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MotoGP Le Mans: Chantra tops Moto2 practice with FP1 effort

Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Somkiat Chantra claimed Moto2’s Friday practice with a 1’36.108 lap  set during the morning Le Mans acton.

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Augusto Fernandez looked to have set the fastest Moto2 time in France before his 1’36.030 lap was deleted due to yellow flags, in favour of the Thai rider. Pedro Acosta completed the top three, in second, with Elf Marc VDS’ Sam Lowes and Tony Arbolino narrowly behind.

Friday’s intermediate action saw championship leader Celestino Vietti reiterate his command as the opening laps registered. The Mooney VR46 setting the 1’38.824 pace from Lowes and Flexbox HP40’s Jorge Navarro with the Ajo duo of Fernandez and Acosta completing the top five.


Fernandez was in charge as the mid-session approached, 1’36.813 now the target time with Lowes maintaining his hold on second place. Marcel Schrotter headed Jerez winner Ai Ogura and Inde Aspar’s Jake Dixon as the action continued with Arbolino trailing Navarro in the top seven.

The second half saw the Brits take charge as Lowes headed Dixon on 1’36.6 pace. Chantra rising to fourth on the Idemitsu Honda with Vietti demoted to the edge of the top ten behind the second Aspar of Albert Arenas.

Stefano Manzi began his second replacement ride with the VR46 Master Camp squad - in for the injured Keminth Kubo - from 12th in the times, Acosta ahead with Joe Roberts and Filip Salac narrowly behind as seven-tenths covered the opening top 14. Last race hero Aron Canet circulating in 18th as the French weekend bedded in.

The final quarter of an hour saw a lull in action with the majority in the pits. Cameron Beaubier cutting a solitary figure out on track as he advanced the American Racing machine up to 11th with a 1’37.235.

Fernandez was the first of the front runners back on track as he promoted the KTM to second before upping the pace overall next time around. His rookie teammate claiming fourth behind the British pair with Chantra fifth. Navarro crashed out at turn 13 as Vietti and Manzi improved to seventh and eighth before Alonso Lopez hit the top five on the MB Conveyors Speed Up - having replaced Romano Fenati for the rest of the season.

Late session efforts saw Chantra second with Manzi arriving to an impressive third in the closing four minutes. Vietti and Arenas found fifth and sixth as Dixon hit the deck at turn seven while Chantra claimed the session overall with his final strike, a 1’36.108. Disaster finding Vietti and Canet tangled in the turn eight gravel after an overeager move from the VR46 man with Schrotter also succumbing, at turn ten, as the chequered flag waved.

Lowes led the way as FP2 got up to speed. His Elf Marc VDS teammate taking over 0.069s ahead as Arbolino became the first to improve on his morning effort. Acosta and Chantra sat third and fourth after the opening ten minutes with Simone Corsi joining the party in the top five as the pair out front switched places once again.

Dixon briefly claimed third before Canet demoted him by half a tenth. Chantra striking again for the lead and finding second as the front runners ignited the pace. Lowes continuing to fine-tune the target with a 1’36.403 and sitting third overall.

Fernandez and Arenas joined their teammates in the leading pack, from seventh and eighth respectively before Ogura did likewise as he dropped them back. Lorenzo Dalla Porta rounding out the top ten.


Lowes became the first faller of the final action with 15 minutes dispatched. The Brit attempting to save before sliding the Kalex out at turn 13. Turn seven collecting Arenas moments later having just improved the Aspar to fourth in the session, and sixth overall. While a late slide at turn 11 found Lopez down amid the second half lull.

KTM locked out the session as the closing ten minutes fired up, Acosta bettering Fernandez with a 1’36.281 as the rookie swept up to third overall. Schrotter crashed out at turn 11 with Manzi doing likewise two corners later with Dixon improving to fourth.

Canet endured his second crash of the day at turn five with four to go. Fernandez taking over from his teammate with a 1’36.030 as Chantra claimed third. The Honda Team Asia rider’s FP1 time still enough for second overall with Lowes and Arbolino hanging on to fourth and fifth.

Gonzales crashed the second Master Camp machine out in the closing stages, Gabriel Rodrigo succumbing to turn six with two to go. Roberts the first rider adrift of the promotion zone as the final laps began with Barry Baltus, Lopez and Canet seemingly safe. Niccolo Antonelli claiming a final fall at turn 10 as the chequered flag dropped.

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