An autumnal Le Mans set a cold but sunny scene for the premier class qualifying session and after Q1 warmed us up nicely, it was Fabio Quartararo’s turn to defend top spot on home turf. The Frenchman put his name at the top of the timing screens early on but rivals caught up and it all came down to the final flying lap, when Quartararo blasted through the final sector to secure a fine pole position on his home playground. That demoted Jack Miller to second, the Pramac rider breaking the Yamaha domination by being the first of two Ducatis on the front row of the grid. An invigorated Danilo Petrucci escaped Q1 and climbed onto front row for the first time this season, with high hopes for Sunday on a favourable track for the Italian.
Cal Crutchlow did a fine job to climb onto the second row, four tenths off pole and narrowly ahead of Maverick Vinales and Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian had brief aspirations at pole but couldn’t get it together in time and dropped to the bottom of row two – a solid qualifying performance when compared to others of late.
Pecco Bagnaia conquered Q1 and was Quartararo’s main rival early in Q2, but the Ducati man dropped to seventh in the closing stages, ahead of Pol Espargaro – the KTM man half a second off pole. Johann Zarco closes the third row of the grid, while Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli will share row four with Miguel Oliveira, the Tech 3 rider a bit cautious after his adventures in FP4.
The main story of Q1 was the disappointment in the Suzuki camp, where Joan Mir had his worst qualifying of the season in 14th position, with teammate Alex Rins down in 16th and with another comeback to plan in order to keep championship hopes alive.