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Maverick Vinales came out narrowly on top of an all-Yamaha front row for tomorrow’s French GP, with Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi just over a tenth behind.

QUALIFYING FRENCH MOTOGP – Maverick Vinales came out narrowly on top of an all-Yamaha front row for tomorrow’s French GP, with Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi just over a tenth behind, after being baulked at the last corner on a lap that might have given the veteran his first pole of the season.

French hero Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) completed the trio, after an all-action finale to a Q2 session that escaped the threat of rain, in a day of iffy weather at the fully resurfaced Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.

LCR team rider Cal Crutchlow was bumped to the head of row two by Zarco after the flag by less than a tenth, but stayed one place ahead of fellow Honda rider, Repsol team leader Marc Marquez. Andrea Dovizioso was sixth, on the top Ducati.

Both Zarco and Dovizioso had come through from Q1, the latter ousting Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) from second place in the session, thus condemning the Jerez winner to a 13th-place start.

Vinales, Zarco, French MotoGP 2017

Vinales had smooth progress to his second pole of the year, and said: “I think we can be confident. Here we have really good grip with the front.”

Rossi concurred. “It looks like the M1 likes this track and this asphalt. This time, the tyres work well.” Both had serious grip problems at the last race at Jerez.

Rossi, French MotoGP 2017

Zarco’s progress was more dramatic. He was short of soft tyres after a fall in the morning, so in Q1 he didn’t stop for a change, and managed to regain his place in Q2 on his tenth straight lap. Then in Q2, with only one tyre left, “I decided to wait. When I saw they were not beating the lap record, I could start quietly.” Could he be thinking of a podium finish? “Why not? The bike wants the podium.”

It was a mixed top ten from the first three practice sessions, with the crucial FP3 starting damp, and only drying enough for slicks in the closing minutes. Until then, times from FP1 determined most of the positions.

Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati) had topped the free practice list, and qualified 11th.

Both of the KTMs had made the top ten for the first time since their debut in Qatar, with Pol Espargaro qualifying eighth and team-mate Bradley Smith tenth, sandwiching Karel Abraham’s Aspar Ducati.

Jack Miller (EG-VDS Honda) was 11th, back from a fast crash in FP4 but falling again in the final corners, with Rossi inches behind. It was Miller who inadvertently got in Rossi’s way. Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati), also in the FP top ten, qualified 12th.

Miller, French MotoGP 2017

Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati) is alongside Pedrosa on row five, with Folger (Monster Yamaha) at the far end.

Jorge Lorenzo had a dire afternoon after his strong showing on the Ducati at Jerez, placed 16th, with Andrea Iannone (Ecstar Suzuki) alongside. Lorenzo had been at the sharp end in the rain, but said: “When I put slicks on, I didn’t feel confident. With another 15 minutes, I think I could have been in the top eight.”

Moto2 qualifying was interrupted by a few spots of rain after ten minutes, and four-times Le Mans winner Tom Luthi (CarXpert Kalex) decided to push for a time – only to fall off. Luckily the damage was slight and the distance to his pit likewise.“We learned from it, and on my next exit I felt more comfortable,” he said.

By then it had tried again, and he took his first pole of the year.

Fast class rookie Francesco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex) was just a couple of hundredths slower in second, after his Jerez podium; and points leader Franco Morbidelli (EG-VDS Kalex less a tenth away in third.

Times were close, the first 18 within one second, and Rossi’s half-brother Luca Marini (Forward Kalex) in a career-best fourth, 0.15 behind Morbidelli. Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Suter) and morning crasher Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) completed row two.

Moto3 was another exciting session spiced up by drops of rain, and with times so close that positions were something of a lottery. A game that Nicolo Bulega (SKY VR46 KTM) lost, after snitching pole at the last gasp, only to have his time disallowed for exceeding track limits.

Top spot reverted to Jorge Martin (Gresini Honda) for a third time this year, with Juanfran Guevara (RBA KTM) third. Martin was mightily relieved, having crashed early in the session.

The front row was covered by less than 0.15 of a second; and erstwhile leader Romano Fenati (Rivacold Honda) was barely three hundredths away in fourth.

Albert Arenas revived the good cheer of Mahindra with his best-ever and the Indian manufacturers best-this-year fifth fastest.