The only rider other than Marc Marquez to lead a practice session at Le Mans, Jorge Lorenzo expected better than sixth on the grid in French MotoGP qualifying.
The Movistar Yamaha rider not only led the Saturday morning session, but set more sub 1m 34s laps than any other rider.
However the Spaniard couldn't convert that into qualifying speed and will start on the outside of the second row. Lorenzo's best lap was 0.857s behind Marc Marquez, but only a fraction behind second place Pol Espargaro.
“To be honest I expected to be on the front row but I couldn't make a perfect lap,” said Lorenzo. “It's been the opposite of Jerez, here we have good pace but we couldn't make a very fast lap time. Anyway, just one tenth and I could be in second place.
“For the race we have more options than the last races so I'm going to try and finish on the podium and maybe even fight with Marc. We have to pay attention in the first laps because everyone wants to overtake but I think we can keep our place and move up.”
Double world champion Lorenzo has only one podium from the four races so far this year. Team-mate Valentino Rossi will start fifth on the grid.