Marc Marquez extended his unbeaten qualifying streak by taking a dominant pole position for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. The world champion was almost seven tenths clear of the field with Pol Espargaro springing a major surprise to qualify second at Tech 3’s home grand prix.
Although Jorge Lorenzo finished the three practice sessions on top, the identity of the polesitter was never in any real doubt with Marquez setting a 1:32.567 on his first lap of Q2. Little did he know it, but Marc had already done enough to take pole with no-one matching his initial flyer but the championship leader caused even more pain for his rivals by going half a second quicker on his second set of tyres.
The rest of the front row looked set to be dominated by Ducati with Andrea Iannone holding second, only to be beaten by Andrea Dovizioso, but a flurry of late improvements saw the younger Espargaro brother snatch second, comfortably his best qualifying result in MotoGP so far. Stefan Bradl was among those to go quicker in the dying seconds to finish fourth with the two Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo demoted to fifth and sixth.
Alvaro Bautista starts seventh tomorrow ahead of Aleix Espargaro while Dani Pedrosa will line up a disappointing ninth after lapping a full second slower than his pacesetting teammate in Q2. Bradley Smith rose as high as fourth at one stage but the frantic finish relegated him to tenth with Andrea Iannone eleventh after an unintended shortcut on his last lap caused it to be deleted.
Cal Crutchlow was the last rider to make it into the second session after narrowly pipping Nicky Hayden in Q1 and the Briton will start twelfth as a result, four places ahead of Scott Redding.