Smith fastest for Aprilia in wet FP1

Smith’s future beyond this weekend is uncertain as Andrea Iannone’s appeal to lift his 18-month doping ban will be negotiated on Thursday and may be able to return to the Aragon Grand Prix next weekend.

Despite a flood of falls in the previous Moto3 session, the riders quickly learned the conditions when the first foray into the premier class of the weekend began.

The last full wet race in MotoGP was the 2018 Valencia Grand Prix, won by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and showing Pol Espargaro on the podium on the KTM.

At the beginning of the first RP in Le Mans, both exchanged the top position, with the Ducati briefly taking advantage of the advantage with a time of 1: 45.785 minutes in around 28 minutes.

Moments later, Ducati colleagues Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia would downgrade him in the Pramac GP20, before Danilo Petrucci from sister factory Desmosedici took the top spot with 1: 45.326 minutes.

Petrucci, who finished dry on the podium at Le Mans last year, was mixed back by Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales with a time of 1: 45.121 minutes, although the Ducati rider made sure this was short-lived when he did a time of 1: 44.931 minutes.

With eight minutes to go, Miller returned to the top of the timesheet with a time of 1: 44.735, which was soon threatened as lap times continued to drop towards the end of the session.

Petrucci overturned Miller’s time in 1: 44.409, although the Australian hit back with 1: 44.346, before Vinales led the Factory M1 to 1: 44.180.

When the checkered flag came out, Smith hooked up a lap that threatened the top spot on the Aprilia and produced 1: 43.804 seconds to finish FP1 fastest in 0.154 seconds.

Zarco jumped to second on his final lap of his GP19, with Petrucci taking the top three ahead of Miller and Dovizioso and Vinales taking the top six.

Morbidelli was shuffled back to seventh place ahead of Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha factory team, while LCR’s Cal Crutchlow – who admitted on Thursday that his right arm is “not in a great situation” – was ninth on the Honda and ahead of KTM’s Espargaro.

The Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir finished 11th and 12th, while championship leader Fabio Quartararo was about 2.6 seconds behind in 18th place.

With weather forecasts predicting drier conditions for the weekend, the need to advance the first RP came with little reward and likely influenced Quartararo’s caution.

Stefan Bradl has not hired time for the factory Honda, although he has spent the last two days in the Algarve, Portugal testing the RC213V.