16 May 2015
Moto3 Le Mans: Rain hands Quartararo pole despite fall, Kent 31st
Fabio Quartararo took pole position for the Moto3 Grand Prix of France in Le Mans, in a curtailed qualifying session which saw rain ruin any further chance of competitive laps.
Rookie Fabio Quartararo set the best of the banker laps before the rain took hold at Le Mans, causing him and a host of big names to crash and leading to an unusual looking grid for the French Moto3 Grand Prix.
The home rider ended his session in the medical centre when a sudden increase in rain after the riders completed their first laps saw him fly through the gravel at turn one, holding his hand in pain as his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda flipped away.
Quartararo's time of 1m 44.763 remained unchallenged as though a few riders returned to track to try wet weather settings, none were able to go faster in the wet conditions.
He was joined just seconds later in the gravel at the same corner by his team-mate Jorge Navarro, who is also just behind Quartararo on the grid in second.
Francesco Bagnaia also timed his best lap well, handing the Mapfre Team Mahindra rider the teams first front row start of the season in third.
Jakub Kornfeil set the fourth best time for Drive M7 SIC, and is the highest positioned KTM rider on the grid.
Joining the Czech rider on row two are Romano Fenati, happy to benefit from the weather after his recent qualifying struggles for Sky Racing Team VR46 in fifth and Jules Danilo, starting his home Grand Prix from sixth for Ongetta Rivacold.
Niccolo Antonelli had done enough for seventh also for the Ongetta-Rivacold team, ahead of Red Bull's Miguel Oliveira and Husqvarna rider Isaac Vinales, in eighth and ninth respectively.
The Le Mans rain gave career best grid positions to Tatsuki Zuzuki (CIP) in tenth, Maria Herrera (Husqvarna Factory Laglisse) in eleventh and Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia) in twelfth.
The Leopard Racing team had a disaster as they attempted to second guess the weather, the small extra wait before sending their riders out to try for a clear track left championship leader Danny Kent down in 31st, his team-mates Efren Vazquez and Hiroki Ono also suffered and start 29th and 32nd. Vazquez was on pole in France last season.
Along with Zulfahmi Khairuddin, the first faller Jorge Martin and Philipp Oettl who was the first to venture out to try and improve in the drizzle, they are all outside of the 107% time limit, though expected to be allowed to line up on the grid.
The injured Juanfran Guevara starts 15th for Mapfre Team Mahindra, limiting his time riding through the pain barrier as he remained in the pits with the majority of the field during the downpour.
Red Bull KTM's Karel Hanika finished the session 24th but his five points sanction from Race Direction earned after his post race incident with Juanfran Guevara at Jerez - which left the Aspar rider with a broken collarbone – took his points total to seven, making him the first rider to start from pit lane since the system was introduced.
Brad Binder also finds himself down the order in 25th after a fall when he found Oettl in front of him on track.
Qatar race winner Alexis Masbou also suffered in the wet and the local rider starts from 26th on a very flipped Moto3 grid.
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