MotoGP 2013 – Round Four – Le Mans
— Pedrosa leads the way on day one at Le Mans
Fresh from his win in the Spanish Grand Prix, Dani Pedrosa topped both Friday practice sessions at Le Mans at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, with the Repsol Honda Team rider leading teammate Marc Marquez and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi, as less than three tenths of a second covered the top five riders.
Heading into the afternoon session, there was a sense of urgency to seal top ten positions for Q2 Qualifying, not only because a small shower had preceded the session, but also as rain is forecast to hit the iconic venue on Saturday. Pedrosa led with 1’34.035 as the top eight riders of the afternoon beat the leading lap time of the morning period. Behind Marquez and Rossi, Yamaha’s world champion Jorge Lorenzo and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl completed the top five. Lorenzo was not particularly happy with his session, hoping that set-up changes overnight will help him tomorrow.
Cal Crutchlow led the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 charge from sixth position as teammate Bradley Smith took a pair of almost identical trips through the Dunlop gravel trap across the opening couple of sessions. Crutchlow was another displeased Yamaha rider, not only as he was struggling with chatter and overheating brakes, but also as he woke up with a cold this morning. There was a big moment for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who ended the day in 12th place after suffering an accident on the exit of Raccordement, the final corner of the track. He was fortunately not badly hurt, and was able to finish the session on his number-two bike.
On the Ignite Pramac Racing bike, Michele Pirro is standing in for the recovering Ben Spies, while Karel Abraham is back in action for Cardion AB Motoracing. The top ten was rounded out by Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden plus GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro – the leading CRT runner. Hayden showed promising signs by being the second fastest man in the second sector, yet was loosing too much ground in other parts of the track. Espargaro’s teammate and home rider Randy de Puniet ended the day 13th quickest. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti continued to experiment with a new air in-take on his FTR-Kawasaki that he first tried in Jerez, whilst teammate Colin Edwards tried a new chassis and swingarm, which he announced himself pleased with.
1 Dani Pedrosa 1’34.035 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
2 Marc Marquez 1’34.169 SPA HONDA Repsol Honda Team
3 Valentino Rossi 1’34.173 ITA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
4 Jorge Lorenzo 1’34.201 SPA YAMAHA Yamaha Factory Racing
5 Stefan Bradl 1’34.299 GER HONDA LCR Honda MotoGP
6 Cal Crutchlow 1’34.512 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
7 Andrea Dovizioso 1’34.578 ITA DUCATI Ducati Team
8 Nicky Hayden 1’34.590 USA DUCATI Ducati Team
9 Alvaro Bautista 1’34.590 SPA HONDA Go & Fun Honda Gresini
10 Aleix Espargaro 1’35.045 SPA ART Power Electronics Aspar
11 Bradley Smith 1’35.362 GBR YAMAHA Monster Yamaha Tech 3
12 Andrea Iannone 1’35.433 ITA DUCATI Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
13 Randy De Puniet 1’35.447 FRA ART Power Electronics Aspar
14 Michele Pirro 1’35.864 ITA DUCATI Ignite Pramac Racing Team
15 Hector Barbera 1’35.940 SPA FTR Avintia Blusens
16 Colin Edwards 1’36.449 USA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
17 Claudio Corti 1’36.643 ITA FTR-KAWASAKI NGM Mobile Forward Racing
18 Karel Abraham 1’36.759 CZE ART Cardion AB Motoracing
19 Danilo Petrucci 1’36.764 ITA IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
20 Hiroshi Aoyama 1’36.821 JAP FTR Avintia Blusens
21 Yonny Hernandez 1’37.104 COL PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
22 Bryan Staring 1’37.878 AUS FTR Go & Fun Honda Gresini
23 Michael Laverty 1’38.023 GBR PBM Paul Bird Motorsport
24 Lukas Pesek 1’38.818 CZE IODA-SUTER Came IodaRacing Project
– Moto 2
Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding was the fastest man on day one of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans, as the Brit saw off Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Tom Luthi by just under four tenths of a second, whilst Tuenti HP 40’s championship-leading Esteve Rabat suffered a fall in the Chemin aux Boeufs s-bends.
Already quickest as the morning session drew to a close on a stereotypically changeable day for weather, Redding reduced the leading time to 1’38.283 in the completely dry afternoon period. Behind Luthi and Simon, Qatar podium finisher Takaaki Nakagami and Dominique Aegerter were fourth and fifth for Italtrans and Technomag carXpert, correspondingly. Luthi commented afterwards that he still has some concerns with his arm, as he is not sure how it will hold up over race distance.
Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol was sixth as the top ten was rounded out by Tuenti HP 40’s Pol Espargaro, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Mattia Pasini, Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon and NGM’s Simone Corsi. Britain’s Gino Rea was 20th while debuting the FTR bike of his privately-entered Gino Rea Race Team, while last year’s Moto3™ race winner, Tech 3 Racing’s Louis Rossi, was one of several riders to suffer a fall in the morning session. During the afternoon, series leader Rabat crashed at Turn 9, which meant he ended proceedings in 14th place.
– Moto 3
Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins set the practice pace as Moto3™ track action began on Friday ahead of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans. The Spaniard moved ahead of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom as an unforeseen flurry of hail in the final minutes disrupted the end of the second session.
Rins led with a best lap time of 1’44.147, beating Folger by just six thousandths of a second. Behind third-placed Salom was Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales, who had topped the morning session but suffered a highside accident on the exit of the Bleus ‘S’ in the afternoon. Also falling was Mahindra Racing’s Efren Vazquez, who crashed at Garage Vert and fractured his right collarbone.
Danny Webb was fifth for Ambrogio Racing as he and teammate Brad Binder sandwiched Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo into sixth position. The top ten was completed by La Fonte Tascaracing’s Alessandro Tonucci, GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolo Antonelli and San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati. The earlier morning session at Le Mans was very much incident-free, with Salom being one of few riders to run off the historic track which is all set to host the fourth round of the 2013 campaign.
— Repsol HRC
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, set the bar today on the first day of free practice for the GP of France, taking the top two places on the time sheet.
The weather in Le Mans has been kind to the team on the first day, with rain threatening but fortunately both sessions remained dry. In this morning’s FP1, the air temperature was just 12ºC with the track only 14ºC, and Dani and Marc took no chances – both opting for the soft compound front and rear Bridgestone tyres. Then in the afternoon’s FP2 session, temperatures rose to 19ºC and 35ºC on the track, which gave them the opportunity to test the hard front tyre and a new soft rear.
Dani continued to improve his lap time throughout the session and in the end he recorded his fastest time on his final lap of 21 with a 1’34.035. Team mate Marc also saved the best until last with a 1’34.169 on his final lap of 18.
Dani Pedrosa 1st 1’34.035
“In today’s practice sessions it was important to test the tyres and make the most of the dry track time, because here you usually don’t have that opportunity. So I tried to stay out on track for as long as possible and gather the best information, because maybe tomorrow it will rain – and you don’t have that chance again. Luckily the weather held up and we were able to make some positive steps, which we hope to capitalise on for the race on Sunday”
Marc Marquez 2nd 1’34.169
“Le Mans has always been a good track for me in the other classes. I was fast today right out of the box and felt comfortable. In the first session I got a bit overwhelmed, because I could tell that the track was not allowing much space for me between the corners with this bigger bike and faster pace. I didn’t have much time to think. I was calmer in the afternoon and things went much better. This track is all about accelerating and then braking, although the final sector is more twisty and has some longer corners. It is only Friday, and we still have work to do. Tomorrow, if the track is dry, we will improve our times – but the forecast predicts rain. With a little luck, on Sunday we will have a dry track and be able to have a good race”
— Yamaha Report
Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first day of action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as the fastest Yamaha rider and third overall behind rival Dani Pedrosa. The Italian spent the day’s two free practice sessions working to set up his YZR-M1 for the Le Mans circuit, focusing on a soft front and hard rear tyre combination. Rossi opted for the 2012 M1 chassis for the Le Mans weekend whilst the team continues to evaluate the difference between the old and new. The final session saw the nine-time World Champion improve to climb from seventh to second, dropping to third at the end just 0.138 seconds from first. Rossi was also the fastest rider through the second sector of the Le Mans circuit.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was as usual quick from the start of the first session, contesting with the fastest riders and wrapping up the morning in second place. The afternoon saw more of the same fast consistency from the reigning World Champion, taking the session lead with a 1’34.2 second lap with 17mins remaining. A flurry of fast laps in the final minutes dropped him to fourth however he was just 0.166 from first. Lorenzo remained fourth in the combined times. The Spaniard also focused on a hard front, soft rear tyre option but opted for the 2013 chassis to evaluate the Le Mans circuit.
Valentino Rossi – 3rd, Time – 1’34.173
“Today we were good in braking because we modified the settings and we tried two different settings to understand which way to follow to improve the braking, that was the main problem. This morning was not too bad and this afternoon especially I made the comparison one more time. I took the setting I preferred with some small modifications and the last run was very good. I could brake hard, which was the main problem in Austin and also in Jerez so it’s a good day. We try to modify also the rear for to not stress the rear tyre so much; that helped me a lot; I did my best laps with a used tyre that had more than 30 laps on. The practice this afternoon was good so I’m happy. We are already quite good with the setting of the bike so now we wait for the weather tomorrow. In case of rain we are more or less ready and if dry we can try something else, some small details to modify. We are very close to those in front so its not so bad.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 4th, Time -1’34.201
“We are changing the bike to improve the feeling because at the moment we have a lot of margin for improvement. I think we can make a big step to improve the constant pace for the race. I think if it rains tomorrow things will change completely and it will be a different story. We will have to be as always more careful and have more concentration in the wet.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“The first day at Le Mans and a dry day too! Overall everything is very close and tight. After FP2 we are in fourth but just two tenths away and our lap times are very close to Dani. We are not satisfied as we have some small details to solve. We are not ready for race day yet but hopefully tomorrow we will have another dry session so we can make the next step.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“A promising first day. I think the Monday test in Jerez gave us a good result because we were satisfied with it and also its effects here. The pace is good; the tyre life issue seems to be solved as well, maybe due to the temperature but also due to our testing in Jerez. Lets see what the weather brings tomorrow as it may be wet. Anyway I think we are ready for all circumstances.”
Positive start for Crutchlow and Smith in France
he biggest race of the MotoGP World Championship campaign for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team started in positive fashion for British duo Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith at the historic Le Mans track today. This weekend’s race is not only the all-important home encounter for the French-based Tech 3 squad, but the popular Le Mans event is sponsored once again by Monster Energy, the high profile American energy drinks company that is the title backer of Crutchlow and Smith’s MotoGP effort. In extremely cool conditions this morning, Crutchlow was sixth fastest in a closely fought FP1 that saw the top nine covered by less than a second. In higher temperatures this afternoon, Crutchlow remained in sixth position, despite improving his pace by well over 0.5s. A best lap of 1.34.512 was only 0.477s off the best time, the second session proving to be another close affair with the top nine split by just over 0.7s.
Smith was 15th this morning, the British rider getting to grips with the world renowned Bugatti track while also working on the set-up of an updated YZR-M1 chassis which he tested with such positive results in Jerez recently. He was able to improve by almost 1.5s in FP2 and he rocketed up into 11th place on the rankings with a best time of 1.35.362 that gave the 22-year-old a huge confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s 28-lap race. Smith’s vast improvement was reflected in the gap to Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa, who led the way in FP1 and FP2. Smith was over two seconds behind Pedrosa this morning but he ended the second session just 1.327s off the quickest pace.
Cal Crutchlow, 6th, Time – 1’34.512
“We did not have our best day today and I’m not really happy with how things started this weekend. We experimented quite a lot with the bike and made it shorter and longer but we did not find an ideal setting yet. We have a lot of chatter and not too much grip, so clearly we are struggling quite a bit at the moment because the other guys seem to improve while I feel the same as on the first lap out there this morning. So we still have a lot of work to do tonight and we have to improve in several areas. I’m having an issue with the brakes but we are still confident for tomorrow and I am sure we can improve to put on a good show in such a big race for Tech 3 and Monster Energy.”
Bradley Smith 11th, Time – 1’35.362
“Today was a good first day in Le Mans. I started to feel a lot more confident this afternoon compared to this morning because there was extra grip on track thanks to the higher track temperature. We found almost 1.5s and that’s really positive. I like this circuit a lot, especially with a MotoGP bike and the differences compared to a smaller bike seem to be not that big compared to the other tracks I have experienced so far. I just have to understand the different braking points like in the first corner where I’ve already made three mistakes so far. But now I think I understood where the limit is. But it was a good day and we are closer than usual to the top after day one and I really feel confident with the new chassis, especially on new tyres, so we will work hard tonight and hopefully go straight into the second qualifying session tomorrow.”
— Ducati Report
Although rain had threatened for part of the day, conditions were quite good for the first two free-practice sessions of the French Grand Prix, in which Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden put their Desmosedici GP13 machines into the seventh and eighth positions, respectively, in the combined times.
The two Ducati Team riders had finished the morning session in the top five, although it took them until the latter stages of the afternoon outing to lower their times. The gaps between the riders were quite small, with just over a second separating the top ten; Dovizioso and Hayden were .54 and .56 seconds from the leader Dani Pedrosa.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 7th (1:34.578)
“I’m pleased because we’re closer than we have been at the other tracks with our fastest lap, but especially our pace. I managed to do my best time on the final lap of my long run, which is nice. We’re pretty good with the setup, and although we still have to work on the details, I’m happy to be so close.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 8th (1:34.590)
“The start to the weekend has been a little more positive than at some of the other races. In the morning we were making good steps in each exit, although not as much in the afternoon. Our lap time was pretty good, but it didn’t come easily, so we need to make the bike calmer in order to be more consistent. We do have some good sections, especially the second sector, but we have to improve on change of direction in the tighter areas. We’ll see what the weather does tomorrow; today could well be some of the only dry track time we get before the race.”
— 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: FP1 – Dry. Ambient 13-15°C; Track 18-23°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 18-23°C; Track 34-33°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Fresh from a first victory of the season at Jerez a fortnight ago, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa continued his good form by leading a Repsol Honda 1-2 in Friday practice at Le Mans.
Pedrosa was quickest in both free practice sessions today but set the benchmark time of 1’34.035 on his last lap of FP2 to end the day 0.134 seconds ahead of teammate Marc Marquez in the standings. Third quickest today was Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi who set a personal best time just four-thousandths of a second behind Marquez. In what is now almost a customary position for the Spanish rider, Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the best of the CRT riders in Friday free practice, his best time of 1’35.045 slotting him into P10 and looking good for direct qualification into tomorrow’s Qualifying Practice 2.
All riders set their personal best times in the second free practice session, with the top ten riders all setting their best time on the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick options. The cool track temperature this morning resulted in riders preferring softer option slicks front and rear, before riders gradually switched to the harder option, soft compound front slick tyre as track temperatures increased. Rear tyre choice today was almost exclusively the softer rear slick options for both the works and CRT riders, as planned evaluation of the harder rear options in FP2 was shelved by some riders due to rainfall immediately before the start of the session. Only PBM’s Yonny Hernandez assessed the harder rear slick option today, however more widespread evaluation of the harder rear slicks will likely take place in tomorrow’s FP4 session if warm and dry track conditions are encountered.
The riders will be back on track tomorrow morning at 0955 local time tomorrow (GMT +2) for Free Practice 3 for a final chance to qualify directly for QP2 tomorrow afternoon.
Shinji Aoki – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“It was good that we had two sessions of dry track time today, though the rain before FP2 did mean some riders weren’t able to try out the harder rear slick options in the afternoon like they originally intended. Track temperatures were quite cool in the morning session but all riders were happy with the warm-up performance of the tyre options we brought here and thankfully today’s sessions were almost incident free. The weather here is always unpredictable and the forecast indicates rain is a possibility tomorrow, so there was a real push to make a good lap time in FP2. In the end, almost every rider set their best lap time on the same combination of the harder front and softer rear slicks, though if we have good track conditions in FP4 I think we will see some riders assess the performance of the harder rear slick options. It is pleasing to see how close the lap times for the top ten riders were today and I think that no matter what the weather brings tomorrow, FP3 and Qualifying tomorrow will be very closely fought.”