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Maverick Vinales wishes MotoGP's French GP started at 9am Sunday

Yamaha's Maverick Vinales says he wishes MotoGP's French Grand Prix at Le Mans would take place at nine o'clock in the morning after rising temperatures scuppered his pole challenge

Vinales was fastest of all in the relatively cool conditions of the third practice session on Saturday morning, topping a race weekend session for the first time since last September's Aragon race.

However, the works Yamaha squad's familiar rear traction struggles re-emerged in the second phase of qualifying, as track temperatures doubled from 22 degrees to 44 degrees between FP3 and Q2.

Vinales said the heat meant he went from having a bike good enough for pole to one that was "impossible" to contend with, as he ended up eighth and six-tenths slower than polesitter Johann Zarco on the two-year-old privateer Tech3 Yamaha.

"In the morning I felt [I had] really good pace with old tyres," said Vinales. "With used tyres I could keep [to a low 1m]32s [lap].

"[Using a] new tyre I was in the mid-31s, so I was pretty happy and confident that in qualifying I could do a low-31s.

"Then in qualifying it was quite hot, the tarmac became slippery, and it was the same problem as always. I can do nothing, [it's] exactly the same problem as last year.

"If my bike was like it was in the morning [in FP3], I could have fought for pole. But in the afternoon it was impossible to fight for pole.

"I wish the race was at nine o'clock. It's going to be hot tomorrow, and I'm going to push 110% and then see where I am."

Vinales also described his session-topping FP3 performance as being like "candy".

"I feel fast again, and that's good," he said. "I know the level I have, I know when the bike [is good] I am there. For that I am happy, I still have confidence in myself."



Works team-mate Valentino Rossi was ninth in qualifying but said mistakes on his hot lap did not make a dramatic difference to his grid position.

"I expected a little bit more from qualifying, because yesterday and this morning I was quite strong," he said.

"But in the [qualifying] lap with the softer tyre I didn't ride the maximum, I made some small mistakes - so I can do better.

"I think that my potential can be [1m]31s.6, 31s.7 lap, I can go two tenths faster - it's not a big difference.

"The problem is that the others are faster."

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