- Augusto Fernandez starts the 1000th Grand Prix with 12th position in quali for the fourth row of the grid on Sunday: a first Q2 status of his rookie season. The Spaniard lucklessly crashes in the Sprint.
- Jonas Folger takes the GASGAS RC16 to a ranking of 21st fastest through Q1 during the morning but falls out of the Sprint at Chemin aux Boeufs corner
- Ryusei Yamanaka again troubles the elite of Moto3™ as the Japanese takes 14th place in Q2. GASGAS Aspar Racing build hopes for Jake Dixon after the Brit takes 8th on the Moto2™ grid
They don’t come more historic than Le Mans. MotoGP returned to the 4.2km Bugatti circuit as part of the legendary 24hr layout for the 23rd time since the World Championship camped in Northern France in 2000. For over 20 years Le Mans has been one of the most atmospheric sites on the MotoGP slate and another capacity crowd started to fill the venue on Saturday, despite the changeable late spring weather.
Augusto Fernandez felt the full force of the GASGAS RC16 braking power for one of the hardest tracks on the calendar for stopping. The Spaniard, a former winner and podium finisher at Le Mans in the intermediate category, was fast on Friday and hunted the top ten. He was close to automatic Q2 status and earned the slot with a decent lap in Q1. Augusto drilled the GASGAS to less than a second from Pole Position and was 12th.
During the Sprint, Fernandez was aiming for points collection in the formative stages but lost front end traction at the off-camber Chemin aux Boeufs. Le Mans provided Jonas Folger with a third spin on the GASGAS MotoGP machine. The German continues to adapt to the class and posted the 21st best lap during qualification. In the Sprint was also caught out on the same corner as his teammate.
GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 ended Saturday luckless in Le Mans but are quietly confident for the 27-lap Grand Prix affair on Sunday. The excitement builds towards 14.00 CEST for the fifth full blast of MotoGP action this year.
Augusto Fernandez, 12th in qualification, DNF in the Sprint: “It has been a good day but it didn’t end so well in the Sprint. The decision to use the medium front tire was not the best because I’d been feeling good with the soft but we were wary of the higher temperatures in the afternoon. I made a good start but ran wide in Turn 9 and lost a few positions. I was struggling a little bit and then crashed and wasn’t really sure why. I think we have good pace for tomorrow – and a good position – so we just need to make the right decisions and be ready to go.”
Jonas Folger, 21st in qualification, DNF in the Sprint: “The race was going quite well. I was trying to work on my rhythm and pace and I found a good one but crashed in Turn 7. I was not on the limit, so it was a bit strange. Anyway, I think we did a good job up until that moment so I’m looking forward to tomorrow and will try to do better.”
Nicolas Goyon, GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 Team Manager: “A rollercoaster day. We had some ‘highs’ with Augusto and to reach Q2 in just his fifth race is a great achievement. This shows his progression. He was feeling quite good from the beginning of the weekend. Unfortunately, he was caught – like other riders – by the tire in the race and the fall was unexpected. Also Jonas, he had a similar predicament. He’s having a check at the medical center now and hopefully everything is OK.”
Results Qualifying MotoGP SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati 1:30.705
2. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +0.058
3. Luca Marini (ITA) Ducati +0.137
12. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 +0.891
21. Jonas Folger (GER) GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3 1:33.605 (Q1)
Results MotoGP Sprint SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 19:59.037
2. Brad Binder (RSA) KTM +1.840
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +2.632
DNF. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3
DNF. Jonas Folger (GER) GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3
Moto3 and Moto2
GASGAS Aspar Racing’s Ryusei Yamanaka and David Alonso slotted the unmissable red GASGAS bikes towards the front of the Moto3 field throughout a busy Practice program. The Japanese had impressed at Le Mans with a decent 8th place finish the previous year and after his strong competitiveness at Jerez in Spain two weeks ago was again keen with the throttle. He reached as high as 4th during Practice 2 and in Q2 he was only a second adrift of Pole Position and will line-up 14th. Alonso was again a fast learner. The youngster carried extra confidence due to his maiden podium finish in Spain but was lapping Le Mans for the first time. The rookie ranked 25th as the Moto3 Q1 went down to frantic scenes of tow, slipstreams and opportunism.
Jake Dixon counted on noticeable British support at the French fences as the 27-year-old set his sights on a starring Moto2 role at Le Mans. Dixon was 6th quickest on combined times after practice and pushed his way to 8th in Q2. On the other side of the pitbox Izan Guevara maintained his journey of recovery and discovery for only his third appearance in Moto2. The Spaniard rode to the 28th best lap-time and will throttle away from the final row of the grid.
SHARK Grand Prix de France MotoGP photographs can be found HERE
Results Qualifying Moto3 SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna 1:41.630
2. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM +0.309
3. Daniel Holgado (ESP) KTM +0.328
14. Ryusei Yamanaka (JPN) GASGAS Aspar Team +1.248
25. David Alonso (COL) GASGAS Aspar Team +1:44.181 (Q1)
Results Qualifying Moto2 SHARK Grand Prix de France
1. Sam Lowes (GBR) 1:35.791
2. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +0.245
3. Tony Arbolino (ITA) +0.262
8. Jake Dixon (GBR) GASGAS Aspar Team +0.434
28. Izan Guevara (ESP) GASGAS Aspar Team 1:37.897 (Q1)