Nicolas Terol made the best start to the 125cc French Grand Prix weekend but didn't have it all his own way in first practice at Le Mans.
The Bankia Aspar rider arrives on the back of three straight wins and leads the championship by 25 points from Sandro Cortese. Therefore, it was no great surprise to see his name appear at the top of the timesheets in first practice with a best time of 1:45.210, but the substantial gap between him and the chasing pack wasn't there this time.
Efren Vazquez was on the pace throughout the session and was only knocked off the top with three minutes remaining, eventually finishing less than a tenth of a second behind Terol.
Third place changed hands with regularity and it was home favourite Johann Zarco who took it on his final lap, completing an excellent morning for Avant–AirAsia–Ajo.
Sergio Gadea was another rider who will be pleased with his morning's work. The Spaniard was quickest of all for a brief spell but will still be happy with fourth, just 0.683s off the pace.
Hector Faubel was fifth on the second Aspar Aprilia while championship contender Sandro Cortese took sixth for Intact–Racing Team Germany. The 21 year old was 0.822s slower than Terol but like Gadea and Vazquez, will be feeling positive about his chances for the weekend after leading the session early on.
Alberto Moncayo was the final rider within a second of the fastest time in seventh, just ahead of top rookie Maverick Vinales whose impressive form from Estoril looks to be continuing here. Miguel Oliveira has also turned heads in his short career in grand prix racing, but the Portuguese teenager could only manage 15th this morning.
Danny Webb confirmed the improved performance of the Mahindra GP 125 by going 13th quickest, leaving him the fastest of the British quartet. Danny Kent was 17th for Red Bull Ajo Motorsport while Harry Stafford finished in 23rd.
Taylor Mackenzie returns on the Phonica Racing Aprilia this weekend after missing the Portuguese Grand Prix with a shoulder injury sustained in qualifying. The Stirling teenager eased his way back into action with the 28th fastest time.
The only moment for concern involved wildcard rider Kevin Thobois, who was stretchered away after a nasty accident late in the session.