|Pole Position – Maverick Vinales Photo: Team Laglisse/Calvo
Vinales dominant in Moto3 as Nakagami gains his maiden career pole from the rain in Moto2 ahead of Brit Scott Redding.
A dry track and wind greeted Moto3, but this soon moved to make way for the weather forecast and more expected in Le Mans – rain – by the time it was Moto2’s turn to qualify.
Team Calvo’s Maverick Vinales broke his own lap record to secure pole in Moto3, in a session which he ruled from start to finish.
Le Mans was the track where the Spanish teenager took his first career win, in only his fourth Grand Prix and his confidence around the circuit clearly showed.
His nearest rival was the Mahindra of Miguel Oliveira, equalling the Portuguese riders personal best qualifying performance, while setting a new high for the Indian team, who this time last season already had Marcel Scrotter threatening to leave as the bike was under-performing.
The Mahindra was also the only bike in the top five not to be a KTM. The third and the final spot on the front row was filled by Aspar’s Kalex KTM piloted by Jonas Folger.
He nudged back Alex Rins who had to settle for heading up the second row for Estrella Galicia. He is joined by Luis Salom, who was still recovering from a massive crash in practice on his Red Bull KTM and Caretta’s Jack Miller who was the highest placed Honda rider in sixth, making the most of the team’s new fairing.
Alex Marquez,Isaac Vinales, Niklas Ajo and Local rider Alexis Masbou complete the top ten.
Ambrogio Racing’s Danny Webb qualified 18th but will not race after his hospital scan revealed he has a broken foot. Fellow Brit John McPhee starts 19th for Caretta Technology.
Moto2 got the worst of the day’s weather with their session being scheduled last, causing scenes akin to racing in the opening minutes after pitlane opened as the pack all attempted to bank a quick lap.
Takaaki Nakagami finally scored his debut pole as he was fortunate enough to be in pole position when the heavens opened.
The Italtrans rider has been on the front row for every round so far this year but is yet to translate his qualifying success into solid race performances.
Though looking on course to mount a serious challenge for the top spot a mature session from Scott Redding sees him start from second for Marc VDS. The Gloucester man was one of only a handful of riders to take advantage of the conditions and go out to work on a wet weather set-up.
Third went to local hopeful Johann Zarco for the Came Ioda Racing Project, the only Suter bike in a Kalex dominated top five.
Fourth place on the grid was filled by Jerez winner Tito Rabat. He is joined on the second row by an improving Xavier Simeon in fifth and Aspar rider Nico terol in sixth.
Pol Espargaro and Tom Luthi were the biggest losers in the weather stakes, both had run within the top five over the weekend with title favourite Tuenti Pons rider Espargaro in seventh and Interwetten’s Luthi settling for eighth.
NGM Mobile rider Mattia Pasini was ninth on a Speed Up and Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio completed the top ten.
The other Moto2 Brits struggled in Le Mans with a crash leaving Blusens Avintia rider Kyle Smith in 22nd, Danny Kent wrestled the Tech3 into 26th and wild-card Gino Rea, with his own team and the only FTR in the field, appeared to have technical issues early on and only had any real track time in the wet, leaving him down in 31st.
Le Mans Moto3 Qualifying Top 10:
1.Maverick Viñales SPA Team Calvo (KTM) 1m 43.696
2. Miguel Oliveira POR Mahindra Racing (Mahindra) 1m 43.806
3. Jonas Folger GER Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 (Kalex KTM) 1m 43.969
4. Alex Rins SPA Estrella Galicia 0,0 (KTM) 1m 44.123
5. Luis Salom SPA Red Bull KTM Ajo (KTM) 1m 44.178
6. Jack Miller AUS Caretta Technology – RTG (FTR Honda) 1m 44.278
7. Alex Marquez SPA Estrella Galicia 0,0 (KTM) 1m 44.320
8. Isaac Viñales SPA Ongetta-Centro Seta (FTR Honda) 1m 44.548
9. Niklas Ajo FIN Avant Tecno (KTM) 1m 44.560
10. Alexis Masbou FRA Ongetta-Rivacold (FTR Honda) 1m 44.600
Le Mans Moto2 Qualifying Top 10:
1.Takaaki Nakagami JPN Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 38.508
2. Scott Redding GBR Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 38.858
3. Johann Zarco FRA Came Iodaracing Project (Suter) 1m 39.187
4. Esteve Rabat SPA Tuenti HP 40 (Kalex) 1m 39.193
5. Xavier Simeon BEL Desguaces La Torre Maptaq (Kalex) 1m 39.296
6. Nicolas Terol SPA Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 (Suter) 1m 39.333
7. Pol Espargaro SPA Tuenti HP 40 (Kalex) 1m 39.355
8. Thomas Luthi SWI Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Rac (Suter) 1m 39.437
9. Mattia Pasini ITA NGM Mobile Racing (Speed Up) 1m 39.543
10. Mika Kallio FIN Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 39.558