucci returned to the top before Miller snatched it back almost immediately after, with Viñales then spoiling the Ducati party to go top of the tree – Dovizioso just behind Viñales slotted into P3. The Italian then went top on his final flying lap but Smith then rose to the fore to claim a memorable P1, a fantastic job by the British rider with Zarco taking P2 on his last lap.
So a wet start to proceedings saw Smith lead a quartet of Ducati riders. Zarco, Petrucci, Miller and Dovizioso completed the top five, with Viñales P6. Morbidelli, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the injured Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and Pol Espargaro completed a top 10 covered by 0.956 in the wet conditions, Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was P18 – 2.690 seconds away from Smith.
Amazingly, there were no crashes in FP1, but will the wet weather remain for FP2? Find out at 14:10 local time (GMT+2) when the premier class head back out on track.
1. Bradley Smith (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) – 1:43.804
2. Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) + 0.154
3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) + 0.220
4. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) + 0.328
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.344
6. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.376
7. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.637
8. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.707
9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda) + 0.850
10. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.956
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