Kenny Noyes came out on top in a hard-fought qualifying session for the third round of the new Moto2 championship at Le Mans.
The American battled with Yuki Takahashi and Alex Debon throughout the session, with Debon repeatedly holding provisional pole before being pushed back by his rivals.
In the end Noyes' late lap of 1m39.234s was enough to get him 0.031sec ahead of former MotoGP rider Takahashi, who still got Tech 3 onto the front row for its home race. Debon held off Jules Cluzel – the best of the French contingent – to secure third, with Cluzel fourth ahead of Fonsi Nieto and Sergio Gadea.
It was a tough session for the two men who have shared the Moto2 poles and wins so far this season. Jerez victor Toni Elias crashed at the final corner before he could set a time, and had to remonstrate with the marshals before being permitted to get his bike back to the pits. He eventually rejoined and got up to fourth for a while, but could not maintain that position and fell to seventh.
But championship leader Shoya Tomizawa fared even worse, as even with major mid-session set-up changes he was unable to get above 15th place.