Fabio Quartararo flew the flag high for France on home soil at Le Mans as he topped a dry but dramatic FP3 session characterised by a rash of accidents in the closing stages of the session.
Though the first representative session of the weekend following Friday’s inclement conditions, cool temperatures this morning – the unusual product of the event being held in October rather than its usual May slot – wreaked havoc for a number of riders as their bikes slipped away from them without warning.
This included Joan Mir, who failed to make Q2 in 12th after losing the Suzuki at Turn 3 in a sudden slapdown. Though his leap from slide to feet was particularly sweet (see the bottom of this report), it does still put him on the back foot relative to Quartararo, not least because the cool conditions are unlikely to suit the Suzuki generally this weekend.
Local hero Quartararo, meanwhile, was largely in control of proceedings throughout FP3, an important session given the dry conditions meant Q2 progress would be measured solely on the times here.
In all, six riders suffered accidents, including – beyond the aforementioned Mir – Alex Marquez, Alex Rins and Stefan Bradl. Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi hit the deck when he lost the Yamaha on the exit of Turn 3 but kept damage to a minimum.
Jack Miller, on the other hand,raised the artistic stakes up with an unexpected high-side at Turn 8, one that made up for in height what it lost in speed. Coming down upper back and possibly also head-first, though Miller was up on his feet, he wouldn’t get back out on track again.
After a trying day for the KTM’s on Friday, Miguel Oliveira sprung towards the top of the timesheets with the second best time on the Tech 3 KTM, ahead of Franco Morbidelli on the second of the Petronas SRT Yamahas.
Quickest in the wet yesterday, crashing today, Miller was still in the hunt in fourth overall, from Maverick Vinales and Cal Crutchlow, who makes his first appearance in Q2 this year on the LCR Honda.
He will be joined in the session by Johann Zarco to join countryman Quartararo in upholding French honour in the pole-deciding session, while Rossi despite his fall, Pol Espargaro and a lucky Andrea Dovizioso also booked their direct passage into Q2.
Though a vast improvement on yesterday’s fortines, Brad Binder just missed out on Q2 in 11th from the hapless Mir, who is also joined in Q1 by Suzuki team-mate Rins, along with Pecco Bagnaia, Danilo Petrucci, both Repsol Honda riders, both Aprilias, Tito Rabat and – unusually – Takaaki Nakagami down in 18th.
— MotoGP on BT Sport (@btsportmotogp) October 10, 2020