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Qualifying report

MotoGP French GP: Bagnaia snatches pole from Marquez, Quartararo 13th

Marc Marquez was denied pole for the French Grand Prix on his MotoGP return by world champion Francesco Bagnaia in a dramatic qualifying at Le Mans.

Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Having been absent since crashing on the third lap of the Portuguese GP with a hand injury, Honda rider Marquez was cleared to return this weekend at Le Mans for the series’ 1000th grand prix event.

As the clock counted down to zero in the Q2 qualifying session, Marquez sat top of the timesheets by over two tenths having fired in a 1m30.763s while shadowing Pramac’s Jorge Martin.

This looked like a 65th career pole would be locked down for Marquez, but he was denied at the death by Ducati’s Bagnaia, who snatched top spot by 0.058s.

Marquez had to settle for second from Q1 pacesetter Luca Marini on the VR46 Ducati, while a technical issue for long-time provisional poleman Maverick Vinales dropped him to sixth.

There was drama in the opening 15-minute qualifying segment as home hero Fabio Quartararo had his day ruined by VR46 Ducati’s Marini.

The 2021 world champion came out of the blocks swinging at the start of Q1 as he went top with a 1m31.897s, before improving to a 1m31.366s to go around half a second clear of the rest of the field.

But the Yamaha rider failed to improve on his second run on a fresh tyre and was knocked out of the Q2 places by Marini, who fired in a 1m31.268s at the death to go top, and Tech3 rookie Augusto Fernandez.

For the second week in a round in a row, Quartararo will now start both the sprint and the grand prix from a lowly 13th having missed out on Q2 progression by 0.023s.

As Q2 got underway, Vinales on the factory Aprilia staked his claim for pole with an opening salvo of laps that culminated in a 1m31.256s – with KTM’s Jack Miller 0.026s adrift.

Polesitter Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Polesitter Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Martin edged ahead of Vinales with nine minutes to go in Q2 with a 1m31.219s, before the Aprilia rider reinstated himself as provisional polesitter with a 1m31.120s.

But as he exited pitlane for his second run on fresh soft rubber with around six minutes to go, Vinales was forced to park up as he encountered a technical issue on his RS-GP.

Pushed back down pitlane towards his Aprilia mechanics by SIC58 Moto3 rider Ricardo Rossi, Vinales was unable to continue his pole challenge.

A scary crash for Aprilia team-mate Aleix Espargaro at the fast Turn 1 right-hander with just under three minutes to go looked like it may inadvertently have saved Vinales’ pole as it brought out the yellow flags.

Thankfully, Espargaro was able to walk away from the incident and the yellow flags were withdrawn.

This allowed Marquez – who had both of his bikes fitted with the new Kalex chassis - to mount a charge with his 1m30.763s, before Bagnaia took his second pole of the season with a 1m30.705s.

Heading row two was KTM’s Jack Miller and Martin, with Vinales shuffled down to sixth with his technical issues.

Marco Bezzecchi was seventh on the sister VR46 Ducati from Gresini Ducati’s Alex Marquez and Pramac’s Johann Zarco.

Brad Binder was 10th on his factory KTM from Espargaro and Tech3 GASGAS rider Fernandez, securing his best qualifying result of his rookie season.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Starting alongside 13th-placed Quartararo is LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and Fabio Di Giannantonio on the Gresini Ducati, while Joan Mir was 16th on his factory Honda.

Franco Morbidelli ensured Yamaha for the second round in a row failed to get a rider into Q2 as the Italian struggled to 17th ahead of LCR’s Alex Rins, Enea Bastianini’s Ducati stand-in Danilo Petrucci and Miguel Oliveira’s RNF replacement Lorenzo Savadori.

Tech3’s Jonas Folger completed the 21-rider field.

MotoGP French GP Q2 Results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'30.705  
2 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 1'30.763 0.058
3 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'30.842 0.137
4 Australia Jack Miller KTM 1'30.984 0.279
5 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'31.023 0.318
6 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'31.120 0.415
7 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1'31.173 0.468
8 Spain Alex Marquez Ducati 1'31.275 0.570
9 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'31.298 0.593
10 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'31.445 0.740
11 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'31.523 0.818
12 Spain Augusto Fernandez KTM 1'31.596 0.891

MotoGP French GP Q1 Results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'31.268  
2 Spain Augusto Fernandez KTM 1'31.343 0.075
3 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'31.366 0.098
4 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'31.545 0.277
5 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1'31.718 0.450
6 Spain Joan Mir Honda 1'31.810 0.542
7 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'31.886 0.618
8 Spain Alex Rins Honda 1'31.959 0.691
9 Italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'32.092 0.824
10 Italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'32.410 1.142
11 Germany Jonas Folger KTM 1'33.605 2.337

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