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MotoGP Le Mans: Front-row start 'important' for McPhee

Friday’s rain was replaced with bright sunshine for Saturday’s action at the Le Mans circuit but the remaining cold temperatures still created demanding conditions for the Moto3 riders as FP3 got underway.

With times almost immediately quicker than those set yesterday, Petronas Sprinta Racing’s John McPhee chose to patiently analyse the situation before getting fully up to speed, setting the eighth fastest lap of the 40-minute session on his final run, a 1’42.662 which easily saw him directly through to Q2.

An accident for Kaito Toba early in qualifying saw yellow flags hinder the pack’s progress with McPhee one of a number of riders to have his early effort deleted, having been set while the flags still flew.


A return to the pits for fresh rubber allowed the Scot to regroup and come back fighting, however, setting a 1’41.846 on his final lap to secure a front row start for Sunday’s 22-lap contest, as he qualified third.

“We knew that qualifying on the front couple of rows was really important today, as it can be quite difficult to pass on this track," said McPhee.

“We changed our strategy a little bit, to go as soon as the green light came on and we planned for two laps but the yellow flags messed that up for us.

"It meant we were in the same boat as always and had to go at the end of the session, with a new tyre.

“I was a little bit nervous as the slipstream can give you a big help here but in the end I did my lap time alone and I’m really happy with the pace.

“The first couple of sessions yesterday were really tough, 16 crashes in FP1, so I was just happy to stay upright and stay out of trouble and then to come away top in the session was really nice.

“As the weekend’s gone on I’ve just tried to be as smooth as possible. It’s been so important to keep the left side of the tyre as hot as you can but then in the last couple of laps in qualifying you have to put all that out the window and just push for a time.

“I had a couple of more ‘on the edge’ moments there towards the end of the session so I was quite glad to have put it all together and I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow.

“I’m keeping half an eye on the guys around me but I’m trying to focus on myself race-by-race and always be there. I’m sure he’ll [Ogura] come forward tomorrow but we’ll try and stay in front of him.”

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