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Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) landed a dream home race pole position at the SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France, but before qualifying, one of the most important sessions of the weekend took place: FP4. And at Le Mans it was even more crucial after Friday’s mixed conditions, but who emerged looking like they’ve got what it takes to challenge for victory?
Round 10: MotoGP™ FP4 at the French Grand Prix
World Championship leader Quartararo looks in very good nick heading into Sunday’s battle. On a 21-lap old rear soft tyre, the sophomore was able to set three consecutive low 1:33s – his worst being a 1:33.272 – before the red flags came out for Miguel Oliveira’s (Red Bull KTM Tech3) oil spillage. Heading out on a fresher rear soft slick but the same front soft slick, Quartararo was comfortably in the mid-1:32s and set his fastest lap of the session – 1:32.528 – on his last flying lap. By that time, the rear tyre was 17 laps old and the front 27 – race distance.
Second fastest in FP4 was Quartararo’s teammate Franco Morbidelli and he too looks like he’s got some very good race pace. At the start of his second run the Italian was on a 14 lap old and rear 12 lap old rear tyres, setting three 1:32s – his quickest of a 1:32.533 coming on an 18 lap old rear soft – and the other flying laps were all low 1:33s, the worst of them being a 1:33.274. However, starting from P11, Morbidelli has his work cut out on Sunday afternoon.
We’ll also take a quick look at Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). The Spaniard needs a good getaway from P5 if he is to avoid a Barcelona repeat, but his pace looks strong. Viñales strung together five 1:32s on 16-lap old tyres, the best coming in the form of a 1:32.563 on 20-lap old softs. Viñales is well in the hunt, but can he get the start he’ll be craving?
A number of other riders showed glimpses of being able to dip into the 1:32s on used tyres. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) set two sub-1:33s in an inconsistent second run, with Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) also setting a couple of 1:32s on his second run on heavily used tyres.
Elsewhere, one to watch out for is Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team). The Italian is looking to reignite his 2020 title challenge and could well do so at the French GP, a race he finished second at last season. On his last lap of FP4 Dovizioso set a 1:33.068, good enough for P11 on the times. However, his tyres at that stage were 27 laps old. So at full race distance, Dovizioso was still able to set a low 1:30. And starting from P6 – his best grid slot since Austria – the number 04 is going to be a contender.
Showing good pace in FP4 in one thing, bringing your ‘A’ game on Sunday afternoon is another. Who comes out on top in the MotoGP™ Le Mans showdown? Find out at the slightly earlier time of 13:00 local time (GMT+2).
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