Motorcycle Racing

Miller tops FP1, Marquez crashes on return

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

This weekend’s French GP at Le Mans marks the 1000th grand prix event in the championship’s history.

After a fairly anonymous start to the opening 45-minute practice of the weekend, Miller wound things up on fresh soft rubber in the closing stages of FP1 to produce a 1m31.449s.

This cemented him top spot as the chequered flag flew, but only by 0.095 seconds from VR46 Ducati rider Luca Marini, while Miller’s KTM team-mate Brad Binder completed the top three.

Having been absent since fracturing his right hand in a crash in the Portuguese GP, Marc Marquez made his long-awaited return to action on Friday morning at Le Mans.

He crashed early on in FP1 when he lost the front-end of his Honda going into Turn 11, and eventually ended the session 12th.

The headline of FP1 at the start of the session was Honda bringing the Kalex chassis it first tested at Jerez two weeks ago for both Joan Mir and Marquez to try on a grand prix weekend.

Both began the session on the older frame, with Marquez forced to switch to the Kalex chassis for the remainder of the session when he crashed just under 15 minutes in.

Luca Marini, VR46 Racing Team

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

By this stage of the session, VR46 Ducati rider Marco Bezzecchi led the way with a 1m32.825s.

This would stand as the benchmark until championship leader Francesco Bagnaia fired in a 1m32.555s with 21 minutes to go.

He improved on his next lap to a 1m32.504s, and again with a 1m32.332s to head into the soft tyre time attack phase at the end of FP1 as the rider to beat.

A frenetic end to the session saw Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, home favourite Fabio Quartararo on the factory Yamaha and Bezzecchi take turns leading the times.

But Miller’s 1m31.449s would be too much for anyone to challenge. Trailed by Marini and Binder, Johann Zarco was fourth on the Pramac Ducati in front of his home crowd.

Alex Marquez completed the top five on his Gresini Ducati from Mir, who set his 1m31.800s on the Kalex chassis.

A late improvement for Aleix Espargaro on the factory Aprilia lifted him to seventh from Bezzecchi and Vinales, with Bagnaia rounding out the top 10.

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Brad Binder, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

This came at the expense of Quartararo, who slipped to 11th and 0.497s off the pace at the chequered flag in a session in which he back-to-backed chassis on his M1.

Marc Marquez was 12th on his Kalex chassis with a 1m31.973s, the…

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