French MotoGP | Quartararo on home Le Mans pole as Yamaha spoils Honda party

Le Mans MotoGP Qualifying Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo will start his home French MotoGP from pole position after a break in changeable weather conditions allowed the Yamaha man to deny what looked like being a Honda 1-2-3.

With inclement weather at a chilly Le Mans making the already notoriously tricky French venue even more treacherous, Q1 began in damp conditions before drying sufficiently for slicks by the conclusion of Q2.

However, when it started raining again with four minutes of Q2 remaining it seemed the grid was going to be set with Marc Marquez claiming a spectacular return to the top spot, ahead of his Honda team-mates Takaaki Nakagami and Pol Espargaro.

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Nevertheless, the rain eased up again to allow the riders one last shot at a fast dry-representative time with Quartararo responding best as he so often does to take the flag and with it his 14th career pole position.

With Yamaha coming on strong in the closing stages, Maverick Vinales recovered for second on the grid, while Jerez winner Jack Miller salvaged third on the grid on the factory Ducati.

Franco Morbidelli gets underway from fourth position on the grid ahead of practice pace setter Johann Zarco, while Marquez, Nakagami and Espargaro slumped to seventh, eighth and ninth, the latter crashing in the final seconds just as he looked capable of improving. 

Valentino Rossi scored his best starting position of the year in ninth place, heading off the top KTM of Miguel Oliveira - who crashed at the top of the session.

The final two spots on the fourth row of the grid, meanwhile, was taken by the two surprise Q1 pace setter, Lorenzo Savadori and Luca Marini. A first Q2 showing for either rider, it came after they timed their final laps to perfection to get the best of the drying conditions, 

Their advancement came at the expense of several top riders - including both Suzuki riders Joan Mir and Alex Rins - who will start 14th and 15th, just ahead of championship leader Pecco Bagnaia, who has it all to do from 16th on the grid, and 2020 French MotoGP winner Danilo Petrucci

2021 French MotoGP, Le Mans - QUALIFYING RESULTS
1Fabio QuartararoFRAYamaha Factory Racing1m 32.600
2Maverick VinalesESPYamaha Factory Racing1m 32.681
3Jack MillerAUSDucati Lenovo Team1m 32.704
4Franco MorbidelliITAPetronas SRT Yamaha1m 32.766
5Johann ZarcoFRAPramac Ducati1m 32.877
6Marc MarquezESPRepsol Honda Team1m 33.037
8Takaaki NakagamiJPNLCR Honda1m 33.120
8Pol EspargaroESPRepsol Honda Team1m 33.150
9Valentino RossiITAPetronas SRT Yamaha1m 33.391
10Miguel OliveiraESPKTM Factory Racing1m 33.867
11Lorenzo SavadoriGBRAprilia Racing Gresini1m 34.258
12Luca MariniESPAvintia Ducati1m 34.265
13Aleix EspargaroESPAprilia Racing Gresini1m 43.418
14Joan MirESPTeam Suzuki Ecstar1m 43.422
15Alex RinsESPTeam Suzuki Ecstar1m 43.523
16Pecco BagnaiaITADucati Lenovo Team1m 43.530
17Danilo PetrucciITAKTM Tech 31m 43.857
18Iker LecuonaESPKTM Tech 31m 43.857
19Alex MarquezGBRLCR Honda1m 44.146
20Tito RabatESPPramac Ducati1m 45.590
21Brad BinderRSARed Bull KTM Factory1m 45.911
22Enea BastianiniESPAvintia Ducati1m 46.123