French MotoGP: Smith tops wet first practice at Le Mans
Smith tops the first wet training session at the French GP
Bradley Smith did a wet first practice session for the MotoGP French Grand Prix on the Aprilia ahead of home hero Johann Zarco on the Avintia Ducati.
Smith's future beyond this weekend is uncertain as Andrea Iannone's appeal to lift his 18-month doping ban will be negotiated on Thursday and may be able to return to the Aragon Grand Prix next weekend.
Despite a number of falls in the previous Moto3 session, the riders quickly learned the conditions as the first foray in the premier class of the weekend began.
The last full wet race in MotoGP was the 2018 Valencia Grand Prix, won by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and showing Pol Espargaro on the podium on the KTM.
At the beginning of the first RP in Le Mans, both exchanged the top position, with the Ducati briefly taking advantage of the advantage with a time of 1: 45.785 minutes in around 28 minutes.
Moments later, Ducati colleagues Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia would downgrade him on the Pramac GP20 before Danilo Petrucci from sister factory Desmosedici took the top spot with 1: 45.326 minutes.
Petrucci, who finished dry on the podium at Le Mans last year, was mixed back by Yamaha's Maverick Vinales with a time of 1: 45.121 minutes, although the Ducati rider made sure it was short-lived when he did a time of Scored 1: 44.931 minutes.
Smith tops wet first practice session at the French GP
With eight minutes to go, Miller returned to the top of the timesheet with a time of 1: 44.735, which was soon threatened as lap times continued to drop towards the end of the session.
Petrucci overturned Miller's time in 1: 44.409, although the Australian hit back with 1: 44.346, before Vinales led Factory M1 to 1: 44.180.
When the checkered flag came out, Smith racked up a lap threatening first place on the Aprilia, producing 1: 43.804 seconds to finish FP1 fastest in 0.154 seconds.
Zarco jumped to second on his final lap on his GP19, with Petrucci taking the top three ahead of Miller and Dovizioso and Vinales taking the top six.
Morbidelli was shuffled back to seventh place ahead of Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha factory team, while LCR's Cal Crutchlow - who admitted on Thursday that his right arm is "still not in a great situation" - was ninth on the Honda and ahead of KTM's Espargaro .
The Suzuki duo of Alex Rins and Joan Mir finished 11th and 12th, while championship leader Fabio Quartararo was about 2.6 seconds behind in 18th place.
With weather forecasts predicting drier conditions for the weekend, the need to advance the first RP came with little reward and likely influenced Quartararo's caution.
Stefan Bradl has not hired time for the factory Honda, although he has spent the last two days in the Algarve, Portugal testing the RC213V.
French MotoGP - FP1 Results
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CG: BAL@PHI - 9/21/21
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