Binder grabs Friday P1 from Gardner at the French GP

South African leaves it late to go fastest in Le Mans ahead of the Australian

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder left it late to head the Moto2™ field at the Shark helmets Grand Prix de France as the South African set a 1:36.551, ousting Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) from the top by 0.049 as the chequered flag dropped with Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) completing the top three.

Rain was in the air in Le Mans but thankfully it stayed away as the Moto2™ riders completed their second and last session of the day, with everyone bar Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Sam Lowes – the British rider crashing at Turn 8 during the session - improving their times from FP1.

It was Gardner who sat top of the combined standings with ten minutes left on the clock as he continued his form from FP1 that saw him finish fifth, despite still recovering from his heavy Turn 1 crash in Jerez. But by the end it wasn’t the Australian who would be leading, as FP1’s third fastest man Binder stormed to the summit on board a seemingly fixed KTM after the Austrian factory had a successful Jerez Test last week to try and sort out their chatter issues.

One rider who hasn’t experienced any such problems this year is three-time 2019 race winner Baldassarri and after completing FP1 in P9, Le Mans a track the Italian has never scored points at, the Italian jumped up six places to finish third overall on Day 1 at the French GP – 0.117 separates the top three.

Teammate Augusto Fernandez ends the day just 0.019 off third in fourth place, the Spaniard having a much-improved second session after a P17 finish in FP1, with replacement Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) impressing once more on board a Kalex machine to finish inside the top five. After finishing second in the morning, Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) ends Friday in 6th place, just ahead of FP1 pacesetter Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) – the Italian crashing unhurt in FP2. Eighth goes the way of Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) who sits just 0.283 off top spot, the Italian climbing inside the top ten from P16 in FP1, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) rounding out the top ten that are split by just over three tenths.

Along with Lowes and Locatelli, Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team), NTS RW Racing GP’s Steven Odendaal and Somikat Chantra (Honda Team Asia), twice a crasher in that session, all went down the road as they search for a lap time – riders ok.

There are some big names missing from the top 14 ahead of what could be a wet FP3 on Saturday. Lowes, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up), Luthi, Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) make up 15th to 19th on the combined times respectively. They’ll be hoping for a dry session tomorrow to try and grab a top 14 spot to go directly into Q2.

Moto2™ FP3 begins at 10:55 on Saturday.

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