Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Le Mans:
LORENZO POWERS TO POLE POSITION IN LE MANS
Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back in action at a dry and slightly overcast Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit to determine their place on tomorrow’s starting grid. They pushed their YZR-M1s to the limit during an intense 15-minute qualifying session and took first and seventh place respectively ahead of tomorrow's Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
LE MANS (FRANCE), 7TH MAY 2016
After keeping up the pace in today’s two free practice sessions on the second day in France, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi went straight through to the Q2 session to qualify on the first and third row for tomorrow's fifth race of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship.
Lorenzo had his signature start to the qualifying session, waiting for all other riders to leave the pit lane before rushing out on his YZR-M1. Having set a 1’32s lap this weekend, the Mallorcan continued the trend dropping a 1’32.437s, a best lap of the weekend at that time, for first place. He further extended his lead with a 1’32.236s before heading back to the pits with more than seven minutes remaining.
Two minutes later Lorenzo was back on track and had just enough time left for two more hot laps. Despite a slight error on his third hot lap, he made a stunning recovery. He waited until the last moment to show his blistering pace and became the fastest man ever around the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, posting a new circuit best lap record of 1'31.975s, extending his lead to 0.441s.
Valentino Rossi had a similar strategy to his teammate and was one of the last riders to exit pit lane as the lights went green. His first flying lap put him in third place until Lorenzo completed his first flying lap, pushing the Italian back to fourth. Eager to stay on the first row, he improved his time on his second try and moved back into the provisional top three with a 1’32.829s.
The Doctor quickly returned to his box, before heading back out with a little less than six minutes remaining to start his second stint. He rode a strong second and third sector on his next lap but was unable to set another personal best lap and was pushed back to sixth. The Doctor put in two more laps, but was unable to improve and ended the session in seventh place.
We are very happy for Jorge, this pole position was most certainly deserved. He was fast straight out of the box at the start of qualifying and he rode a perfect lap at the end, a superb 1’31.975s. This stunning lap, as well as the pace he has shown us all weekend, highlight how strong the combination of him and his YZR-M1 are at this circuit and this is a good sign for tomorrow's race. It will be a bit more challenging for Vale, who will be starting from seventh place. The qualifying session doesn't reflect his real potential, because a mistake cost him a few tenths of a second. He is feeling good on the bike after they found a good set-up and this gives him a good confidence to take on the competition tomorrow. We will make some final amendments to the settings, which we will test in the warm-up tomorrow and look forward to another great race.
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
From the beginning, the first practice on Friday, everything went very well already with our first setting. Little by little and practice by practice together with the whole team we improved small details in all the corners to create a bike that allowed me to keep a constant pace. I was using the same old tyres throughout free practice 4 and normally that means that when you use new tyres you can be very fast and that’s what happened today. I didn’t expect to set such an unbelievable lap time, but sometimes the lap time surprises you and I’m very happy with the pole position and the lap record and especially with the work we did with the whole team on the bike.
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP RIDER
Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes because we had different strategies that didn’t work and I was stuck in traffic, I lost time. I had one chance at the end to improve my lap time, because my potential was a little bit faster and I could have stayed in the top five, I think, but I made a mistake on braking in turn six and went outside the track. It’s a shame because we improved from yesterday and we are quite competitive in terms of race pace but I have to start from the third row. It looks like, if we want to have a really good race, we have to improve a bit because there are some areas that I’m not strong enough. If we’re able to make this jump, we will be able to do a good race, but it will be hard when you start from the third row.
Marquez qualifies second, crash relegates Pedrosa to row 4
There were mixed feelings for Repsol Honda today at Le Mans, with Marc Marquez emerging second-best from a demanding qualifying session and Dani Pedrosa forced to settle for 11th place after slipping off at turn 4 halfway through the session.
Marquez had found quite a good pace in the morning FP3 session, and he struggled to match that speed in his first run in qualifying. However, the Spaniard put in a couple of very fast laps during his second exit and finished in a strong second position behind pole-man Jorge Lorenzo.
Pedrosa was unfortunate to suffer a small crash after completing his first flying lap and so losing precious time and the chance to improve his lap time enough to do better than 11th.
Tomorrow’s warm-up session starts at 9:40 a.m. local time, when both riders will have the chance to finalize the details before the race takes off at 2 p.m.
“I was able to set a good lap today, but it wasn’t perfect. At first with the new tyre I found it hard to get the same feeling I had with used tyres and the bike moved about a lot when I tried to push more. At the end I changed my riding style a little and set two pretty good laps that helped me to fulfil my main objective, which was to get on the front row. I think the pace that I have isn’t bad, and in the last free practice I felt comfortable, although I’m still not quite as fast as Jorge [Lorenzo]. We’ll see what weather we have tomorrow and what the track temperature is for the race, and try to manage things as best we can.”
“Well I’m obviously disappointed with today’s result, my worst qualifying this year. There isn’t much to say; I lost the front and crashed out with my first bike and I couldn’t complete my second flying lap. With the second bike, I didn't have the same feeling and I wasn’t able to improve my time. Anyway, my race pace may not be the best but it’s not the worst either so tomorrow we’ll try to make the right tyre choice and to start the race well.”
Front row start for Iannone in French GP qualifying with third on the grid. Dovizioso in fifth to start from row 2
Andrea Iannone set third-quickest time in qualifying for the French GP at Le Mans. The 26-year-old Italian clocked a time of 1’32.469 on the second lap of the Q2 session and, despite a subsequent crash, will start Sunday’s race from the front row of the grid.
It will be a row 2 start on the other hand for Andrea Dovizioso, who was fifth with a time of 1’32.587. The 30-year-old notched up his best time on the first lap of his second run in Q2.
In the morning’s free practice session, Iannone was quickest with a time of 1’32.528, while Dovizioso placed eighth in 1’33.013. Both Ducati Team riders went through directly into Q2, which they tackled immediately after setting fourth and fifth place in the afternoon’s FP4 session.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’32.469 (3rd)
“It wasn’t an easy qualifying session and, even though I am happy for the front row, I’m not entirely satisfied because I was convinced I could have got second place. In any case, looking at the way things went, we even ran the risk of losing third place and luckily my time with the first tyre was enough to keep the front row slot. I am sure that with the second tyre I could have improved by a few tenths, but on the second exit unfortunately I had a problem with my bike. A light went on for the water pressure in the system and then I suddenly crashed. In any case I’m happy because we managed to get a positive result and I want to thank the guys in the team who did a great job after Jerez.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – 1’32.587 (5th)
“I am quite pleased with the way the day went. In the afternoon we were able to improve my feeling with the bike by making another small step forward and, even though maybe we are still missing a bit over race pace, tomorrow I should be in a position to fight for the podium. It’s a pity I was not able to get on the front row in qualifying, but unfortunately in my final attempt I went a bit too long at Turn 13 because when I changed gear, the bike had a sudden reaction and now we have to try and understand the reason for this.”
TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR ON LE MANS MotoGP THIRD ROW
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 7.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró will start tomorrow’s Le Mans MotoGP™ race in France from the third and fourth rows respectively following final qualifying this afternoon. The two Spaniards had some troubles today in finding a good feeling with their machines, which resulted in eighth and 12th position on the grid.
Viñales’ path to qualifying was a little easier, as he got the direct access to Q2 right after FP3. However, he struggled to find a good set-up with his GSX-RR and was not able to fight for better positions, as he has been able to lately. In all today’s sessions he tried his best to find a confident pace and also the effectiveness in time attack, but his technicians need some more time to find better solutions.
Espargaró on his side had to make some additional work to enter the fight for the top-12 positions on the grid, as he had to go through Q1. In this morning’s FP3 he suffered a crash at the last corner, generated by a bump in the track, and this took much time to recover the bike and preventing him the most efficiency in the time attack. With a wise management of tyres, he was successful in Q1 and finally got through to Q2.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“This qualifying has for sure been under expectations for us. Unfortunately, both riders struggled to find a good feeling with the machines and they couldn’t be as effective as we were used to. It’s a pity because after the tests in Jerez we were pretty confident we could have good solutions here, but it’s sure that we need more time to finalise better set-ups. We knew this track would be not easy for us, but maybe we weren’t expecting it to be this hard. However, we still have some solutions that could help the riders to find more efficacy, so we will work during the night to find some different set-ups that can be tested in warm up and hopefully be good for the race.”
“This has been a very hard qualifying; I’m not satisfied with the position but most of all I’m disappointed for the feeling I couldn’t find. Honestly it is something I can’t really explain; in Jerez we found very good solutions while here they don’t seem to be working. We still lack in the set-up, we’re not taking the 100% out of our machine and this is a pity. I spoke with my technicians and they already have some ideas, we will speak further tonight and hopefully they will find a good set-up for tomorrow morning. The race will be tough; we need to find some solutions otherwise it will be very hard to get a good result.”
“We are suffering a lot and honestly we weren’t expecting this. Unfortunately, this morning I had a crash, it was totally my mistake and this took us away some precious time, I had to go through Q1 and finally got a fourth row. This makes the race very hard. The good thing is that even if we are not performing on the single lap we made important improvements on the pace; if I manage to make a good start I think we can have some chances to recover and finally get a good position.”
APRILIA ON THE SIXTH AND SEVENTH ROW WITH BRADL AND BAUTISTA IN THE LE MANS QUALIFYING
A race that promises to be rather heated will end the MotoGP weekend at Le Mans, a track that has proven to be demanding for the RS-GP with Bautista and Bradl having some difficulties getting its power onto the tarmac.
For this reason testing continued once again today in the Aprilia camp on various setup, chassis and electronics solutions, focusing especially on improving the feeling for the riders in the acceleration phase. Stefan Bradl stopped the clock with an encouraging thirteenth time in FP4, the last free practice session before qualifying, a positive sign for the race.
In qualifying, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders placed on the sixth row with the seventeenth best time (Bradl) and in the nineteenth spot on the seventh row of the grid (Bautista). These are starting positions that, in any case, do not affect Stefan and Alvaro's ambitions, highly motivated to bring home the best possible result in the race.
“In the two sessions today we took a few steps forward. However, there are still a few difficulties with the rear. If we try to stabilise the bike by increasing the electronic controls, we lose acceleration, whereas if we unleash the power, the bike tends to move around a lot. In qualifying I tried to push but I was unable to take a better placement in this situation. We are pretty sure about the tyre choice for the race tomorrow. I rode race distance with the option that we'll use tomorrow, so I'll be giving it my all. Let's hope we'll be able to learn a lot from the 28 laps of the race”.
“I can't say that I'm disappointed because in qualifying I really gave it 100%. This weekend is proving to be more difficult than expected. Today we tried a lot of very different solutions again, trying to improve in the acceleration phase. Now we'll try to analyse the data in order to try to improve for the race, making a few changes to the electronics and the rear suspension settings”.
Miller and Rabat set for the challenge of Le Mans
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda rider Jack Miller is hoping to use his solid race pace and a good start to challenge for a points in tomorrow's French Grand Prix.
The 21-year-old Australian has qualified 18th for the 28 lap race at the legendary Le Mans circuit.
The heavy braking and brutal acceleration of the Le Mans layout has not been easy for Miller who is still troubled by a pre-season right ankle injury.
But he is boosted by his race pace despite failing to make the most of his final run in today's qualifying session. Miller's fast time of 1'34.049 on his Honda RC213V was 1.5s quicker than the FP1 session on Friday morning.
Spanish rookie Rabat has made impressive progress over two days of practice and qualifying and will start 20th despite being slowed on his final qualifying lap by another rider.
Rabat's best time improved by almost two seconds as he came to grips with the demanding Le Mans circuit to post a qualifying time of 1'34.348.
Sunday's race is the fifth round of the MotoGP championship with a capacity crowd of over 100,000 fans expected at the 4.2km Bugatti circuit.
Jack Miller: 18th - 1'34.049
"In qualifying I struggled to warm the tyre up and wasn't able to do a flying lap straightaway and then I ran out of time at the end of the session. I'm quite happy with my race pace and looking forward to making a strong start and seeing what I can do and fight for some points."
Tito Rabat: 20th - 1'34.348
"My first qualifying run was very good and I was happy with this for my first time in MotoGP at Le Mans. On the second run I tried to go faster and had a clear track but then came across some traffic that slowed my rhythm. Sometimes this can happen so now I am just focussing on a strong race and making up some positions."
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Le Mans is a difficult track especially for Jack as he is still suffering with the condition of his right ankle but we know he is always ready to race hard on Sunday. I thought after practice that for Tito this could one of his best qualifying sessions and he did a good job on his first run but could not improve on the second new tyre so it was a little disappointing to see him drop down to 20th."
Tech3 duo seize fantastic second row starts for French GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro delivered a highly impressive performance in qualifying today which will see him begin the Tech3 team’s home Grand Prix from the head of the second row. The Spaniard started the day with a brilliant showing in FP3, which left him third overall by the close of the session and only 0.134 back from the leading time. This strong result meant that Espargaro automatically qualified for Q2 and here, he got straight up to speed before blitzing to a time that left him only 0.086 from second position. Today’s fourth place leaves the former Moto2 World Champion fully primed to clinch a top tier finish at the Monster Energy sponsored Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith superbly sealed a starting position at the rear of the second row for tomorrow’s race after reaping the rewards of his hard work from yesterday. He kicked off the day by completing 21 laps in FP3 and then set his best time on the final run which confirmed 9th and allowed him to progress instantly through to qualifying 2. Here, Smith immediately got to work and after building up his speed, he powered to his personal best on lap seven. The result sees him repeat his qualifying placement from last year, and tomorrow the young Briton will seek to battle to the top independent rider position in front of the Tech3 fans.
Position: 4th Time: 1'32.502 Laps: 8
"It's a really positive feeling to get back on the second row as I have had to wait since Aragon last season. Having said that, I feel that we definitely deserve it this weekend for the performances that we have shown in all the sessions. Yet, we have to bear in mind that tomorrow will be another story. However, the good thing is that by starting from the second row of the grid, we have a better chance of following the factory riders for at least the first part of the race, which means I can learn from them and enjoy the riding. Furthermore, I really like the new Michelin tyres because they allow me to ride my bike how I want to and the times come more easily for me which of course, gives me confidence. It goes without saying that it's a pity that we just missed out on the front row by only 0.033 of a second but there are a lot of the Factory guys behind me and this is what we will also aim for tomorrow. Therefore, I will try to get a good start and then fight all the way to the chequered flag in order to give the French fans and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team something to cheer about."
Position: 6th Time: 1'32.820 Laps: 8
"First of all, it was great to go directly through to Q2 and it was the first time this year that we’ve achieved this, so I think the team added another year to their lives because Q1 is obviously quite stressful! All day we’ve slowly been improving the bike and I’m feeling more comfortable all the time. With every lap I’m learning and getting faster so even though we still need to make some final adjustments for the race, I believe that we have a strong base setting. In terms of the result, I can’t really be any happier as we have turned around what has been a difficult first four races. To be on the second row at the team’s home Grand Prix which is also sponsored by our title backer, Monster Energy, is great. It gives me a fantastic opportunity to start well tomorrow and then try to gain some more knowledge from fighting with the front guys. I believe the race will be another learning experience for me because of the new setting, which I haven’t tried on a long run yet, and also the tyres but I will be as prepared as possible. Anyway, the team did a fantastic job and they’ve had a lot of patience during these opening events, so to finally reward them and get back to where we need to be is super and I must give a big thanks to them. I am ready for the team’s home race and tomorrow will be 28 laps of fighting to get that top satellite position."
Barbera satisfied with his pace, problems for Baz at Le Mans
The second day at Le Mans did not go as planned for the Avintia Racing riders. Yesterday both riders were convinced of their chances to fight for a place in Q2, but finally they were in Q1 after a difficult FP3 session. Barbera missed the Q2 by just 0.092s and tomorrow he’ll start the race from the thirteenth place of the grid. But the Spaniard is satisfied with his race pace and he is eager to improve during the race, with the goal of finishing in the top 10 for the fifth consecutive race this season.
Saturday was a disaster for Loris Baz, and although during practice and qualifying at Le Mans he tried all possible combinations on the bike, he was not able to improve his lap times from yesterday. The main problems are chattering and turning, and tomorrow Loris will start from the back of the grid at his home race. Nobody wants to believe the rain forecast for tomorrow’s race, but this time it would be the best solution for Baz.
Hector Barbera - 1'33.291 - P13
“Although the position is not the best, all in all today was a positive day. I felt comfortable with the race settings and my pace is consistant. I was not able to do a fast lap and move up to Q2, but I’m happy with my lap time because I did it without any reference. The bike is ready to race and me too. With 28 laps, the races are always long here at Le Mans and you have to be smart. This is not our best qualifying of the season, but I have a good group in the fourth row so the start and the first three laps will be crucial tomorrow.”
Loris Baz - 1'34.455 - P21
“This was probably the worst day of my life riding a bike. Everybody improved today compared to Friday, except me. We have a lot of problems with the bike and we were not able to find a solution. Basically we have two big problems: first the bike does not turn, and when we find a set up to make it turn, we have a lot of chatter on the front end. We tried six different set-ups and three different tyres, but nothing works and my lap times are always the same. Tomorrow we will try to find a solution in the warm up, but miracles don’t exist in this sport…only rain could help us tomorrow.”
Fantastic Top 10 finish for Petrux in #FrenchGp qualifying. Scott will start 14th
French Gp qualifying ended up with the great result gained by Danilo Petrucci who confirms to be back in a good shape after the first four races skipped due to his right hand injury.
Scott Redding didn’t manage to win access to Q2 following a good FP4 finished with the 10th quickest time.
Danilo’s Saturday gave up early positive signs. Petrux ended up FP3 close to Top 10 and despite a FP4 not particularly brillant (16th time) he managed to easily gain access to Q2.
Even in qualifying for the pole position, Danilo impressed by winning the 10th place just three tenths of a second from the second row. Petrux could have done better but during his last lap he crashed out without consequences. Just a big scare for the team that welcomed him with great applause on his return to the garage.
Scott Redding was not able to make a perfect lap to qualify for Q2. Especially in the first half of the track the British rider has encountered some difficulties before recovering in T3 (second half) and T4. Scott has had to settle for fourteenth place in #FrenchGp starting grid. Positive indications come from the race pace of FP4 in which Scott has lapped with the tenth quickest lap-time.
14th - SCOTT REDDING
It is a rather strange situation that I have to figure out, because to be honest the feeling with the bike seemed ok but I was not able to improve my lap-times. I tried to get into Q2, I was close but not close enough. I honestly do not know what to expect for tomorrow. We still have to choose the tyre because we had both positive and negative directions from the solutions we tested. The FP4 lap-time? Certainly I can not be happy for the time of a single lap on race pace but it is something in which we can work to make a good race tomorrow.
10th DANILO PETRUCCI
To be honest on Thursday I did not even know if I could get here. The crash was my mistake: I passed the finish line two seconds before the checkered flag, I took Marquez and I was pushing, perhaps too much. I'm happy because in FP3 I did not find confidence, especially with a full tank. Tomorrow I'll have to be careful on the first five or six laps. I have to be calm in order to save energy and get to the finish without falling like today. I so much lacked the MotoGP that I could not stop myself. Thanks to the team that has helped me a lot. I feel great with them.
THIRD ROW FOR CRUTCHLOW IN FRANCE
Cal Crutchlow’s positive weekend at the French Grand Prix continued into qualifying as he put himself on the third row for Sunday’s race at the legendary Le Mans circuit. The LCR Honda rider felt he could have been even higher up the grid, but for a technical issue that meant he only got one full flying lap in during the 15-minute qualifying final.
Progress during the morning free practice session meant that the Brit didn’t have to go through the lottery of preliminary qualifying, however when he then went out for the grid shootout, a severe vibration from his bike forced him straight back into the pits. Having then gone out on a new set of tyres with new brakes, the braking system hadn’t quite bedded in, preventing him riding to his full potential.
Crutchlow is nonetheless positive about his chances in Sunday’s race, with the overall feeling on board his factory spec Honda RC213V much improved compared to previous events.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – 9th (1’32.963)
“Today was a better day and I felt quite good during FP3 and FP4. The bike was working well and our pace wasn’t too bad, however when I went out for qualifying and I had a massive vibration with the front. When I was on the bike I wasn’t sure where it was coming from, and although you could still ride it, I would have risked crashing. We’re still investigating it now.”
“I came back in and went back out on a new tyre, with new brakes, but the system needed more bleeding and I did my lap with the brake lever almost back to the handlebar. I tried to ride around it by braking earlier and carrying more corner speed, so in the end we’re ninth on the grid, just because of a bit of bad luck in having an unexpected tyre change. It’s disappointing to be where we are, but we work together as a team and with Michelin and these things happen sometimes.”
“It’s going to be a warzone tomorrow I reckon because there are a lots of riders in a similar pace! I’m excited about it because I’m riding the bike well and feel in good shape. It is better than it looks.”