After edging through Q1 by just 0.012, Jorge Navarro (Lightech Speed Up) has taken his second consecutive pole position of the season to head fellow Q1 graduate Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) joining the duo on the front row in third. Like in Moto3™, the top two made a little history.
Damp and tricky conditions greeted the field in Q2 and it was Lüthi who set the pace in the early stages; the Swiss rider dialled in from a 15-minute Q1 session. Navarro was also up there alongside another rider who progressed from Q1 – Brit Jake Dixon (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), with Marquez going well in the early stages too.
However, it was far from a smooth ride for the top two in qualifying as both then crashed. Lüthi hit the deck at the notoriously difficult Turn 3, while Navarro went down just after fourth-place Mattia Pasini (Petronas Sprinta Racing) had gone down in front of him at Turn 8. All three riders were ok and in the end, none ended up threatened as they watched the rest of the field push on from the sidelines. Only Marquez was within a little over half a second, and he remained third, with Pasini also not overtaken despite his crash and the impressive Italian taking P4.
Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will launch from fifth for the French GP after a solid Q2, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) continuing his good weekend to earn his best qualifying position since starting seventh at last season’s Dutch GP. Championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) spearheads the third row of the grid in seventh after improving his time in the latter stages, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Q1 graduate Lukas Tulovic (Kiefer Racing) also improving their times on their final flying laps to earn third row starts. This is Tulovic’s first top 20 start in the premier class; an impressive showing in the wet from the German rookie.
Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) completes the top ten in qualifying as the latter stages bumped Dixon down to P11 although the rookie’s Q1 time, if replicated, would have been enough to put the 23-year-old on the front row. Nevertheless, a great personal best qualifying and a top-notch return to action for the number 96 rider after missing the Americas and Spanish GPs through injury.
Who will take Moto2™ victory on Sunday? The question mark over the weather will be playing on everyone’s minds as we look ahead to Round 5 of the season. Don’t miss the intermediate class in action in Le Mans at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).
1 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) 1’49.055
2 – Tom Lüthi (SWI – Kalex) +0.078
3 – Alex Marquez (SPA – Kalex) +0.530