Pedrosa fastest after FP1
It was Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa who ended up as the fastest rider after setting a time of 1:34.042 which was just two seconds off the lap record pace already. He led ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) by 0.044 seconds and his teammate Marc Marquez whose fastest time was still 0.281 seconds slower.
Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest Ducati by the end of FP1; the Italian factory team were seen sporting modified wings on the front of the Desmosedici GP bike. His time of 1:34.343 was 0.301 seconds slower than leader Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) was fifth fastest ahead of Dovizioso’s current teammate Andrea Iannone and the fastest independent rider Pol Espargaro who wwas just over half a second slower than Pedrosa aboard his Monster Tech 3 Yamaha; it is the home GP of the Tech 3 team.
The fastest Suzuki after FP1 was that of Maverick Vinales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who was almost 0.6 seconds off the pace. He finished in eighth ahead of Loris Baz (Avintia Racing) who is hoping for a top ten finish at his home GP in Le Mans. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completed the ten ahead of Bradley Smith (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) who is also hoping to do well at his team’s home GP.
Le Mans sees the return of Danilo Petrucci
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) could only manage twelfth fastest despite his good form recently. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) made his first appearance on track since breaking his arm at the start of the season, he managed fifteenth fastest after FP1 with a time of 1.35.308. He finished ahead of Yonny Hernandez (Aspar Team MotoGP) who fell at turn eight towards the start of the session. Baz also fell victim to the same turn later on, fortunately both riders were unhurt. Stefan Bradl (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) finished as the fastest Aprilia but his time was still 1.339 seconds off the pace of Pedrosa.
Weather stayed great for MotoGP FP2
The fine weather continued in Le Mans as riders took to the track for the second Free Practice session of the day. Day one at Le Mans was a chance for riders to run with the new compound tyres provided by Michelin specifically for Le Mans which is also the home GP of the tyre manufacturer. Riders were given the option of new soft and medium compound rear tyres which are supposed to be well suited to the cool conditions that have been experienced at Le Mans.
Lorenzo topped the timesheets with a much faster pace
It was Lorenzo who finished on top at the end of the first day with a time of 1:32.830. His time was just faster than the lap record set by Rossi in 2015, but it is still almost 0.8 seconds slower than the fastest ever lap time set by Marquez in 2014. However, Lorenzo’s time meant that he was the only rider to lap under 1:33 minutes all day.
Iannone finished second fastest overall with his fastest lap still 0.339 seconds off the pace set by the 2015 MotoGP champion Lorenzo. He finished as the fastest Ducati at a time when results and performances really count as Ducati are yet to decide who will remain with the factory team along with newly signed Lorenzo who agreed to a two year contract.
Marquez is still over a second slower than his best lap time at Le Mans and his lap time that got him pole position on the grid for the race in 2015. His time of 1:33.313 was just under half a second slower than that of Lorenzo’s.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Home GP
Pol Espargaro looked impressive at his team’s and sponsor’s home GP, finishing fourth fastest at the end of day one. His time of 1:33.406 also left him as the fastest independent rider. He finished ahead of Dovizioso and his brother Aleix Espargaro who managed to improve his on twelfth position to finish sixth overall after reducing his fastest time by 1.204 seconds. His teammate Vinales lapped just 0.018 seconds slower than him.
Pedrosa finished as eighth fastest despite leading after FP1 and improving his time by 0.294 seconds; he was the last rider within one second of leader Lorenzo. He finished ahead of the second fastest independent rider Barbera and Rossi who completed the top ten. Petrucci managed eleventh fastest on his return ahead of British riders Crutchlow, Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati) and Smith.
Free Practice was not without incidents
Crutchlow had crashed at turn thirteen during the session but was up on his feet straight away. Baz also crashed with five minutes remaining at turn six and was able to finish the session due to lack of time, he finished fifteenth fastest. Redding also crashed on his final lap at turn seven.
Aspar Team MotoGP teammates Eugene Laverty and Hernandez finished in sixteenth and seventeenth ahead of Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Bradl as the fastest Aprilia in nineteenth, and their teammates Tito Rabat (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), and Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the MotoGP field on day one at Le mans.