Quartararo takes pole in tense wet/dry French GP qualifying

Image Credits: Monster Yamaha

Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo has taken his third pole in a row in a tense session where nobody knew if and when it would rain.

It was now qualifying time for the MotoGP French Grand Prix. In the final minutes of FP4, it poured down with rain temporarily. It wet the circuit, but Le Mans dries fast, so by the end of Q2 it could be slicks, providing there’s no rain.

If you are new to MotoGP, the top 10 in the combined practice sessions automatically go through to Q2. The other 12 battle through Q1, with the top two getting into the second session. Then those top 12 battle for pole position. Some of the high-profile riders in Q1 were championship leader Francesco Bagnaia, reigning champion Joan Mir, and his Suzuki teammate Alex Rins.

The 5-minute downpour had stopped by the time the green flag fell, meaning track evolution would be key to who ends up where. All 12 riders went out immediately to get an early banker in because yellow flags could become crucial too if someone falls.

Lorenzo Salvadori was an early victim, he crashed on his first flying lap and had a mad rush to get to the pits for his spare bike. There was a dry line already appearing, as it was a Suzuki 1-2, Mir in front. The improving track voided any times early though, as all 12 riders put red sectors in as the track improved. Danilo Petrucci was on fire and went second with only two minutes left.

It was crunch time now, and everyone was doing 100% push laps. All 11 riders on the track were up by over half a second. Tito Rabat crashed, as did Alex Marquez, but they were behind everyone else meaning no yellow flag issues. All of a sudden, it was an Aprilia 1-2, but everyone had one more lap. In the end, it was Salvadori, who was on the floor early on, through to Q2. Luca Marini was second, and also through. Mir, Bagnaia, and Rins would be lining up near the back of the pack.

It was then Q2 time, the shootout for pole. Marini and Salvadori would join the caliber of Rossi, Vinales, Miller, and Fabio Quartararo as the track continued to dry, the question was, would anyone be game for slicks? There were massive dark grey clouds in the sky, and there was ever the opportunity for a massive downpour to interrupt proceedings, everyone would be out early to put a banker in if it did rain.

The session went green, and Yamaha was playing it safe with rain tires. In fact, everyone was on wets early, except for Valentino Rossi and Franco Morbidelli, who gambled on slicks. After an out lap, a stream of riders came in for slicks as well and it was mania in the pit lane.

It was beginning to darken up again, and the veteran Rossi was up in sector one on slicks. He threw it away at the final corner, but Miller was up by no less than three seconds halfway through his lap and went pole by 3.5 seconds over anyone else. He was improving by massive amounts in the second attempt, but it was beginning to spit. The positions were chopping more than a blender as everyone began to push upon seeing the raindrops.

It was manic push time in the end, and red sectors were aplenty. In the rush for pole position, it would be Fabio Quartararo a brilliant fastest from Vinales in a Yamaha 1-2, with Jack Miller third. Marquez, who was fastest when it began to spit, ended up sixth.

The full top 10 are as follows:

PositionRiderTeam+sec
1F. QuartararoMonster Energy Yamaha1.32.600
2M. VinalesMonster Energy Yamaha+0.081
3J. MillerLenovo Ducati+0.104
4F. MorbidelliPetronas Yamaha+0.166
5J. ZarcoPramac Ducati+0.277
6M. MarquezRepsol Honda+0.437
7T. NakagamiLCR Honda+0.520
8P. EspargaroRepsol Honda+0.550
9V. RossiPetronas Yamaha+0.791
10M. OliveiraRed Bull KTM+1.267
Total
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