18.05.2019

Q2 Qualification for Espargaro through tricky Le Mans conditions

MotoGP 2019 - Round 5, Le Mans (FRA)
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 MotoGP France 2019

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For the last twenty years the Bugatti section of the famous Le Mans circuit has hosted the French stop of MotoGP. The fifth round of the 2019 calendar took place on the layout that was resurfaced in 2016 and is renowned for heavy braking zones and tight, relentless corners. Red Bull KTM came to Le Mans in the wake of a private test at the venue three weeks previously and after two days of more work at Jerez.

Espargaro made the most of new upgrades to the KTM RC16 to set lap-times throughout Free Practice 1 and 2 to vie for positions on the first two rows of the provisional grid. Johann Zarco eagerly approached his home Grand Prix and was also impressive in Free Practice. Friday was chilly but sunny and Pol’s lap to sit 7th quickest (and just half a second from the top time) was enough to enter directly to Q2, particularly when the weather turned and Saturday was dark and showery.

Riders were surprisingly able to use slick Michelins through Q1 and as Le Mans started to develop a dry line. Zarco was less than a second from grabbing the last slot to make the Q1 cut but still posted his best Qualification of the year in 14th. The rain then fell for Q2 and Espargaro was caught out at Turn 6 where he slipped off and could not post a significant lap.

Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Miguel Oliveira was edging towards the top of Q1 when the Portuguese could not generate sufficient heat in his rear slick and crashed. Saturday represented #88’s first wet outing in MotoGP and he will set-off from 16th tomorrow. Hafizh Syahrin was 21st.

Pol Espargaro: “This morning we made some changes on the bike that I really liked and in FP4 I was fast over one lap. We had a few problems in the end but that first lap out of the box was really fast. I had good feelings for the Quali, but Le Mans is complicated! Things change very quickly with the weather. It was much more slippery and it was hard to find a good feeling. I stopped to fit a softer rear tyre to find more grip and in the end, nothing. On the first lap I crashed. I don't understand [why] that well because I was 7ks slower and not leaning more or pushing more on the brakes. In the dry we have top ten pace but if it is wet we’ll have to see tomorrow.”

Johann Zarco: “My best qualifying so far but I was disappointed after Q1 because we missed the strategy with the tyres. I left the box with the slick and it was too late to do something. It was a shame. There were conditions where I felt good I think we could have played for Pole Position today. To miss the Q2 I was on-fire inside! But, positive for tomorrow, I think in mixed conditions we have the chance to do a good race. It is also the first time since I have been on the KTM that I can feel some strong points on the bike. Don't forget the target is to be at the top and when we have a day when something is possible then you must trust and remember this target.”

Miguel Oliveira: “My first experience in the wet was quite positive. This morning I felt good, my speed was OK and I had a decent feeling going into the Qualifying. The weather was quite strange, we didn’t know what to use. After doing two laps, I decided to risk using the slick tyre and I could not heat up the tyre at all and suffered a crash. It’s a shame because I think with the wet tyres I could have been a bit faster. I don’t know if it would have been enough to go to Q2, but for sure to be one row in front. But overall, it’s an OK day.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “The conditions have been tricky today but I felt better step by step in the wet and also built some confidence with the wet tyre. I hope that we can make another step tomorrow and then enjoy the race.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Brad Binder set the fastest Free Practice lap-time to head straight into the Moto2 Q2 with his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine. The South African then placed 8th in the wet, five slots ahead of his teammate Jorge Martin in 13th. In Moto3 Raul Fernandez of the Sama Qatar Angel Nieto team took his KTM RS250GP to the eighth fastest time but was later hit by a penalty that shifts the Spaniard to the seventh row of the grid. Andrea Migno will start from 8th place.

Races: May 19, 2019 – Moto3 11.00 | Moto2 12.20 | MotoGP 14.00 CET

Results Qualifying MotoGP Le Mans 2019

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 1:40.952
2. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Ducati +0.360
3. Jack Miller (AUS), Ducati +0.414
4. Andrea Dovizoso (ITA), Ducati +0.600
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Yamaha + 0.703
12. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM NA
14. Johann Zarco (FRA), Red Bull KTM 1:40.029 (Q1)
16. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:40.385 (Q1)
21. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 1:41.717 (Q1)

Results Qualifying Moto2 Le Mans 2019

1. Jorge Navarro (ESP) Speed Up 1:49.055
2. Thomas Luthi (SUI) Kalex +0.078
3. Alex Marquez (ESP) Kalex +0.530
8. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.872
13. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.987

Results Qualifying Moto3 Le Mans 2019

1. John McPhee (GBR) Honda 1:42.277
2. Tony Arbolino (ITA) Honda +0.190
3. Ai Ogura (JPN) Honda +0.238
27. Can Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo 1:45.796

Contact:
Press & PR Manager
Sebastian Kuhn
+43 676 599 0084
sebastian.kuhn@ktm.com

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