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French GP: Bagnaia grabs pole; Fluorescent yellow won't glow again as MotoGP decides to retire Rossi's No.46

Francesco Bagnaia

Bengaluru, May 14: A stellar performance from Francesco Bagnaia saw him secure consecutive pole positions for the first time in the 2022 FIM MotoGP World Championship season at the French GP in Le Mans circuit as the news came out that the fluorescent yellow Yamaha bike will no longer glow again on the grid on a day in which it was decided to retire Italian great Valentino Rossi's iconic No.46 at the upcoming Mugello Grand Prix on May 29.

Bagnaia a new all time lap record in the process, with his 1:30.450 the fastest two-wheeled lap seen around the famed French circuit.

It is a double delight for the Ducati Lenovo Team, as Jack Miller will join his team-mate on the front row, with Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro's remarkable run of form continuing.

This is Paris! MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo visits the home of PSGThis is Paris! MotoGP world champion Fabio Quartararo visits the home of PSG

Meanwhile, French favourites -- defending champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) -- have been consigned to second row starts at their home GP.

It proved a commendable salvage job for Joan Mir as he took P7, and in a familiar sight, he has team-mate Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) for company on the third row. Lining up beside the GSX-RRs is the other Q1 graduate, Jorge Martin.

It was frustration for the Repsol Hondas as Marc Marquez rolled out of his time attack while Pol Espargaro saw his interrupted by Zarco in a near miss incident.

They will line up in P10 and P11 respectively, with satellite counterpart Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the top 12.

So it is all set to be a thrilling French GP, and with weather conditions far from certain, it is set to make for unmissable viewing.

Make sure you tune in for lights out at 2pm local time (5.30pm IST). Indian audience can catch all the action live on Eurosport channel.

TOP 10 ON THE GRID:

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) - 1:30.450
2. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) + 0.069
3. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) + 0.159
4. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.238
5. Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP) + 0.261
6. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.413
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.493
8. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.527
9. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.618
10. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) + 0.698.

No.46 to be retired

Meanwhile, it has been decided to retire Rossi's number 46 jersey.

Rossi has retired from MotoGP and soon his iconic number 46 will follow him.

The number was associated with Rossi's bike throughout his epic 26-season career, in which he won nine championships across all classes.

Valentino Rossi

Rossi quit the sport at the end of 2021, having celebrated 115 wins and 235 podiums.

Now, at the upcoming Italian Grand Prix at Mugello on May 29, the rider's number will also be retired.

The 46 has not been used in the 2022 MotoGP season, having been left vacant by Rossi, but the competition has moved to ensure it will not be taken in future either.

"The number 46 will be retired from use in the MotoGP class at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello," a statement from Dorna Sports, the commercial organisers of MotoGP said.

"Synonymous with nine-time world champion and MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, the number will be signed off in style at the upcoming Gran Premio d'Italia Oakley.

"The retirement ceremony will take place on the main straight on Saturday, just ahead of qualifying.

"Rossi will be in attendance as his legacy is honoured and number retired, having raced the number 46 into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame over 26 seasons of success - creating one of the most recognisable calling cards in global sport."

(With inputs from Dorna Sports/OPTA)

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Story first published: Saturday, May 14, 2022, 22:13 [IST]
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