– Oliveira makes the Q2 cut and qualifies 10th as intermittent showers fall
– Raul Fernandez surprises the Moto2 field once more with his first Pole Position in the class
– Two KTM RC4s on the front row of the Moto3™ grid with Rossi and Masia
– The Northern Talent Cup opens for 2021 with exciting action on KTM RC4 R bikes
MotoGP set up for round five of the series in the cooler and changeable climate of Le Mans in northern France. The world championship’s 22nd consecutive visit to the short circuit layout of the famous old course took place behind locked doors for what is normally one of the more vibrant events on the MotoGP calendar. For the first time in 2021 qualification took place in wet and slick conditions where the grip level of the asphalt was difficult to judge.
The late Spring weather proved a challenge for the teams with low temperatures and wind affecting the first day of Free Practice on Friday, and then infrequent showers on Saturday.
Miguel Oliveira pushed hard at the end of FP2 on Friday to sit in 6th place and just half a second away from Provisional Pole. He cemented his place in Q2 but at the critical moment suffered a fall at the troublesome Turn 3. Oliveira then ran out of momentum for another rapid time attack. He will slot into 10th spot and the first bay on the fourth row of the grid. He is seven positions ahead of Danilo Petrucci who has Tech3 KTM Factory Racing teammate Iker Lecuona just behind him in 18th. Brad Binder struggled to find his feeling in the conditions and ended the day in 21st.
The red lights will go out for MotoGP at 14.00 CET on Sunday.
Miguel Oliveira: “It was a good day overall and I was competitive in every condition. It was a bit chaotic and strange day for the weather but we could be competitive. In qualification it was a shame to crash but I got to the first sector to find it was raining there! The marshals were not showing the rain flags and by the time I realised it was fully wet it was too late. It was unfortunate because I think I could have done much better than I did but we have good pace for tomorrow and I’m confident. I’m having fun on the bike and everything is coming easy. For sure we are optimistic for the race.”
Danilo Petrucci:“It was a crazy Qualifying and I needed to recover from a difficult setup from yesterday. To be honest, with the weather today we couldn’t really do anything, but at least we managed to close the gap to the front. For sure, it’s not the place we want, but at least we understood the way to follow. We need to continue like this. Tomorrow it would be very, very good to score some points and be in the mix. It won’t be easy, but I’m happy about the work the team did today.”
Iker Lecuona: “It was a difficult day. This morning in wet conditions I felt really good and very fast. In dry FP4 I was well inside the top 10, so I felt pretty good and strong to make it to Q2, but it started to rain a few minutes ahead of Q1 and that made our life difficult. Finally, I was struggling a lot and it’s definitely not the position we wanted and we deserved because we have been working very well throughout the weekend. Tomorrow we try to push!”
Brad Binder:“Difficult, difficult day. I haven’t had the speed this weekend. I haven’t been uncomfortable…but I haven’t been fast! I need to translate the good feeling tomorrow into speed. Qualifying was a bit of a disaster because there were yellow flags for two laps and I had to sit up and not cook the rear tyre and then just ran out of time. Not the best scenario. Tomorrow we’ll have to wait and see. I’m sure we can do a far better job.”
KTM GP Academy
In Moto3 Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia recovered from an acrobatic crash in FP3 on Saturday morning to take his KTM RC4 to 3rd fastest in Q2. The Spaniard was just two tenths from fellow KTM rider Riccardo Rossi in 2nd. World Championship leader Pedro Acosta was making his debut around the Le Mans curves. The teenager could not squeeze through Q1 and will start the Grand Prix from 21st.
Raul Fernandez continues to turn heads in his debut season in the Moto2 class. The Spaniard produced an exceptional lap in treacherous conditions to head Marco Bezzecchi and toast his first Pole Position in the division. Teammate and world championship leader Remy Gardner was just a second away in 7th.
Le Mans entertained the opening round of the 2021 Northern Talent Cup. Up to 26 young hopefuls between 12 and 17 years of age used KTM RC4 R machinery to try and standout in front of the Grand Prix teams. From 15 laps on Saturday afternoon it was Lorenz Luciano from Belgium who excelled to earn the first checkered flag of the season and for what was the initial meeting of four at MotoGP fixtures in ’21.
Races: May 16th, 2021 – Moto3 11.00 CET | Moto2 12.20 CET | MotoGP 14.00 CET
Results Qualifying MotoGP Shark Grand Prix de France
1. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +1.32.600
2. Maverick Viñales (ESP) Yamaha +0.081
3. Jack Miller (AUS) Ducati +0.104
4. Franco Morbidelli (ITA) Yamaha +0.166
5. Johann Zarco (FRA) Ducati +0.277
10. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing +1.267
15. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:43.857
16. Iker Lecuona (ESP) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:44.324
21. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:45.911
Results Qualifying Moto2 Shark Grand Prix de France
1. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo 1:50.135
2. Marco Bezzecchi (ITA) +0.240
3. Joe Roberts (USA) +0.379
7. Remy Gardner (AUS) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.011
Results Qualifying Moto3 Shark Grand Prix de France
1. Andrea Migno (ITA) Honda 1:47.407
2. Riccardo Rossi (ITA) KTM +2.001
3. Jaume Masia (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +2.204
13. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +3.968
15. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +4.925
21. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo (Q1) 1:43.376