Márquez and Vierge close to top three pace on first day in Le Mans
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS starred in an extremely tight opening day of Moto2 action in France today, with Alex Márquez and Xavi Vierge posting lap times very close to the top three.
- Fifty years since it first hosted a Grand Prix in 1969, round five of the 2019 Moto2 World Championship commenced at the legendary Bugatti track in Le Mans today.
- Despite rain forecast to disrupt today’s proceedings, FP1 this morning commenced in sunny conditions with track temperature peaking at 28 degrees.
- Conscious of rain predicted for tomorrow, both Márquez and Vierge knew it was vital to set a time inside the top 14 this afternoon, with a high possibility of rain arriving overnight to prevent an improvement in times in FP3.
- It was mission accomplished for the Spanish duo, with Márquez ninth and Vierge 14th going into tomorrow’s FP3, which commences at 10:55 am local time.
Alex Márquez: 9th, 1:36.841, 41 laps, 172 km
- In pleasant ambient temperatures of 17 degrees this morning, Márquez was a constant challenger for the top three, with a lap of 1’37.365 placing him 10th.
- Márquez was only 0.2s away from third this morning in a 45-minute session that concluded with the top 18 riders split by just 0.7s.
- FP2 was another intensely fought session, with the top 20 riders covered by less than one second.
- Márquez built his confidence and rhythm with a measured display in FP2 and his personal best lap of 1’36.841 was again less than 0.2s outside of the top three placings.
“The analysis of the times shows my race rhythm is strong”
“Today wasn’t easy and it was like Friday at Le Mans last year where we saw many crashes. It was not easy to control the situation this morning, but for FP2 we made a positive step. We need to keep working because we have a bike that doesn’t feel very stable and I am losing in areas of the track where it is easy to gain time. I struggle with the wheelie in the third and last sector and we will modify the set-up to improve the stability. The analysis of the times shows my race rhythm is strong and we are not so far from where we need to be.”
Xavi Vierge: 14th, 1:37.141, 35 laps, 146 km
- Vierge was quickly down to a fast pace in FP1, with his best lap of 1’38.201 coming on the fifth of his 16-lap stint, as he worked on fine-tuning the base setting of his Kalex chassis.
- The number 97 made rapid progress this afternoon and on just his fourth lap of FP2 he improved his pace by half-a-second with an impressive 1’37.774.
- Vierge continued to better his speed throughout the session and when the chequered flag came out he’d set a best laptime of 1’37.141.
“We know where we can improve”
“We started with the base from Jerez but this morning I didn’t feel comfortable with that package at this track. We worked very well before FP2 and immediately we could tell we’d made a good step. It was important to be fast this afternoon because tomorrow the weather looks like it is going to rain, so we had to be inside the top 14 and we achieved that. We need to make another step to be closer to the front and we know where we can improve. It is the middle of the corner to the exit where I’m having the most problems but we are fully focused on finding a solution.”