MotoGP > MotoGP 2006 Round 05: France GP > Qualifying
MotoGPFranceMay 20, 2006
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
France Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

Rookie Pedorosa Notches Second Pole in France

Race Results >>

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC211V) put his stamp firmly on the MotoGP category with a scorching 1m 33.990s lap of the Bugatti circuit here at Le Mans to record his second pole position in only his fifth outing on a 990cc machine. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki) qualified second and John Hopkins (Suzuki) completes the front row.



Andrea DOVIZIOSO
(Humangest Racing Team)


Yuki TAKAHASHI
(Humangest Racing Team)

In awkward, gusty conditions the pint-sized pilot proved he is now way more than a mere premier class protégé with a commanding lap that dislodged Nakano from the top slot with just half a minute of the hour-long session to go.

After a wet free training session in the morning, conditions were dry for the afternoon showdown but 15km/h blasts of wind made things tricky for riders. Hopkins was the first to show his hand by topping the board in the opening minutes, before Colin Edwards (Yamaha) squeezed him off the top rung.

With dark clouds threatening to dampen proceedings many opted to get some early fast laps in and no one was more determined to set the pace than home hope Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki) who occupied the pole until Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) showed he might be getting to grips with his so far recalcitrant machine by establishing himself at the top of the order with 40 minutes to go.

With 20 minutes remaining Rossi's position at the top was usurped by Nakano who posted a 1m 35.795s lap to steal the number one position. But of more significance was the steady progress of the Spanish wunderkind Pedrosa who elevated himself to third in the standings with 15 minutes remaining.

Hopkins, who was always on the pace here, made an early bid for supremacy with a 1m 34.795s lap, but Nakano responded with a 1m 34.679s effort to regain the upper hand. The Honda runners were by now finding the measure of this track; Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda RC211V) hoisted himself to fifth and Dani was still lurking in third - a front row grid position - but patently not quite good enough for this exacting young man.

Nakano then carved another hot lap of 1m 34.201s to put his marker firmly down, but the rapid Japanese reckoned without the methodical work of Dani. He became the first man to dip below the 1m 34s mark (albeit on a modified track) with a scintillating 1m 33.990s lap and with it the 20-year-old established beyond doubt that he is a new force to be reckoned with.

Melandri too was on the move, briefly holding second position before being bumped back down to fifth for a second row start. Dani's team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC211V), suffering from a bout of influenza, was generously fulsome in his praise for his team-mate after his maiden victory in China last weekend qualified tenth, and must be hoping that lauding his running-mate does not become too much of a habit this season.

Casey Stoner (LCR Honda RC211V) qualified 11th for a fourth row start while Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta Honda RC211V) will have to make do with a getaway from 13th.

Kenny Roberts (Roberts KR211V) will be encouraged by a grid position ahead of Toni Elias (Fortuna Honda RC211V). They qualified 15th and 16th. The top ten riders are covered by less than a second, which promises a tight, tense race tomorrow.

Dani said, "I was not riding so well on race tyres and at the start of the session I didn't really do a good job. But then, at the end, I focused on the job and I got in to a better rhythm. We found a good race tyre, so I'm happy about that and the set-up for the bike tomorrow for the race, if it's dry, should be good. I'll be hoping to make a great start and have a good race - but we'll have to wait to see what the weather does."

Melandri was happy enough and said, "The bike worked well from the start in the qualifying session and I found a good rhythm. However, I couldn't make full use of the qualifying tyre as I hit a bit of traffic which slowed me down. However, I'm happy with fifth position, it's my best qualifying performance of the season and I have achieved my objective, which was to start from the first two rows."

"Sure I'm not happy about starting tenth," said Nicky. "Things felt pretty good this morning. In full wet conditions we felt pretty strong. But in the dry we're definitely struggling to get some traction and in these long corners I'm losing a lot of time. We'll just have to put our heads together tonight and come up with a better combination for tomorrow and do the best we can."

Casey was far from content and said, "It's very disappointing. I was able to do these times on race tyres yesterday. This afternoon I struggled to go fast on qualifiers. I just didn't have a good feeling with the bike. I kept losing the front-end every time I touched the brakes. If I can get the bike back to how it was on Friday I should be OK for the race."

Tamada said, "I did not expect such a slow qualifying session after the positive practice day of yesterday. Today I have not been able to find the same riding feeling of yesterday especially in terms of grip. I'm still too slow in the first sector and I'm not able to go faster with qualifying tyres. As far as the settings are concerned, we should not have any particular problems when choosing the race tyres."

Roberts said, "The new chassis is definitely a step in the right direction - now we need to take it further. The rain was against us this weekend and we lost valuable time. Sure we were fast in the wet but we need dry time. The bike gets into the corners better with this chassis but we still have work to do, also mid-corner speed is not there yet. We are closer with his chassis and will be closer at Mugello when we have dry track time to work off."

"I am still having a problem which is preventing me from riding how I'd like," said Tony Elias "I'll sit down with the team to try and find a solution as soon as possible. I am still a little nervous on the bike as I don't have the rear grip I want which is making it difficult to exit corners. It will be a difficult race tomorrow, I hope to make a good start and make up some positions."

Andrea Dovizioso (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) secured his first pole in the 250cc class with a hot 1m 39.733 second lap to relegate the Aprilias of Alex de Angelis and Hector Barbera to second and third.

Yuki Takahashi (Humangest Racing Honda RS250RW) and Shuhei Aoyama (Repsol Honda RS250RW) showed how much this track suits the nimble and responsive Honda machine by occupying grid slots four and five, while Sebastian Porto (Repsol Honda RS250RW) enjoyed something of an improvement with 10th.

"This is my first 250cc pole and of course I'm satisfied," said Dovi. "But, I'm even more happy for the great pace I was able to keep from the beginning of the session and even with worn tyres. As it happened yesterday, I could have been faster on the last lap with soft tyres on, but it's fine. Here, there isn't much of a gap with the Aprilias and I'm not so penalized in acceleration. For this reason, I want to thank the team, because my bike has been very competitive since Friday morning."

His team-mate Takahashi said, "At the end of the session I thought I was sixth or seventh, so I was really surprised when I saw my mechanics waiting for me in the park fermé. I was able to set a good time today and lapped very fast even with race tyres. Thanks to the team who did a great job and make my Honda very competitive. I hope it won't rain tomorrow as I haven't ridden enough in the wet yet."

"Today I really can say that I'm very happy," said Aoyama. "Although I'm not forgetting that there's still the race tomorrow, which is what really counts. We've made good practice sessions with the team and we have the right set-up for the race, so tomorrow can be a good day for us. I've made up my mind and I'm going to take the start and the first laps with a certain ease, but then I'm decided to fight for the leading positions. The bike, the team and me are ready to make a good race tomorrow."

In the 125cc class pole went to Aprilia rider Mattia Pasini who edged out series points leader Alvaro Bautista (both Aprilia). Lukas Pesek (Derbi) qualified third fastest and Honda's Gabor Talmacsi (Humangest Honda RS125R) completes the front row.

Reigning World Champion Thomas Luthi (Elit Grand Prix Honda RS125R) qualified ninth one place behind Fabrizio Lai (Seedorf Racing Honda RS125R), while teen ace Bradley Smith (Repsol Honda RS125R) managed 25th. Domestic hope Mike di Meglio (FFM Honda RS125R) showed well early in the half-hour session but had to content himself with 16th when the clock ran down.

Talmacsi said, "The bike today was perfect and this gave me a good pace. It's a shame about the strong wind as it made me change the lines in some corners. If tomorrow is dry, I just have to push and take full advantage of my Honda, but if it rains we have to do some adjustments as I wasn't fast this morning."

Luthi said, "I was very happy with my performance in the rain this morning. I found a good fast rhythm without mistakes the bike is very good. In the qualifying session I knew I would need to slipstream two fast riders to get a really fast time. But I didn't find any till near the end of the session when Pasini and Zanetti came past."



Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda)


Sebastian PORTO (Repsol Honda)

MotoGP:

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 1st:
"Of course I am happy to be on pole again, but the important day is tomorrow! Today the practice was difficult because it was very windy, but it was dry, so that was good. At the beginning of the session I didn't make the most of the practice time - I made some mistakes and I had some traffic. I was not riding so well on race tyres and at the start of the session I didn't really do a good job. But then, at the end, I focused on the job and I got in to a better rhythm. We found a good race tyre so I'm happy about that and the set-up for the bike tomorrow for the race, if it's dry, can be good. I'll be hoping to make a great start and have a good race - we'll have to wait to see what the weather does."

Marco Melandri, Fortuna Honda, 5th:
"It was a positive day, we worked well and found a good set-up to work from. I think the set-up will work well whatever the conditions in the race. The bike worked well from the start in the qualifying session and I found a good rhythm. However, I couldn't make full use of the qualifying tyre as I hit a bit of traffic which caused me to slow down. However, I'm happy with fifth position, it's my best qualifying performance of the season and I have achieved my objective which was to start from the first two rows. I have to select the tyre for the race and then I hope to get a good result."

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda,10th:
"Sure I'm not happy about starting tenth. Things felt pretty good this morning in full wet conditions - we felt pretty strong. But in the dry we're definitely struggling to get some traction and in these long corners I'm losing a lot of time. We'll just have to put our heads together tonight and come up with a better combination for tomorrow and do the best we can. We've got a few ideas for how we can improve things and I believe in the people around me here - it's important to have good guys in my corner. Also, thanks to Doctor Costa and his crew for taking good care of me, and hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a bit better."

Casey Stoner, LCR Honda, 11th:
"It's very disappointing. I was able to do these times on race tyres yesterday. This afternoon I struggled to go fast on qualifiers. I just didn't have a good feeling with the bike. I kept losing the front-end every time I touched the brakes. If I can get the bike back to how it was on Friday I should be OK for the race."

Makoto Tamada, Konica Minolta Honda, 13th:
"I did not expect such a low tone qualifying session after the positive practice day of yesterday. Today I have not been able to find the same riding feeling of yesterday especially for the inferior grip level I'm still too low in the first sector and I am not been able to get improvements here even with qualifying tyres. As far as the setting is concerned, we should not have any particular problems when choosing the race tyres while the weather uncertainty could call everything into question."

Kenny Roberts Jnr, KR Honda: 15th:
"The new chassis is definitely a step in the right direction now we need to take it further. The rain was against us again this weekend and we lost valuable time. Sure we were fast in the wet but we need dry time. The bike gets into the corners better with this chassis but we still have work to do, also mid-corner speed is not there yet. We are closer with his chassis and will be closer at Mugello when we have dry track time to work off."

Toni Elias, Fortuna Honda, 16th:
"I am still having a problem which is preventing me from riding as I want. I will sit down with the team to try and find a solution as soon as possible. I am still a little nervous on the bike as I don't have the rear grip I want which is making it difficult to exit corners. It will be a difficult race tomorrow, I hope to make a good start and make up some positions. I like this circuit and have always gone fast here so I hope to get a good result."


250cc:

Andrea Dovizioso, Humangest Honda: 1st:
"This is my first 250cc pole and of course I'm satisfied. But, I'm even more happy for the great pace I was able to keep since the beginning of the session and even with worn tyres. As it happened yesterday, I could have been faster on the last lap with soft tyres on, but it's fine. Here, there isn't much of a gap with the Aprilias and I'm not so penalized in acceleration. For this reason, I want to thank the team, because my bike has been very competitive since Friday morning. Tomorrow I will think about the strategy to use depending on the eather conditions and how things are going during the race: for sure it would be better to avoid a photo-finish arrival because there are some aggressive riders in 250cc. We rode only ten minutes on wet, so I really hope it will be a dry race tomorrow."

Yuki Takahashi, Humangest Honda: 4th:
"At the end of the session I thought I was sixth or seventh, so I was really surprised when I saw my mechanics waiting me on the park ferme. I was able to set a good time today and lapped very fast even with race tyres. Thanks also to the team who made a great job and my Honda here is very competitive. I hope it won't rain tomorrow as I didn't ride enough on wet."

Shuhei Aoyama, Repsol Honda: 5th:
"Today I really can say that I'm very happy, although I do no forget that there's still the race tomorrow, which is what really counts. We've made good practice sessions with the team and we have the right set-up for the race, so tomorrow can be a good day for us. I've made up my mind and I'm going to take the start and the first laps with a certain ease, but then I'm decided to fight for the leading positions. The bike, the team and me are ready to make a good race tomorrow."

Sebastian Porto, Repsol Honda: 10th:
"Well, it hasn't been bad. We haven't been able to improve the lap time set yesterday but the wind hindered us a lot today. The truth is that it made things really complicated for us today. The bike is quite small and the fairing doesn't really cover me, so I think that today we've had trouble with that. Now we have to work and see if we can change the fairing for the future because I think that one of the main reasons for not having been able to be more in the front today has to deal with that, with having a fairing that does not manage to protect me from the wind. We've had a progression, the pace for tomorrow is good and the race is something different. We are all together so let's hope for a good race."

Arturo Tizon, Wurth Honda BQR: 17th:
"I'm happy I found a good rhythm today. The team worked well to give me a good set up. We were had some problems with the original set up so we changed the front suspension, just small adjustments and we tried a different set of tyres. It was a bit of a compromise but it worked and I am very comfortable on the bike. The engine is very fast. I was behind Dovizioso for a while and the difference between the two bikes was not as much as I ad expected."

Martin Cardenas, Wurth Honda BQR: 18th.
"This is a new circuit for me to learn and the wind and rain we had didn't help me much. The bike is not so bad but it was not holding the line in corners. We changed a few things for the afternoon qualifying session, ride height and suspension settings and its much better. I need a good start to the race because I don't want to be in the wrong place when we get to the chicane."

Arnaud Vincent, Molenaar Honda: 22nd.
"My engine I used for qualifying was very slow today. My best broke and we had to use the spare engine we last used at Qatar. The team are working hard to get the number one engine ready for the warm up so I have some chance. But 22nd on the grid is a bad place to be at Le Mans. From that far back it would be better for me if the race was wet."


125cc:

Gabor Talmacsi, Humangest Honda: 4th.
"I'm really happy about today's fourth place, which is the best results so far this year. At the beginning, I had some problems to find the right set-up for my bike, but then, race by race, the situation has definitely improved thanks to the team, and now I feel really confident on my Honda. The bike today was perfect and this let me be fast and have a good pace. It's a shame for the strong wind as it made me change the lines in some corners. If tomorrow is dry, I just have to push and take full advantage of my Honda, but if it rains we have to do some adjustments as I wasn't fast this morning".

Fabrizio Lai, Seedorf Racing World: 8th.
"I hate the wind and these are the worse conditions for me. I prefer the rain even if in the morning many riders slipped out on the wet (I do not). In the afternoon I could make good lap times and I could have done a better time if I hadn't made a mistake in the T1 during the last lap. The wind was too strong expecially in the narrow chicane after the starting line and it prevented me to be faster. We are improving each race and we are getting near the top positions; I have a good pace even if it is a little lower than that of the firsts. Normally I get a good start and tomorrow, starting from the 8th position, will be easier to stay in touch with the first group. The problem is to maintain the same pace!".

Thomas Luthi, Elit Honda: 9th.
"I was very happy with my performance in the rain this morning. I found a good fast rhythm without mistakes the bike is very good. In the qualifying session I knew I would need to slipstream two fast riders to get a really fast time. I didn't find any fast riders till near the end of the session when Pasini and Zanetti came passed. But on the fast lap I made a mistake going into the chicane and that cost me about six tenths of a second so I am happy with my lap in the circumstances. I am very fast and comfortable on the bike going into the corners but a little slower than some others coming out."

Mike Di Meglio, FFM Honda: 16th
"I made a quite good free session this morning; I realised good lap times and I felt very comfortable on the bike. In the last lap, whereas I was improving the lap time of the pole position I was surprised by the wind and I crashed. Fortunately it didn't cause any damage and I finished in 3rd place in 1'58''049. The wind was stronger during the qualifying session and it really disturbed me. I had to change my riding style that didn't suit at all with these conditions. I forced a lot to adapt my riding to the wind and to take the rights marks but I didn't feel comfortable. So I couldn't improve my lap time from yesterday and I have to content myself of the 16th position. I have to take a very good start tomorrow in order to catch the front group and I hope also better conditions."

Sandro Cortese, Elit Honda: 17th.
"I set my best time running alone, I just didn't find a fast group to run with. The bike s very good but I'm very disappointed with my grid position for the race. I don't really mind if its wet or dry for the race. I have already chosen the tyres I will use if the weather is dry."

Bradley Smith, Repsol Honda: 25th.
It was bad but it was good. To be in second position in the morning was a big step forward for us even though it was wet. However, my feeling with the bike was completely different before in the wet. The bike seemed good, I was able to push. I was pushing hard on what could have been a provisional pole lap and then for no apparent reason I just lost the rear tyre and crashed. But it gave me a lot of confidence for the afternoon; I did a faster lap than I had done on Friday morning. I tried to go out on my own and I put in a quick lap two laps before the end. I ended-up twenty-fifth which is a lot better than China, a row forward, but still it's not where I want to be. We just have to make sure we get a good start tomorrow, it's a long way to the first corner and it's quite narrow so I'll try to go through the inside and see what we can do from there."

Joey Litjens, Molenaar Honda: 28th.
"That was a good session for me. I crashed in the rain this morning - no injury. This afternoon I had some problems with the wind blowing me about particularly the front end. But it's the same for everybody. I also had a problem with an old shoulder injury, the cold windy weather made it stiff and I was having to brake earlier than I would have normally but I'm happy. The bike is very good overall but the engine is super. I made another step forward today and I have to be pleased with that."

Lorenzo Baroni, Humangest Honda: 29th.
"With the strong wind that affected today's sessions, unfortunately, the front-end problems I had in the first races have come out again. Before the qualifying session, we made a change on the chassis that didn't work. Tomorrow we have to go back at Friday's configuration".

Michele Conti, Seedorf Racing World: 36th.
"I had some difficulties to learn this circuit. I made the practices in every possible conditions and every time there was something to change in the set up of the bike. I need to learn very well the track before improving my performance but here with this changeable weather conditions it wasn't possible to learn it well: I need private lessons. but the race is tomorrow and I will start from 9th row!".

Aleix Espargaro, Wurth Honda BQR: Will not start due to a compressed vertebrae sustained in a fall during practice.


MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
France Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

line
MotoGP
1 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Shinya NAKANO (Kawasaki Racing Team)
3 John HOPKINS (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
4 Randy DE PUNIET (Kawasaki Racing Team)
5 Marco MELANDRI (Fortuna Honda)
6 Loris CAPIROSSI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
7 Valentino ROSSI (Camel Yamaha Team)
8 Sete GIBERNAU (Ducati Marlboro Team)
9 Colin EDWARDS (Camel Yamaha Team)
10 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
11 Casey STONER (Honda LCR)
12 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
13 Makoto TAMADA (KONICA MINOLTA Honda)
14 Carlos CHECA (Tech 3 Yamaha)
15 Kenny ROBERTS JR (Team Roberts)
16 Toni ELIAS (Fortuna Honda)
16 James ELLISON (Tech 3 Yamaha)
17 Alex HOFMANN (Pramac d'Antín MotoGP)
19 Jose Luis CARDOSO (Pramac d'Antín MotoGP)
 
250cc
1 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Humangest Racing Team)
2 Alex DE ANGELIS (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
3 Hector BARBERA (Fortuna Aprilia)
4 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Humangest Racing Team)
5 Shuhei AOYAMA (Repsol Honda)
6 Jakub SMRZ (Cardion AB Motoracing)
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM GP 250)
8 Jorge LORENZO (Fortuna Aprilia)
9 Roberto LOCATELLI (Team Toth)
10 Sebastian PORTO (Repsol Honda)
 
125cc
1 Mattia PASINI (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
2 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Master - MVA Aspar Team)
3 Lukas PESEK (Derbi Racing)
4 Gabor TALMACSI (Humangest Racing Team)
5 Lorenzo ZANETTI (Skilled I.S.P.A. Racing Team)
6 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM GP 125)
7 Pablo NIETO (Multimedia Racing)
8 Fabrizio LAI (Valsir Seedorf Racing)
9 Thomas LUTHI (Elit - Caffe Latte)
10 Joan OLIVE (SSM Racing)
 

< MotoGP
Related Links

· Honda Worldwide | MotoGP - FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
· France


Page Top

Honda Worldwide site

Home | Site Map | Site Index | About this Site

Copyright, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. All Rights Reserved.