Photography by Gold & Goose
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez gave the others some hope early in the second free practice session on the opening day of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, but when all was said and done he’d snatched that hope away. Again. The World Championship points leader ended up the fastest of the FP2 session after sliding under the race lap record with 10 minutes to go in the 45-minute session.
Marquez, who led this morning’s free practice 1 session, started with a quick lap of 1:34.117, but that lapped was taken away by race direction for “off-track limit” violations in turns 13-14 when Marquez lost the front, saved it and ran wide over the outside curbing.
Shortly thereafter, Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took over at the top, the two-time MotoGP World Champion ripping off a 1:34.113 with 35 minutes to go. He followed that up with a 1:34.054 and things were looking good for the Yamaha man with Marquez in the pits and ninth on the timesheets.
With 12 minutes to go, however, Marquez turned the first lap in the 1:33s, the young Spaniard lapping at 1:33.868. On the next lap he did his 1:33.452 – under the race record set by Dani Pedrosa in 2011 (a 1:33.617). Suddenly Lorenzo was .602 of a second behind and there was no improvement coming – at least not on opening day at Le Mans.
The man who ended up closest to Marquez ended up being Andrea Iannone on the Pramac Ducati, the Italian just .007 behind when he tailed Pedrosa to record his best lap. Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ended the session third with morning crasher Bradley Smith riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha to fourth in the team’s home Grand Prix.
Pedrosa slipped to fifth with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl sixth and Lorenzo seventh. Lorenzo has never been on pole position at Le Mans, but he has three MotoGP wins there – 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro and Valentino Rossi rounded out the top 10 in the second session. Rossi had an off-session, running off track on at least two occasions and barely making it into the top 10. The Italian legend had ended this morning’s colder session in third.
Free Practice 2 MotoGP
May 16, 2014
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:33.452
2. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:33.459
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:33.668
4. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:33.920
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:33.942
6. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:34.040
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:34.054
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:34.117
9. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:34.134
10. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:34.498