Quartararo denies Miller pole in France

Fabio Quartararo pic: MotoGP.com

Fabio Quartararo has denied Jack Miller pole position for the French MotoGP with a last-gasp effort.

Miller had gone to the top with a 1:31.537s just before the chequered flag flew in Qualifying 2 at Le Mans, but the championship leader still had enough to ride his Petronas SRT Yamaha to a 1:31.315s.

There will be two Ducatis on the front row with Danilo Petrucci coming from Qualifying 1 to put his factory entry on the other side of Miller courtesy of a 1:31.674s, which the Italian set just before Quartararo’s final effort.

Franco Morbidelli set the early pace with a 1:32.393s but team-mate Quartararo held sway after the first runs with a 1:31.679s and then a 1:31.665s.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) was second on a 1:31.752s and Morbidelli third with a 1:31.891s, while Miller (Pramac Ducati) sat ninth.

Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) went early for his second run but initially could not find an advance on the fourth position which he held when the track went quiet.

Andrea Dovizioso, on the other hand, rode his Ducati Team entry to a 1:31.747s to take up second spot.

His was the only real change to the pointy end of the grid, notwithstanding improvements in lap time for Morbidelli and Viñales, until the final minute of 15.

That was when Cal Crutchlow (Castrol LCR Honda) jumped from ninth to second with a 1:31.686s then Miller, who had shaken off a highside in Free Practice 3, fired in the time which elevated him from 10th to provisional pole.

Viñales moved back to fourth with a 1:31.719s just before the chequers, then Dovizioso bettered his time but not his position in clocking a 1:31.722s.

Petrucci subsequently moved to third, meaning Quartararo was still on the middle of the front row until he punched out a lap 0.222s quicker than Miller’s best.

Row 2 will be Crutchlow, Viñales, and Dovizioso respectively, with Row 3 headed up by Bagnaia from Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory) and Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Ducati).

Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) rounded out the top 10, Morbidelli ended up only 11th, and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3) took 12th.

The Portuguese rider looked in danger of wasting his Q2 berth entirely, having suffered an apparent engine failure during Free Practice 4 and crashed his second bike once the oil he dropped was cleaned up and the session restarted.

Joan Mir’s championship hopes took a hit when he missed out on the top two in Q1.

The Spaniard was bumped by Bagnaia in the final minute of the session before being relegated further to 14th when Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu LCR Honda) pipped him by 0.008s with a 1:32.179s.

Mir’s Suzuki Ecstar team-mate, Alex Rins, qualified 16th while Alex Marquez ended up 18th on the grid and Stefan Bradl 21st on the other Repsol Honda.

Race start is Sunday at 22:00 AEDT, with 27 laps the distance.

Qualifying: French MotoGP

Pos Num Rider Nat Team Bike Time Gap 1st/Prev
1 20 Fabio QUARTARARO FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 1:31.315  
2 43 Jack MILLER AUS Pramac Racing Ducati 1:31.537 0.222 / 0.222
3 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:31.674 0.359 / 0.137
4 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda CASTROL Honda 1:31.686 0.371 / 0.012
5 12 Maverick VIÑALES ESP Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:31.719 0.404 / 0.033
6 04 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:31.722 0.407 / 0.003
7 63 Francesco BAGNAIA ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 1:31.752 0.437 / 0.030
8 44 Pol ESPARGARO ESP Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:31.795 0.480 / 0.043
9 5 Johann ZARCO FRA Esponsorama Racing Ducati 1:31.832 0.517 / 0.037
10 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:31.889 0.574 / 0.057
11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT Yamaha 1:31.891 0.576 / 0.002
12 88 Miguel OLIVEIRA POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 1:32.009 0.694 / 0.118
13 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI JPN LCR Honda IDEMITSU Honda 1:32.179 Q1 / Q1
14 36 Joan MIR ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:32.187 Q1 / 0.008
15 41 Aleix ESPARGARO ESP Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:32.539 Q1 / 0.352
16 42 Alex RINS ESP Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1:32.757 Q1 / 0.218
17 33 Brad BINDER RSA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM 1:32.766 Q1 / 0.009
18 73 Alex MARQUEZ ESP Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:32.774 Q1 / 0.008
19 38 Bradley SMITH GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 1:32.833 Q1 / 0.059
20 27 Iker LECUONA ESP Red Bull KTM Tech 3 KTM 1:32.859 Q1 / 0.026
21 6 Stefan BRADL GER Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:32.861 Q1 / 0.002
22 53 Tito RABAT ESP Esponsorama Racing Ducati 1:33.610 Q1 / 0.749

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