Takaaki Nakagami’s wait for a first pole position in Grand Prix racing finally came to an end at Le Mans as rain brought an early end to qualifying. The Japanese rider moved to the top of the timesheets ten minutes into the session and the subsequent downpour ensured he wouldn’t be challenged.
Scott Redding went into the session as many people’s favourite for pole despite crashing in morning practice but the threat of rain blew things wide open. The bikes flooded out onto the race track to beat the weather and the identity of the polesitter changed seemingly as every rider crossed the line but once the session calmed down, Redding sat on top with a 1:39.271.
At the time, Scott was four tenths ahead of Nakagami but the Italtrans rider kept the pace up on his opening run to set a 1:38.508 which would prove to be enough, despite Redding responding with a personal best of his own. The home supporters were delighted by the performance of Johann Zarco who got his IodaRacing Suter onto the front row in third, pipping championship leader Esteve Rabat by six thousandths of a second, while Xavier Simeon and Nicolas Terol completed the second row.
Pol Espargaro’s dip in form continued with seventh the best he could manage with Thomas Luthi eighth for Interwetten Paddock. Mattia Pasini will start ninth ahead of Mika Kallio and Anthony West while Mike Di Meglio is second Frenchman on the grid in twelfth although he was one of the many provisional polesitters early on.
The other British riders endured a tough afternoon with Kyle Smith best placed in 22nd although his session was ended by a crash. Danny Kent could only manage 26th at Tech 3‘s home circuit while the returning Gino Rea ended up 31st on his FTR.