Maverick Vinales secured his first Moto3 pole position on a Le Mans circuit made extremely treacherous by a pre-session rain storm.
The wet, cold conditions led to a multitude of fallers including championship leader Sandro Cortese (Ajo KTM) and Monlau Honda’s Miguel Oliveira, who was on provisional pole when he lost the bike at the Turn 10 chicane halfway into the session.
Maverick Vinales (Avintia FTR-Honda) had been battling with Oliveira until the latter’s fall, but moved into a class of his own as the session progressed and conditions gradually improved.
The 17-year-old Spaniard lowered his own personal best mercilessly, dipping down into the 1m55s to eventually finish the session almost one second clear of the field.
Despite being unable to get going following his crash – and therefore missing out on the optimum conditions – Oliveira remained second right up until the chequered flag, when Laglisse Honda’s Efren Vazquez did enough to demote him to the final spot on the front row.
Jakub Kornfeil (Ongetta FTR-Honda) deprived Alexis Masbou (Caretta Honda) a fourth-place start for his home grand prix.
After his early fall, Cortese meanwhile pushed his bike back to the pits and was able to rejoin the action in the final minutes. He got himself up into sixth, finishing as the highest non-Honda rider.
Kalex KTMs locked out the third row, with Alberto Moncayo, Hector Faubel (both Aspar) and Luis Salom (RW) in seventh, eighth and ninth respectively.
The tough conditions impacted hard on the Mahindra team, with both Danny Webb and Marcel Schrotter falling and qualifying outside the 107 per cent mark. Ioda Team Italia’s Luigi Morciano was also outside the mark.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Maverick Vinales Avintia FTR-Honda 1m55.865s
2. Efren Vazquez Laglisse Honda 1m56.847s + 0.982s
3. Miguel Oliveira Monlau Honda 1m57.114s + 1.249s
4. Jakub Kornfeil Ongetta FTR-Honda 1m57.392s + 1.527s
5. Alexis Masbou Caretta Honda 1m57.673s + 1.808s
6. Sandro Cortese Ajo KTM 1m57.801s + 1.936s
7. Alberto Moncayo Aspar Kalex-KTM 1m57.846s + 1.981s
8. Hector Faubel Aspar Kalex-KTM 1m57.899s + 2.034s
9. Luis Salom RW Kalex-KTM 1m58.000s + 2.135s
10. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Ajo KTM 1m58.133s + 2.268s
11. Jonas Folger Ioda 1m58.304s + 2.439s
12. Adrian Martin Laglisse Honda 1m58.315s + 2.450s
13. Niklas Ajo TT Motion KTM 1m58.563s + 2.698s
14. Arthur Sissis Ajo KTM 1m58.570s + 2.705s
15. Louis Rossi Germany FTR-Honda 1m58.576s + 2.711s
16. Brad Binder RW Kalex-KTM 1m58.590s + 2.725s
17. Danny Kent Ajo KTM 1m58.673s + 2.808s
18. Alan Techer Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda 1m58.679s + 2.814s
19. Giulian Pedone Ambrogio Oral 1m58.932s + 3.067s
20. Isaac Vinales Ongetta FTR-Honda 1m58.938s + 3.073s
21. Romano Fenati Italia FMI FTR-Honda 1m58.978s + 3.113s
22. Jack Miller Caretta Honda 1m59.233s + 3.368s
23. Alessandro Tonucci Italia FMI FTR-Honda 1m59.251s + 3.386s
24. Simone Giorgi Amborgio Suter Honda 1m59.335s + 3.470s
25. Jasper Iwema FGR-Honda 1m59.539s + 3.674s
26. Alex Rins Monlau Honda 1m59.888s + 4.023s
27. Niccolo Antonelli Gresini Honda 2m00.129s + 4.264s
28. Kenta Fujii Technomag-CIP TSR-Honda 2m00.903s + 5.038s
29. Ivan Moreno Laglisse FTR-Honda 2m02.379s + 6.514s
30. Toni Finsterbusch MZ-Honda 2m03.240s + 7.375s
31. Kevin Hanus Thomas Sabo Honda 2m03.626s + 7.761s
32. Danny Webb Mahindra 2m04.144s + 8.279s
33. Marcel Schrotter Mahindra 2m05.206s + 9.341s
34. Luigi Morciano Ioda Team Italia 2m05.565s + 9.700s