Eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) topped a damp MotoGP™ FP3 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France by over six tenths from Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) ahead of qualifying, but Friday’s FP2 times in the dry have decided the automatic Q2 places. Johann Zarco’s (Pramac Racing) 1:31.747 sees him lead fellow home hero Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by 0.095s, Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is P3.
For riders such as World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and his teammate Alex Rins, a wet Saturday morning at Le Mans meant one thing: they were destined for Q1. Rain started falling again at the beginning of FP3 to give the track another sprinkling of water, and although there would be no change on the combined standings, it was a crucial session with a potentially wet pole position shootout coming up later on.
The rain didn’t continue and by the end of the session, the asphalt was nowhere near as damp as it was at the start. This saw pretty much every rider improve their times late on, but no one had an answer for Marc Marquez’s superior pace in tricky conditions.
However, it’s a French 1-2 heading into qualifying with Zarco leading Quartararo, Viñales makes it two factory Yamahas in the top three. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) praised the work he and HRC did at the Jerez Test and is enjoying his Le Mans outing, it’s straight into Q2 for the Spaniard in P4. Jerez podium finisher Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) rounds out the top five ahead of fastest KTM Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) is seventh, the Australian suffered his second crash of the weekend in FP3 but was unhurt. There’s 17 World Championship titles on the shoulders of eighth place Marc Marquez and ninth place Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT), The Doctor returning to some much-needed form in 2021, with Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) the final automatic Q2 contender.
Undoubtedly, Q1 is going to be a heated battle. Rins, Bagnaia and Mir will all be expecting to make it through to the Q2 shootout, but there’s only two places available. The likes of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) will also feel like they should be fighting for pole, and what about last year’s wet French GP winner Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) and podium finisher Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol)?
The question on everyone’s lips is: what will the weather bring? Find out when qualifying gets underway at 14:10 local time (GMT+2), just after a vital FP4 session at 13:30.
Top 10 combined:
1. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) – 1:31.747
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.095
3. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.389
4. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.390
5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.532
6. Miguel Oliveria (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.549
7. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.614
8. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.885
9. Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.922
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.964