Hometown hero Johann Zarco qualified in top spot at Le Mans this lunchtime to become the first Frenchman to take a MotoGP pole position since Christian Sarron back in 1988.
Zarco survived a huge moment into turn 12 on the satellite M1 to set a 1’31.185 and it was enough to fend off a last-lap charge from reigning champion Marc Marquez, who finished on a 1’31.293 while Danilo Petrucci came through qualifying one to complete the front row.
While it was good news for the satellite Yamaha, it was bad news for the works M1s as Valentino Rossi slumped to ninth place and it was not much better news for team-mate Maverick Vinales who ended only one place further up.
Worse news came for Britain’s Cal Crutchlow, however, who crashed in free practice four and then again in qualifying one which ended in a trip to hospital after a monster highside at turn eight.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone missed the front row by 0.073s after putting in a 1’31.454 while Andrea Dovizioso is the best of the Ducatis in fifth place, 0.099s behind his former team-mate.
Current team-mate Jorge Lorenzo completes the second row with a 1’31.590 after some serious suspension tweaks in between his first and second runs. Jack Miller ended in seventh, ahead of the Movistar Yamahas.
Injured Dani Pedrosa took tenth with Tito Rabat and Aleix Espargaro - who crashed early on - completed the top ten. Crutchlow will start from 13th with Hafizh Syahrin and Alex Rins - riding for the first time in the premier class at le Mans - in 15th place.
Bradley Smith got away with a massive near-highside in Q1 to end in 17th place while Red Bull KTM team-mate Pol Espargaro did the exact same thing but in a different place on his way to 18th. Scott Redding was 22nd.