The 2015 Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco was fastest overall on day one of his home GP at Le Mans, France ahead of the fifth round of the 2016 season.
Folger will be leaving Moto2 at end of season
After announcing the day before they took to the track that he will be moving up to the MotoGP field, in place of Bradley Smith at Monster Tech 3 Yamaha after signing a one year deal, Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) looked to dominate at the beginning of FP1. He flew around the track setting the fastest lapt o begin with. He accidentally forced Takaaki Nakagami (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) off the track at one point, who was able to rescue it and continue lapping, as he lapped three quarters of a second of everyone else.
He crashed in the final stages of FP1 at turn eight which has caught many riders out today. Despite leading the timesheet earlier on, the German rider finished third fastest after FP1, 0.121 seconds slower than the leader Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) as the fastest Speed Up bike; a fast first section allowed him to take the lead in the last few minutes of the session. Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) finished between the two in second just 0.029 seconds slower than Corsi as the fastest Kalex.
Luthi recovered and challenging for win again
Thomas Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) who is now recovered from his doubler shoulder dislocation injury previously in the season finished as fourth fastest ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team), 2015 MotoGP Champion Johan Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) and championship leader Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) in eighth.
Nakagami, Miguel Oliveira (Leopard Racing), and Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) made up the list of riders who finished within a second of leader Corsi. The fastest Tech 3 rider was Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) in twenty-fourth, and Danny Eslick (JPMotoMalaysia) is replacing injured Efren Vazquez as the only Suter who was twenty-eight by the end of FP1.
Crashes for three more riders in FP1
Dominique Aegerter (CarXpert Interwetten) and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) both crashed out at the becoming notorious turn eight of the circuit; they finished in twentieth and twenty-seventh after FP1. Ratthapark Wilairot (IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia) also crashed out at turn seven in the closing stages and finished twenty-sixth overall.
Zarco feels right at home
By the end of FP2 it was Zarco who was fastest at the end of day one ahead of his home race on Sunday. His time of 1:37.370 was not far off the lap record help by Luthi in 2015 of 1:37.281. It was also just 0.256 seconds slower than the pole position time of Rins last year.
Luthi was not far behind lapping just 0.065 seconds slower than leader Zarco. Folger was able to continue his flying pace from before his crash and reduced his time by over half a second to finish third fastest by the end of FP2. Baldassarri, Rins and Nakagami also continued to improve but not as much as Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Marchel Schrotter (AGR Team) who managed to finish ahead of Corsi who was ninth fastest in FP2, however his time set in FP1 left him fifth overall.
Championship leader crashed
Corsi remained the faster Speed Up bike with Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing Team) just behind. British rider, 2015 Moto3 Champion Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) set a fastest time of 1:38.320 which left him eleventh overall in FP2. He finished ahead of Hafitzh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) and current Moto2 championship leader Lowes who appeared to have a difficult day. This involved a crash a turn seven during the second session however he remained unhurt.
Salom also crashed out in the later stages of FP2 at turn nine and also remained unhurt. He finished behing Lowes in FP2 in fourteenth position ahead of Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Salom, and Axel Pons (AGR Team) seventeenth. The fastest Tech 3 rider was Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) in twenty-first and the replacement Eslick on the Suter finished in last place after FP2.
It was Luthi who was successful at Le Mans in 2015 winning the race with a short lead of just under two seconds on Tito Rabat who has moved up to the MotoGP class. Another Free Practice session will take place tomorrow which is the last chance for final settings to be made ahead of qualifying before the race on Sunday.