Vinales edges Marquez on opening day at Le Mans

by Joshua Close
Vinales tops opening day at Le Mans

Maverick Vinales topped an action-packed Friday at Le Mans after getting the better of Marc Marquez.

With rain forecast for tomorrow the riders were pushing hard to secure a spot in qualifying 2. Carrying a new wave of confidence after his Jerez podium, Vinales posted a quick time of 1:31.428 – beating Marquez by +0.190s.

They were joined in the top three by Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman topped the opening session of the day and it appears that he has the pace to challenge this weekend.

Jorge Lorenzo found some improvements to end the day in fourth overall. The Repsol Honda man has five premier class victories at Le Mans.

He was followed by Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci. The latter crashed on his out lap after losing the front coming out of turn eight. He would be the first of many to fall.

Pol Espargaro ended the day in seventh, despite crashing twice. The KTM rider fell at turn 14 after going onto the kerbs, before crashing at turn 11 late in the session.

Pol’s brother, Aleix Espargaro, was eight for Aprilia. Like Pol, Aleix also hit the deck during the final session. Takaaki Nakagami was ninth, with Jack Miller completing the top 10. The Aussie also crashed twice as he pushed for a Qualifying 2 spot – doing so by just +0.001s.

It was a day to forget for Valentino Rossi, who failed to challenge the leading riders. During Free Practice 1, the nine-time champion’s chain would come off the Yamaha. In Free Practice 2, the Italian could only manage 14th, leaving him with an uphill task of making it into Qualifying 2.

Cal Crutchlow also has plenty of work to do after ending Friday down in 12th overall. Like several other riders, the Brit also crashed during the final session.

Another rider who struggled was championship contender Alex Rins. The winner of the American Grand Prix ended the day down in 16th on the Suzuki.

Free Practice 3 is will begin at 08:55 tomorrow morning. Free Practice 4 begins at 12:30, with Qualifying 1 at 13:10. Qualifying 2 will begin at 13:35.

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