Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez (above) has collected a second MotoGP pole position for this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The championship leader beat current title holder Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) by just three hundredths of a second as Andrea Dovizioso celebrated his first front row for the Ducati Team.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
Although Dovizioso had predicted an improvement in performances at Le Mans this weekend, he did not foresee his first front row position since Malaysia 2012 and Ducati’s first since the Spanish Grand Prix earlier in that season.
“We knew that our bike would be working better at this track, but we didn’t expect the first row. My pace is not too bad and we are closer to the fastest riders in comparison with other tracks, but I didn’t expect this lap time and I was really surprised when I saw the split during the laps. We had the possibility to do a good lap time and we have a better pace here, so I’m confident of having a good rhythm tomorrow: that is our target.”
The second row sees Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech3) in fourth position with Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) starting from fifth and sixth.
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. Pedrosa 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) 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 ahead of Valentino Rossi (Yamaha Factory Racing Team) and Bradley Smith (Yamaha Tech3 Racing). The first three rows are tightly packed, with the top nine riders covered by just 1.035 seconds. Nickty Hayden (Ducati Team) completes the top ten.
Bryan Staring (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) 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.
Le Mans Qualifying Results
1. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’33.187
2. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’33.217
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’33.603
4. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’33.609
5. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’33.634
6. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’33.639
7. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’33.984
8. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’34.009
9. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’34.222
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’34.242
11. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’34.754
12. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’35.086
13. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’35.062
14. Michele Pirro (Ducati 1’35.228
15. Hector Barbera (FTR) 1’35.714
16. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 1’35.770
17. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’36.221
18. Karel Abraham (ART) 1’36.271
19. Claudio Corti (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’36.330
20. Michael Laverty (PBM) 1’36.596
21. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 1’36.714
22. Lukas Pesek (Ioda-Suter) 1’36.768
23. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 1’36.961
24. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR) 1’37.523