MotoGP 2013 – Round Four – Le Mans
— Marquez on pole at Le Mans
Marc Marquez collected his second MotoGP™ pole position for this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at Le Mans as the championship leader beat current title holder Jorge Lorenzo by just three hundredths of a second and Andrea Dovizioso celebrated his first front row for Ducati Team.
The majority of those in the paddock expected rainfall for qualifying, but this was not to be the case as a steady breeze graced the historic Le Mans venue. Delivering an impressive lap time of 1’33.187, Marquez looked to have convincingly sealed his second pole after Texas but was challenged hard by Lorenzo. With Dovizioso taking his first front row since Malaysia 2012, today’s result marks the first time that the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati factory teams have shared Row 1 since Spain 2012.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came back from a heavy crash at La Chapelle in final practice to achieve the fourth best grid spot. Having already suffered two accidents in Jerez a fortnight ago, he later went to the Medical Centre for treatment and it was confirmed that he had suffered a fracture to the tibial plateau, which affects the overall stability and motion of the knee. He will undergo a further medical examination on Sunday morning to decide whether or not he is able to race at Le Mans.
Crutchlow would share the second row with LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and Dani Pedrosa, who was forced to rush back to the pits with less than ten minutes to go after repeating an error made by Repsol Honda Team partner Marquez (but in final practice for the latter) and falling at Turn 3. Pedrosa later commented that a bump in the track had caused him to loose the front.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi hopes to become the fourth winner from four races this weekend, but could muster only eighth in qualifying and will be flanked on Row 3 by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, who with ninth place equals his best grid position of the season so far. Rossi commented he struggles to get the most out of the tyres for one hot-lap, yet that he was content with his race-pace.
Nicky Hayden completed the top ten for Ducati as Power Electronics Aspar successfully saw two CRT riders into the Q2 for the first time; although he was quicker than his teammate in Q1, local hero Randy de Puniet could not out-qualify teammate Aleix Espargaro when it came to the all-important final shootout.
Elsewhere, Michele Pirro qualified 14th, and one place behind Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone, as he stands in for the recovering Ben Spies, while Colin Edwards was highly optimistic with the latest evolution of his FTR frame and went on to qualify 17th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing. On his return, Karel Abraham – with seven screws and a plate in his right shoulder following a collision in Austin – managed to achieve a sixth row placing.
MotoGP™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1 Marc Marquez 1’33.187 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Jorge Lorenzo 1’33.217 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
3 Andrea Dovizioso 1’33.603 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
4 Cal Crutchlow 1’33.609 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5 Stefan Bradl 1’33.634 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
6 Dani Pedrosa 1’33.639 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
7 Alvaro Bautista 1’33.984 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
8 Valentino Rossi 1’34.009 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
9 Bradley Smith 1’34.222 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
10 Nicky Hayden 1’34.242 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
11 Aleix Espargaro 1’34.754 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
12 Randy De Puniet 1’35.086 FRA ART Power Electronics Aspar
13 Andrea Iannone 1’35.062 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
14 Michele Pirro 1’35.228 ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
15 Hector Barbera 1’35.714 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Danilo Petrucci 1’35.770 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
17 Colin Edwards 1’36.221 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Karel Abraham 1’36.271 CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
19 Claudio Corti 1’36.330 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
20 Michael Laverty 1’36.596 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
21 Bryan Staring 1’36.714 AUS FTR Go & Fun Honda Gresini
22 Lukas Pesek 1’36.768 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
23 Yonny Hernandez 1’36.961 COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
24 Hiroshi Aoyama 1’37.523 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami achieved a career-first pole position for the Moto2™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as the Italtrans Racing Team rider will share the front row of the grid with Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding and Came Iodaracing Project’s local rider Johann Zarco.
Nakagami, who starred at the start of the 2013 season by leading and finishing on the podium in Qatar, saw pole position confirmed as rain finally fell at Le Mans in the second half of Saturday afternoon’s 45-minute qualifying session. He had already seen off Redding and Zarco by the comfortable margin of three tenths of a second.
Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat heads into the fourth round as championship leader. He will line up fourth on the grid from Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, with Tuenti’s Pol Espargaro – who sits third in the riders’ standings behind Rabat and Redding – coming from seventh at the start.
The top ten of the 34-rider grid will be brought up Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Luthi, NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini and Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio. Britain’s Gino Rea will start 31st on his return to the series with the independently-entered Gino Rea Race Team squad, whereas Federal Oil Gresini Moto2’s Doni Tata Pradita was the only faller in qualifying.
Moto2™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Takaaki Nakagami JPN Kalex 1:38.508
2- Scott Redding GBR Kalex 1:38.858
3- Johann Zarco FRA Suter 1:39.187
Maverick Viñales confidently earned his first pole position of 2013 for the Moto3™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans, with the Team Calvo rider sharing the front row with Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger.
Fresh from his first victory of the campaign at home in Spain a fortnight ago, Viñales confidently beat the previous best lap time of the French weekend to post a 1’43.696, with Portugal’s Oliveira missing out by just over a tenth of a second, but improving on Mahindra’s previous best of fifth place so far this year. In third, German Folger will line up inside the top five for the third time in four races.
With the result marking the first time in 2013 that the front row has not been completely locked out by Spanish riders, Row 2 will be occupied by Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom (who had just returned to the circuit from hospital, where he was given the all-clear after kidney ultrasound following a crash in final practice) and Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller.
As Rins’ teammate Alex Marquez, Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Isaac Viñales, Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo and Ongetta-Rivacold’s Alexis Masbou rounded out the top ten, Ambrogio Racing’s Danny Webb limped slightly as he walked away from a sizeable highside accident at Musee corner; he was taken for a CT scan afterwards, with his participation being ultimately decided in the morning. He would start from 18th. San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati in 11th, and Ambrogio’s Brad Binder in 12th, also suffered falls during the session.
Arthur Sissis – “It was a very tough qualifying session. We made a big change with the setup that made it like we were starting with a completely new bike. It was much better and I was much faster. When we put the new tyres on, I was on a great lap, but another rider got in my way and I ran wide under braking. That was my hot lap and I wasn’t able to improve afterwards, but I feel good with the bike.
“If it is dry tomorrow then we will have to finish off adjusting the setup in the warmup, and I will have the bike well prepared for my riding style. If it rains, then anything can happen.”
Moto3™ Qualifying Practice Classification
1- Maverick Viñales SPA KTM 1:43.696
2- Miguel Oliveira POR Mahindra 1:43.806
3- Jonas Folger GER Kalex KTM 1:43.969
— HRC Report
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) stormed to pole position at Le Mans this afternoon, the World Championship leader beating off a challenge from reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) by three hundredths of a second. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) will both start tomorrow’s French Grand Prix from the second row of the grid after qualifying fifth and sixth fastest.
Remarkable rookie Marquez started practice yesterday morning having never ridden a lap of the legendary French track aboard a MotoGP bike, and yet by the end of the day he was second fastest, 0.134 seconds behind team-mate Pedrosa. The reigning Moto2 World Champion commented that Le Mans is a small and tight track, and that it feels a lot smaller and tighter on a MotoGP bike than a Moto2 machine! In the final pre-qualifying practice session Marquez slid off at Turn Two – the first left-hander that claimed five riders today – but that hardly affected his confidence at all.
This is the 20-year-old Spaniard’s second premier-class pole, following his pole position at last month’s Grand Prix of the Americas, which made him the youngest premier-class pole sitter in GP history. He backed that up with victory the next day, making him the youngest premier-class race winner.
Bradl’s determined push to fifth, which puts him in the middle of the second row between Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) and Pedrosa, was some reward for all the hard work he’s put in with his team to solve a front-end issue that had hampered him at the last two races. The German ended the day less than a tenth of a second off his first MotoGP front row.
Pedrosa was confident of fighting for pole position after ending the first three practice sessions second fastest, behind Marquez. But a tumble at Turn Two interrupted his efforts during the 15-minute QP2 qualifying session. The former 125 and 250 World Champion got back to the pits, took his second bike and managed to better his time, but he had to be happy with sixth on the grid, just five thousandths of a second behind Bradl.
Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) was another who fell at the first left, sliding off there during FP3. He recovered to go seventh fastest in qualifying, which puts him at the top of the third row of the grid. The first three rows are tightly packed, with the top nine riders covered by just 1.035 seconds.
Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda) will start from 21st on the grid. The Australian rookie – who has never ridden at Le Mans before – was happy with his progress and with his race pace.
Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Racing Team Kalex) scored his first Grand Prix pole position this afternoon, bettering Moto2 rival Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex) by 0.350 seconds. Nakagami was ahead when rain began to fall, denying his rivals the chance to attack the lap time of the Japanese rider.
The Japanese and the Briton will be joined on tomorrow’s Moto2 front row by local hero Johann Zarco (Came Ioda Racing Project Suter) who also made sure he got in a good lap time before the rain came.
The second row will be led by World Championship leader Esteve Rabat (Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex), winner of the last race at Jerez in Spain. He will start the race alongside Xavier Simeon (Desguaces La Torre Maptaq Kalex) and Nicolas Terol (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 Suter), winner of the Moto2 race at the Circuit of the Americas.
Jack Miller (Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda) was Honda’s top performer in Moto3, scoring his third successive second-row start. The 18-year-old Australian was in fine form, ending the session sixth fastest, less than six tenths off pole position, which went to Maverick Vinales (KTM). Miller attributed some of his performance to new bodywork from FTR.
Isaac Vinales (Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta FTR Honda) ended the afternoon on the third row, with eighth fastest time, despite a minor engine glitch during qualifying.
Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold FTR Honda) was the top French performer in Moto3 qualifying, taking tenth place on the grid, just over three tenths of a second down on Miller. The Frenchman was just ahead of Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FTR Honda), Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda) and Lorenzo Baldassarri (GO&FUN Gresini FTR Honda)
Rain is forecast for tomorrow at Le Mans, round four of this year’s 18-race MotoGP World Championship.
Honda MotoGP rider quotes
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: pole position, 1m 33.187s
“Qualifying went very well. After FP3, in which we had a small front-end crash and I lost my confidence a little, I was back on it immediately. It was hard to heat up the tyres, but that was the same for everyone. I think that’s the reason why there were so many crashes. I am very happy, because I think that we had a good session and have a good peace. Tomorrow we will try to give 100 per cent and see if we are fortunate enough to have a dry race. If it is a wet one, then we just have to do as well as we can.”
Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda: 5th, 1m 33.634s
“Finally we’ve done a good job in qualifying, as the gap from the third to the sixth in the classification is very narrow. It’s nice to be back after the difficult weekend in Jerez and I knew I was fast enough to get fifth place, which is our usual position. I want to thank the team for their efforts because they’ve done a good job adjusting the front end, working on suspension, electronics and mapping. Now I can ride the bike with confidence no matter what the weather will be tomorrow and I am confident we can race at the front.”
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 6th, 1m 33.639s
“The afternoon practice sessions were difficult. I crashed in qualifying, so I had to go back to the garage and only had a little time left on the clock when I got back out on track. I was not able to make the best use of the session, but at least I was able to clock a fairly decent time and place sixth. It is a pity, because we could have been much higher up the grid. For tomorrow we will have to try to get a good start, get back up through the field and have a good race.”
Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 7th, 1m 33.984s
“Today was a difficult day, especially this morning because we tried some things with the set-up to resolve the issues we had yesterday but they didn’t work. We made some progress with the electronics and then went back a step with the set-up but at the end of the morning session I had a crash on cold tyres that was quite heavy. Thankfully I wasn’t really hurt apart from a blow to my chest, which was painful this afternoon. I couldn’t ride at 100 per cent for qualifying but I felt more confident with the front so I am looking forward to riding it tomorrow. We have another thing to try in the warm-up with the electronics and then we will see what the weather does for the race.”
Bryan Staring, GO&FUN Honda Gresini FTR Honda: 21st, 1m 36.714s
“I am halfway happy because I feel I could have done better but we have still closed the gap to the guys in front of us. Our race pace is important and it makes me confident for the race. Obviously our biggest problem is that the tracks are always new to me and it has taken me some time to learn the right line around here. Taking everything into account I think we can have a good race tomorrow.”
Moto2 rider quotes
Takaaki Nakagami, Italtrans Racing Team: pole position, 1m 38.508s
“Qualifying was quite difficult because of the weather – as soon as the session started there were already a few drops of rain falling. I tried 100 per cent from the start and tried to make no mistakes and ride some good laps. I’m really happy to get my first pole. Big thanks to my team and to my mechanics who help me a lot. I was quite strong in winter testing and I have a good feeling with my Kalex. If it rains tomorrow it will be a very hard race. I will try 100 per cent, try to make no mistakes and to be on the podium.”
Scott Redding, Marc VDS Racing Team: 2nd, 1m 38.858s
“I was up for taking another pole position today, as I definitely had the pace here, despite the small crash this morning. Unfortunately the timing was wrong, in a session that was more of a sprint than qualifying is normally. I put in a fast lap right at the start but, unfortunately, Taka got a lap behind me, which was all he needed to take pole. I thought I could come back, but then the rain arrived and that was it. Anyway, I’m happy enough with the front row, especially as I’m ahead of Espargaro and Rabat on the grid. We also got some time on the bike in the wet this afternoon, which could be important given that there’s a good chance of rain tomorrow.”
Johann Zarco, Came Ioda Racing Project: 3rd, 1m 39.187s
“I’m happy with my first front row of the season and I’ve done it in France which makes it taste even better. The changing weather made qualifying difficult, with a few drops of rain falling at the start of the session, so everyone was immediately pushing to get a good time. I have a good feeling with my Suter, so I was able to go quite fast. After it started raining more heavily I went out again to test the feeling of the bike in the wet, knowing that Le Mans doesn’t have much grip. Tomorrow I’ll try to fight for a podium and make France proud.”
Honda Moto3 Rider quotes
Jack Miller, Caretta Technology – RTG: 6th, 1m 44.278s
“That was good, I’m pretty happy – another solid second row. There are a couple of big straights here, so we’ve done well to be where we are and I know there are a couple of points I can improve for the race. We’ve got a new fairing here which is working really well. It’s smaller for better aero and it’s better in windy conditions too. The team is working phenomenally hard, I can’t thank them enough.”
Isaac Vinales, Bimbo Ongetta-Centro Seta: 8th, 1m 44.548s
“The bike is good, through the engine wasn’t pushing as hard in qualifying as it was in this morning’s session. We’ve made a few small adjustments to the chassis set-up, which have helped, so I’m quite confident for the race because my rhythm is pretty good.”
Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 10th, 1m 44.600s
“We have been improving the bike and today we tried two different settings, one that was good for corner entry and the other that was good for corner exit. Now we have to decide which one to prove or maybe try something in between. This is the first time we have been within a second of pole, so I am quite happy. All the Honda teams are working very hard and we are starting to close the gap.”
— Yamaha Report
Lorenzo Secures Front Row in Le Mans for Grand Prix de France
Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France from the front row of the grid in second position. The reigning World Champion was denied pole by just 0.030 seconds in the afternoon 15minute quick fire qualification heat. Lorenzo led from the start of the session before relinquishing the top spot to rival Marc Marquez with eight minutes remaining. A flurry of activity followed with most riders pitting at the same time for fresh rubber before the hectic final minutes began. Despite twice dropping under the pole time through the second sector in the final laps Lorenzo final time puts him in second for race day.
After a strong first day yesterday Valentino Rossi experienced a less than perfect qualifying session this afternoon, struggling to make his YZR-M1 work to the best of its ability on the cooler Le Mans circuit. With a best qualifying time of 1’34.009 The Italian will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix from the third row of the grid in eighth place, 0.822 seconds from pole.
Jorge Lorenzo 2nd, Time – 1’33.217
“Our pace is very good, much better than Jerez where I did two laps and then in the third or fourth lap it was impossible to keep the same pace. Here in this track with the improvement we made with the bike it’s much more easy to keep a constant pace so I’m much more satisfied. I tried to make a perfect lap, it was ok, but Marc was just slightly faster than me. I don’t know what will happen if it rains tomorrow because we haven’t tried it in the wet. Last year it was ok, but every year it’s different so I don’t know what to expect. I would prefer a dry race. If it rains though it can be a possibility to recover some points if we don’t make a mistake.”
Valentino Rossi – 8th, Time – 1’34.009
“Unfortunately today was a worse day compared to yesterday. We started quite badly this morning because we had some problems with the rear tyre so we struggled very much in the practice. We had a lot of question marks so we wanted to try the same setting this afternoon. In fact the tyre had a problem because this afternoon it was not so bad. My rhythm and pace for the race is quite good, unfortunately especially Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa are a bit faster. Like the other races, in the qualifying I am unable to do what I want, when I try to push more I create some problems with the bike. The other riders are better than me to use the extra grip from the new tyre, so I have to start from the third row. My rhythm is not so bad so we have to try to fix something so we will see tomorrow.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It was an exciting qualification. This afternoon in free practice the rhythm was very good. In qualifying the temperature dropped a bit because rain was supposed to be coming so it was not as easy as we thought it would be and also for the safety aspect. Anyway, the lap time is very good with the 33.2, Marc just beat him with a 33.1 but tomorrow is the race and he’s on the front row with no crashes so let’s see what will happen.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It’s a pity to lose the pole for just 0.030 seconds but anyway I think the pace was very good. Also in the free practice Jorge did a good long run so I think we are ready to fight. For Vale unfortunately we couldn’t improve the set up as he wanted. We are still checking the data and hopefully tomorrow morning the warm up will be dry and we will find the right set up. He is a good fighter, to start from the third row is going to be difficult but not impossible for him.”
The Blink of an Eye Separates Crutchlow from the Front Row in Le Mans
Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow stole the show yet again today, delivering a drama filled performance and a heroic qualifying effort to take fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The 26yr old took a huge tumble in the fourth free practice, bringing out the red flags whilst medical staff attended on track. The British rider’s amazing determination and bravery was once again on show as having paid a flying visit to the circuit medical centre he was immediately back out on track, fighting for another front row start in qualifying practice two.
Crutchlow rode through obvious pain and looked certain to have secured a brilliant third place when former teammate Andrea Dovizioso improved his lap time to just six thousands of a second faster, relegating him to the second row of the grid in fourth for tomorrow’s race.
Teammate and fellow British rider Bradley Smith continued to show his calm concentration and steady improvements as he lapped the Le Mans circuit today on his YZR-M1. Having performed well enough to join the second qualifying session the young British rookie stayed out on track during the 15 minute heat whilst the majority of rider spitted for fresh rubber and enjoyed an empty track. In the hunt for the best possible grid position Smith was able to lay down a best time of 1’34.222 seconds for ninth on the grid, just over a second from pole and just 0.213 seconds from nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi in eighth.
Cal Crutchlow 4th, Time – 1’33.609
“I can’t be disappointed to have qualified in fourth position after how the day went. Unfortunately it was another difficult one for us and for sure the crash in free practice four didn’t make things easier. We’ve struggling the whole weekend in a few areas and I still don’t feel completely confident with the setup of the bike, so we have some work to go through tonight. I’m also feeling very sore after the crash and the medical staff diagnosed that I’ve got a small fracture of the right shin but that will not prevent me from giving 100% in tomorrow’s all-important home race for my Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team!”
Bradley Smith 9th, Time – 1’34.222
“I’m definitely happy to qualify on the third row today. We made some great improvements throughout the whole weekend getting consistently faster during each session. Nevertheless I’m embittered about the gap to the fastest because it’s just over a second and my aim was to be a little bit closer, but probably I would need to worry if I’m completely satisfied after finishing ninth. Anyway, I want to say a big thanks to my team because they prepared a fantastic bike for me that gave me more and more confidence with every single lap. I’m really looking forward to putting on a good show in front of the French fans during tomorrow’s 28 lap race.“
— Ducati Report
Andrea Dovizioso saved the best for last today in qualifying at Le Mans, setting a time of 1:33.603 on his final lap that vaulted him onto the front row of the starting grid for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix. The Italian consistently posted decent lap times during the day and was particularly fast in the two tight corners of the second sector, but it was at the end of the session that he really shined, posting his best times in all but the final split to secure the third-best time as the chequered flag flew.
Dovizioso’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, wasn’t as fortunate, as he struggled to put together a solid lap in the latter part of the session. The American will start the race from the fourth row.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 3rd (1:33.603)
“I’m pleased with the work we’ve done over the weekend because we’ve been consistently fast and we have the pace to do a good race—maybe not to finish on the podium but we’re much closer to the competition than we have been at other tracks. I was surprised to do a 1:33.6, as I didn’t think I’d be able to do that, but it was a beautiful feeling. Although I know it will be a difficult race, I still hope that it’ll be dry tomorrow; those are the conditions that we’ve practiced in and we’re pretty fast. Still, it shouldn’t be a big problem even if it rains, as it seems that our GP13 works well in the wet.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 10th (1:34.242)
“We made a little step this morning and were able to improve my lap time and position, and although I didn’t improve in FP4, I was on used tyres the whole time and did my best lap time at the end. I thought we were on a good way, but in qualifying I didn’t really put a good lap together. I did a decent lap in my first exit, but in the second one I couldn’t get heat in the tyre. One second to the front isn’t bad at other tracks, but our potential here was better. It’s certainly frustrating to end up tenth on a day when things seemed to be going well, but we’ll see what the weather does tomorrow. Hopefully we can recover in the race. Congratulations to Dovi and his guys, as they did a great job.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft Rear: Extra-soft (Symmetric), Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP3 – Dry. Ambient 14-15°C; Track 17-22°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP4 & QP1/2 – Dry. Ambient 17-17°C; Track 22-22°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda rookie sensation Marc Marquez claimed pole position for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix by the narrowest of margins, out-pacing Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by just three-hundredths of a second.
On another cool and blustery day at Le Mans, Marquez set a time of 1’33.187 for his second pole position of the season on his spare bike following a crash in FP4. Lorenzo was the only rider that could come close to Marquez, setting his best time of 1’33.217 on his penultimate qualifying lap. Rounding out the front row was Andrea Dovizioso, his exceptional lap time of 1’33.603 on the Ducati GP13 ensuring three different manufacturers at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s race. The Power Electronics Aspar duo of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet dominated the CRT class in qualifying today, with both riders participating in QP2 and finishing P11 and P12 respectively.
Cloud cover and a cool breeze kept ambient and track temperatures low today, with a peak track temperature of 22°C recorded. The cool conditions meant that all riders used the softer rear slick option today, although both front slick options were utilised, with most riders starting FP3 on the softer option front slick before graduating to the harder front option later in the session. The combination of the softer rear and harder front slick was also the popular choice in the afternoon qualifying sessions when riders attempted to set a quick lap time.
The lights will go out at 1400 local time tomorrow (GMT +2) for twenty-eight laps of the Le Mans circuit to decide who will win the French Grand Prix, though before then the riders will have one final chance to work on the setup of their bike in Morning Warm Up at 0940.
Shinji Aoki – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“We saw lap times improve today as riders made good use of the dry track time, though low track temperatures and a strong, cool breeze still made conditions challenging for riders. The low track temperatures meant that riders didn’t evaluate the harder rear slick options today, and if conditions are dry tomorrow, I certainly expect that for the race we will see a strong trend towards the softer rear slick. Front slick tyre choice for the race I think will be dictated by how cool it is tomorrow. Some riders may prefer the advantage in warm-up performance and edge grip in cold conditions the softer front slick option offers over the better braking stability of the harder front slick.”