MotoGP > MotoGP 2005 Round 04: France GP > Qualifying
MotoGPFranceMay 14, 2005
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 4
France Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

Melandri Powers To Third Front Row Of Season

Race Results >>

In-form Honda man Marco Melandri (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) grabbed his third front row start in four races to line up behind Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards (both Yamaha) who qualified first and second fastest at a dry Le Mans in today's MotoGP qualifying session.

Marco MELANDRI (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)

Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)

Sete Gibernau (Team Movistar Honda RC211V) heads the second row as fourth fastest qualifier and he is joined by Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V) who was the fastest man out there for much of the hour-long stint until slipping to fifth fastest in the closing stages.

The track had dried and warmed up considerably after heavy rain on Friday and at 21 degrees the surface provided enough adhesion for riders to fully dispute the fight for pole at a track where qualifying is notoriously close. The top 12 qualifiers are covered by a mere 0.765 seconds.

The action hotted up with 35 minutes of the session to go as Melandri put in first a 1m 34.538s lap and then a 1m 34.391s effort to hit pole. His team-mate Gibernau was in the dirt trying to match it before Edwards briefly snatched the top slot with a 1m 34.110s time.

Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) was another man to temporarily hold pole, and Hayden too momentarily reclaimed his front row slot with ten minutes to go. The action was so intense that Loris Capirossi and Carlos Checa (both Ducati) who had both held front row positions eventually finished up tenth and ninth.

With five minutes left on the clock Edwards was on pole from Hayden and Gibernau, with Checa, Capirossi and Rossi on row two. Nakano then jumped to third fastest, Gibernau to second and Melandri to fifth before the 22-year-old Team Movistar man went second fastest.

Then Rossi slammed in a 1m 33.226s lap to grab his second pole position of the season with his team-mate managing a lap just 0.223s slower for second. Melandri at just 0.239s shy of the pole time looks in good shape for tomorrow's race.

Max Biaggi (Repsol Honda RC211V) still cannot find the form required of a World Championship contender and has to be content with eight place on the grid. Alex Barros (Camel Honda RC211V) and Troy Bayliss (Camel Honda RC211V) are also handicapped by 11th and 15th places on the grid.

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, standing in for the injured Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) qualified 19th, which was precisely what he managed in China two weeks ago. The displaced Tamada said, "I'm very sad not to be able to compete here. I miss riding my RC211V, but when the pain is too much there is not much you can do. Now I want to concentrate on rehabilitation of my right hand because I want to be ready for the Mugello race."

Melandri said, "I'm really happy because on Friday we had a bit of trouble. Initially I thought it would be hard to get into the 1m 33s times but my qualifying tyres helped me a lot. Tomorrow will be a tough race but I'll be up there trying for that all-important first MotoGP class win."

His team-mate Gibernau said, "In the end I put a good lap together for fourth fastest, but we're suffering more than we should be. I'm in good shape physically but we've got a long evening ahead of us with the data. Our race pace is slower than yesterday so we need to find out why."

Hayden is set for tomorrow. "I got a good rhythm and the track was at its best although there were still a few damp patches," he said. "I've still got a few issues with the front-end and I just want the bike to be able to get out of the turns a bit better. I need a good start and to be right on my 'A' game."

Max knows he's in trouble. "Sometimes very strange things happen," he said. "I went out on race tyres instead of qualifiers and couldn't make anything happen. I'd like to joke about it but can't. The front-end is shaking in the braking areas and the bike is wheelying too much on the corner exits."

Barros in 11th said, "So many problems today, it's a shame. At the beginning of qualifying, when I was riding with the race tyres, the front tucked on me in the first turn and so I was a little more prudent after that. From the fourth row I would need a great start and also a superb first lap, because you have to be there to try and make up ground on the front guys as they try to clear off."

Troy Bayliss in 15th knows he needs a big effort on race day."I honestly expected something better today," said the Aussie. "Not great things, but certainly a bigger step forward. Perhaps I lost a bit of confidence after the crash in Shanghai in the rain and after that highside in Estoril during practice. I don't really feel at ease in the saddle, and I need to get a good result to get a bit of confidence back."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, in 19th on row seven, said, "We have a lot of work to do here and the team is doing its best for me as it did in Shanghai. We have some more time to find a better pace in the warm-up tomorrow and we are all determined to improve in the race."

Pole man Dani Pedrosa (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) put his stamp on 250cc qualifying with a 1m 37.391s lap to start tomorrow's race in the knowledge that he's lapped the 4.180km Bugatti circuit just under half a second faster than Casey Stoner (Aprilia) who qualified second fastest. Jorge Lorenzo (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) was third fastest and Sebastian Porto (Aprilia) fourth quickest.

This is Pedrosa's second pole of the season and his fourth consecutive front row start of the year as he bids to get on top of the World Championship points standings tomorrow. Yesterday's first timed session was almost obliterated by heavy rain and riders had to work hard today at
finding speed and set-up.

Dani said, "I'm ready for the race - wet or dry. The bike is very good, but yesterday in the wet was very hard work. But the team put a great bike together for me today and we should be strong tomorrow too."

Andrea Dovizioso (Scot Racing Team Honda RS250RW), who heads the points table at the moment, qualified fifth and said, "With race tyres the bike was very good, but when I fitted qualifying rubber there was a gearbox problem - but we can fix that and I will be fine for the race tomorrow."

Hector Barbera (Fortuna Honda RS250RW) qualified ninth fastest on row three and is joined by Hiroshi Aoyama (Team Movistar Honda RS250RW) in tenth on the same row.

The 125cc final qualifying session belonged to Swiss sensation Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) who stormed to his first ever pole position. Series points leader Mika Kallio (KTM) qualified second fastest, with Hector Faubel (Aprilia) third fastest and Gabor Talmacsi (KTM) fourth on the grid.

Rain played a full part on Friday, but this final session was almost dry, albeit with some water still standing in the kerbs. With 20 minutes to go no one had yet improved on their times from Friday and it seemed that Kallio might hang onto pole with his 1m 44.264s lap. But it was Luthi who pounced first with a 1m 43.665s lap in the final minute.

He then rode an even faster lap of 1m 43.405s after setting pole with 1m 43.665s lap to slam home his superiority here. Try as Kallio and Faubel might, they had no answer to his speed here in France.

"I' very happy with my first pole," said Luthi. "I felt comfortable all session and just checked out where the wet patches were and then pushed to get into a good rhythm. I had to pit to fix the clutch and then went out and pushed harder to get the pole."

Fabrizio Lai (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125RW) qualified seventh and starts from row two. He said, "It was traffic that slowed me down today. There was always someone in the way and that cost me a front row start."

Mike Di Meglio (Kopron Racing World Honda RS125R) qualified in the top ten as ninth fastest qualifier, while Tomoyoshi Koyama (Ajo Motorsport Honda RS125R) qualified 14th. Mattia Pasini (Aprilia), who currently lies third overall in the World Championship points standings, will not ride tomorrow after breaking a wrist in a crash yesterday.

Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

Max BIAGGI (Repsol Honda Team)


Marco Melandri, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 3rd:
"I wasn't expecting to do a lap time like this, after having started the weekend with a few problems. Today we were worried about the weather in the qualifying session and for that reason we put the qualifying tyres on early, which allowed me to set a 1'34"31. From there on we improved my race pace and I set my fastest lap at the end without taking too many risks. Tomorrow they're predicting rain but I hope they're wrong because it's going to be a tough race".

Sete Gibernau, Movistar Honda MotoGP: 4th:
" In the end I was able to put a good lap together and qualify fourth, but we're suffering more than we should be. Luckily I'm in good physical shape at the moment and I was able to overcome the set-up problems with my riding, but we've got a long evenin! g ahead of us analysing all the data with the team. Our race pace is slower than yesterday and we'll have to have a look why. The 20 minute warm-up session will be vital to prepare for the race. We're having a few problems with rear wheel traction".

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda Team: 5th:
" We got out really early and got into a good rhythm. It was definitely the best track we've seen all weekend though there were still some damp patches on the first few laps. We got up to speed pretty good and tried to get through as much stuff as we could. Overall the bike feels pretty good - we just have a few issues with the front. I just want to get the bike to finish the corner the way I like. It's so close up the front it's ridiculous. I just want to show up tomorrow with my 'A' game and get a good start, get it on and see what happens. I hope we can put on a good show for the fans. Man, it's been wet in my camper - I can't image what it's like in a tent in a field - those boys have my respect! They're real fans!"

Max Biaggi, Repsol Honda Team: 8th:
"Sometimes very strange things happen: with ten minutes to go in the qualifying session, my team fitted an average race tyre instead of a qualifying tyre. I went on the track to push it to the limit but I discovered pretty soon that I couldn't make it. I would like to joke about it but this is too serious, because this kind of thing can also be very dangerous. These mistakes cannot happen in a top team willing to reach the best result. Then, with the only qualifying tyre that I tried I scored the eighth time, with almost half a second gap from the pole position. Nothing new. It reflects the problems we are facing since the beginning of the season. My front end shakes in breaking areas and it tends to wheel out of the corners and shifting gears. I start from the third row and I expect another hard race."

Alex Barros, Camel Honda, 11th:
" So many problems today, it's a shame. At the beginning of qualifying, when I was riding with the race tyres, the front tucked on me in the first turn and so logically I was a little more prudent after that. The track was colder than yesterday and there was less grip. The thing that we are most affected by though for tomorrow's race is being unable to make the most of the qualifying tyres. That's really disappointing for me because if you're aiming for victory you can't start that far back. From the fourth row I would need a great start and also a superb first lap, because you have to be there to try and make up ground on the front guys as they try to clear off. Anyway, we'll see what happens tomorrow what type of race it's going to be, dry or wet, the conditions can change very quickly here."

Troy Bayliss, Camel Honda: 15th:
"I honestly expected something better today. Not great things, but certainly a bigger step forward. Perhaps I lost a bit of confidence after the crash in Shanghai in the rain and after that highside in Estoril during practice. I don't really feel at ease in the saddle, and I need to get a good result to get a bit of confidence back. So we'll see what happens in the warm-up tomorrow, see if we can manage to improve a few things, and then we hope to have a good race."

Jurgen van den Goorbergh, Konica Minolta Honda:19th:
" This afternoon has been a good session for me. In the last part of the qualifying session I felt a lot of more confident mostly with the front tyre. As we had only a few hours at our disposal, we aren't at our best possibilities, but if the weather will permit us tomorrow morning we'll have the opportunity to develop more the bike to be competitive during the race. I'm a bit sad because for only a few seconds I didn't have the opportunity to have another fast lap, which to my point of view would have allowed me to lower my best lap time of about one second: the position in the starting grid it would have been much better. This isn't one of my favourite tracks, but I'm trustful that tomorrow we'll make it to obtain a satisfying result, with wet or dry track conditions."


Dani Pedrosa, MoviStar Honda 250: 1st:
" This afternoon on the dry track we did a great job in the box and out on the track. We used slick tyres and found various solutions with the set-up. The bike is working well, I feel comfortable, we've got a good configuration if the race is dry and we have already chosen which tyres we will use. We'll have to wait and see what the weather is like tomorrow morning, but I'm hopeful of a good race whether it rains or not".

Jorge Lorenzo, Fortuna Honda: 3rd:
" Hopefully tomorrow will be a dry race because I have been getting more comfortable on the bike. Now I can brake into the corners with the bike banked over further than ever. I think I could have been faster in the qualifying session but I made a couple of small mistakes. Tomorrow the start will be very important."

Andrea Dovizioso, Scot Racing Honda 250: 5th:
" With race tyres the bike was very good, but when I fitted qualifying rubber there was a gearbox problem - but we can fix that and I will be fine for the race tomorrow."

Hector Barbera, Fortuna Honda: 9th:
" We have to think positively because I have improved on each day of practice. We have had some small setting problems, which I'm pretty sure we have fixed entirely. Tomorrows race will be very interesting."

Hiroshi Aoyama, MoviStar Honda 250: 10th:
" At the start of the afternoon session I didn't feel too good on the bike but I was able to follow another rider and that helped me to improve my time, find a good line and improve my general feeling. We have to change a few small details in the warm-up tomorrow morning, but I usually improve in the race and if I get a good start I wouldn't rule out another podium".

Jakub Smrz, Molenaar Honda: 12th:
" This morning we faced funny weather conditions, all weekend really. In the afternoon I was fast from the start and even tried a hard compound tyre for the race. When I came in for fresh tyres there was a slight problem because we fitted a carbon wheel instead of a the magnesium type we normally use. So I think I could have even faster, by a couple of tenths at least. We have too change the gearbox a little for the warm up. I'm confident I will have a good race."

Yuki Takahashi, Scot Racing Honda 250: 13th:
" I like the track but we haven't found the best set up for the race. Tomorrow, during the warm up, we'll decide the right setting also according to the weather conditions".

Alex Debon, Wurth Honda BQR: 15th:
" I had a little problem with the front end today that held me back, something we can fix with suspension settings. The rear tyre was not what I needed in qualifying but I am confident for tomorrow - wet or dry but I will need a good start."

Radomil Rous, Wurth Honda BQR: 24th:
" I'm having problems with understeer exiting the corners, it's particularly bad in the fast corners. In general the weekend has not been good for me. I had one crash and only made 14 laps yesterday. Now with the steering problems it has been difficult."

Dirk Heidorf, Kiefer Bos Castrol Honda: 23rd:
" From the start the rear end was very difficult to handle. We changed the suspension buty it was much like it had been in China. We had to look deeper and found we have a problem with the frame. Now that's fixed we hope to have a good race tomorrow but it will be hard. I hope it stays dry for the race."


Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 1st:
" This is my first pole position and naturally I am really happy. I felt really comfortable on the bike all through the session the engine is good and the set up. I started the session by checking out where the wet patches were on the track. Then I started to push and build up a good rhythm. But the clutch was slipping a little so I came into the box. The team had to fix it because the second bike was set up for the rain. When I went out again I pushed a little harder and took pole position so I thank everybody in the team for giving me such a good bike.. "

Fabrizio Lai, Kopron racing World Honda: 7th:
" Only the traffic slowed me down today. When I was very fast I always found someone in my way at the critical points around the track loosing me some tenths of a second and put me on the second row of the grid. The bike is OK, better on a wet track than dry asphalt but I'm confident for the race."

Mike Di Meglio, Kopron racing World Honda: 9th:
" The fastest riders are not so far in front of me but, from the third row I'll have to make a god start, Estoril style! The bike was better yesterday but no problem I have had a good pace and tomorrow I'll be among those disputing the top positions."

Alexis Masbou, Ajo Motorsport: 11th:
" I feel good. The bike is OK but we have a big question mark about the weather for tomorrow. Although I am French I don't have much experience of the Le Mans track, I have only tested here twice. Whatever the weather it's the same for everybody. "

Tomoyoshi Koyama, Ajo Motorsport: 14th:
" I am beginning to get a good feeling with this bike and tyres and feel more comfortable. For Le Mans we have tried out a new crankshaft and crankcases but I think the engine we used in China was a little better so we will use that one for the race."

Alvaro Bautista, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays Honda: 19th:
" Today the feeling with the bike is much better than before but the times were slower. I don't understand this but what's important is that I feel more comfortable and more confident. I know I will have a good race tomorrow the start will be very important for me."

Sandro Cortese, Kiefer Bos Castrol Honda: 20th:
" The bike was really good today but with five minutes to go when I was looking for a fast time the rear tyre was finished and I had some really big slides. The only problem I have is a little chatter on the front end but we can fix that, it will not be a problem."

Toshihisa Kuzuhara, Angaia Racing Honda: 21st:
Kuzuhara will not start the race. The Japanese rider crashed in final qualifying today breaking his right collarbone.

Aleix Espargaro, Seedorf RC3 Tiempo Holidays Honda: 25th:
" I have a problem with the rear of the bike after a few laps it starts to slide and then stop then slide again, a bit like chatter. I came into the pit and changed tyres but after two laps it was the same. So we have. to work on that before the warm up. Pity because the engine is good."

Raymond Schouten, Molenaar Honda: 37th:
" The same rear end problem we have had at the last few races is still with us and I have lost a little confidence to push hard. I just hope it rains hard for the race tomorrow and I can go hard from the start and see where we are after a couple of laps."

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 04
France Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

1 Valentino Rossi (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
2 Colin EDWARDS (Gauloises Yamaha Team)
3 Marco MELANDRI (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
4 Sete GIBERNAU (Team Movistar Honda MotoGP)
5 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
6 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
7 John HOPKINS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
8 Max BIAGGI (Repsol Honda Team)
9 Carlos CHECA (Ducati Marlboro Team)
10 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
11 Alex BARROS (Camel Honda)
12 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
13 Olivier JACQUE (Kawasaki Racing Team)
14 Kenny ROBERTS (Team Suzuki MotoGP)
15 Troy BAYLISS (Camel Honda)
16 Ruben XAUS (Fortuna Yamaha Team)
17 Shane BYRNE (Team Roberts)
18 Roberto ROLFO (Team D'Antin MotoGP Pramac)
20 James ELLISON (Blata WCM)
21 Franco BATTAINI (Blata WCM)
1 Daniel PEDROSA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250cc)
2 Casey STONER (Carrera Sunglasses - LCR)
3 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Honda)
4 Sebastian PORTO (Aprilia Aspar 250cc)
5 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Team Scot)
6 Randy DE PUNIET (Aprilia Aspar 250cc)
7 Alex DE ANGELIS (MS Aprilia Italia Corse)
8 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Equipe GP de France - Scrab)
9 Hector BARBERA (Fortuna Honda)
10 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Telefonica Movistar Honda 250cc)
13 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Team Scot)
1 Thomas LUTHI (Elit Grand Prix)
2 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM GP125)
3 Hector FAUBEL (Master Aspar)
4 Gabor TALMACSI (Red Bull KTM GP125)
5 Marco SIMONCELLI ( Race)
6 Lukas PESEK (Metis Racing Team)
7 Fabrizio LAI (Kopron Racing World)
8 Julian SIMON (Red Bull KTM GP125)
9 Mike DI MEGLIO (Kopron Racing World)
10 Sergio GADEA (Master Aspar)

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