Brad Binder blasts KTM back to the top

South African leads the way on Friday after a late lunge for the front in France.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) shot to the top late on Friday at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, taking over as fastest from Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) late in FP2 – but not by much. A mere 0.049 split the two men by the end of play, with Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP40) in third only 0.117 off the top.

Augusto Fernandez, fresh from his first Grand Prix podium at Jerez, was just behind teammate Baldassarri by 0.019 and took P4 overall, with replacement rider Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) completing the top five just 0.007 in further arrears. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) ended Day 1 in sixth.

Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) had an impressive first day in France as he topped FP1 and ended the day seventh overall despite a crash, edging out compatriot Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), whose good form at Le Mans continued in 2019. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was ninth by the end of Day 1, with Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) locking out the top ten as top rookie on Friday. Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) was just behind him, however, and fellow rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was close behind in P13. Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) put the sophomore amongst the debutants in P12.

Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will be the final man moving straight through to Q2 if the weather switches on Saturday and laptimes can’t be improved in FP3, with the Spaniard just ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). Lowes suffered a crash in FP2 and was the only rider who failed to improve on his morning’s laptime, making him a surprise name outside the graduation zone on Friday. That’s also true of the two men who trail him: Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up), who’s been on the podium in both the last two races, and Le Mans master Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), who crashed on Friday.

FP3 starts at 10:55 (GMT +2) for the intermediate class on Saturday, before qualifying from 15:05.

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) 1’36.551
2 – Remy Gardner (AUS – Kalex) +0.049
3 – Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA – Kalex) +0.117
4 – Augusto Fernandez (SPA – Kalex) +0.136
5 – Mattia Pasini (ITA – Kalex) +0.143

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