Rossi was true to his word, spoken in the run-up to the weekend in Le Mans. He wanted to make a strong start to the French GP and he quickly matched his pace with the front runners. Having breached into the top5, he shifted his attention to the setting of his YZR-M1. With the track drying and the pace picking up, he set a best time of 1'40.894s for eighth place, 3.427s from first.
The soaking wet conditions in the afternoon, didnt stop the Doctor booking progress. He quickly moved up to provisional second place and spent the remaining 30 minutes focusing on improving his setting before putting it to the test in the final stages. He wrapped up the second session with a tenth fastest time of 1'43.006s, 1.333s from the front and held on to eighth place in the combined standings, thanks to his morning time.
Viñales started the morning session with the goal to continue the progress made in the Jerez test and spurted to the top of the timesheets 15 minutes into FP1, with a 142.546s. He spent the rest of the time comparing settings, bettering his fastest lap to a 141.307s in the process, and finished in tenth place, 3.840s from the front.
The Spaniard was quick to pick up where he left off during FP2, this time in full wet conditions after a midday downpour. He soon moved into the top4 as he continued to perfect the set-up of his YZR-M1. He saved his best for his last stint and dropped a 1'42.894s to end FP2 in eighth place, 1.221s from the top. Unable to improve on his fastest lap from this morning, he remained in tenth position in the combined standings.
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 duo kicked off the teams home Grand Prix with two determined performances on day one as they battled against the challenging weather in Le Mans. Johann Zarco pleased his fans as he notably completed the day in 3rd overall after an accomplished start in the morning practice whilst the track dried. Meanwhile, Jonas Folger ended up 12th in the combined standings due to his solid FP1 time, and he now confidently looks on to tomorrow where he aims to improve further.
Valentino Rossi, 8th - 1'40.894
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team
"For sure it's more difficult in these conditions, but for us it's also very important to try to understand the feeling of the bike in the wet, because in Jerez we suffered also a lot in these conditions. In the end I'm just tenth, so the position is not fantastic, but the feeling with the bike improved and throughout the practice I was always in a good position. I think that at the end with the new tyre I needed a few more laps to get some heat in, but the feelings are better. We worked a lot on corner entry and it's not so bad, but now we have to understand our pace in the dry and we hope for good conditions tomorrow."
Maverick Vinales, 10th - 1'41.307
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team
"For me it was a good day, because we could improve the bike a bit in the rain and I feel comfortable already with the bike. I think step by step we are improving in the rain. In the end, I didn't put in the soft tyre, I was too late, I could only get two laps in on the dry tyres. For me, ultimately, the position doesn't matter, it's the feeling in the wet and that we improved the bike that counts. I hope it will stay dry so we can work well. Our bike is working good here, so we can do a good result again."
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"Todays morning conditions were exactly what we hoped to avoid. The track was still drying in the morning, which meant that we were unable to collect any really good information, like we did in the fully wet afternoon session. Even though it doesnt look like its going to rain over the next two days, its been important to ride in the wet, as this allowed us to make another step in terms of the set-up for rainy conditions. We expect that it will be dry from now on and we will start FP3 with the information that we collected two weeks ago during the Le Mans test, especially concerning Maverick. Vale will continue to evaluate the two different settings he compared in FP1 which gave him a good impression."
Johann Zarco, 3rd - 1'39.248
Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3 Team
"For me, it was a good opening day to my home Grand Prix. FP1 was positive because we started in wet conditions but then it dried and I finished on slick tyres and on my dry bike. This meant that I could ride a solid lap, which may help for qualifying tomorrow and this is very important. In the afternoon, it was totally wet but we completed a lot of laps and learnt how the new asphalt is in these conditions. In order to be confident in the wet I need time, so step by step, I got better, yet the first guy was incredible today. However, I now have some points to work towards and I will stay cool so that I can improve in the future in similar conditions. It was great to ride in front of my fans, and this gives me good motivation because I like the feeling of saying hello to everyone and seeing the fans all standing up around the circuit. Furthermore, its sometimes a bit difficult to get around the paddock on the scooter due to all of the fans, but this is definitely a good thing! I have to also say that it is really nice to already know that I will continue with Monster Yamaha Tech3 next year because we are improving at every race which is important, and if I keep progressing, then we can have a nice target."
Jonas Folger, 12th - 1'41.644
Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3 Team
"It was a day of two halves but I am certain that we can achieve what we need to in order to have a successful time on Sunday. FP1 went well even though the circuit was drying at the end and we didnt alter the bike too much at all. In addition, the new track surface is great and I really like it. However, in the afternoon, we had some issues in the rain and we struggled with the rear grip. I was trying to push but we have to search for another setting because I am loosing too much time on the entry to the turn, and mid corner also. Throughout the practice, I did my best, but in the end, we couldnt find a solution. Yet, everything else is ok with the bike so now we need to analyse the data and make some plans, but I am sure that we can improve tomorrow."