Jorge Martin claimed his third pole position from five races at the start of 2017 after a dramatic conclusion to qualifying at Le Mans. The Spaniard appeared to have been beaten to pole by Nicolo Bulega but the Sky VR46 rider saw his fastest lap deleted for exceeding track limits, dropping him to second on the grid.
Shortly after the halfway point, Moto3’s form rider Romano Fenati established himself as the man to beat, clocking the first sub-1:43 lap of the afternoon. The Italian, who has scored 45 points from a possible 50 in the last two races, looked on course for pole when drizzle started to fall, forcing most riders back into the pits.
Fortunately, the weather cleared up again and the chief beneficiary was Martin who had previously languished back in twentieth. Bulega had moved to the top with a minute to go and while the Italian was going about improving his time, Martin was locked onto the KTM’s slipstream. Bulega did set a new benchmark but crucially, had run beyond the kerb on the exit of the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane, attracting the attention of race direction.
Martin’s last gasp effort initially looked to have secured second spot but once the penalty had been applied, Jorge inherited pole. Juanfran Guevara also improved late to claim the final spot on the front row with Fenati relegated to fourth while Albert Arenas produced his and Mahindra’s best performance of the season to qualify fifth.
Niccolo Antonelli was held up by traffic, keeping him back in sixth, while Jerez star Marcos Ramirez took seventh ahead of championship leader Joan Mir. Returning former champion Danny Kent qualified tenth on his wildcard outing with Red Bull KTM Ajo but John McPhee’s tough run continues, the British Talent Team rider down in 25th.
Moto3 HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France – Qualifying Result
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