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Chantra Breaks Lap Record For Friday Honours At Le Mans

The Thai rider is quickest out the blocks in France, ahead of the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo.

Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) topped Day 1 at the SHARK Grand Prix de France, the Thai rider breaking the lap record early doors. He heads into Saturday fastest ahead of Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), but it’s close at the top with the two split by just 0.058. Acosta’s teammate Augusto Fernandez is third overall, and did almost put in the fastest lap of the day before yellow flags saw the lap cancelled.

Chantra was on lap-record pace in FP1, but the headlines were somewhat stolen by two riders who finished further down the timesheets. An incident between World Championship leader Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) and fellow title contender Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) saw the two come together. Vietti tried to go down the inside of Canet as they rounded the Garage Vert double right-hander (Turn 8), where they made side-to-side contact which put both on the floor. Riders ok, however, and after investigation the Stewards also decided no further action.

They were not the only late crashers either, with Jorge Navarro (Flexbox HP40), Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), and Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) all having single-rider spills.

Back at the top though, Chantra went underneath Francesco Bagnaia’s four-year-old All Time Lap Record for the Moto2™ class with his 1:36.108 on his penultimate lap. That effort put him 0.155 clear of Fernandez, with Stefano Manzi taking an impressive third as he continues as injury replacement for Keminth Kubo at the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team.

Vietti was sixth, Jerez winner Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) 12th, Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) 16th on a 1:37.158, and Canet 22nd.

With around five minutes to go in the second session of the day, it looked like Fernandez had taken over on top with a 1:36.030, but the Spaniard had gone through a yellow flag triggered by a crash for Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP). So the lap was cancelled, and Thailand stayed top overall.

Top in the session, however, went to rookie Acosta, with Fernandez third fastest in FP2 on a 1:36.394, down on his best from FP1. Chantra was second fastest in the afternoon.

Provisional Q2 places
Chantra heads the timesheets from Acosta, with Fernandez third but his FP1 lap his quickest. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is fourth, ahead of Arbolino and Schrötter. Manzi, Dixon and Ogura are next up, with Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the top ten.

Vietti was P11 by the end of play, ahead of another good performance from Barry Baltus (RW Racing GP) in 12th.

Alonso Lopez (MB Conveyors Speed Up) had a very impressive Friday as he makes his full-time Moto2™ World Championship debut. He was 13th despite a crash, and just pipped Canet as the Pons rider takes 14th; the last currently on to move through…

Tune in at 10:55 (GMT +2) for FP3 to decide the final Q2 entrants, before qualifying from 15:10.

1 Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – Kalex – 1’36.108
2 Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – +0.058
3 Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – +0.155

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