Moto3 Le Mans: McPhee on fire for French pole

John McPhee used his Q1 experience to find the perfect lap at the right time and secure pole for the French Moto3 Grand Prix in Le Mans. 
Moto3 Le Mans: McPhee on fire for French pole

John McPhee had left it late to stake his claim for a Q2 place, but once there he used his Q1 journey to his advantage and timed his final flying lap to perfection to score pole position for the French Moto3 Grand Prix at the historic Le Mans circuit.

The Petronas Sprinta Racing rider lead a Honda dominated session with a best of 1m 42.277, close to Ai Ogura’s best time of the weekend in the optimal conditions of Friday practice, as he made the most of the drying track and found a slipstream from Ogura on his best run to finish the session on top of the timesheets.

McPhee secured his first pole since the Italian round of 2017 after coming through Q1 after finding Friday practice tough. The British rider had left it to the final seconds of Q1 to top the session and only improved throughout an impressive Q2 performance.

He is joined on the front row by Tony Arbolino, who constantly challenged for pole but finished +0.190s short for VNE Snipers.

Rookie Ogura who proved he was equally fast in the wet and dry for Honda Team Asia on his way to third.

Tatsuki Suzuki arrived on a high after finishing second in Jerez in his SIC58 Squadra Corse team 1-2 result and had lead the way in the wet FP3 earlier in the day but fell a little short as the track temperature dropped for fourth.

Gabriel Rodrigo was first out of the blocks but fifth at the end of the session for Gresini, with the final spot on row two going to another Q1 graduate, Marcos Ramirez for Leopard Racing.

Jerez winner Niccolo Antonelli held onto seventh despite a crash at turn three in the final minutes of the session, benefiting from a lack of improvement as the riders bunched up on track.

Eighth went to Raul Fernandez, who was the top qualifying KTM for the Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team.

He won’t keep the position though as the qualifying positions will shift before they line up on the grid as he, Darryn Binder and Sergio Garcia were all handed twelve place grid penalties for irresponsible riding in FP2.

Kaito Toba looked at ease in the changing conditions on his way to ninth on the second Honda Team Asia entry, with Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) doing enough to complete the provisional top ten.

Andrea Migno is set to become the top KTM on the grid after the penalty reshuffle in eleventh for Bester Capital Dubai, while Makar Yurchenko thrived in the tricky conditions after coming through Q1 for his equal best qualifying result to date in twelfth.

Romano Fenati improved late on for a very tentative 13th for VNE Snipers, championship leader Aron Canet also had an uncharacteristically quiet session, the Sterilgarda Max Racing rider will start down in 14th.

Leopard’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta had his progress halted by a late spill, leaving him to settle for 15th. There were also crashes for Kazuki Masaki in Q2 and Can Oncu in Q1, all riders were declared fit after their respective falls.

Several of the bigger names did not make it past Q1, most notably Jerez podium finisher Celestino Vietti who will start 21st and early series leader Jaume Masia (BesterCapital Dubai) who will line up 23rd.

Brit Tom Booth-Amos (CIP Green Power) stuggled in the changing conditions and finished Q1 15th - 29th on the grid overall.