Marquez on pole, Miller front row despite falling
Pole-sitter Marc Marquez will share the front row with Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller after an unusual, wet qualifying session for the French MotoGP.
Both Marquez and Miller crashed during the session but the former had already set the time which earned him pole, and the latter survived Valentino Rossi’s late advances.
All but one of the four Yamahas started Qualifying 2 on slicks despite rain continuing to fall at Le Mans, but unlike the bold move which Valentino Rossi got away with earlier in the afternoon, they were quickly back into the pits to change to wets.
As they did so, Miller laid down an impressive 1:41.366s on his Pramac Ducati, only for Marquez to come through and put in a 1:40.952s.
The Spaniard lost the front end of his Repsol Honda after an unsettled run into La Chapelle next time around, while Miller bailed out of his following lap.
Petrucci had his first flying lap cancelled but undercut Miller by 0.054s on his next to earn a spot on the middle of the front on his Mission Winnow Ducati.
Andrea Dovizioso got the #04 factory Ducati into position four while Rossi, having been eighth fastest with his first flyer, improved twice more.
Marquez continued to circulate without pitting after his crash but did not find more time, while Miller lost the front end of Bike #43 at Turn 3 in the final four minutes.
That gave Rossi a chance to bump the Australian from the front row in the 15th and final minute, but the time went away from the Monster Energy Yamaha rider in the third sector, leaving him fifth on the grid.
Franco Morbidelli, on a satellite Petronas SRT Yamaha, joins his Italian compatriots on the second row, one position ahead of Takaaki Nakagami on the Idemitsu LCR Honda.
Jorge Lorenzo earned his best starting berth to date at Repsol Honda in eighth, from Aleix Espargaro (Gresini Aprilia) and last start pole-sitter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas SRT Yamaha).
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) could only manage 11th while Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory) crashed and failed to set a time in Q2.
Earlier, Rossi and the factory Yamaha crew pulled off a masterstroke by sending ‘The Doctor’ out on slicks in Qualifying 1, the only one to do so at the start of the session, and he set the fastest lap of the stanza as the track came to him.
Morbidelli also made the cut, but Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory) will start only 14th, Cal Crutchlow (Castrol LCR Honda) 15th, and Grand Prix of The Americas winner Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) back in 19th.
The French MotoGP will be contested over 27 laps from Sunday at 2200 AEST.
Qualifying: French MotoGP
|1||93||Marc MARQUEZ||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1:40.952|
|2||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||1:41.312||0.360 / 0.360|
|3||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1:41.366||0.414 / 0.054|
|4||04||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||1:41.552||0.600 / 0.186|
|5||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1:41.655||0.703 / 0.103|
|6||21||Franco MORBIDELLI||ITA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||1:41.681||0.729 / 0.026|
|7||30||Takaaki NAKAGAMI||JPN||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda||1:42.059||1.107 / 0.378|
|8||99||Jorge LORENZO||ESP||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||1:42.067||1.115 / 0.008|
|9||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||ESP||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||1:42.450||1.498 / 0.383|
|10||20||Fabio QUARTARARO||FRA||Petronas Yamaha SRT||Yamaha||1:42.509||1.557 / 0.059|
|11||12||Maverick VIÑALES||ESP||Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||1:42.555||1.603 / 0.046|
|12||44||Pol ESPARGARO||ESP||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM|
|13||63||Francesco BAGNAIA||ITA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||1:39.982||Q1 / Q1|
|14||5||Johann ZARCO||FRA||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM||1:40.029||Q1 / 0.047|
|15||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||LCR Honda CASTROL||Honda||1:40.114||Q1 / 0.085|
|16||88||Miguel OLIVEIRA||POR||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||1:40.385||Q1 / 0.271|
|17||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||1:40.482||Q1 / 0.097|
|18||36||Joan MIR||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1:40.606||Q1 / 0.124|
|19||42||Alex RINS||ESP||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||1:40.706||Q1 / 0.100|
|20||53||Tito RABAT||ESP||Reale Avintia Racing||Ducati||1:41.351||Q1 / 0.645|
|21||55||Hafizh SYAHRIN||MAS||Red Bull KTM Tech 3||KTM||1:41.717||Q1 / 0.366|
|22||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||1:41.786||Q1 / 0.069|