Andrea Dovizioso, fresh from signing a new contract with the Ducati factory team, was the quickest man on the opening day at the HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France, setting a new circuit record with a 1m31.936s – the only rider to delve into the 1m31s. FP1 and World Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ended the day in second, 0.168s behind, with Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) a further 0.075 seconds back on board his M1.
There were a whole host of crashes early in the session. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), LCR Honda Idemitsu rider Takaaki Nakagami and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) all fell, without injury.
Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) ended the day fourth overall. The Spaniard was third in FP1, but left it late to jump up into the top five in FP2. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was fifth in front of his home crowd, with the Frenchman was also fifth in FP1, confirming his solid pace at Le Mans.
Alma Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller was sixth on the combined Free Practice timesheets, the Australian was in and around the top eight throughout FP2 and looks good for an automatic Q2 spot after ending FP1 in P12. Espargaro had a good showing on KTM, despite his early crash. He ended the day seventh quickest, building on his P10 in FP1.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), sporting a new aerodynamic fairing in FP2, jumped up to eighth on his final lap to grab a provisional Q2 spot. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed again to finish ninth in FP2, getting himself into the top ten after ending the morning session in P14. Rounding out the top ten was Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), the Spaniard finished eighth this morning, dropping two positions in the afternoon.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), who was inside the top three for most of the session, crashed on his final run to end the day outside the top 10 in P11, after a flurry of quick times from the riders on fresh rubber. He was unhurt.