2016 Le Mans MotoGP Friday
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.
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.
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):