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MotoGP Le Mans: Redding leads Crutchlow in dry third session

Octo Ducati’s Scott Redding topped this morning’s third MotoGP free practice on a drying track which ended in a ten-minute thrash for the top-ten spots.

Redding was in the mix as the track dried sufficiently for slicks and his last lap of 1’35.674 sealed not only a place in qualifying two but also the quickest time of the weekend so far.

Fellow Brit Cal Crutchlow bounced into second place with his final effort of a 1’36.035 to topple close friend Jack Miller who recovered from an earlier crash to set a 1’36.122 for third place.

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There was plenty of joy in the KTM camp as both Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith got into qualifying two automatically but entirely the opposite for the factory Ducati men. Andrea Dovizioso finished in 12th place while Jorge Lorenzo was dead last.

The session was not much better for Dani Pedrosa as he couldn’t do much with his Repsol Honda on the cold track, ending one place ahead of Lorenzo and 5.860s off the pace.

After the Moto3 riders splashed about, the sun appeared and it wasn’t long into the MotoGP session before a dry line began to appear - well apart from in the final sector. Johann Zarco was the first rider to brave it on slicks and he was followed down pitlane by Valentino Rossi but timesheet topper Miller remained in his garage.

It wasn’t quite dry enough for Ecstar Suzuki’s Sylvain Guintoli, who lost the front at Dunlop with 17 minutes left to run but five minutes later, Redding appeared on track and began to climb his way up the combined sheets.

He went fifth with his first effort and then third with team-mate Danilo Petrucci in tow while Rossi also started to do some meaningful work. Miller went down at Dunlop but recovered to the pits with 11 minutes left to run while Loris Baz and Maverick Vinales exhanged times.

Redding bagged second place with a 1’38.339 as Petrucci went fourth but with seven minutes left, Miller’s time from yesterday morning was still the benchmark. Redding put paid to that one lap later, putting in a 1’37.435 for top spot.

Baz and Vinales were at it again for second but reigning champion Marc Marquez was also in the mix, bagging runner-up spot on a 1’37.947 as Rossi hopped into fifth place. Petrucci occupied third on a 1’37.882 with five left to run but he was pushed down by Rossi a lap later as The Doctor put in a 1’37.658.

With three minutes left, Crutchlow came almost out of nowhere to dethrone Redding, setting a 1’36.461 but the Gloucestershire rider was straight back at him with a 1’36.340. Marquez nicked third on a 1’37.012 as Pol Espargaro went fourth on a 1’37.414. Karel Abraham followed Crutchlow to slide into sixth place.

The Czech rider then went fourth on a 1’36.980 as Miller came back from his spill and immediately went into third spot on a 1’36.859. Rossi made his bid for the top of the table with a 1’36.277 but it was that man Redding again who ended the argument with the best of the weekend.

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Crutchlow sealed his place with a lap that was just enough to bump Miller while Rossi stayed in fourth place, one ahead of Marquez. Abraham remained in sixth with Pol Espargaro seventh. Vinales couldn’t improve on his 1’36.616 and ended in eighth with Baz behind him. Smith secured tenth and the final automatic Q2 spot with his last lap of 1’36.805.

Alvaro Bautista ended in 11th, one ahead of Dovizioso while Sam Lowes only missed Q2 by three one-thousandths of a second as he crossed the line in 13th and ahead of Petrucci. Zarco crashed earlier in the session and couldn’t find pace from his spare bike, ending in 15th, one ahead of Monster Yamaha team-mate Jonas Folger.

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