Continuing the theme of MotoGP qualifying in 2022, Le Mans produced another tightly-contested Q2 session, albeit one that was again dominated by Ducati.
Bagnaia, who secured his first pole of the year last time out in Jerez, set a new lap record – the fourth time that’s happened today – as he led a factory Ducati 1-2.
Jack Miller was aided in his bid to claim a front row as team-mate Bagnaia provided the Australian with the perfect tow.
While others got close to Bagnaia, in particular Aleix Espargaro as the Aprilia rider had three red sectors on his final lap, the winner at Jerez has put himself in a prime position to deliver a fourth win for Ducati this season.
Qualifying wasn’t without its shocks and surprises though, so who are they?
Enea Bastianini – 5th
After finishing fastest on day-one, Bastianini continued his impressive form at Le Mans by matching his second best qualifying result of the season.
Starting from fifth on two other occasions, Bastianini will line-up in the middle of the second row after a late effort saw him push Johann Zarco down to sixth.
Bastianini came close to knocking Bagnaia off top spot, however, sector four was proving to be difficult for the Italian, and he was not alone in encountering that problem.
Bagnaia made up most of his time in sectors three and four, so although Bastianini was quicker on two separate laps coming into S4, the two-time MotoGP race winner lost out in the end.
Nevertheless, with Bastianini looking strong on FP4 – a good sign considering late race pace is a major strength for the former Moto2 champion, starting from fifth is likely to be a position that can allow him to fight for the podium.
Which MotoGP riders failed to deliver in qualifying?
Johann Zarco – 6th
After looking like the rider to beat in FP3, Zarco failed to deliver the pace many expected, instead managing just sixth on the grid.
Zarco, who secured pole at Le Mans in 2017, was unable to challenge for the front row at any stage, ahead of a race that could be equally as tricky.
Maverick Vinales – 14th
With team-mate Aleix Espargaro qualifying in P3, Vinales’s 14th place start in Sunday’s race is yet another sign that he’s starting further back than he should.
Frustratingly for Vinales, the Spaniard has shown good pace this weekend, but as is becoming all-too familiar for the ex-Yamaha rider, problems in qualifying remain his downfall.
Mired back in the mid-field, achieving anything better than a top ten is already looking difficult for Vinales.
Marc Marquez – 10th
While Marquez has struggled for outright pace when alone at Le Mans, the Honda rider looked just fine when following Quartararo in FP3.
In fact, Marquez did a double stint behind the world champion and ultimately finished third.
But after making a mistake behind Bagnaia at the start of Q2, the eight-time world champion was unable to find any type of rhythm, instead showing frustration with himself at the end of qualifying.
A similar result to Jerez is going to require a very good start in Sunday’s 27 lap race.
Pol Espargaro – 11th
With his future at Honda in the balance, Espargaro started the weekend in good shape as he finished fastest in FP1.
And although Espargaro has shown glimpses in other sessions, it’s not been enough to stop a worrying trend.
Too often Espargaro seems to be struggling to find pace as the weekend goes on, which culminated in finishing four tenths down on Marquez in qualifying. That’s despite the two Repsol riders being separated by just one position.