Bradley Smith came out on top of a rapidly evolving first free practice session for the French MotoGP at Le Mans as sodden weather conditions made their presence felt at the start of the weekend.

With the event being held much later in the year than usual, tricky weather conditions have been predicted this weekend, with the wet-to-damp track surface of FP1posing a challenge for riders. However, despite 17 offs in the preceding Moto3, there were no fallers on the premier machines on this occasion.

Nonetheless, the conditions were difficult enough to shake up the order with Aprilia’s Smith - who looks set to finish the season with the Italian firm having been drafted in as a replacement for Andrea Iannone - turning in a 1m 43.804secs lap, heading off a quartet of Ducatis in Johann Zarco, Danilo Petruccio, Jack Miller and Andrea Dovizioso from second to fifth.

Title contender Maverick Vinales headed up the Yamaha contingent in sixth position, just ahead of Petronas SRT Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi, while LCR's Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro led the Honda and KTM challenge in ninth and tenth.

Things were rather steadier for the title rivals as they focused on playing it safe so as not to risk getting injured in any accidents, with Joan Mir down in 13th position on the Suzuki - just behind team-mate Alex Rins - while series leader Fabio Quartararo was down in 18th position overall on the second of the Petronas SRT Yamaha bikes as he returns to home soil as the title favourite.

 

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