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MotoGP Le Mans: Front row for McPhee as Masia steals pole

Jaume Masia claimed his second career Moto3 pole position at Le Mans this afternoon after a dramatic finish saw him slipstream his way to the front of the field.

Masia denied Albert Arenas in the final seconds as John McPhee joined the pair on the front row for Sunday’s French GP in the same move.

Gabriel Rodrigo initially led the way as the opening qualifying session began, setting the early pace as Dennis Foggia, Ryusei Yamanaka, Niccolò Antonelli and Tatsuki Suzuki all battled for promotion, the re-signed Simoncelli rider narrowly losing out after the first run, less than 0.2 down on the fastest time as the field returned for their final bite of Q1.


Foggia’s first effort bettered the Gresini man’s time to hold the standings before Kaito Toba reduced it again. Rodrigo just holding on to the last Q2 position despite a late crash preventing any improvement, Antonelli’s fate less positive as the Sic58 rider’s fall left him fifth and therefore heading the seventh row on Sunday’s grid.

The closing 15 minutes saw Raul Fernandez aiming for his seventh front row start of 2020 as he hunted for empty track, setting the benchmark with a 1’42.349 on his second lap with Darryn Binder and Ayumu Sasaki for company in the top-three. McPhee’s first effort initially sat him 12th, before being one of a number of times deleted due to a yellow flag infringement, leaving just seven riders with times set with a mere three minutes to go.

All to play for in the final seconds and it was Masia who took control as the flag came out, Fernandez settling for second before Arenas looked to steal the pole but a last second slipstream allowed Masia to shine, crossing the line tightly behind McPhee to claim the fastest time, a 1’41.399, the Scotsman’s effort strong enough for the front row, in third.

Sergio Garcia, Rodrigo and Tony Arbolino will start tomorrow’s contest on the second row ahead of Sasaki, Romano Fenati and a disappointed Fernandez on row three. Celestino Vietti finished tenth ahead of Foggia and Darryn Binder, while Andrea Migno was forced to settle for 13th after a tangle with Yamanaka. Stefano Nepa and Carlos Tatay will start just ahead of the fallen Japanese rider, with Toba and Championship leader Ai Ogura also failing to set times due to falls and concluding the top-18.

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