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Dovizioso tops the first-day time-sheets at Le Mans on Friday | MOTOGP | SPORT

Ducati lead Honda and Yamaha on the opening day in Le Mans, with Rossi in P3

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) topped Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) on the first-day time-sheets at Le Man on Friday, reversing the positions of the first morning session in an afternoon when all but one rider improved his lap time.

Bright sunshine and the promise of more of the same meant that there is still a chance tomorrow for a rejigged top ten (through to the “senior” Q2); and there are a couple of notable riders who will be aiming to do so.

They are 11th-fastest LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (who crashed on his last fast lap); Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci – 13th; plus both Ecstar Suzuki riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins (14th and 15th).

Dovi’s fastest lap, at 163.8 km/h a new best lap for the stop-and-go 4.158km Bugatti circuit, came after the announcement of his contract renewal at Ducati.

Dovizioso, French MotoGP 2018

Marquez also had reasons to be happy, after successful tests at Jerez and Mugello gave him a new aerodynamic fairing for this wheelie-prone track.

Valentino Rossi was a best-this-year third, also pleased. “The M1 likes this track,” he said (he won here last year). “I don’t know why.”

Movistar Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales was fourth, with home hero Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) next, and Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) completing the top six.

Zarco, French MotoGP 2018

The rest of the ten were Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM), Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda – still in pain from his Argentine and Jerez crashes), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati).

The top 16 were all within one second of pole, on a track with a new best time of 1m 31.936s.

There were a number of crashes, with Jack Miller having a harmless low-side in the morning; Crutchlow, team-mate Taka Nakagami, EG Honda’s Franco Morbidelli and Petrucci.

Miller, French MotoGP 2018

Moto2 took as usual the last session of the day, when a hotter track meant that not everybody improved on their morning time. Among them overall leader Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex), who remained eight hundredths faster than Pecco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex). Alex Marquez (EG Kalex) was third, walking away from a last-corner spill late in the session.

Fast class rookie Joan Mir (Marc VDS Kalex) was fourth, ahead of Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Kalex) and Simone Corsi (Tasca Kalex); then Pasini (Kalex), Oliveira (KTM), Fenati (Kalex) and Lowes (KTM) completed the top ten.

Moto3 riders were mostly quicker in session two; with 19 riders within the same second, and Hondas taking the top four slots.

Nico Antonelli, Kaito Toba, Enea Bastianini and Toni Arbolino were that quartet; then championship leader Marco Bezzecchi (KTM) ahead of three more Honda riders – Aron Canet, Fabio Di Giannantonio, and morning leader Jorge Martin. Jerez winner Peter Oettl and Andrea Migno (both KTM) completed the top ten.

by Michael Scott