French MotoGP: Honda's Espargaro quickest in crash-strewn FP1

An under-pressure Pol Espargaro on the Honda topped a crash-strewn opening practice for the MotoGP French Grand Prix ahead of Suzuki’s Alex Rins.

French MotoGP: Honda's Espargaro quickest in crash-strewn FP1
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Perfect conditions greeted the MotoGP paddock for the opening practice at Le Mans, with Suzuki’s Rins pertinently setting the early pace on the team’s first race weekend since the shock news of its decision to quit the series at the end of 2022.  

With track conditions already at a good level, lap times continued to tumble across the session as Rins improved to a 1m32.545s 10 minutes in.

Maverick Vinales – winner at Le Mans in 2017 with Yamaha – took over from Rins with a 1m32.418s moments later on his Aprilia, before Jack Miller went faster on his Ducati.  

Last year’s Le Mans race winner Miller would regain the top spot from Fabio Quartararo with 25 minutes remaining with a 1m32.101s, before he beat his own lap in the final five minutes with a 1m31.961s.  

Most of the field elected against fitting fresh rubber for the closing moments of FP1, but lap times remained strong despite this.  

Home hero Quartararo shot to the top of the order on his Yamaha with a 1m31.912s, but would be denied ending FP1 fastest of all by Honda’s Espargaro.  

Espargaro guided the Honda – which typically works well in high-grip conditions – to a 1m31.771s, while Rins shadowed him 0.109 seconds behind in second. 

Spanish GP winner Francesco Bagnaia completed the top three on the factory Ducati ahead of Quartararo and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who debuted a new shoulder onboard camera this morning.  

Mir was sixth on the second of the Suzukis ahead of Miller and Vinales, with another home favourite in Johann Zarco ninth on his Pramac Ducati.  

VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini rounded out the top 10 from Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda and Gresini Ducati’s Enea Bastianini, who was one of five riders to crash in FP1.  

Bastianini slid off his bike in the opening stages, but remounted to complete 18 laps, while KTM endured a bruising 45 minutes.  

Brad Binder took a tumble at Turn 3 just under 15 minutes into FP1, while factory teammate Miguel Oliveira had two tumbles – once at Turn 10 with 17 minutes to go, with the second at Turn 6 10 minutes later.  

Compounding KTM’s misery was Tech 3 rookie Raul Fernandez, who fell from his RC16 at Turn 10 with 15 minutes remaining as he makes his return from the wrist injury which ruled him out of the last two races.  

Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli was the final faller in FP1, with the Italian left down in 20th ahead of Oliveira, Tech 3 duo Remy Gardner and Fernadez, with Binder ahead in 18th.  

Marc Marquez had a low-key start to his French GP weekend in 13th, though was only 0.495s off the pace and managed a remarkable save at the Turn 8 right-hander when he ran wide on the kerb and tucked the front-end of his Honda.  

FP2 for the 2022 French GP will get underway at 2:10pm local time. 

French MotoGP - FP1 results:

Cla Rider Bike Time Gap
1 Spain Pol Espargaro Honda 1'31.771  
2 Spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'31.880 0.109
3 Italy Francesco Bagnaia Ducati 1'31.893 0.122
4 France Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'31.912 0.141
5 Spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'31.933 0.162
6 Spain Joan Mir Suzuki 1'31.942 0.171
7 Australia Jack Miller Ducati 1'31.961 0.190
8 Spain Maverick Viñales Aprilia 1'32.078 0.307
9 France Johann Zarco Ducati 1'32.112 0.341
10 Italy Luca Marini Ducati 1'32.128 0.357
11 Japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'32.165 0.394
12 Italy Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'32.255 0.484
13 Spain Marc Marquez Honda 1'32.266 0.495
14 Spain Jorge Martin Ducati 1'32.491 0.720
15 Italy Marco Bezzecchi Ducati 1'32.674 0.903
16 Italy Andrea Dovizioso Yamaha 1'32.736 0.965
17 Italy Fabio Di Giannantonio Ducati 1'32.755 0.984
18 South Africa Brad Binder KTM 1'32.756 0.985
19 Spain Alex Marquez Honda 1'32.762 0.991
20 Italy Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'32.937 1.166
21 Portugal Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'33.021 1.250
22 Australia Remy Gardner KTM 1'33.302 1.531
23 Spain Raúl Fernández KTM 1'34.151 2.380
24 South Africa Darryn Binder Yamaha 1'34.624 2.853
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