Dovizioso sets the bar in first practice at Le Mans

Andrea Dovizioso put Ducati on top in the first free practice session for this weekend’s MotoGP race at Le Mans, lapping almost a quarter of a second quicker than nearest rival Marc Marquez.

The Italian's best lap of 1m34.034s came in the closing seconds of the session, as rising track temperatures led to a flurry of late improvements in the final minutes.

Marquez said on Thursday that his healing little finger was back to "100 percent" fitness, and the Spaniard showed this was the case with a time just 0.246s slower than Dovizioso on his final flying lap.

Jorge Lorenzo was his usual smooth and calculating self, posting consistent lap times during the 45-minute session and setting a best time just 0.021s off Marquez in the final reckoning to go third fastest.

The factory Yamaha rider was chased closely by LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, who also made a last-ditch improvement to go fourth, just nine thousandths away from Lorenzo.

The Tech 3 team enjoyed a strong start to their home race, with Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith lapping at the front early on. As the factory riders improved, Espargaro was gradually shuffled down to fifth position, still within three tenths of Dovizioso, with Smith getting bumped down to 10th place.

Scott Redding also gave the frontrunners something to think about, as the Marc VDS rider consistently threatening the top riders and eventually ended the day in sixth position, just ahead of points leader Valentino Rossi and the best of the Pramac Ducati riders, Yonny Hernandez.

It was a delicate session for Ducati's Andrea Iannone, with the Italian nursing a badly bruised shoulder after dislocating it at a private test at Mugello at the start of the week.

He fought through the pain barrier to finish in 9th place, while Dani Pedrosa, returning to action after a three race layoff following his arm surgery, set the 13th best lap time aboard the factory Honda.

Practice results: 

Pos Rider Bike Time/Gap
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m34.034
Marc Marquez Honda 0.246
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 0.267
Cal Crutchlow Honda 0.276
Pol Espargaro Yamaha 0.297
Scott Redding Honda 0.438
Valentino Rossi Yamaha 0.536
Yonny Hernandez Ducati 0.564
Andrea Iannone Ducati 0.687
10  Bradley Smith Yamaha 0.695
11  Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 0.820
12  Maverick Vinales Suzuki 1.220
13  Daniel Pedrosa Honda 1.314
14  Stefan Bradl Yamaha Forward 1.333
15  Nicky Hayden Honda 1.476
16  Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1.583
17  Karel Abraham Honda 1.656
18  Mike Di Meglio Ducati 1.663
19  Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1.766
20  Alex de Angelis ART 1.768
21  Hector Barbera Ducati 1.791
22  Jack Miller Honda 1.801
23  Loris Baz Yamaha Forward 2.127
24  Eugene Laverty Honda 2.573
25  Marco Melandri Aprilia 2.939
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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event French GP
Track Le Mans Circuit Bugatti
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Bradley Smith , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Cal Crutchlow , Scott Redding , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez , Yonny Hernandez , Pol Espargaro , Andrea Iannone
Article type Practice report
Tags ducati, honda, lcr honda, le mans, pramac, tech 3, yamaha