Maverick Vinales took a comfortable pole position as Yamaha returned to form in qualifying at Le Mans. The Spaniard edged out team-mate Valentino Rossi in the closing minutes to claim pole while home favourite Johann Zarco triggered euphoric scenes in the grandstands after securing the final spot on the front row.
The rain-affected start to the weekend led to an unpredictable FP3 which was littered with surprises as Scott Redding topped the timesheets while both KTMs joined him in Q2. The three title favourites all made it safely through but Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa wasn’t so lucky, neither were the factory Ducatis or the Tech 3 Yamahas.
With such a stellar line-up, Q1 saw riders lapping at pole position pace and in the end, a last gasp effort from Andrea Dovizioso spared Ducati’s blushes as he joined Zarco in the top two. This came at the expense of Pedrosa who will have to start thirteenth while Jorge Lorenzo fared even worse, leaving him only sixteenth.
Repsol Honda’s fortunes didn’t pick up in Q2 either with Marc Marquez tumbling at the Dunlop chicane, just as he had in FP4, but Cal Crutchlow ensured Honda would have a say in the fight for pole by clocking a 1:32.414 midway through the session. Yamaha would soon take charge though and once Vinales broke into the 1:31s bracket, pole position was only going one way.
Rossi secured second despite encountering traffic late on while Zarco made full use of his Q1 reprieve to take third, just ahead of Crutchlow. Marquez could only manage fifth after his early mishap with Dovizioso rounding out the second row for Ducati, just pipping Scott Redding.
KTM had reason to celebrate with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith eighth and tenth respectively, either side of Karel Abraham while Jack Miller ended the day in eleventh. The fact the Australian was around to tell the tale was astonishing enough though after a terrifying crash in FP4.
2017 HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France: Qualifying Result
|1||25. Maverick Vinales||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:31.994||Q2|
|2||46. Valentino Rossi||Yamaha||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:32.100||Q2|
|3||5. Johann Zarco||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:32.229||Q2|
|4||35. Cal Crutchlow||Honda||LCR Honda||1:32.300||Q2|
|5||93. Marc Marquez||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:32.493||Q2|
|6||4. Andrea Dovizioso||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:32.726||Q2|
|7||45. Scott Redding||Ducati||OCTO Pramac Racing||1:33.119||Q2|
|8||44. Pol Espargaro||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:33.399||Q2|
|9||17. Karel Abraham||Ducati||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||1:33.517||Q2|
|10||38. Bradley Smith||KTM||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:33.629||Q2|
|11||43. Jack Miller||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:33.756||Q2|
|12||76. Loris Baz||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||1:33.955||Q2|
|13||26. Dani Pedrosa||Honda||Repsol Honda Team||1:32.415||Q1|
|14||19. Alvaro Bautista||Ducati||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||1:32.484||Q1|
|15||94. Jonas Folger||Yamaha||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:32.695||Q1|
|16||99. Jorge Lorenzo||Ducati||Ducati Team||1:32.830||Q1|
|17||29. Andrea Iannone||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||1:32.844||Q1|
|18||41. Aleix Espargaro||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:33.187||Q1|
|19||9. Danilo Petrucci||Ducati||OCTO Pramac Racing||1:33.231||Q1|
|20||8. Hector Barbera||Ducati||Reale Avintia Racing||1:33.233||Q1|
|21||22. Sam Lowes||Aprilia||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:33.817||Q1|
|22||53. Tito Rabat||Honda||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:33.875||Q1|
|23||50. Sylvain Guintoli||Suzuki||Team Suzuki ECSTAR||1:34.082||Q1|