Marquez gets surprise challenger in French GP practice

Marquez France

Marc Marquez got his bid for a fifth successive MotoGP win off to a flying start at the Le Mans Bugatti track - but was pushed hard by a surprise contender in second practice.

Honda man Marquez topped the opening session by just under two tenths of a second from team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who showed no signs of suffering from the surgery he underwent last week. The diminutive Spaniard grabbed second spot on his final lap of the session.

The Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo were third and fourth in what was a largely straightforward morning outing.

But second practice saw a less predictable order - albeit one still headed by Marquez. 

The reigning champion set a benchmark of 1m33.452s to comfortably top the times, only for the Premac-Ducati of Andrea Iannone to go quicker than him for the majority of the lap. 

However the Italian fell short over the final sector, setting a time just 0.007s shy of Marquez to end the day second. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini-Honda) was third ahead of Bradley Smith (Tech 3-Yamaha) and Pedrosa.

The factory Yamahas had a less fruitful second session, with Lorenzo seventh fastest and Rossi tenth - a full second adrift of Marquez. 

The 21-year-old will be targeting a fifth successive pole in tomorrow's qualifying.