Weatherman: Miller takes the reins on Day 1 in Le Mans
FP1 at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France started wet and was eventually just dry enough for slicks for those who dared – and Jack Miller did, as the Queenslander set a blistering 1:37.467 to top the session. With conditions worsening in FP2, the Aussie remains top on combined times and fastest on Friday in another show of mastery in tricky conditions.
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was second quickest in FP1 and again in FP2, taking P2 on the timesheets after action ended ahead of home hero and rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completed the top four overall, despite a slightly more difficult FP2 down in P13.
Loris Baz was another home stunner for Reale Avintia Racing to complete the top five, and the Frenchman was twelfth in the second session – then just ahead of Crutchlow. Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was another flying the Independent Team flag, taking P6 on combined timings.
Bradley Smith took his first top ten for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in an impressive P7 in FP1 and overall on Friday, just ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
Alvaro Bautista was a top ten presence in both sessions – P9 in FP1 and P6 in FP2 – ending Friday in ninth. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top ten ahead of Andrea Iannone. The ‘Maniac’ was fifth in the afternoon but ended the day in eleventh, just ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Jonas Folger.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was one of only two riders to improve his laptime despite worsened weather in FP2, and the Italian topped the timesheets in the second session to take P13 overall – ahead of Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team).
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) put on an impressive display in FP2 and was third, the Italian completing the top fifteen overall just ahead of teammate and fellow FP2 frontrunner Scott Redding. Redding joined ‘DesmoDovi’ as the other rider to improve in the more difficult conditions.
Despite the difficult conditions, there was only one incident as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) didn’t quite stop before the gravel trap – with early reports on the new track surface at the venue seemingly holding true.