Gresini Racing’s Enea Bastianini broke the Le Mans All Time Lap Record just moments before crashing his Ducati in MotoGP™ FP2 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France. The Italian finished a full two tenths of a second up on Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro and Team Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins, in a session which saw several falls.
Bastianini sets a new benchmark
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) had been fastest for much of the 45-minute session before Aleix Espargaro took over top spot with a 1:31.574 during the time attacks. Bastianini then clocked a 1:31.523 which would not be counted due to a shortcut at Chemin Aux Boeufs (Turn 9/Turn 10), but regrouped with a 1:31.148s just before the chequered flag.
No sooner had he reset Johann Zarco’s All Time Lap Record, which dates back to 2018, did the Italian have a spill when he lost the front at the Turn 3/Turn 4 chicane. Aleix Espargaro subsequently went faster than he had gone minutes earlier, but remained second having notched up a 1:31.350. Rins had been second-quickest in FP1 and proved that was no fluke when he clocked a 1:31.445 to be third in the latter session of the day at a sunny Le Mans.
Zarco survives a big scare to edge the big guns
Perhaps the most spectacular incident of the afternoon was a crash which was not, but easily could have been. Pramac Racing’s Zarco fired his Ducati off midway through the session at Turn 2 but pressed on through the gravel trap before briefly getting airborne when he rejoined the track again. He would set a 1:31.508 on his final lap to finish the day fourth-fastest at his home grand prix, while World Championship-leading compatriot Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) ended up sixth on a 1:31.640.
Splitting them was Bagnaia on a 1:31.635, with KTM’s best being Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in seventh. Joan Mir (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) ended up one spot further back with a lap time he set on his second bike, after he and his first GSX-RR went for an early tumble through the gravel at Le Musee (Turn 7). Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) is in the combined top 10 by virtue of his FP1 benchmark, with Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) ninth in FP2 and 10th overall.
With work to do in FP3 is therefore Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team), who sits 11th on combined times. He did something of a Zarco when he ran off at Garage Vert (Turn 8) and toured the gravel, having gone down completely at the ‘S’ Bleus (Turn 11) earlier in the session. Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) is also outside the Q1 cut-off in 12th, with one more session to get straight into Q2.
Marquez struggles continue
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) managed to improve on his FP1 lap time, but only to a 1:32.153 which saw him slip to 15th on the combined timesheet. After a notable save in the day's earlier session, he pulled off another near the end of FP2 which clearly impressed his peers.
Those who did crash during the session, in addition to Mir, Miller, and Bastianini, were Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team), Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Morbidelli, and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol).
Will there be another shake-up to the order in FP3? Find out Saturday from 09:55 (GMT +2).
MotoGP™ Top 10 on Friday:
1. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) – 1:31.148
2. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.202
3. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.297
4. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.360
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.487
6. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) + 0.492
7. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) + 0.509
8. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.518
9. Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.623
10. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.764