Salač denies Fenati to top mixed Friday in France

The Czech rider strikes late to take over at the top by just 0.039 as a wet morning gives way to a dry and busy FP2

After the damp, cold conditions of FP1 saw half the field take a tumble at Le Mans, FP2 was a marked improvement in conditions at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France. Although they remained far from perfect, Filip Salač (Rivacold Snipers Team) got the best measure of them in FP2 as the Czech rider’s final lap in the session proved enough to see him end the day on top and overhaul an ominous half-second gap previously enjoyed by Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team). The Italian was left 0.039 in arrears in FP2 and overall, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completing the top three.

The morning saw McPhee fastest in the wet ahead of Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) and Championship contender Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3), but with the weather improving and slicks on for FP2, those times were soon tumbling. By the end of play, the quickest lap in the afternoon was 11 seconds quicker than McPhee’s morning masterpiece.

Salač vs Fenati was the duel at the top for much of the last half hour of FP2, but the Czech rider’s 1:44.820 means he leads the provisional Q2 entrants after moving up from fourth in FP1. Fenati is forced to settle for second but had a good consistent run at or near the top, with McPhee retaining a place in the top three overall after showing some serious speed in the afternoon as well. The Scot also spent some time on track with teammate Khairul Idham Pawi as we saw some Petronas Sprinta Racing formation running on Friday afternoon.

Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) was on a charge late on, duelling McPhee at the top for a while before ending up P4 overall, with Migno completing the top five on Friday and proving another with consistent speed in both conditions. The number 16 was also the last man within a second of Salač’s timesheet-topping scorcher, if scorcher is the word for it at a damp and cool Le Mans.

Pawi slots into sixth overall as the Malaysian got back into the mix in the top ten after a tougher time of it of late, ahead of Championship leader Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) as the number 79 pipped Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) by just 0.006. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC59 Squadra Corse) was only another few hundredths off in ninth, with rookie Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) impressing once again as he completes the top ten overall following a P10 in FP1 to boot.

After 17 incidents in FP1 – and a few names crashing twice – the afternoon was comparatively docile, with no one taking a tumble at all and that, as well as the laptimes, testament to the improved conditions. Will they improve again for FP3 or are Friday’s fastest 14 heading through to Q2? If no one can go quicker on Saturday morning it’ll be Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), Albert Arenas and Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) joining the top ten in heading straight through – but anything can still very much change overnight…

The top ten on the combined timesheets:
1. Filip Salac (Rivacold Snipers Team) – 1:44.820
2. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) +0.039
3. John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) +0.525
4. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) +0.616
5. Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) +0.991
6. Khairul Idham Pawi (Petronas Sprinta Racing) +1.059
7. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) +1.256
8. Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) +1.262
9. Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) +1.286
10. Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia) +1.331


Tune in for FP3 at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday to see if the pack shuffles, before qualifying begins from 12:35!

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