Maverick Vinales’ sensational record at Le Mans continued as the Spanish teenager claimed his second French GP pole in succession. The Team Calvo rider, who also claimed his maiden 125cc win here in his rookie season, took provisional pole from Alex Rins in the opening minutes and never looked back from there.
Rins headed into qualifying with the fastest time overall but struggled to match that pace in cool, overcast conditions with his best effort half a second shy. Vinales dropped straight down to a 1:44.114 to move three tenths ahead and within minutes, dropped into the 1:43s to cement his position at the top of the timesheets.
Maverick would eventually get down to a 1:43.696 and the focus instead was on who would join him on the front row with Jonas Folger snatching second from Rins with four minutes to go. Luis Salom was also chasing a top three starting spot but a crash in final practice had left him on his back foot and the Red Bull Ajo rider could only slot in behind Rins in fourth.
The four men who had been the class of the field were looking dominant again until two minutes from time when Miguel Oliveira leapt up to second on the sole Mahindra, Efren Vazquez having damaged his collarbone on Friday. The Portuguese rider actually came within a tenth of stunning Vinales but he was more than quick enough to see off Folger to secure second.
Alex Rins was therefore demoted to fourth, bringing an end to his 100% front row starting record this season, while Luis Salom was pushed back to fifth just ahead of Jack Miller. Alex Marquez will start second on the second Estrella Galicia KTM with Isaac Vinales, cousin of Maverick, eighth and Niklas Ajo and Alexis Masbou rounding out the top ten.
Danny Webb lost crucial ground after a crash in the final minute, falling to eighteenth, while John McPhee qualified just one place further back in nineteenth.