Perfect conditions to start Saturday’s action at Le Mans meant lap time improvements on the combined order started to come in early, though there were no major movers.
Pramac Ducati rider Jorge Martin was the first significant name to make an improvement to 10th on the combined order in the early stages of the 45-minute session, with Marc Marquez going to 12th briefly on the Honda after a tough Friday for the six-time world champion.
LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami did make a major jump up to fourth with around 20 minutes remaining, but his 1m31.471s was canceled for exceeding track limits, dropping him back to 15th.
A few minutes later, home hero Fabio Quartararo moved to second on his Yamaha with a 1m31.214s, while Marquez – who shadowed the reigning world champion – jumped up to fourth.
On his next tour, Quartararo smashed the lap record which had already been beaten by Enea Bastianini on Friday with a 1m30.847s.
Moving 0.198s clear of the field, with Ducati’s Jack Miller his nearest rival, Quartararo’s lap did come under pressure with just over two minutes to go from the sister factory Ducati of Bagnaia.
The Italian followed that lap through to go top with a 1m30.568s, as Marquez exited pitlane behind Quartararo for their final runs.
Marquez, who felt simply getting into the top 10 in FP3 would be a good result, managed to improve to a 1m30.948s to go third behind Quartararo – who did not better his previous time.
On his final lap, Quartararo looked to cement second with a 1m30.682s as Marquez found a bit more time in fourth with a 1m30.785s to safely get into Q2.
But it was France’s other hero Zarco who lit up the timing screens on his last effort on his Pramac Ducati to snatch top spot with a 1m30.537s.
This dislodged Bangaia, who remained second at the checkered flag ahead of Quartararo and Marquez, with Miller fifth.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro made a late improvement to sixth to bag his place in Q2, with Nakagami eighth.
Alex Rins sneaked into the top 10 at death with a 1m31.087s in eighth, though Suzuki teammate Mir failed to follow him into the direct Q2 places down in 13th.
Pol Espargaro held onto a place in Q2 in ninth on his Honda despite a crash at Turn 6 earlier in the session, with Friday pacesetter Bastianini 10th by virtue of his FP2 effort after his session was interrupted by a late mechanical issue on his Gresini Ducati.
Martin was denied a place in Q2 by 0.003s, with Rins ‘late improvement also proving detrimental to Maverick Vinales’ hopes on the second Aprilia in 12th.
KTM’s miserable Le Mans weekend continued on Saturday morning as Brad Binder emerged as the top RC16 in 15th, 0.816s off the pace, with teammate Miguel Oliveira only managing 18th.
Qualifying for the 2022 MotoGP French GP gets underway at 2:10 pm later today.