Second row start for Morbidelli after tricky qualifying
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT riders Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo overcame difficult conditions at Le Mans to qualify in the top ten for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix. Morbidelli will start from sixth on the grid, having successfully made his way through Q1, while Fabio Quartararo will start from tenth at his home Grand Prix.
Both FP3 and Qualifying for were contested on a wet surface this Saturday, and the sessions were punctuated with numerous falls on track. The conditions meant that there was no change in the qualifiers for Q2 on Saturday, but the MotoGP riders used the FP3 session to test their wet set-ups and tyres comprehensively. It was Quartararo's first time in such conditions in the premier class. He had already secured a spot in Q2 and finished 13th in FP3 with a 1min 44.197secs lap.
Morbidelli, who would have to go through Q1 for the first time this season, led the third practice session briefly and finished 16th thanks to a 1min 44.403secs time.
In Q1, Morbidelli set the second fastest time of the session with wet tyres. The Italian's 1min 39.262secs earned him a place in Q2. In that second qualifying session, Franco set a best time of 1min 41.681secs, to secure him a spot on the second row for tomorrow’s race. The Italian rode with wet front and rear tyres for the entire Q2 session. Team-mate Quartararo started out with slicks for Q2, but reverted to wet tyres during the runout. He claimed 10th thanks to his 1min 42.509secs lap.
The 27-lap MotoGP race will start tomorrow at 2pm local time.
Franco Morbidelli, 6th - 1'41.681
PETRONAS Yamaha SRT Team
"Q1 went well. I set a good lap time with the wet tyre and I felt good. Later on, I saw that Rossi was fastest and was on slicks, so a lot of riders went in to change tyres -just as it started to rain again. We went back to the pits and we waited to see what the other riders were doing. Finally we were able to break into Q2. I didn't have a new tyre for that session, so I did what I could. Our performance was good, since I managed to set a 1min 41.6secs and reached sixth. I don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow, so we'll see. I've been somewhat faster in the wet than in the dry, but I also have faith that we can improve on the pace we showed on Friday in dry conditions."
Fabio Quartararo, 10th - 1'42.509
PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team
"I'm a little frustrated with how Q2 went, but we had to try going out with slicks. It wasn't the right decision, but the important thing is that we were able to improve our time with the wet tyres. My first lap was the best, but it started to rain more and more. We tried many things to get our fastest time as soon as possible, but the lap never came. In the end my time wasn't so bad, considering the conditions. The bike feels good even if the grid position doesn’t look as good as I wanted. We are ready for the race tomorrow; in FP3 we worked hard to get a good race pace with the wet tyres, so I am positive for tomorrow whether it is wet or dry."