A 1:42.150 in a dry Moto3™ FP2 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France sees Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) take the initiative on a mixed condition Friday. Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) is 0.126s off Rodrigo in P2 thanks to his last flying lap, with Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) rounding out the top three.
Despite some dark clouds hanging above Le Mans, the lightweight class were able to get a fully dry 40-minute session under their belts in FP2 after a damp and treacherous FP1. This meant that, because of the continual threat of rain throughout the weekend, putting in a fast lap and getting into the top 14 automatic Q2 places was essential.
Rodrigo was leading the way for the majority of the session from Masia and Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), the latter was up at the sharp end despite crashing for the third time of the day in FP2. But it was all bubbling up nicely for a mini qualifying attack at the end of Friday’s play. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3) moved the goalposts to a 1:42.595 with eight minutes to go, 0.351s faster than Rodrigo, signalling the start of a hair raising final few flying laps for the Moto3™ contenders.
With five minutes left on the clock, World Championship leader Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was P17. The rookie sensation crashed twice in the damp FP1 conditions but, undeterred, Acosta was up into P6 as the sun burst through the clouds. Masia shot to P1 before Öncü returned to the summit soon after, as yellow and red sector times lit up the timing screens. Masia then responded to retake top spot, but Rodrigo then decided it was his turn to then lead the way again.
And no one would be able to beat the Argentinian’s time, with Binder going closest to doing so on his final flying lap. Second in the Championship Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) sits 4th behind third place Masia at the end of Day 1, Öncü closes out the top five. Migno and Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) improved late on to claim P6 and P7 respectively, as did 8th fastest Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert PrüstelGP). Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) and Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech3) complete a top 10 covered by 0.605s as some big names miss out on a top 14 slot.
One of them is Acosta. The rookie sensation is just over a second off P1 after the opening two Free Practice sessions in France, so it looks like the history maker will have to battle it out in Q1 if the forecasts are to be believed. Jeremy Alcoba (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3), Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) are some of the other names to place down the leaderboard, they’ll all be praying the rain stays away for Saturday morning so they can try and improve their times.
Andi Izdihar (Honda Team Asia) was taken to the medical centre after a crash at Turn 7 but was later declared fit, Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power) was a late crasher at Turn 8.
Make sure you tune in for Moto3™ FP3 at 09:00 local time (GMT+2).
Top 10 combined:
1. Gabriel Rodrigo (Indonesian Racing Gresini Moto3) 1:42.150
2. Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) + 0.126
3. Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.181
4. Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) + 0.337
5. Deniz Oncu (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.360
6. Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.388
7. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.403
8. Ryusei Yamanaka (CarXpert Pruestel GP) + 0.456
9. Stefano Nepa (BOE Owlride) + 0.500
10. Ayumu Sasaki (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.605