Maverick Viñales’ impressive start to life with Yamaha in MotoGP continued on Saturday as he swept to pole position for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans’ Circuit de la Sarthe.
Viñales stepped up to a factory seat with Yamaha for 2017 after three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Ducati, and made a splash by winning his first two races for the team.
Viñales arrived at Le Mans trailing teammate Valentino Rossi by two points at the top of the riders’ championship, and took a step towards overhauling the Italian racing icon by taking pole position on Saturday.
The Spanish rider outqualified Rossi by just one-tenth of a second in the final stage of Q2, with Johann Zarco taking P3 for Tech3, Yamaha’s satellite team, giving the Italian manufacturer a front-row lock-out.
Cal Crutchlow led Honda’s charge in fourth place, beating factory rider Marc Marquez in P5. Andrea Dovizioso took sixth for Ducati, having made it through Q1 at the expense of a number of big names.
Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, fell by the wayside in Q1, leaving him 13th on the grid. Lorenzo’s early struggles with Ducati continued as he too dropped out, finishing a lowly 16th.