World Superbike champion Ben Spies will start his first French MotoGP from twelfth on the grid after sustaining foot damage during a morning practice highside.
The Texan lost control of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine at the entry to the Dunlop chicane on only his third lap of the second free practice session, with Alvaro Bautista and Mika Kallio also falling in separate incidents just minutes apart.
Most put the falls down to the cooler morning temperatures, but whatever the cause Spies was thrown several metres in the air before landing heavily on the ground.
Having suffered a badly swollen left foot and the loss of almost an hour of track time, Spies was satisfied to end the day in twelfth.
“After missing most of the morning session, I'm not too upset to be where I'm at. Even injury free I wasn't going to be on the front row or anything like that,” he said. “I just made a mistake this morning. I definitely wasn't starting a fast lap but I might have been going a little too hard for the rear tyre at the time.
“When it flicked me, my foot was half off the peg and when it snapped back it just completely rolled the ankle and the knee. There are no broken bones and it's nothing major. The pain level is not that bad on the bike but it is mainly downshifting gears. It's a matter of getting my foot back into position for the corner after shifting. I have to move my whole leg to do it.
“It'll be a little tough race but it won't hold me back. The foot doesn't feel good now but hopefully for 28 laps I can put it out of my mind and get a good result for Tech 3 and Monster.”
Team-mate Colin Edwards will start a fit-and-healthy eighth, but admitted the pace at the front was just too much for him.
“I'm riding as hard as I can but I've only ended up in eighth position,” said Edwards, who was 0.896sec behind pole sitter and factory Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi. “Those guys at the front have dropped half-a-second off the pole time from last year and while I hate to say it, I couldn't do a mid-33.
“The bike feels good and I feel good but it's just really hard work trying to run the pace of the front group,” he added. “Getting into a rhythm quick is going to be the key tomorrow. It is going to be a long and tough race but it is a big race for Tech 3 and Monster, so as always I'll be pushing as hard as I can for a good result.”