Franco Morbidelli suffered a bizarre accident at the end of MotoGP Free Practice 3 at Le Mans when the Italian collapsed while switching between his Petronas Yamahas during a practice bike swap.

The reigning title runner-up then had to be helped away by his mechanics, the team later reporting that he had 'twisted his left knee slightly' and was undergoing treatment at the Clinica Mobile.

It later transpired that Morbidelli's knee had already been weakened before arriving in Le Mans, while training at team-mate Valentino Rossi's moto ranch in Tavullia, explaining why it had given way so suddenly during the bike swap.

"I had a moment training at the ranch, I didn't crash, but I needed to put my leg on the ground and as you saw this morning my knee is weak. It started to give me pain from last week, this is what happened," Morbidelli said.

"So my knee is not really stable at the moment and when I went to swap bikes and I stomped on my left leg,the knee felt like it wanted to pop out. So I just let go and crashed onto the bike, instead of jumping on it!

"We were already working on the knee with Clinica Mobile [before the bike-swap incident], but we needed to intensify the work after it and finally I was able to ride quite okay this afternoon. Not too much pain, and this is positive. Tonight we will try to increase even more the healing process of it."

Despite the incident, Morbidelli went on to qualify a strong fourth on the grid, just 0.166s behind Monster Yamaha's home pole qualifier Fabio Quartararo.

"I'm very happy about this fourth position and to continue the positive trend that we've had since Portimao," Morbidelli said.

"This second row start is important with our bike and tomorrow is going to be a tough race, whichever way it is going to go; wet, dry or half-and-half because nobody has data. So everybody has a lot of question marks about tyre endurance, about the feeling on the bike. Nothing is really clear.

"But we had a good feeling in FP4, we are on a good path, so I hope tomorrow will be a good day for us.

"I just hope that it's going to be clear conditions, full wet or dry. I wouldn't like a flag-to-flag because of what you saw this morning! And also because in the intermediate conditions I'm not that fast."

Team-mate Valentino Rossi qualified ninth in the damp session.



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