Maverick Vinales: “Race pace, we are right there” | Aleix Espargaro: “Fastest I've been since Qatar”

Aprilia team-mates make a strong start to the French MotoGP at Le Mans.

Maverick Vinales, 2024 French MotoGP
Maverick Vinales, 2024 French MotoGP

Aprilia team-mates Maverick Vinales and Aleix Espargaro put in a strong combined performance with fourth and seventh places during Friday practice for the French MotoGP.

Vinales, who identified an issue with his spare bike after a disappointing Sunday at Jerez, was delighted to be so close to the top despite some front locking - which he sees as an obvious area of improvement on Saturday.

“The feeling with the front tyre wasn’t fantastic, but I was able to be fast anyway. In terms of race pace, we are right there,” said Vinales, who also lapped just 0.269s from Ducati pacesetter Jorge Martin on his time attack.

“During my time attack, a yellow flag kept me from improving my time, but I was still extremely close. I’m confident that we’ll take a step forward tomorrow. I’m sure I can battle against the Ducatis.”

Aleix Espargaro, 2024 French MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, 2024 French MotoGP

Espargaro meanwhile rediscovered the kind of speed he had shown at the Qatar season opener.

“After Qatar, this is the track where I’ve been the fastest,” he said. “I feel extremely good with the bike.

“I made a small mistake during my time attack in that I went long on turn 9 and lost a couple tenths of a second.

“The feeling is better than I expected here. I have been fast and competitive from the start. I really enjoyed today.

“After the Jerez test, we tried to lower my body position on the bike and it’s better on the brakes.”

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