Christina Bulpett |
Picture: GeeBee Images
Ducati Lenovo dominated Le Mans MotoGP qualifying as Pecco Bagnaia denied the home talent the spoils for his second pole in a row.
Another record-breaking 1’30.450 lap secured the celebrations with teammate Jack Miller just 0.06s adrift in second as the pair worked together in the closing stages. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro completing the Parc Ferme trio for his fourth front row start of the season.
1’31.637 was the initial benchmark as MotoGP qualifying set out on Saturday afternoon. Joan Mir setting the pace before Jorge Martin bettered on the Pramac Ducati moments later. The Suzuki Ecstar was back in charge with his third lap before again the countrymen switched. Mooney VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi and Luca Marini sitting third and fourth, and a mere 0.035s adrift of the promotion zone as the session played out.
A difficult qualifying saw Maverick Viñales down in 13th on the Aprilia at the halfway stage, Andrea Dovizioso just two places higher as he circulated just ahead of WithU RNF teammate Darryn Binder with the third Yamaha of Franky Morbidelli suffering another disappointing weekend from ninth.
Mir fired up his second run with a 1’30.933 to retake command. Bezzecchi looking to answer before his lap faded in the final sector and Vinales found sixth with two minutes to go. Martin struck back 0.129s clear as the final minute counted down with Vinales improving again, this time to third before Bezzecchi demoted him back with a lap 0.007s shy of promotion. Fabio di Giannantonio bettering his more experienced rivals on his way to sixth at the flag.
Q2 began with added pressure for Marc Marquez after the eight-time world champion crashed his Repsol Honda out of the closing stages of FP4. The team unable to repair the RC213V in time for the final 15-minute shootout, leaving him with a solitary machine for the all-important session.
Low 31’s set the pace as the initial laps registered with Bagnaia hitting the opening 1’30 of the afternoon. Aleix Espargaro and Fabio Quartararo squabbling for second with Enea Bastianini up to fourth. Martin arrived to second with his third lap before Quartararo took charge overall and Bagnaia bettered the Pramac to sit just 0.011s off the M1.
Miller and Johann Zarco circulated sixth and seventh ahead of the Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Mir with a trio of Hondas at the back of the pack as Marquez headed Pol Espargaro and Takaaki Nakagami completed the runners.
Ducati Lenovo headed out in tandem as the second runs prepared. Zarco the first to improve as he pushed the Pramac on to the provisional front row, demoting his teammate in the process. Bastianini and Rins denying the home talent moments later as Bagnaia and Miller locked out the standings 0.069s apart with the Italian setting another 1’30.450 all-time new lap record.
The dying seconds saw Espargaro advance on the RS-GP to take third as the flag dropped with late efforts from Quartararo and Bastianini fading in the final sector leaving the duo fourth and fifth as the session concluded.
Bagnaia claimed the pole and the all-time lap record ahead of his teammate and the Aprilia with both Frenchmen on the second row at home. Suzuki locked out the front of two three with Martin for company as HRC completed the set as they had started, in 10th to 12th.
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