Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Le Mans:
Second row for Alex Rins
Repsol rider takes fourth best time in qualifying. Teammate Alex Marquez will start from seventh.
Under the constant threat of rain at Le Mans, Alex Rins and Alex Marquez took fourth and seventh, respectively, on the grid for the French GP. Pole position went to Maverick Viñales. The results from qualifying today mean that Rins will start from the second row and Marquez the third, with the latter adapting well to a new track.
In the morning, the Repsol riders were able to take advantage of clear skies to practice in the dry, although track temperatures were down to 10ºC. Alex Rins was third fastest, with a time of 1’45.099, whilst Alex Marquez was eleventh and less than a second slower.
In qualifying, Rins and Marquez raised the bar once again. With a time of 1’44.123, the former placed fourth in the session, one of a quartet of riders to go round in under the circuit record (along with Viñales, Miguel Oliveira and Jonas Folger). Alex Marquez completed his great adaption to a new circuit with seventh on the grid.
FP3: 1:45.099, 11 laps, 46km.
QP: 1:44.123, 15 laps, 63 km.
“We were fourth today, on the second row, which isn't a bad result. I think that tomorrow the weather forecast is for rain, so what we have done up to now maybe doesn't count for so much. Viñales is a little faster than us, but we will try to stick with him in the race and, if that is not possible, try to do the best we can. The important thing is to get a good feeling with the bike. This track is an ice rink if it rains, so we will have to use our heads”
FP3: 1:45.846, 18 laps, 75 km.
QP: :44.320, 18 laps, 75 km.
“It was a rather positive day. In the morning we found a setup that allowed me to ride comfortably. With used tyres I have a good pace, although with fresh rubber I need to make the most of the tyre condition a little more. We knew that we had room for improvement ahead of qualifying, so we made some small changes to the bike and got it right. I improved steadily in the session before taking seventh, which think is a good spot on the grid. We shall see if the weather favours us tomorrow, because we have a good race pace. If it rains, we will try to have a good warmup in order to find a feel for the wet.”
Tough qualifying for Loi and Danilo at Le Mans
Le Mans, France - 18 May 2013: Livio Loi will start tomorrow's 24-lap Moto3 French Grand Prix from the seventh row of the grid, after qualifying in 21st position in Le Mans this afternoon. Jules Danilo, who makes his Grand Prix debut this weekend, qualified 26th and will start from the ninth row of the grid tomorrow.
A lack of rear grip continued to be a problem for Loi during today's free practice and qualifying sessions. The 16-year-old Belgian was hoping for a significant improvement with the softer rear tyre in qualifying, but found himself unable to push for a faster lap time after encountering exactly the same issue.
After finishing yesterday's free practice sessions in 17th position, Danilo was disappointed to qualify only on the ninth row of the grid. The French rider, who celebrates his 18th birthday today, set his fastest time of the weekend midway through qualifying but was unable to improve further in the remaining 20 minutes.
Both riders will make some changes to their Kalex-KTM Moto3 machines ahead of tomorrow's 24-lap Moto3 French Grand Prix, which gets underway at 11.00 local time.
Livio Loi #11: 21st - 1'45.517
"I'm not so happy with qualifying today, because my feeling was that I could go much faster. We went with the softer option rear at first, but the grip just wasn't there. The medium option we ran in the middle of the session felt a little better but, again, when we switched back to the soft the rear grip was non-existent and it was impossible to push for a fast lap time. It means that, just like in Jerez, I have more work to do in the race tomorrow, but I'll be going for it!"
Jules Danilo #95: 26th - 1'45.741
"Qualifying was a quite hard today. I posted a good lap halfway through the session, but then I couldn't seem to improve on it as the session progressed. So, it was a bit difficult towards the end, but it was still fun. For tomorrow's race I'm not too worried, because I know if there's someone in front of me then I should be able to stay with them. If I get in a good group early on then I think top 20 is possible, maybe even top 15."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I think we qualified where we expected, to be honest. Again we've seen that we cannot rely on the soft tyre giving us a significant improvement in the lap time during qualifying, but this will come as Livio gains more experience of how to get the best from the softer rubber. Livio has had the same problems in every session and, although we've managed to improve the set-up for him, we still need to find something more for tomorrow. Jules was happy yesterday, but a little bit disappointed with qualifying this afternoon. However, he's two seconds faster than he was here earlier in the year and just two seconds off the time of Maverick Viñales, so I think he has little to be disappointed about."
Grand Prix of France
Le Mans, May 18th, 2013
Rain didn't come, but it has been a tricky session anyway. On a short and narrow track, where traffic is always an issue and riders often gather in small groups, Ambrogio Racing's two guys have not been able to free themselves and find a good fast lap. They will be forced to line up in the central positions of the grid, for tomorrow's GP. They showed anyway a good pace and, with 18 riders in less than 1”2, there is a good chance for them to classify inside the top ten. But a good start is needed.
Brad Binder (1'44”737 – 12°) “Bad. At the beginning it was OK; but as soon as I got a good rhythm and was to improve, I found quite a few people on my way, and didn't get a chance to ride in my line. I'm not happy – I'm on forth row in the grid – but I think tomorrow I can finish in the top ten. I'm sure”.
Danny Webb (1'44”889 – 18°) “No consequence because of the crash that happened in the last minutes. Non a single clear lap – I believe that today's result doesn't show our real potential. We can make a very good race, with a good start and fast first laps. We have a good rhythm, must concentrate on the race and see what we can do”.
Fiorenzo Caponera (Team Owner) “We have been penalized by traffic, and have not been able to take off those few tenth that separated us from better positions. We have a good race pace, and quite a few riders in front of us had clocked their fastest time with a tow. I'm convinced our guys can stay in front of them, tomorrow, in the race”.
Creditable second row for Salom
Luis Salom places fifth, despite heavy morning crash. Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis to set off from rows five and seven, respectively.
18/05/2013 - Le Mans Circuit
The starting grid for the fourth GP of the year was decided today. The weather conditions were good for the final practice sessions and the riders enjoyed a dry track at Le Mans. Luis Salom took fifth in qualifying, despite suffering a heavy crash in the morning. His Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates, Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis, placed fifteenth and twentieth, respectively.
The day began with a final free practice session. Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Arthur Sissis used these final 40 minutes to carry out the work that they were unable to complete yesterday, and were two of the only riders to better their times on a track that had dropped to 10ºC in temperature. Luis Salom had a late, heavy crash, when exiting the final corner.
Despite pain in his back, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider made a tremendous effort in qualifying. He took fifth place with a time of 1:44.178. Zulfahmi Khairuddin came out strong and was immediately amongst the top ten. His final lap of 1:44.836 was his best of the day, putting him on the fifth row, whilst Arthur Sissis took twentieth with a time of 1:45.381 —a second better than his previous best.
Tomorrow’s race takes place at 11am, with rain forecast for the Moto3 contest.
Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Maverick Viñales (KTM) 1:43.696
2. Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra) 1:43.806 +0.110
3. Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM) 1:43.969 +0.273
4. Alex Rins (KTM) 1:44.123 +0.427
5. Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:44.178 +0.482
15. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:44.836 +1.140
20. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:45.381 +1.685
"I arrived from the hospital five minutes before qualifying started, so it has been a non-stop day. Despite this, and the fact that my back hurts a lot, I am happy because I think that we have a good pace. I was able to go round in under 1’44 at the end of the session, which is what is really important. The best thing is that we aren’t too far off the fastest time, and that is promising.
Before my crash I was on a very fast lap, close to today’s pole, but I went wide on the last corner and touched the grass."
"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."
"The feel today wasn't all bad. We kept up some very consistent lap times, but it wasn't enough to be up in the top ten. I am happy with the job that we are doing with the bike, because I feel comfortable. In qualifying I couldn't find a good reference, but at least we are working well and the bike is excellent.
Let's hope that tomorrow we have good weather and can give 120% in the race. I am confident that if the race is dry, then all the better. In the wet everyone will have to fight a lot. I hope that the weather holds out."
Better lap times don’t pay out in positions
Jakub Kornfeil and Jasper Iwema both improved their lap times in the qualifying session for the French GP, but they didn’t move forward on the starting grid. With 14th (Kornfeil) and 30th (Iwema) RW Racing GP was not satisfied. The cause of these disappointing results are to be found in missing effective training time for both riders.
Jakub Kornfeil missed most of the third free practice in the morning because he crashed out early in the session. The crash seemed to be caused by a technical failure. Kornfeil was not hurt in the crash, but he could only ride a few laps. Team manager Jarno Janssen apologized to his rider.
In the qualifying session Kornfeil missed this training time. He improved his lap times but this didn’t pay out in positions. With 14th position Kornfeil was not satisfied.
In the case of Jasper Iwema the lack of rhythm on the first day caused him trouble in qualifying. Nothing seemed to work out well with the Dutchman on Friday. On Saturday things went better and Iwema improved, but the others improved even more.
Team manager Jarno Janssen: "Both of them have to have a good start in the race. The first chicane will be crucial. The differences are very small. If you miss the connection in the first chicane it will be a though race.’’
Jakub Kornfeil (14): "My rear was sliding everywhere in the morning and I crashed. We found out there was oil leaking and that made me crash. Luckily I wasn’t hurt, but in qualifying I had more work to do which I should have done in the morning. I pushed as hard as I could and I was much faster, but the gaps are getting smaller. I just have to have a good start in the race and work hard to gain positions as soon as possible.’’
Jasper Iwema (30): "This is not a great position to start the race and I am angry with myself for that. Yesterday was a day to forget. Today was better, but I could not make up enough for the lost practices. I was looking for an extra second but I couldn’t find it. I don’t know if I’m hoping for rain or not. I rather have a good result in dry conditions.’’
Niklas Ajo holds onto top ten start
Avant Tecno KTM rider, ninth in qualifying, will start tomorrow from the third row of the grid.
18/05/2013 - Le Mans Circuit
Action at Le Mans continued today with the second day of practice sessions. In the highlight of the day for Niklas Ajo, the Finn qualified inside the top ten for the third time in a row, taking ninth. With this result, the Avant Tecno KTM rider also achieved his highest qualifying performance in France from three visits.
In the morning practice session, Niklas Ajo again achieved the sixth best time, as he did in both sessions yesterday. His best lap of 1'45.559 deserves additional credit, having come after a crash at Turn 5 at the start of the session.
A few minutes later, in the qualifying session, Niklas Ajo got the most out of his KTM machine to place amongst the best in Moto3. On the seventeenth of his nineteen laps, the Avant Tecno KTM rider put in a 1'44.560 that took 0.5 seconds off his previous best.
Starting from ninth, it is likely that Niklas Ajo will have to contest a wet race, as forecasts predict rain early on at Le Mans.
Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Maverick Viñales (KTM) 1:43.696
2. Miguel Oliveira (Mahindra) 1:43.806 +0.110
3. Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM) 1:43.969 +0.273
4. Alex Rins (KTM) 1:44.123 +0.427
5. Luis Salom (KTM) 1:44.178 +0.482
9. Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno KTM) 1:44.560 +0.864
"The position earnt today is good -even more so when you consider how tight the session was. It was maybe the closest of the year. There was a lot of talent on track and every rider pushed hard. I didn't feel perfect with the bike today, so there are things we want to improve, but this afternoon we wil continue working with a focus on tomorrow's race."
CAME IODARACING TEAM'S ZARCO GAINS THE FRONT ROW IN MOTO2
EXCELLENT FOR PROGRESSION IN MOTOGP FOR PETRUCCI AND PESEK
LE MANS, May 18, 2013 - The French rider of the CAME Iodaracing Team, Johann Zarco, got the first row in the Moto2 qualifying session at Le Mans. Zarco, driven by the massive support of the home crowd, showed how the continuous harmony with his Suter allowed him to push immediately, despite the heavy rain began to fall when the Moto2 machine came out of the box for their qualification session. Zarco began his work with slick tires despite a few drops on the Le Mans tarmac, so he tried to capitalize immediately, pushing for a position at the top. Before the rain became dense, Johann Zarco had already clocked his fastest time (1.39.187). With heavy rain conditions, the CAME Iodaracing Team decided to mount rain tires to collect data on these conditions of the asphalt. When the time available for the qualifying session was near to end, the ranking remained unchanged with Takaaki Nakagami (Kalex) in pole position, Scott Redding (Kalex) in second place and Johann Zarco (Suter Came Iodaracing Team) third.
In MotoGP, Danilo Petrucci and Lukas Pesek riding the Ioda-Suter-BMW, have struggled in Q1 for the best possible place on the starting grid. Danilo Petrucci has steadily improved his times finishing the round with official 1.35.770, while Lukas Pesek was able to find a satisfactory set up compared to yesterday, closing the qualification with the 22nd time in 1.36.768.
JOHANN ZARCO - MOTO2 RIDER - 3rd TIME - FIRST ROW - "I'm happy for the first row of the season and I'm pleased to have done it in France for even. Qualifications have been difficult for the weather conditions. At the beginning with the first drops everyone pushed to get the best time possible and I managed to get a good reference because I had a good feeling with my bike. Then we decided to go out with the rain to test my Suter even when in the wet condition when the rain increased, also knowing that the track of Le Mans has not much grip. Tomorrow will be important to start from the front especially if it rains, in any case I will need to finish the race in the best possible position to earn valuable points. I'll try to fight for the podium and if I'll get it in France I'd became very proud".
DANILO PETRUCCI- MOTOGP RIDER - 16th TIME - SIXTH ROW - "I wanted to leave in the first fifteen, but for a few thousandths I did not. I'm still happy because I always managed to pick up the pace. If I could put together my best splits I would have gone better. I like the bike and I am with others CRT. I expect a hard fought race, I hope it does not rain tomorrow and that there are no jokes in this regard. I'm fairly constant in time and that's why I put in the target is to get points".
LUKAS PESEK - MOTOGP RIDER - 22 ° TIME - EIGHTH ROW - "In the end it was not bad. Today we finally found a set-up for the suspension and managed to ride quite well. My goal for the race is to finish without any problems. With two crashes in three races I just want to get to the end, no matter the final position".
MotoGP Moto3 - San Carlo Team Italia FMI works on race pace in Le Mans
Romano Fenati is eleventh and first among Italians, Francesco Bagnaia 28th but closer to the front.
During the Moto3 qualifiers in Le Mans, Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5) showed his grit after a technical issue that let him in the pits, giving his all in the final minutes and closing in 11th position, + 0.915 behind poleman Viñales (1'43.636).
Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#4) also made progress, improving by almost two seconds since free practice and getting progressively closer to the best times of the day.
Romano Fenati (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#5), 11th, 1'44.611
"It was a tough QP. I suffered a trivial electrical problem and couldn't fight for the top positions. On track I still managed to stay close to KTMs, I have a strong pace and I hope to get a good start and fight at the top. With some small tweaks during WUP we can do it."
Francesco Bagnaia (San Carlo Team Italia FMI FTR Honda#4), 28th, 1'45.819
"I made a huge step forward with the feeling on the bike. Unfortunately the weather didn't help us because we thought it would rain at the end of the session and I opted to use the new tyre early on, but the track got faster. Still, I improved my lap time significantly and I hope to come back during the race."
Roberto Locatelli (FMI Technical Coordinator)
"Despite a technical issue, Romano was able to charge and improved significantly toward the end, showing a strong pace. A great reaction for both him and the team: I think he can fight for a Top 5 position tomorrow. With Pecco, the decision to put the soft tyre at half session didn't pay off and we couldn't improve at the end. He cut the gap nonetheless, and can score his maiden points tomorrow."
BALDASSARRI SPRINGS SURPRISE AT LE MANS
Lorenzo Baldassarri produced the best qualifying performance of his rookie season so far at Le Mans today, securing thirteenth place and a fifth row start for tomorrow's French Grand Prix. The Italian youngster has adapted quickly to the Bugatti Ci rcuit despite never having ridden here before and showed his growing confidence with his bike. Seventeenth place for his team-mate Niccolò Antonelli was somewhat below expectations but the youngster is confident that he can still run with the front guys tomorrow.
Lorenzo Baldassarri (13th 1’ 44” 764) “It has been a really good day for us. I didn't think we would be qualifying in thirteenth position but I have felt good at this track from the first lap and I was able to learn it easily. The bike is also helping me a lot and with a few changes I was able to really push it. Now we want to repeat this level of performance in the race tomorrow.”
Niccolò Antonelli (17th 1’ 44” 872 ) “Unfortunately qualifying didn't work out well for us because I wasn't happy with the bike set-up and I got nervous. I kept running wide in the corners but I know we can do better in the race tomorrow so I am not worried. I also made the mistake of trying to set the lap times on my own but because of the strong winds it was costing me time down the straights. We are not so far back though and with a good start tomorrow we should be able to stay in touch.”
Fausto Gresini “Overall it has been a good day. Lorenzo did a great job to qualify in his best position so far and Niccolò is also well placed for tomorrow. On the evidence of free practice we expected a little more from Niccolò but it is not a bad grid positions. It will be important for him to get a good start to stay in touch with the lead group and then give his best in the race. This performance shows that the Almeria was important and now we need to back it up with our first points of the season.”
JONAS FOLGER ON FRONT ROW FOR FIRST TIME THIS SEASON
MAPFRE Aspar rider completes session in third place, achieving his best grid spot of the year and giving himself a great chance to fight for victory
The rain held off at Le Mans for the Moto3 riders during their qualifying session, despite the dark clouds overhead throughout the 40 minute outing. It seemed as though the four fastest riders from free practice would again be the top men in qualifying but it turned out to be an interesting, if grey, day on Saturday at the French venue. Viñales set down a quick time and ended up on pole but the likes of Folger and Oliveira were pushing hard. Only the top three riders (Viñales, Oliveira and Folger) made it into the 1'43 region, but the competition was fierce, with the top ten all within a second of each other. There could be rain on Sunday so anything could happen in the race. If it does not rain there could be a big group fighting at the front, not just this year's typically fast riders, as the front row riders have good pace but those behind them look capable of joining the victory chase.
The best time registered in Moto3 at Le Mans last year was a 1.44.1, and today MAPFRE Aspar's Jonas Folger, was able to put in a best time of 1.43.969. Folger is a determined figure and pushes hard in every minute of every session, making his bike increasingly competitive as he progresses. The German was just two tenths off pole with his best time coming on the 14th of 16 laps, to give him his first front row start in 2013. Following his podium in Jerez, Jonas knows the victory is not far away. It was a tougher day for his MAPFRE Aspar colleague Eric Granado, who is struggling to adapt to the French circuit. The Brazilian had a lively session with two scary moments, finishing without a crash, but in 27th position.
3rd Jonas Folger 1.43.969 (16 laps): "We can be happy with the qualifying performance as we did a good job. We have worked hard on the set-up to get comfortable and the results gradually came. Obviously we need to continue working hard but we're going in the right direction. I hope it stays dry tomorrow and we can keep the good feeling going to the end, even on used tyres. I'm happy because we can approach the race with confidence. It will be tough as the forecast is for rain but I want a dry race and it's safer for us all. The front of the race should be busy in the dry, but if it rains it's a lottery. At Le Mans it's difficult to know your limits in the rain, it's all about staying upright".
27th Eric Granado 1.45.755 (20 laps): "The morning went well but in the afternoon the aim was to lower the lap time. I felt ok at the beginning of qualifying but then I got stuck in a rut. It's tough this weekend and I wasn't able to make the progress I wanted at the end of the session so that left me down the timesheet. I put on some fresh tyres near the end went out hard but I had a moment and nearly crashed. I hurt my leg but fortunately did not crash. I kept pushing but there was too much traffic on the last lap. I hope to be able to improve tomorrow".
WILAIROT'S WET WOES AT LE MANS
Ratthapark Wilairot's aversion to wet conditions shone through again today as the Thai rider lost confidence when the heavens opened for qualifying practice at Le Mans this afternoon. Feem has shown good pace in the dry, however, and is hoping the weather improves tomorrow so that he can fight his way to a psitive result from 28th on the starting grid.
Ratthapark Wilairot (28th 1’ 40” 746 ) “As soon as I saw the first drops of rain on my visor I started to lose confidence and couldn't push the bike as hard as I have been doing. Qualifying in 28th position is not great and it doesn't reflect our potential here but we just have to try and make a good start tomorrow and improve.”
Fausto Gresini “Feem made his choice and we have to respect that but at the end of the day he will now be starting tomorrow's race from 28th position. We just have to hope he can start well tomorrow and make up positions in the race. ”
PRADITA ESCAPES UNHURT IN LE MANS CRASH
Doni Tata Pradita struggled for confidence in the wet conditions at Le Mans this afternoon, crashing as the first drops of rain fell and then struggling to rebuild his confidence on the soaking track. The Indonesian rider wi ll start from 33rd on the grid in tomorrow's race, when he is hoping for better conditions.
Doni Tata Pradita (33rd 1’ 42” 036 ) “We found ourselves in a completely new situation this afternoon and I had no prior experience to fall back on. I was struggling for confidence and with trying to take it carefully in the wet I crashed. Hopefully we get some better weather tomorrow.”
Fausto Gresini “Pradita's determination to learn and adapt to Moto2 was only held up today by the weather. Unfortunately Doni lost confidence when it started to rain and he struggled, also suffering from a crash. Overall it's a day to forget and we just have to hope we get better conditions tomorrow so that he can have a good race.”
NICO TEROL SIXTH AND READY FOR STARRING ROLE IN LE MANS RACE
MAPFRE Aspar man has high hopes given his good race pace throughout the weekend, whilst his teammate Jordi Torres, is looking to make up ground from 15th on grid
The rain was on everyone's minds at Le Mans on Saturday and although it held off for most of the day at the French GP by the time the Moto2 riders started qualifying the riders knew it was coming. The session started in the dry and the riders went out hard to register early fast laps, in order to have one in the bag. The rain arrived about ten minutes into the session and the riders stayed out initially, but once the rain became more intense most of the riders regressed to their boxes and stayed dry. By that time, and to no great surprise given his pace in free practice, it was Nakagami at the head of the timesheet ahead of Redding. Those two look strong, whilst Terol and Luthi are nearby and pushing hard.
Terol is in sixth place on the grid, but he has looked good throughout the weekend and was third fastest in morning practice. Whilst not registering a super quick single lap the Spanish rider is showing good race and hopes to fly in tomorrow's race. Working to improve that pace, Nico has found more rear grip, which he was searching for at Jerez, and his engine performance is improved, putting his bike amongst the fastest on Saturday. Jordi Torres is not having such success. He tried several settings in the morning but only ended up having a crash on the second corner whilst searching for improvements. He felt better feeling with the bike in the afternoon but the opportunity was cut short by the rain and he ended up 15th. Nevertheless the Catalan aims for a good ride on Sunday from the fifth row.
6th Nico Terol 1.39.333 (10 laps): "We've been doing a good job throughout the weekend. The aim was to get on the front row but we're still happy with the QP. We're pleased because in the morning we went fast and ended up third overall, with the bike running well and the rear grip getting better, as well as the engine settings. We couldn't do much in qualifying because of the rain and the slippery track. I still got in a decent lap to finish in sixth and if the race is dry there should be a good group of us fighting at the front. If it's wet we know this is a tricky circuit so we'll have to be alert".
15th Jordi Torres 1.39.891 (11 laps): "It was a difficult day today. We had a lot of work planned for the morning session but then I crashed and that set us back. So we were already thinking about the qualifying session as the changes we were making weren't working. We went with the best setting we had for QP but there was no time to complete a good fast lap. One positive was that I saw how to overtake at the highest speed posible because we saw the rain was coming and we just had to get it done. I've never ridden here before so I'm aiming to have a good race tomorrow and learn as much as I can".
Front row start for Redding after rain disrupts Le Mans qualifying
Le Mans, France - 18 May 2013: Scott Redding will start tomorrow's Moto2 French Grand Prix at Le Mans from the front row of the grid, after posting the second fastest time in this afternoon's rain disrupted qualifying session at Le Mans. Mika Kallio will start from the fourth row of the grid after qualifying tenth fastest this afternoon.
Despite a crash at La Chapelle during free practice this morning, Redding went into this afternoon's all-important 45-minute qualifying session full of confidence and determined to push for his second pole position of the season.
With rain clouds looming around the Le Mans circuit, the 20-year-old Briton was quick to claim provisional pole, but was pushed back to second by Takaaki Nakagami, just as the rain finally arrived at Le Mans. With conditions worsening as the session drew to a close, Redding was forced to settle for second place on the grid and his third front row start of the season.
Kallio has struggled to find a good feeling with his Kalex Moto2 machine all weekend at Le Mans. Set-up changes after this morning's free practice gave some improvement, however, which allowed the 30-year-old Finn to claim tenth position on the grid during this afternoon's qualifying session.
Kallio will try a number of additional set-up changes in tomorrow's warm up session in preparation for tomorrow's 26-lap Moto2 race, which gets underway at 12.20 local time.
Scott Redding #45: 2nd - 1'38.858
"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."
Mika Kallio #36: 10th - 1'39.558
"The goal is always to be in the first nine and on the front three rows, so I'm a little disappointed to miss out on that by such a small margin today. We've had some issues with the bike all weekend and, while the changes we made for qualifying improved things slightly, there's still something missing. I think if we can find just a little more from the bike tomorrow in warm up then it should be possible for me to make up the rest of the time we miss to the fastest guys. If we can do that, and I get a good start in the race, then top five is possible. If it rains tomorrow, which is looking likely, then everything changes anyway."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I'm sorry that the rain meant Scott didn't get the chance to try and retake pole position, as he's been pretty dominant here all weekend during practice. But, he's on the front row and ahead of his two closest rivals in the championship, who have both seen how fast and consistent he is here at Le Mans. Wet or dry tomorrow I think Scott has every chance of being on the podium once again. Mika hasn't been able to find a good feeling with the bike this weekend, which has knocked his confidence a little, but his best performance so far came in qualifying and I know that's all the motivation he will need to fight for a top five finish tomorrow. It will be hard, but he's done it before and I've no doubt he can do it again, whatever the conditions in the race."
TEAM LA FONTE TASCARACING - Le Mans GP: Qualifying Practice
Le Mans (France) - Qualifying Practice
ALESSANDRO TONUCCI (N. 19) - 16°
HYUGA WATANABE (N. 29) - 33°
Giorgio Bertelli: "The team still working hard, we hope to to see result tomorrow."
Tonucci: "With the new work's system adopted my feeling is better. Unfortunately, during the qualifying session I was not able to find the right group to take advantage from them and reduce the time. The race time is good and we will see tomorrow. "
Hyuga Watanabe: "My feeling with the bike improves from session to session. I like this track and now I can better turn. Let's see tomorrow."