Redding fastest in drying third session

Redding fastest in drying third session
By AutoSport

20/05/2017 at 10:37

Scott Redding led fellow Briton Cal Crutchlow in a drying third practice for MotoGP's French Grand Prix, as Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo finished at the bottom of the times.

Pramac Ducati's Redding dominated a late shootout on slick tyres and reclaimed top spot after the chequered flag, both KTMs secured Q2 places, while Pedrosa and Lorenzo finished more than five seconds off the pace and will contest the first phase of qualifying.

After Friday's wet sessions, further rain into the evening meant the circuit was damp-but-drying again on a sunny Saturday morning, with initial laps on wets four seconds off the pace set by Jack Miller in first practice.

In the early stages, Danilo Petrucci exiting Turn 1 and Maverick Vinales at Turn 6 ran wide but both stayed upright as riders lapped cautiously.

Midfield in the combined order after two sessions, Pedrosa and Ducati's Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso were the first riders to improve on their times set on Friday, 15 minutes in, Pedrosa moving into the lead of the session on a 1m41.354s.

Last-start winner Pedrosa and Lorenzo failed to improve thereafter, even having switched to slicks in the closing stages, and finished 22nd and 23rd, 5.680 seconds and 5.934s adrift.

Local hero Johann Zarco was the first to head out onto slicks, just before the midway point, followed by championship leader Valentino Rossi.

Times remained off those set on Friday with the third sector appearing the wettest, as Suzuki stand-in Sylvain Guintoli lost the front end in a low-speed crash at Turn 3 with 17 minutes remaining.

Redding was the first to make a serious move on slicks, setting a 1m39.614s to take top spot and move from 17th to fifth in the combined order.

Miller turned a 1m38.982s but then fell at Turn 3, as Redding improved again to a 1m38.942s and then 1m38.339s to move up to second overall as the shootout to claim one of the 10 guaranteed places in Q2 started.

Redding displaced Miller at the top of the order with seven minutes to go with a 1m37.435s, as Marc Marquez, Vinales and Rossi also made gains to slot into third, fourth and fifth behind Miller.

Crutchlow set a new benchmark of 1m36.461s, but was quickly displaced as Redding reclaimed top spot with a 1m36.340s with three minutes remaining.

Rossi and then Miller on his second Marc VDS Honda both spent time at the top inside the final 60 seconds, but Redding was not done, turning a 1m35.674s after the chequered flag finish fastest.

LCR Honda's Crutchlow also improved on his final lap to finish 0.361 seconds behind, ahead of Miller, Rossi, Marquez and Karel Abraham.

The KTMs excelled in the mixed conditions, Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith setting the seventh- and 10th-fastest times to book places in Q2, in just the Austrian brand's fifth full-time MotoGP start.

Vinales and Loris Baz booked the other two spots in eighth and ninth, while just 0.068s ultimately split Smith in 10th and Petrucci in 14th. Dovizioso was in that group in 12th, while Zarco crashed at Turn 11 in the closing stages and wound up 15th.