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French GP Qualifying: Yamaha Lock First Row

May 21, 2017 - Races
French GP Qualifying: Yamaha Lock First Row

Viñales lights up qualifying as Zarco steals the spotlight

Yamaha domination in France as Viñales takes pole, Zarco flies the flag – and Rossi starts from the front

Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) took another impressive pole position at a proven venue for the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion in Le Mans, topping the timesheets from teammate Valentino Rossi in a huge leap forward from the more difficult Spanish GP for the two riders. Home hero Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took his first ever front row start in an electric atmosphere at the Bugatti circuit, lining up P3 at home.

It was a last lap dash for Zarco after also proving a superstar in Q1, the Frenchman getting his head down and into the zone as the factory Yamaha pairing pushed at the front. Seemingly forced to settle for Row 2, the double Moto2™ Champion kept pounding around the 2.6 mile circuit undeterred and lit up the timesheets on his final lap to take back the front row.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was the man just pushed back by Zarco’s last lap and starts P4, ahead of reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) after a more difficult day for the number 93. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) – fastest in Q1 from Zarco – completes the second row.

Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) starts P7 despite a crash after topping FP3 in Le Mans too, with Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) giving the Austrian factory their best ever qualifying to date in P8 – an awesome achievement in their first season, and with teammate Bradley Smith also in the Q2 shootout and lining up in tenth.

Splitting the two ‘Bulls’ was Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in a solid showing for the Czech rider, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and French favourite Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) completing the top twelve. Miller slid out in the session and also suffered a huge incident in FP4 – rider ok.

After rain affected sessions throughout the weekend, some big names find themselves falling foul of the fight to get through Q1, with Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) in P13, ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) and Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) to lock out the fastest fifteen. Le Mans’ most successful premier class rider on the grid, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) faces a fight back on Sunday from sixteenth.

Q1:

Dovizioso and Zarco move through incredible Q1

Pedrosa just pipped at the post in a clash of the titans fighting for entry to Q2

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took a late dash to the top in Q1 in a shootout reading more like Q2 – full of famous names – with home hero Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) then the last man with a chance to push Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) out of the top two, and managing to do so on his last lap.

Jerez winner Pedrosa will therefore start P13, ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), Hector Barbera (Reale Avintia Racing), Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and injury replacement Sylvain Guintoli (Team Suzuki Ecstar).