Italy’s Enea Bastianini posted a track record to set the pace in opening practice at the French MotoGP on Friday as home favourite and world champion Fabio Quartararo finished out of the top five.
Bastianini lay down an early marker for this seventh round of the world championship with a time of 1min 31.148sec on board his Ducati-Gresini team bike at Le Mans’ Bugatti circuit.
Spain’s Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) was best of the rest, at 0.202sec, with his compatriot Alex Rins (Suzuki) in third.
In search of his first win in his home MotoGP Quartararo had to settle for sixth, the Yamaha champion satisfied enough to lie 0.492sec off the pace going in to Saturday’s final practice sessions and qualifying.
“I’m feeling very relaxed, with this pace we’re on target for a podium on Sunday,” said Quartararo.
Multiple former world champion Marc Marquez trailed in 15th on his Honda on a day marked by a series of tumbles with Bastianini among the falls guys shortly after his track record.
KTM’s South African rider Brad Binder and Franco Morbidelli (Yamaha) also hit the deck with Binder’s teammate Miguel Oliveira getting back on the saddle after receiving the all clear from the medical centre following two spills in the morning.