Rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) flew to the top of the timesheets on Friday in the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, a tenth clear of Jerez winner Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) despite the Italian crashing on Day 1. The afternoon saw all but one improve their laptimes, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) completing the top three after another top showing of pace from the Japanese rider.
The gaps all the way down the timesheets were better measured in hundredths than tenths and Suzuki was only 0.005 ahead of last year’s podium finisher Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) by the end of the day. It stayed close to complete the top five, too: 2018 winner Albert Arenas (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team) was just 0.017 further back, 0.011 ahead of Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) in P6. The Italian, in turn, bested COTA winner and Championship leader Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) by only 0.015. Canet suffered a crash on Day 1.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) ended the day eighth overall after topping FP1, ahead of an impressive day’s work from rookie Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), who had to be passed fit to ride after a foot fracture in Jerez. Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten.
Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) was pushed down to P11 by just 0.002, 0.003 ahead of Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) as the Jerez polesitter crashed twice on Day 1. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) was 13th, with Romano Fenati (VNE Snipers) down in P14 by the end of play and as it stands, the last rider provisionally on course for a place in Q2. Fenati had a highside on Friday and headed to the medical centre but was declared fit, as was Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) after the Spaniard crashed too. He ended the day in P16, just behind Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing).
Has Friday decided the riders heading through to Q2? Will the weather worsen on Saturday? Or is there time left yet for a last push to the top…find out in FP3 at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Saturday, before qualifying from 12:35.
1 – Ai Ogura (JPN – Honda) 1’42.147
2 – Niccolo Antonelli (ITA – Honda) +0.116
3 – Tatsuki Suzuki (JPN – Honda) +0.313
4 – Andrea Migno (ITA – KTM) +0.318
5 – Albert Arenas (SPA – KTM) +0.335