Red Bull KTM Ajo overcome rain for solid start at Le Mans19/05/2017
Antonelli, Kent and Bendsneyder all place inside Top 10 on wet opening day of French GP, in second, eighth and ninth respectively.
Rain played a big part in the first day of the French GP, which takes place this weekend at the historic Le Mans circuit. The Moto3 riders were unable to put in a single lap with slicks due to wet conditions, although the newly relayed surface offered a surprisingly positive level of grip under the circumstances. On the combined timesheet for the day, Niccolo Antonelli was second fastest, with wildcard Danny Kent in eighth position -after going second in FP2- and Bo Bendsneyder in ninth.
The lower cylinder class had to start the day with wet tyres, after rain throughout Thursday left the asphalt damp. All three Red Bull KTM Ajo riders were comfortable in the conditions, and Danny Kent was the first to take the iniciative -placing himself at the head of the timesheet in the second half of FP1. However, in the end, Antonelli finished the 40-minute session with a lap that put him second -1:51.508-, with Kent and Bendsneyer in eighth -1:51.668- and ninth -1:51.732- position, respectively.
In the afternoon, heavy rain fell at the beginning of FP2. Nevertheless, this did not prevent the Red Bull KTM Ajo trio from continuing to define their best setup. Kent was once again the one setting the pace, continually lowering his lap times. A crash at Turn 9 with 3 minutes remaining, from which he escaped unharmed, forced him to settle for second place with a top time of 1:53.295. As in FP1, Antonelli put in a great final lap to finish third -1:53.347-, while Bendsneyder was twelfth -1:54.115-. The track conditions prevented them from lowering the times they had set in the morning.
An improvement in the weather is predicted for Saturday, when the Moto3 field contest qualifying for the French GP at 12:35pm local time. Last year’s Moto3 pole position was taken by Antonelli.
Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Adam Norrodin (Honda) 1:51.468
2. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:51.508 +0.040
3. Andrea Migno (KTM) 1:51.512 +0.044
4. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) 1:51.611 +0.143
5. Marco Bezzecchi (Mahindra) 1:51.624 +0.156
8. Danny Kent (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:51.668 +0.200
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:51.732 +0.264
23 NICCOLO ANTONELLI
“This first day at Le Mans has gone quite well. Although the conditions were difficult and the track was very wet, especially in the afternoon, the new asphalt had good grip. It seems that tomorrow the track will be dry and we will have to see how it responds under those conditions. I am very happy with the work we have done today, and tomorrow we will continue to give our all together with the team, working in the same way to continue improving.”
64 BO BENDSNEYDER
“Today was a positive day. We used it to try different setups in the rain. In principle, for the rest of the weekend conditions will be dry, and I hope that is the case. Even so, I think we have a good setup in wet conditions, so if in the race or during qualifying we go out on track in wet conditions, we will be prepared. With the conditions we’ve had this Friday, the new asphalt has responded in a good way; it has a lot of grip and I feel comfortable.”
52 DANNY KENT
“Today was my first day back in Moto3 after more than a year away, and it could not have gone better. We were fighting in the Top 3 for much of both sessions. It helped that I already had experience with this team and they are familiar with me, so we already knew how we used to work. In any case, I was surprised at how quickly I have adapted to Moto3 again, as today was the first time I had ridden in the wet since Malaysia 2015 and I was among the fastest riders. I had to change my style a bit after having spent time in Moto2, but as the weekend goes on my feeling will be better.
Today in the rain we were very strong, and tomorrow and Sunday should be dry, but the important thing is to do as many laps as we can and get the same feeling as today. I would be happy with that.”