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Fabio Quartararo Heads Dramatic MotoGP French Grand Prix Qualifying

Illustration for article titled Fabio Quartararo Heads Dramatic MotoGP French Grand Prix Qualifying
Photo: Jean-Francois Monier / AFP (Getty Images)

Fabio Quartararo has found his stride in what has been an otherwise chaotic MotoGP season. The Yamaha rider has more pole positions and wins than anyone else in 2020, but he’s only barely leading the championship. It’s been one of those years. But if he can make this performance last, he’ll have a great shot at winning the title.

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Yamaha looked good straight away, with Franco Morbidelli setting an early fast pace that Quartararo quickly overtook and then proceeded to double down on.

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But despite Yamaha’s pace, Quartararo will be lining up next to two hungry Ducatis, with just a two- to three-tenths gap between Ducati rider and leader. As Q2 wound down, it looked as if those Ducatis might end up on pole, but they just couldn’t get it done. It’ll all come down to the start tomorrow—Jack Miller and Danilo Petrucci will want to get the jump into the first corner.

Miller’s final lap looked fit to nab pole, but a front row finish after a crash in FP3 isn’t a bad compromise.

And, as has been standard this year, at least one rider took a spill. Joan Mir tumbled off his bike with under two minutes left in the first qualifying session. And, as has also been standard, he had quite the recovery: Mir slid into the gravel on his backside, caught his heels in the gravel, then ended up on his feet and running it off.

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Quartararo, who qualified on pole position, is keeping his expectations in check:

It feels special because the conditions were really tricky. It was really cold and took time to warm up the tires. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the pole position. I’m so happy we work in a really good way. Yesterday I was so confident. I was a bit far yesterday, but I knew where I needed to improve. We took the risk where we needed it today. I’m so happy to start from the front row. With two Ducatis in the front row, we will struggle a little bit, but I’m confident we will have the pace to fight for the victory tomorrow.

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Miller was a little disappointed to learn that he very nearly could have secured pole:

It’s alright, we’ll take it. I gave the maximum, I felt, especially that last sector. The front was bouncing through 11 and 12. It didn’t feel great. It was a little difficult with the win, but after a crash this morning, I’ll be happy to take a second position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix.”

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Petrucci sounded the most pleased, especially after a bit of a difficult season. “I’ve always liked this place, and I know this year I have a big opportunity because we lost a lot of time on the straights, and there are no main straights here,” he said in a post-qualifying interview. I can enjoy the cold weather for the tires. I’m really happy to be here again.”

Top 10:

1. Fabio Quartararo
2. Jack Miller
3. Danilo Petrucci
4. Cal Crutchlow
5. Maverick Vinales
6. Andrea Dovisioso
7. Franceso Bagnaia
8. Pol Espargaro
9. Johann Zarco
10. Valentino Rossi

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

Can you bury the lede even a little bit? Spoiling the results of qualifying/races before most people have watched them is lame. Especially considering this is not a motorsports website.