Stefan Bradl set the pace in first practice for the Moto2 Grand Prix of France which has heavily disrupted by a red flag after numerous riders fell. The championship leader set his fastest time of 1:39.150 with half an hour still to go and then watched four riders, including Marc Marquez, slide off on oil at turn ten.
Ricard Cardus was the first to fall before Marquez, Pol Espargaro and Xavier Simeon followed him but all riders involved were uninjured.
When the session resumed, there were few changes at the top of the timesheets, meaning Bradl's time was unchallenged. Thomas Luthi and Yuki Takahashi were second and third but they also ended their sessions in the gravel after accidents of their own.
Gresini rider Takahashi crashed out with four minutes remaining while Luthi was on a personal best lap before sliding off the road at turn eight moments later.
Jules Cluzel had a relatively trouble free run to fourth as he made an encouraging start to his home grand prix. The NGM Forward Racing rider was one of the few riders who found time at the end of the session, as was Julian Simon who climbed up to fifth.
Scott Redding was the highest placed British rider in sixth as he looks to finally score his first points of the year. The 18-year-old has endured a frustrating start to the season but looks to be on the pace once again at Le Mans.
Alex de Angelis was seventh for JIR Moto2, just ahead of Aleix Espargaro who was another rider who took to the scenery during the session. Just behind them was the recovering Marquez who returned to the track following the stoppage.
Bradley Smith completed the top ten for Tech 3 as he looks to continue his impressive start to life in the intermediate class. Kev Coghlan will be glad to be on track at all after sitting out the Portuguese Grand Prix with injuries suffered in the weeks prior to the race. The Scotsman was back on board the FTR this morning and finished the session in 38th place.
Two of the seasons' early championship contenders had quiet starts to the weekend. As in the first three events, Andrea Iannone didn't trouble the pacesetters in first practice, finishing in 11th, two places ahead of fellow countryman Simone Corsi.
With just two seconds covering 34 riders, another closely fought weekend is in prospect, and second practice will take place at 14:10 BST this afternoon.