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MotoGP Le Mans: Migno on pole with sensational slick tyre gamble

Rivacold’s Andrea Migno claimed a stunning Moto3 pole at Le Mans this afternoon after gambling on slicks despite a rain-hit qualifying session.

Ricardo Rossi looked to have stolen the position from his fellow Italian before the number 16 struck back in the dying moments to go two-seconds clear of the next best time. John McPhee claimed his second-best starting position of the season, in fourth, with Pedro Acosta failing to advance from Q1 and heading for 21st-place.

Qualifying kicked off with the Moto3 championship leader facing a fight from the first 15-minute session after failing to secure automatic promotion during the challenging practice conditions so far experienced. Xavier Artigas was the only rider not to take to the French track as Q1 got underway due to his FP3 crash - the rookie sustaining a wound in his left hand and a small impact to his head, sitting him out of the rest of Saturday’s action but with hopes to compete in Sunday’s race.


A nervous moment saw Acosta out of his seat at turn 12 before recovering his composure and his KTM to continue with the session. Kaito Toba led the way after the first four laps with Carlos Tatay, Yuki Kunii and Andi Farid Izdihar holding the remaining promotion places. The Japanese rider meeting an early end to his campaign with a highside in the opening minutes.

Toba remained in control with a 1’43.290 as the clock hit two to go, Filip Salac, Acosta and Max Kofler now in promotion contention with Dennis Foggia and Tatay circulating just outside the cutoff by the narrowest of margins as two-tenths separated the top-six riders.

Foggia hit the top as the flag came out before Tatsuki Suzuki swept through to steal the position, Salac and Jeremy Alcoba securing the all-important final places as Acosta dropped to seventh as the session met its conclusion. Toba missed out on fourth by just 0.027s, Tatay a further 0.013s back in fifth as Kofler, Kunii and Izdihar rounded out the top-10 positions. Takuma Matsuyama finished his first qualifying in the world championship from the gravel thanks to a late fall from 11th place with Izan Guevara, Lorenzo Fellon and Adrian Fernandez completing the set.

The battle for pole saw dark clouds threaten overhead as the session got underway. Niccolò Antonelli and Rossi becoming the first to suffer as a sudden downpour hit turns 11 and 12, sending the two into the gravel and the rest of the pack back to the pits for wet tyres. Migno was the only rider still out on track at the 10-minute mark, with half the track so far unaffected by the rain but unable to register a time.

The field returned to action on a mixture of wet settings and nine minutes remaining as the conditions continued to confuse, the rain stopping completely and the sun breaking through the clouds with Migno chasing to gamble on a full set of slick tyres.

Ayumu Sasaki slid out at turn 10 but was able to quickly recover to the pits as the first times finally began to register. Gabriel Rodrigo sat top with a 1’52. 484 followed by Sergio Garcia, Romano Fenati before Deniz Öncü and Jaume Masia split the latter pair for third and fourth. Darryn Binder claimed seventh as Suzuki rose to fourth with Migno an impressive eighth, although 1.7s off.

Three minutes to go and Öncü was now in charge from his fellow KTM rider, Ryusei Yamanaka securing sixth as Suzuki again took fourth. Migno’s gamble seemed to be paying off as the Snipers rider took pole, 1.1 second ahead of the pack before McPhee swept through to steal the show by a mere two-tenths.

Salac suffered a nasty highside at the final corner on the closing minute with yellow flags initially flying as the session wound down.

Migno once again looked majestic as he battled the conditions, his 1’49.546 claiming the provisional pole before a quickly recovered Rossi briefly bettered but the Italian was on blistering pace as he dominated the session, two-seconds clear of his countryman to take the glory with a 1’47.407.


Rossi and Masia join Migno on the front row for Sunday’s 22-lap race with McPhee heading row two in fourth, Rodrigo and Antonelli for company. Salac, Garcia and Suzuki complete the front three-rows with Fenati sitting 10th ahead of Stefano Nepa and Yamanaka. Öncü, Jason Dupasquier and Sasaki will line up on row five with Binder, Alcoba and Foggia concluding the top-18.

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