2018 Le Mans MotoGP FP2 Result: A Low Stakes Dovizioso vs Marquez

The track was hotting up, mostly literally, for the afternoon play session of the premier class and it was freshly renewed Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso who wrote another headline after his earlier announcement. The metaphorical fight for the lead was, as ever, between him and Marc Marquez, the Honda rider promptly taking over the lead as the light turned green at the end of pitlane.

The final runs saw Marquez having a look at the hard rear tyre while Dovizioso kept to his softs. The status quo was maintained at the top until the final time attack but the world champion made sure to keep us entertained by piling up the saves. Johann Zarco chased some home glory as he took over the lead in the final three minutes but he was soon denied by Dovizioso, who became the only rider to drop into the 1:31s on the French circuit.

While still circulating on a used rear tyre, Marquez made the jump into second position on his final lap and was quickly followed by the revival of the two factory Yamahas. Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales achieved of those rare feats of finishing ahead of their satellite rider. Rossi put in a couple of long runs on the hard rear on his way to third position, while his teammate on mediums was practically glued to him on the timesheets, only seven hundredths of a second separating the two. Despite the close result, Rossi was consistently in the top six throughout the session, while Viñales waited until the final ten minutes to crack the top ten.

Zarco had to settle for fifth after briefly animating the stands and was followed by Jack Miller on the timesheets. Pol Espargaro might have started the session in the gravel trap but it’s the end result that matters, which happened to be seventh position. The same could be said for Dani Pedrosa, who luckily avoided any more off track adventures but managed to sneak into the top eight after struggling at the bottom end of the timesheets for much of the session – aided by some new aero bits.

Aleix Espargaro added an Aprilia to the top nine mix, while Jorge Lorenzo lost a bit of ground in tenth place but still managed to show reasonable pace in the high 1:32s on his second run. Despite challenging for the lead early on, Cal Crutchlow was another to join the sizeable crash list in the final few minutes and failed to improve, dropping out of the top ten by a mere thousandth of a second.

Lower down the order, Danilo Petrucci had to fight back after an early crash to finish 13th, behind Tito Rabat, who had briefly flirted with the top ten. An unpleasant surprise awaited the Suzukis, with Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins 14th and 15th respectively, although still within a second of the leader.

Scott Redding, Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami were all caught out by the conditions throughout the session but they were able to rejoin the action soon after.


Pos. Num. Rider Bike Time Gap 1st Prev.
1 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'31.936    
2 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'32.104 0.168 0.168
3 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'32.179 0.243 0.075
4 25 Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha 1'32.204 0.268 0.025
5 5 Johann ZARCO Yamaha 1'32.279 0.343 0.075
6 43 Jack MILLER Ducati 1'32.302 0.366 0.023
7 44 Pol ESPARGARO KTM 1'32.414 0.478 0.112
8 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 1'32.466 0.530 0.052
9 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Aprilia 1'32.572 0.636 0.106
10 99 Jorge LORENZO Ducati 1'32.576 0.640 0.004
11 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda 1'32.586 0.650 0.010
12 53 Tito RABAT Ducati 1'32.617 0.681 0.031
13 9 Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati 1'32.647 0.711 0.030
14 29 Andrea IANNONE Suzuki 1'32.752 0.816 0.105
15 42 Alex RINS Suzuki 1'32.803 0.867 0.051
16 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati 1'32.851 0.915 0.048
17 30 Takaaki NAKAGAMI Honda 1'33.072 1.136 0.221
18 38 Bradley SMITH KTM 1'33.318 1.382 0.246
19 55 Hafizh SYAHRIN Yamaha 1'33.435 1.499 0.117
20 21 Franco MORBIDELLI Honda 1'33.667 1.731 0.232
21 45 Scott REDDING Aprilia 1'33.830 1.894 0.163
22 17 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati 1'33.942 2.006 0.112
23 12 Thomas LUTHI Honda 1'34.089 2.153 0.147
24 10 Xavier SIMEON Ducati 1'34.311 2.375 0.222
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“Were all caught out by the conditions throughout the session”.

Were the riders just slow or did they all crash?

Hard,medium,soft in terms of Michelin can not be interpreted into simple English as you could with Bridgestone back then. A soft on a hot track on a Michelin may well show more endurance than a hard. A medium on a cold track, like in FP1 may be better than the soft. The hard may be better on Sunday if its hot, but if it is hot, the soft may have more endurance. Nuts! This is the Michelin condition, hence, 'caught out by conditions'. In my opinion, not track or ambient conditions but rather tire consistency. Cal alluded to the anomally some time back. Michelin need to step up. Dovi and Marc seem to ride around it no matter what along with a handfull of others. The quality control at Michelin is clearly not the same level as Bridgestone was back then and their tire designation pertaining to what is and what is not is confusing at best in my eyes. The times, endurance and data are. Michelin have done a really good job overall. They just need to simplify things a lot. Really? Do the teams need to employ a corporation of data analysts to analyse the difference between each tire before they put each on the rim.

There's always talk of Rossi or Dani, Lorenzo, etc Should they still have their rides or are they past their prime

What about the riders that consistently take up the last third of the grid

How has Redding still got a ride when there is so much talent in WSBK that would probably love a MotoGP ride? Johnny Rea

partial answer to question in yesterday's posts..

But, times are so close:  2-6 0.2 sec covers them,  7-16  0.5 sec covers them.


crazy close until you glance at the tire section of the analysis.

all of the top ten set their best on new soft rears, except marc. his fastest lap was on an 11 lap old hard.



Nice work newly signed hopefully for a good bit more Euros Dovi and Ducati. It isn't easy to get in the 131's here in optimal conditions. The new Duc has a good benchmark re direction change improvements at LeMans, it is a slalom course.

Here Yamaha have a good chance to have the package including electronics sorted. The track is well in their comfort zone. The track surface is solidly "normal." LeMans and Yamaha are as good a fit as we see. I will be surprised if they don't do well here. Vinales may have a bit of pace still coming. Same for Lorenzo, but I don't see him at the front.

Suzuki may be a bike that goes well at "Yamaha tracks." More so than the Yamaha when tires and conditions get tricky. Betting on gains from both riders.

P.Espargaro and A.Espargaro have done very well to get those machines on mid-132 pace. Stand out performances and cheering on a few more tenths.

Marquez has redefined for me what is possible re crashes, saves and safety. It isn't possible that a rider roll that many dice like that . He has HAD several dry big fast crashes over the years, two to three of which looked like possible career enders. He had a big one at the recent test that he surely felt for a few days. Then he comes here and dances around past the limit again, it is routine. Keep it wild kid.

Crutchlow on the other hand, how about you snug things up just a smidge eh? Finish a few races. Tidy it up just a tad. Honda has aero that couldn't look more like that of Yamaha. Their bike should go a bit better here than last yr.

It is looking like we should acknowledge that Jack Miller has made a big step forward getting on the 2017 Ducati. No fluke, he is up there now. Last year he had a fantastically awful crash in FP4 here, was beat up pretty good and should have been spooked. But he raced like a scalded cat on a rough riding 2015 Honda with iffy electronics. The kid has balls, and thrives when aggressive tossing around side to side is called for. Looking to him to impress with last year's Duc.

Signings - awaiting Lorenzo to Suzuki. Not sure on Petrucci there, they may opt for another youngster. Rumor has Danilo courting Aprilia for Redding's bike. Unclear. He is a better pick than Iannone methinks.

Can we please go ahead and start discussing the weird deal going on at both MarcVDS and Suzuki? Suzuki looks to be balking in crunch time. And within the management of MVDS there is a pissing match around fiscal accountability? It seems in process, headed to lawyers. We aren't hearing anything re what is or isn't happening within Suzuki are we? I am discouraged and assuming bad things. Get your shit together folks! This isn't a time for hesitation.

Enjoy Yamaha fans.