MotoGP > MotoGP 2008 Round 05: France GP > Qualifying
MotoGPFranceMay 17, 2008
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 05
France Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

Dani Romps to Pole and Asserts Authority

Race Results >>

He was fastest yesterday and today Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) established his dominance here at Le Mans with a 1m 32.647s lap to make pole his own with Colin Edwards (Yamaha) second fastest and reigning World Champion Casey Stoner (Ducati) mustering third quickest time.

Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team) Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)


Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)

With changeable weather a huge factor here this weekend, conditions at least stayed consistent for the hour of final MotoGP qualifying. The track gradually warmed throughout the session and as grip factors improved it was Dani who was in a position to make the most of them.

Andrea Dovizioso (JiR Scot Honda RC212V) made the early running with Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda RC212V) third fastest before Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha), who had crashed heavily yesterday, recorded a 1m 34.198s lap to head the leader-board.

But as Dani notched up a 1m 34.061s pole lap looking smooth and very purposeful on his RC212V it was clear he had the measure of the track and his rivals would have to find something very special to better the Spanish star around the 4.185km of this circuit.

Just before the halfway point Dani did the job no one else seemed capable of when he bested his own time to put a 1m 33.911s lap on the timesheets and spur his rivals into upping their pace as clouds gathered and rain threatened.

Sure enough, with the extra incentive of a damp track to drive them on, Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) commandeered pole with a 1m 33.859s lap with Lorenzo edging up to second on the provisional grid squeezing Dani into third. Randy de Puniet held fourth with Dovi now ninth overall.

Dani replied with a 1m 33.857s time cutting underneath Vermeulen by a mere two thousandths of a second. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) then alerted the grid to his presence with a 1m 33.767s lap. But it was Edwards who would soon show what was possible here.

The Texan rider cut 1m 33.065s lap, fully 0.6 seconds faster than the 2007 pole time as the field, almost without exception, pitted to fit sticky qualifying rubber and make the most of the grip on offer. With just three riders still circulating Edwards emerged for a lap and then shot bellow the 1m 33s barrier to a 1m 32.774s time.

Stoner came back strongly to go second fastest with Vermeulen relegated to third, those three riders covered by 0.7 seconds. Edwards looked invulnerable as Dani clawed back to second on the grid. His team-mate Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda RC212V) was struggling in 12th spot.

With two minutes left on the clock Stoner nudged Dani back to second and Nicky made the most of qualifying rubber to carve up to sixth fastest and a row two berth. Dovi was till holding ninth at this late stage. Dani was not finished though.

After some final chassis adjustments he headed out on track and his 1m 32.647s time stunned Edwards and the rest of the pole contenders. With one minute left of the hour-long session to go no one could knock Dani off the top grid slot.

This is Dani’s first pole of the season so far and it couldn’t come at a better time with the European rounds coming thick and fast over the coming weeks. But the top 12 riders are covered by just over one second here – a measure of how hard Pedrosa had to work for this pole, his tenth so far in MotoGP. However consistent Dani has been this season unsettled weather may prove critical tomorrow.

He said: “I’m very satisfied with today’s result and it’s very important to have a good grid position here. This afternoon I wasn’t able to get the maximum out of my first two Michelin qualifying tyres, so we made some changes to the chassis settings and that allowed me to make a big step forward with my third qualifier. I didn’t expect to get pole with my fourth qualifying tyre but I did, so we’re very happy. As far as race pace goes, the lap times are all very close, so I hope we can make another step forward tomorrow. The other question is the weather. It’s been very changeable and we still don’t know what to expect for the race.”

His team-mate Nicky, 6th on row, two said: “It definitely hasn’t been an easy day or an easy weekend. We haven’t really found a direction even though we've been trying a lot of things. I really need to come up with something for tomorrow if I don’t want to watch them guys completely disappear in the race. It’s going to be hard. Getting into the corners has been the issue. Then when we get the front better we hurt the rear, so it’s been a constant compromise all weekend. We’ve been making bigger changes than we would usually make during a race weekend but sometimes that has to be done.”

Dovizioso qualified tenth and said: “In race configuration we’ve found some good tyre options for both front and rear and tomorrow after the warm-up we’ll be able to make the right choice according to the weather forecast. The choice will be between looking for good handling and very good stability – two characteristics that normally don’t go very well together! We’re not yet getting the performance we want in qualifying and the result of this is that on race day I have to be very aggressive to get to the leaders.”

De Puniet managed 12th on row four and said: “This morning was not so bad as we improved the bike on race set-up and I lapped consistently. We started the afternoon session on qualifiers because of the incoming bad weather but my feeling was not good enough at the beginning. Then the feeling was much better but I’m a bit disappointed about the fourth row. Anyway I feel confident for tomorrow’s race because we can ride with a good rhythm.”

Shinya Nakano (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) qualified 13th and said: “Today was an extremely difficult qualifying session but having said that my lap times were improving up until the end of free practice this morning. In the afternoon I wasn’t able to go as fast as I would have liked on a qualifying tyre even though I was pushing as hard as I could. Starting from the fifth row won’t be easy but here the weather is always unpredictable and could have an effect on the outcome of the race.”

His team-mate Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) qualified 15th. He said: “Again, today we haven’t managed to secure a place on the grid that’s a true reflection of our potential. It’s clear we have to improve something before tomorrow’s race – we’ve tried a couple of different settings on the two bikes. On top of that, when I was on my best lap with a qualifying tyre the seat unit came loose and gave me some problems with balance. We have to stay strong and work hard to get through this difficult period.”

250cc

Alex Debon edged ahead of Alvaro Bautista (both Aprilia) in the rain-hit 250cc session with Marco Simoncelli (Gilera) third fastest and Thomas Luthi (Aprilia) completing the front row. Honda man Yuki Takahashi (JiR Scot Honda RS250RW), who fell yesterday, qualified 12th.

Just over 1.2 seconds off the pole time, Takahashi said: “After yesterday’s practice we were waiting for the bad weather but in fact the sun was shining and we were ready to get out on track and have a good session then just before the session started the rain began so we decided not to go out straight away. Because of this lost time we couldn't complete the whole work programme scheduled for today. I think I can stay with the leaders even if I will have to push very hard to get up with them.”

Ratthapark Wilairot (Stop And Go Racing RS250RW) qualified 16th and said: “I’m not so happy with my qualifying session. I had only one real opportunity to improve my time and that was following Aoyama. But on the last lap, when my section times were faster we ran into Espargaro, who moved from one side of the track to the other just as we caught him. That was my best lap ruined. Still the bike is very good and I am confident I can run faster in the race.”

125cc

Sergio Gadea made pole here today with a 1m 43.515s lap from yesterday with British rider Bradley Smith second fastest man, Stefan Bradl third quickest and Simone Corsi completing the front row (all Aprilia).

Louis Rossi (FFM Racing Honda RS125R) was out-qualified by his temporary team-mate, wild card rider Cyril Carillo, who made 32nd place on the grid with Rossi lining up alongside his French compatriot in 34th spot, both on row eight of the grid.

Carillo, who had to rely on his time from yesterday when he suffered an engine seizure in today’s session, said: “Today I had to improve because I felt comfortable and knew I had a lot of margin. I was very confident when I left the pits, but a small stone made it into the engine causing it to seize and I crashed. I believe coping with disappointment is part of the job of being a rider!”

Rossi, now approaching full fitness after his early season leg injury, said: “Today for the first time I really enjoyed myself. I let go and relaxed, and in the end it paid off. My times have improved by a second compared to yesterday, whereas most of the riders did not improve on their times between the two qualifying sessions.”

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (JiR Team Scot MotoGP) Randy DE PUNIET (LCR Honda MotoGP)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO (JiR Team Scot MotoGP)


Randy DE PUNIET (LCR Honda MotoGP)

MotoGP:

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: Pole position.
“I’m very satisfied with today’s result. It’s my first pole position of the season and that’s especially good at this track because it’s very important to have a good grid position here. Today we made some small chassis adjustments, fine-tuning the machine. This afternoon I wasn’t able to get the maximum out of my first two Michelin qualifying tyres, so we made some more changes to the chassis settings and that allowed me to make a big step forward with my third qualifier. I didn’t expect to get pole with my fourth qualifying tyre but I did, so we’re very happy. As far as race pace goes, I’m quite satisfied but there are a lot of strong riders going very fast here and the lap times are all very close, so I hope we can make another step forward for tomorrow. The other question mark is the weather. It’s been very changeable and we still don’t know what to expect for the race.”

Nicky Hayden, Repsol Honda: 6th.
“It definitely hasn’t been an easy day or an easy weekend. We haven’t really found a direction even though we’ve been trying a lot of things. This afternoon I think we made a bit of progress and got a better feeling as time went on, so I was able to put one down later on and get a respectable grid position. But I really need to come up with something for tomorrow if I don’t want to watch them guys completely disappear in the race. It’s going to be hard. Getting into the corners has been the issue, then when we get the front better we hurt the rear, so it’s been a constant compromise all weekend. We’ve been making a little bit bigger changes than we would usually make during a race weekend but sometimes that has to be done. We’ll definitely try another little something in warm-up. We’ve got a lot of work to do tonight, but these boys aren’t scared of a little hard work.”

Andrea Dovizioso, JiR Scot Honda: 10th.
“Obviously we were looking for a better qualifying result. First of all I particularly like this racetrack and in race configuration we have found some good options of tyres for both front and rear and tomorrow after the warm-up we will be in the condition to make the right choice according to the weather forecast and therefore the strategy that we will adopt. The choice will be in between looking for good handling and very good stability – two characteristics that normally don’t go very well together! We have gratefully received from Honda some new parts and this helps us to go forward. We are not yet getting the performance we want in qualifying and the result of this is that on race day I have to be very aggressive to join the leaders of the race. I hope tomorrow I will be competitive and up near the front of the race.

Randy De Puniet, LCR Honda: 12th.
“This morning was not so bad as we improved a lot the bike on race set-up and I lapped consistently fast. We started the afternoon session on qualifiers because of the incoming bad weather but my feeling was not good enough at the beginning. I was not enough aggressive. Then the feeling was much better but I am a bit disappointed for the fourth row. Anyway I feel confident for tomorrow’s race because my bike package is pretty good and we can ride with a good rhythm for the whole race.”

Shinya Nakano, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 13th.
“Today was an extremely difficult qualifying session but having said that my lap times were improving right up until the end of free practice this morning. In the afternoon I wasn’t able to go as fast as I would have liked on a qualifying tyre even though I was pushing as hard as I could. We obviously have to improve in certain areas, particularly in the set-up of the bike on qualifying tyres and getting the best out of the engine. Starting from the fifth row won’t be easy but here the weather is always unpredictable and could have an effect on the outcome of the race. I’m still confident for tomorrow and I’ll fight hard to the end.”

Alex De Angelis, San Carlo Gresini Honda: 15th.
“Again, today we haven’t managed to secure a place on the grid that is a true reflection of our potential. It is clear that we have to improve something before tomorrow’s race we’ve tried a couple of different settings on the two bikes so we have to take a look at the data and work out a configuration that is competitive and most adapted to this track. On top of that, when I was on my best lap with a qualifying tyre the seat unit came loose and gave me some problems with balance. In any case we have to stay strong and work hard to get through this difficult period.”

250cc:

Yukio Takahashi, JiR Scot Honda: 12th.
“After yesterday’s practice we were waiting for the bad weather but in fact the sun was shining and we were ready to get out on track and have a good session then just before the session started the rain began so we decided not to go out straight away. Because of this lost time we couldn’t complete the whole work programme scheduled for today. I’m very satisfied on how we were able to prepare my Honda and the excellent work done on the bike is giving us good results. Tomorrow morning we will make some fine-tuning adjustments to the bike during warm-up. I do think I can stay with the leaders even if I will have to push very hard to get up with them.”

Ratthapark Wilairot, Thai Honda PTT SAG: 16th.
“I’m not so happy with my qualifying session I wasted too much time following a slower rider. I had on one real opportunity to improve my time, that was following Aoyama. But on the last lap, when my section times were faster we ran into Espargaro who moved from one side of the track to the other just as we caught him. That was my best lap ruined. Still the bike is very good and I am confident that I can run faster in the race – if I get a good start. The only question mark is the weather. Wet or dry is no real problem for me.”

125cc.

Cyril Carrillo, FFM Honda: 32nd.
"I am so disappointed ! I wasn’t able to finish the qualifying sessions. Yesterday I fell just after putting on a new tyre midway through the session. Today I had to improve because I felt comfortable and knew I had a lot of margin. I was very confident when I left the pits, but a small stone made it into the engine causing it to seize up and I crashed again. I believe coping with disappointment is also part of the job of being a rider!

Louis Rossi, FFM Honda: 34th.
"At last ! I feel something has clicked! I’ve been working very hard since the start of the season, and have been very concentrated in trying to improve, but I felt it wasn’t paying off as much as I hoped. Today for the first time I really enjoyed myself. I let go and relaxed, and in the end it paid off. My times have improved by a second compared to yesterday, whereas most of the riders did not improve on their times between the two qualifying sessions. I could have brought my time down even more in the last laps but I made a few trajectory errors. Tomorrow in the race I must make a good start and be aggressive from the start of the race to the finish. Fortunately I don¹t feel any particular pressure at riding in my National Grand Prix."


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

line
MotoGP
1 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Colin EDWARDS (Tech 3 Yamaha)
3 Casey STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team)
4 Valentino ROSSI (Fiat Yamaha Team)
5 Jorge LORENZO (Fiat Yamaha Team)
6 Nicky HAYDEN (Repsol Honda Team)
7 James TOSELAND (Tech 3 Yamaha)
8 Chris VERMEULEN (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
9 John HOPKINS (Kawasaki Racing Team)
10 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (JiR Team Scot MotoGP)
11 Loris CAPIROSSI (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
12 Randy DE PUNIET (LCR Honda MotoGP)
13 Shinya NAKANO (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
14 Toni ELIAS (Alice Team)
15 Alex DE ANGELIS (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
16 Sylvain GUINTOLI (Alice Team)
17 Marco MELANDRI (Ducati Marlboro Team)
18 Anthony WEST (Kawasaki Racing Team)
 
250cc
1 Alex DEBON (Lotus Aprilia)
2 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Mapfre Aspar Team)
3 Marco SIMONCELLI (Metis Gilera)
4 Thomas LUTHI (Emmi - Caffe Latte )
5 Mattia PASINI (Polaris World)
6 Mika KALLIO (Red Bull KTM 250)
7 Julian SIMON (Repsol KTM 250cc)
8 Manuel POGGIALI (Campetella Racing)
9 Aleix ESPARGARO (Lotus Aprilia)
10 Hiroshi AOYAMA (Red Bull KTM 250)
12 Yuki TAKAHASHI (JiR Team Scot 250)
16 Ratthapark WILAIROT (Thai Honda PTT SAG)
 
125cc
1 Sergio GADEA (Bancaja Aspar Team)
2 Bradley SMITH (Polaris World)
3 Stefan BRADL (Grizzly Gas Kiefer Racing)
4 Simone CORSI (Jack & Jones WRB)
5 Sandro CORTESE (Emmi - Caffe Latte)
6 Mike DI MEGLIO (Ajo Motorsport)
7 Nicolas TEROL (Jack & Jones WRB)
8 Gabor TALMACSI (Bancaja Aspar Team)
9 Esteve RABAT(Repsol KTM 125cc)
10 Pol ESPARGARO (Belson Derbi)
 

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