Marc Marquez got the better of Andrea Dovizioso on his very final lap of opening practice for the French MotoGP at Le Mans.

Riding with a new downforce fairing on his Repsol Honda, the reigning world champion nipped 0.025s clear of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso to get within 0.2s of the official race lap record.

Marquez's new fairing is similar to the Yamaha design, while team-mate Dani Pedrosa has a different version on his second RC213V.

Unlike Marquez, Pedrosa (15th) didn't appear to use his fairing on track this morning.

Riders are only allowed one fairing upgrade during the season.

Last year's winner Maverick Vinales was visibly upbeat after leading for most of the closing stages, setting a strong consistent pace and finishing just 0.067s from Marquez.

Factory Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi also made a strong start, setting the pace on several occasions on his way to a close sixth (0.301s) at a circuit where he battled Vinales for victory one year ago.

Between the Movistar riders was Cal Crutchlow - the leading satellite rider in fourth (+0.258s) for LCR Honda - with home star Johann Zarco firmly in the fight with fifth (+0.279s) for Monster Yamaha Tech3.

Suzuki's Andrea Iannone had been the rider to beat during the middle stages, before slipping back to seventh (+0.443s). Dovizioso's team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and the KTMs of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro completed the top ten - an excellent start for the Austrian factory.

Pramac's Danilo Petrucci, who like fellow GP18 riders Dovizioso and Lorenzo was running maximum wing configuration, was eleventh. GP17 team-mate Jack Miller was the first faller of the weekend on his way to twelfth, in a session that saw all riders up to and including Pedrosa within one-second of the top.

A cloudless blue sky at the circuit means lap times are expected to improve this afternoon.

CLICK HERE for the full FP1 results…




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