There were no home fans to see it trackside, but Johann Zarco led a perfect French one-two ahead of Fabio Quartararo during Friday MotoGP practice at Le Mans.

The pair had also filled the top two positions earlier in the season, albeit in opposite finishing order, at the second Qatar race.

And with wet weather expected to return on Saturday, the fully dry Friday afternoon could offer a taste of what is to come in Sunday's grand prix.

If so, Zarco and Quartararo could again be set for leading roles in a potential Ducati vs Yamaha battle at the front.

"It can be," Zarco said. "We know the Yamaha is strong here in the dry and the '32.1 Fabio did during his first run this afternoon was very impressive.

"So Fabio has this capacity to immediately go pretty fast and in the case of dry conditions for the race, as Ducati riders we have to be careful to not let him go – as he was ready to do in Jerez [before arm pump problems].

"But then with used tyres, maybe after half race, we are more equal I would say between the Yamaha and the Ducati. So that's why I think our game [plan] in Ducati is don’t let him go, because if not then it can be hard to catch him back."

Zarco, still seeking a first MotoGP victory after nine podiums, including second at Le Mans in 2017, was second to factory Ducati's Jack Miller in the damp morning session then toppled Quartararo on his penultimate lap of the dry afternoon.

"A good day for me," said the Pramac rider. "The morning to get the track wet but drying was great for me because I like these conditions and it helped me to have the time to find the confidence on the bike and get the good references on the track. So that was great and almost like a perfect warm-up for the afternoon, where the track was completely dry. So maybe the only dry session before qualifying means we have to be fast to be in the top ten.

"With the soft front tyre I'm feeling good, but always very careful at the entry to the [first] chicane. I think we had many crashes this afternoon because it's the first weekend with cold conditions and sometimes we can forget how the cold conditions can surprise you. But it's not easy to be fast and careful.

"From the first exit and overall from the second exit I've improved my lap time and got the feeling really on the track. This brought me happiness on the bike and the last run was also four laps with the soft tyre quite fast. I'm so happy that I could have this lap under '32 that is already good.

"I'm just happy today. I need to wait now and adapt to the conditions we have tomorrow."

 

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