Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying for tomorrow's French Grand Prix at Le Mans:
Marquez takes pole in Le Mans but crash impedes Pedrosa
In today's qualifying for the GP of France, Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez took his second ever MotoGP career pole position, at the very circuit he achieved his first ever pole in GP racing in the 125cc class in 2009. His teammate, Dani Pedrosa, could only manage 6th after a crash in turn two early in the session restricted his number of flying laps.
In this afternoon's FP4 session, Marc also had a small crash in turn two which affected his confidence slightly. However, in Q2 he returned to the set up he had in the morning FP3 session and was able to set a fastest time of 1'33.187. Dani, who was only able to complete one flying lap in his first run of Q2 had a crash on lap 4 but fortunately returned to the pits in time to get out on his second bike. He managed two flying laps and on his final lap he was able to achieve a second row grid spot with a lap time of 1'33.639.
Marc Marquez 1st 1'33.187
"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 pace. Tomorrow we will try to give 100% 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"
Dani Pedrosa 6th 1'33.639
"The afternoon practice sessions were difficult. I crashed in qualifying then 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 wasn't 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, come back up through the field and have a good race"
Lorenzo Secures Front Row in Le Mans for Grand Prix de France
Le Mans (France), 18th May 2013
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.
2nd / 1'33.217 / 9 laps
“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.”
8th / 1'34.009 / 9 laps
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Front row for Dovizioso at Le Mans with third-quickest time, Hayden tenth
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.”
BRADL SQUEEZES INTO THE 2nd ROW BEFORE THE RAIN COMES
Le Mans, 18 May: premier class teams expected rainfall for qualifying at Le Mans circuit, but the weather has been kind to the riders and the Q2 remained dry. Stefan Bradl was more in a confident mood following yesterday’s positive opening day at the legendary venue and he recorded the fifth quickest lap time on soft tyres (1’33.634) sharing tomorrow’s second row with Crutchlow (4th) and Pedrosa (6th).
“Finally we have done a good job in the 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 enough fast to get the P5 which is our usual placement. I want to thank the Team for their efforts because they have done a good job to adjust the front-end working on suspensions, electronics and mapping. Now I can ride the bike with more confidence and no matter what the weather will be tomorrow because I am confident we can race in the front”.
The blink of an eye separates Crutchlow from the front row in Le Mans
Monster 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 26year 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 1'33.609 – 9 laps:
“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 1'34.222 – 10 laps:
“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 laps lasting race.“
BAUTISTA ON THE THIRD ROW AT LE MANS
Alvaro Bautista will start the French Grand Prix from the third row of the grid after qualifying in a creditable seventh position this afternoon despite a heavy crash this morning. The Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini rider was still in pain when qualifyi ng practice got underway but he gritted his teeth to produce a fast lap and secure a good starting position for tomorrow's race. Bryan Staring also did a good job, improving his pace and setting some consistent lap times at another new circuit for him.
Alvaro Bautista (7th 1’ 33” 984 ) “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% 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 (21st 1’ 36” 714) “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.”
Fausto Gresini “After the crash this morning Alvaro did well to improve his pace so much, but it wasn't enough to secure the second row start that he would have been capable of if fully fit. Unfortunately it was a painful one but he was strong and I think he can have a good race tomorrow if the conditions stay dry. Obviously it all depends on the weather because if it rains then anything could happen. Bryan had a good session, closing down the gap to the guys in front of him and setting some consistent times. I think this consistency can lead to a good performance tomorrow as he continues to discover the secrets of another new track to him.”
Unsatisfying day for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
Although Andrea Iannone has steadily improved during the French GP race weekend, last night’s changes to his Desmosedici GP13 weren’t enough for him to make it into the Q2 session today at Le Mans, and the Italian will start tomorrow’s race from the fifth row of the starting grid.
Iannone is still riding in some pain, which made the situation even more challenging.
There are nonetheless some positive aspects to this weekend, especially when one considers that the team’s very participation at this round was in some doubt. In fact, the initial goal following Iannone’s recent operation was to use the three days in France to prepare for the next round.
Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team
“I’m doing better than I thought. The muscle has enough strength and doesn’t bother me, which is certainly good. At the moment, it’s the knee that’s more painful, because it’s compressed in my leathers, but I know that’s just temporary. Obviously, I’d feel more at ease without the physical problems, and I could focus better on my riding, but it’s not such a big deal. I want to understand where to improve, how to be faster, and work to try to gain some positions. Now I’m having a hard time on the brakes, so I can’t slow down as I should, nor can I get on the throttle as I’d like. I want to solve that problem for tomorrow, or at least limit it. Right now, I’m having a hard time finding the right setting, as the changes we’ve made this weekend haven’t worked so well. Comparing myself with the Ducati Team riders, I realized that we’re not making the same decisions; at Jerez, for example, my way had worked better, but not at this track. At the moment, I don’t know if I should try to change, perhaps following their path, or continue on my own way. I’m very happy for Andrea’s third place today, which really gives me hope.”
Small improvements for Ignite Pramac Racing Team
Today the Ignite Pramac Racing Team completed day two at the French GP, which included two free-practice sessions followed by the new-format qualifying system.
In FP3, substitute rider Michele Pirro posted a time of 1:35.592, which was three-tenths of a second slower than his best from yesterday; his fifteenth position meant he had to take part in the Q1 session, in which his best time was 1:35.228.
The Italian made steady progress from session to session, but he still lacked the confidence needed to improve further. Changing from his familiar development bike to the team’s Desmosedici GP13 race machine was certainly a disadvantage, but the team, together with Michele, is working hard to find a better setting in the absence of Ben Spies.
Pirro will start tomorrow’s race from the fourteenth position on the grid.
Michele Pirro – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“This bike is new for me, and I still need to gain confidence. We improve in each session, but I’m still not where I’d like to be. I was hurt by a lack of feeling, so maybe I need more kilometres, a few more days. We tried to change something in every session, but I’m not satisfied. We didn’t achieve what we’d hoped for, and I’m still having a hard time adapting to the bike. I don’t know the limits, so I can’t ride as I like, and since I don’t feel good on the bike, that’s all I could do for now. I tried a setting that was similar to the one I’m used to, but it didn’t work. These bikes are truly challenging from a physical point of view, so I can understand why Ben, with his shoulder problem, wasn’t ready to ride. I’ll try to do my best to provide useful feedback to contribute to the development, and we’ll see if we can get a good result. Seeing Dovizioso get the third spot on the grid makes me very happy, and it obviously gives me more confidence. We’ll keep working hard for tomorrow, and we hope to do better.”
ESPARGARÓ & DE PUNIET, 11th & 12th IN THE END AFTER DOMINATING Q1
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair ready to relive their intense battle from last year, starting on fourth row
Yesterday was all about the front four in free practice (Pedrosa, Márquez, Rossi & Lorenzo), as they were split by just two tenths of a second, but it was a different story today. Márquez dominated Q2 with Lorenzo three hundredths behind him, whilst the front row was completed by Dovizioso, a further four tenths down. Pedrosa and Rossi will start a few places down the grid. The differing lap times today could affect the racing tomorrow and even more so if the forecast rain does fall. Q2 was preceded by two key points, a red flag in FP4 due to a crash for Crutchlow and the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar dominance of Q1, with both the team's riders making it into Q2 for the first time. It should be an exciting race in the rain on Sunday, perhaps with a few surprises.
The POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair in fact made history at Le Mans becoming the first two CRT riders to simultaneously make it through to Q2 since the new system was introduced. Aleix Espargaró and Randy De Puniet dominated Q1, the Frenchman on top followed by the Catalan, leaving two prototype riders out of Q2. After three rounds dominated in CRT by Aleix, his colleague in the Valencian team was able to stay with him on this occasion as both registered times in the high 1'34 level. The nearest CRT riders are seven tenths behind them so the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar duo expect to battle for the top CRT place in the race from the fourth row on the grid.
11th Aleix Espargaró 1.34.754: "I'm the top CRT rider again today but to be honest it's been real hard work to put in fast lap times. The cold track is hard for getting a good feeling and the set-up is different to elsewhere, we've had to adapt it to the changeable conditions. In Q1 we had a difficult moment because the chassis setting is different between my two bikes. In Q2 I was able to reduce my lap time, I'm almost not sure how, but I'm happy with that anyway. Both bikes are now set-up perfectly so we'll see which one to use for the race. We've been a step ahead of the rest of the CRTs in the opening three races, but Randy is on it here so we're alert. I hoped I could go faster than him on the faster tyres and fortunately that's how it worked out".
12th Randy De Puniet 1.35.086: "In Q2 I couldn't improve on the Q1 time but we knew we had already used the new tyres. Anyway the lap times are similar to my teammate's and I'm competitive again. We'll start together on the fourth row and I will stick to Aleix. Finally we've made a step in the right direction and I feel more comfortable on the bike. I have more confidence because it's the first weekend where we've been good from the start, so tomorrow I want to get a good result. It's great to have improved the feeling and tomorrow we really have a big objective in front of us, it's important to get a good result as this could be the starting point for a competitive campaign".
Abraham´s mixed feelings after 18th position in QP
Czech MotoGP rider Karel Abraham will start from the 6th row to the Grand Prix of the France in Le Mans. Abraham finished 8th in Qualifying session with 1:36,271 and lost 1,556 second to the fastest QP1 rider Randy de Puniet.
„I´m not completely unsatisfied, but I hope to get more to the front. I hoped to beat 1:36, but it didn´t succeed. We tried softer tyre on the front to the QP1, but it didn´t work and I had to get back to the garage to change it. We lost few minutes and even If I tried to catch Andrea Iannone in the end of qualifying session, I didn´t make it. It´s not bad result however. The shoulder still hurts, but I hope I can make the race. If it hurts tomorrow, I will consider to get some local anesthetics though I really don´t like to use it.”
Marco Grana, chief-mechanic Cardion AB Motoracing
“18th position isn’t what we hope for, but still not bad considering our Karel´s physical condition after a month of recovery. We made 1:36,2 which is our best time of the weekend. We were able to improve our lap times practice to practice and I´m sure that we are ready for tomorrow. We haven´t any serious problem with the bike and I hope Karel will be able to make whole race without limitation. We must make good start, than we can grab some points.”
Edwards and Corti look forward to Le Mans´s race
The MotoGP qualifying session at Le Mans end with NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders Colin Edwards and Claudio Corti finishing in 17th and 19th position respectively for tomorrow’s starting grid.
The FTR evolution used this weekend has proven itself not only to solve the problems that the team encountered during the last GP in Jerez, it has allowed the team to narrow the gap with the other FTRs on the grid from two seconds to half a second.
Despite the improvements that have allowed the American rider to improve his race pace, he did have some unexpected chatter during the fourth free practice. His Italian teammate had a crash during the same session, causing him to have to switch back to “bike 1” for qualifying. Both riders remain confident for tomorrows race after with their FTR- Kawasaki bikes.
“Not really a hundred percent happy with it, it seemed like especially today being colder there were a few more crashed and the tires felt rigid. I tried to push and got a little bit of chatter that I didn’t have yesterday, just working on the bike. Looking forward to tomorrow, getting a good start, get out there and see what happens.”
“This morning it seemed we had found the right compromise in terms of the setting, specially on the rear, where we lack a bit of grip entering the corners. The temperature drop in the afternoon caught me off guard, I couldn’t get the right pace, I could feel that something wasn’t right and during the beginning of the session I crashed. When I Went out with bike 1, which is not my favorite, I did have a better feeling right from the start even if the temperature was colder than this morning and made a lap time of 1´36.3 right away. During the session we still have the usual minor problems that we know appear after the first few laps with this bike and came into the pits to make an adjustment and went back out. Halfway through what seemed to be my fast lap I found traffic and I was not able to finish it. I believe that I could have gotten a 1´35 so I remain confident for tomorrow’s race.”
“We are relatively happy of the work we have done today, we have improved the lap times, have solved some of the problems that we had at Jerez. We have reduced the gap with the other FTRs, at Jerez they were almost two seconds faster while here its less than half a second faster. Colin has a good race pace that has allowed him to reduce the gap. We still do not take full advantage of the qualifying tire as we would like to in order to make the single fast lap. Claudio has done well, unfortunately he crashed during FP4 and wasn’t able to use the bike that he prefers (bike 1), forcing him to use bike 2 during qualifying, Even if bike 2 is not his favorite one he still managed to get in a very good time. Fortunately he didn’t get injured during the crash and now we have to think about tomorrow’s race.”
Marquez edges Lorenzo in French MotoGP™ qualifying
Round 4: French MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice One and Two
Le Mans, Saturday 18 May 2013
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.”