2016 Le Mans MotoGP Friday

2016 Le Mans MotoGP Friday | Lorenzo 0.339 Ahead of Iannone
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo

Rain is nothing new at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France. But thankfully for Friday MotoGP practice, rain held out, allowing the 21-rider grid to get up to speed.

During the 45-minute morning free practice – typically a shakedown session for teams and riders – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa led the way with a 1:34.042 around the 2.6-mile French circuit containing 14 corners. The Spaniard finished 0.044 of a second ahead of the reigning MotoGP Champion, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.

The YZR-M1 pilot Lorenzo, who turned 29 this week, showed no remorse during the second and final free practice of Friday. Lorenzo, who has five wins at Le Mans (four MotoGP, one former 250cc Class), was untouchable during the second free practice. With rain clouds quickly rolling in, the three-time MotoGP Champion  was the only rider to post under the 1:32 mark.

Ducati's Andrea Iannone wheelie at Le Mans MotoGP
Ducati’s Andrea Iannone
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Lorenzo set a best time of 1:32.830 during  FP2, finishing 0.339 of a second ahead of the nearest competitor – Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who already had suffered two DNFs this season. Taking the third quickest time, 0.483 of a second behind Lorenzo, was the current points leader, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.

“I am very satisfied because from the beginning we started with a good setting and I was relatively fast, quite comfortably. In the afternoon we improved the bike a little bit and we went even faster with quite a big difference, a couple of tenths, to the rider in second place,” Lorenzo says.

“It wasn’t just one lap, we also had a good pace so it was a very good start to the weekend. Let’s see if tomorrow we can increase the pace a little bit more and prepare for the race to our best capabilities.”

Earning the fourth-quickest time was Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro; the Spaniard earned his only MotoGP front-row start last season at Le Mans. Joining him on the provisional second row were Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who finished 0.744 of a second behind Lorenzo, and the top Suzuki GSX-RR pilot, Team Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro, who finished 0.765 back.

Honda Marc Marquez at Le Mans MotoGP 2016
Honda’s Marc Marquez

Rounding out the top 10 were Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Pedrosa, Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and the rider who dominated Jerez MotoGP two weeks ago, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).

Three riders suffered crashes – LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow at turn 13; Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz – the only French rider on the MotoGP grid – at turn six; and Octo Pramac Racing Ducati’s Scott Redding at turn 7.

The grid returns to the Le Mans Circuit Saturday for two additional free practices ahead of qualifying.

Ahead of Le Mans MotoGP – round five of 18 – Marquez leads with 82 points, 17 ahead of Lorenzo and 24 ahead of Rossi.

Photos by Luciano Bianchetto

2016 Le Mans MotoGP Friday Practice Results (combined):

Pos. Rider Time
1 Jorge Lorenzo 01’32.830
2 Andrea Iannone 01’33.169
3 Marc Marquez 01’33.313
4 Pol Espargaro 01’33.406
5 Andrea Dovizioso 01’33.574
6 Aleix Espargaro 01’33.595
7 Maverick Viñales 01’33.613
8 Daniel Pedrosa 01’33.748
9 Hector Barbera 01’33.951
10 Valentino Rossi 01’33.974
11 Danilo Petrucci 01’34.050
12 Cal Crutchlow 01’34.053
13 Scott Redding 01’34.083
14 Bradley Smith 01’34.306
15 Loris Baz 01’34.364
16 Eugene Laverty 01’34.425
17 Yonny Hernandez 01’34.531
18 Jack Miller 01’34.656
19 Stefan Bradl 01’34.742
20 Tito Rabat 01’34.789
21 Alvaro Bautista 01’35.089

2016 Le Mans MotoGP Friday Practice – Photo Gallery