MotoGPFranceMay 14, 2011
MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 04
French Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying

Honda Sweeps Top Four Places in Le Mans Qualifying

Race Results >>

Honda's RC212V MotoGP machine dominated today's qualifying session at Le Mans for tomorrow's French Grand Prix, taking the top four slots on the grid. Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) was relentless and successful in pursuit of pole position, fighting off strong challenges from fellow Honda riders Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V), Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V).

Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda Team) Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)


Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda Team)


Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)



Le Mans demands excellent braking stability, accurate turning and strong acceleration from a MotoGP bike, features that the 2011 RC212V would seem to have in abundance, especially considering the fact that the same four riders also headed the first three practice sessions here.

Stoner dominated all four sessions, just as he did at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix, which he went on to win. This is the Australian's first pole at Le Mans and his third from the first four races of 2011, following on from similar performances at Losail and Jerez. His speed today puts him in confident mood for the race, even though he has never scored a victory here. Stoner  currently third in the points chase  will race using 2011 Ohlins front forks for the first time.

Simoncelli closed to within 0.059s of Stoner during his final run, having made steady improvements to his RCV throughout practice. The spectacular Italian  on the front row for a second consecutive race  is still looking for more confidence in corner entries, but believes he can fight for a podium or maybe even a win. Most of all though, he wants to put behind him the disappointment of crashing out at Jerez and Estoril.

Dovizioso is delighted to be third fastest, which puts him on the front row of the grid for the first time this year. The Repsol rider worked hard during the first three sessions, ending up a close third behind Stoner and Simoncelli, and repeated that performance this afternoon, ending up just 0.468s off pole.

Pedrosa was unlucky to miss out on a front-row start, completing the session just 0.062s behind team-mate Dovizioso. The Spaniard  who is currently just four points adrift of series leader Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)  lacked some rear grip and was unable to make full use of a softer rear tyre at the end of the session. This is the first time that Pedrosa will have started off the front row so far this season.

Former 250 World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) wasn't able to build on a useful first day's work here and he slipped down the order as a result. The Japanese rider and his crew have a few ideas to try in morning warm-up, which they hope will increase their pace in the race.

Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP RC212V) had a tough time in qualifying, ending this afternoon's session in 17th, albeit only 2.280s down on pole position. His hopes weren't helped by a heavy fall during the final stages, when he lost control while braking for the Garage Vert hairpin. The reigning Moto2 World Champion was unhurt, but the tumble robbed him of the chance to improve his lap times on his final run.

Today's Moto2 qualifying session produced a very tightly packed grid, with just 1.185s covering the fastest 22 riders and just 2.284s covering the fastest 36 men around this tight and challenging circuit. Once again the man who won the contest for pole position was Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex), the young German claiming his fourth pole in as many races, this time by just 0.045s.

Bradl  who had already made his intentions clear by leading the first three-practice session ahead of Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project-FTR)  only had once concern during qualifying. In the mid-stages of the session he fitted his new rear tyre, which didn't come up to expectations, but when he replaced that with another tyre, he was able to improve on last year's Le Mans Moto2 pole by more than eight tenths of a second. Like all his rivals, Bradl's other difficulty was finding a clear track so he could get a clean lap. At the very end of the session he looked set to go even faster until he ran into some traffic and had to abort the lap.

Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) and Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) complete the front row, with the three quickest riders separated by a mere 0.203s seconds. Luthi's second place maintains his 100 per cent 2011 front-row record and tomorrow the Swiss rider will be anxious to make amends for Estoril, where he slid out of the lead, while just ahead of Bradl.

Moto2 rookie Aleix Espargaro (Pons HP40-Pons Kalex) leads the second row, ahead of Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Suter and Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter). Jerez winner Andrea Iannone (Speed Master-Suter) will start the race from the third row  easily his best qualifying performance of the year so far  between Corsi and Julian Simon (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2-Suter).

Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing-Suter) is the highest-placed local rider. The 22-year-old winner of last year's Silverstone Moto2 race will start tomorrow's race from the fourth row of the grid.

Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team) Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)


Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)


MotoGP:

Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda: pole position 1m, 33.153s
“We're very happy with this pole. We focused a lot on race set-up this afternoon, going from one bike to the other, making small adjustments to improve the bike a little. The conditions aren't perfect at the moment. It's quite windy, so it's hard to see if you've improved or not, but my Honda was working really well and I never found myself pushing to the limit too much which is always good. This is our third pole of the season but we've only converted one of them into a victory so we hope to have a little more luck here in Le Mans and fight for the win.”


Marco Simoncelli, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 2nd 1m, 33.212s
“I got really close to my first-ever pole today 0.059s is hardly anything! Strangely it is the same gap that I missed out on the podium by last year at Estoril. In any case I am happy and we are not in bad shape for the race. We have improved from session to session so I am confident. We have improved under braking today, but I still don't feel 100% secure. My objective tomorrow is to get to the end of the race and bring some important points home. I won't be pushing over the limit to get a result at all costs. I want to manage the race well.”


Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda: 3rd 1m, 33.621s
“I'm very happy to start from the first row. Even though this was our target, I didn't expect it. I was behind Simoncelli for two laps and this helped me because I followed his lines. This afternoon we did some small changes to the set-up and my feeling with the front improved. We arrived at this race very confident; I think we can fight for the podium. Tomorrow the race will be tough, Casey is very fast and he may try to run away. I have a good pace and I think I will fight with Simoncelli. I want to thank my team for all their hard work and hope we can get a good result tomorrow.”


Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 4th 1m, 33.683s
“We improved quite a lot compared to yesterday, but we still feel a lack of traction in the rear and good grip to have the tyre working as we would like. At the beginning of this afternoon's session we managed to find a good rhythm with the soft tyre, but these are not qualifying tyres anymore and in my last run of the session, with only five laps to push, I could not make the most of the tyre. In the warm-up tomorrow we have to improve the bike a little and for the race it's important to get a good start. Here the first chicane is delicate and we need to avoid any trouble. The first laps will be crucial because the tyres are cold and it's important to stay in front. Besides Casey, other rivals are closer here, such as Simoncelli and Dovi. Lorenzo has also improved, so we must be prepared to fight because the race will be demanding and long, but as in Estoril, we will try.”


Hiroshi Aoyama, San Carlo Honda Gresini: 13th 1m, 34.612s
“I am not too happy with the result today. I haven't improved much on my best lap from yesterday afternoon and for that reason I have dropped a few positions. Hopefully tomorrow in the race I can recover those positions and first of all find some set-up solutions in the morning that will help us have a good race.”


Toni Elias, LCR Honda MotoGP: 17th 1m, 35.433s
“I believe we have made a step forward on bike set-up because my feeling was better than yesterday. I lapped on used tyres for the most of the session this afternoon, posting decent lap times and then I moved to a new rear tyre. Unfortunately on my last run I lost the front at turn nine, losing the chance to improve my lap time and my spot on the grid. Honestly, I believe we could have jumped few places and not being in the back of the grid this weekend, but the good thing is that the base set-up we have got now is pretty good.”


Moto2:

Stefan Bradl, Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex: pole position 1m, 38.357s
“I'm happy to be on pole again, but we will have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. So far the weekend has been perfect for us; we've been competitive since yesterday morning. During qualifying the season rear tyre didn't seem perfect, but the next one was good, so we were able to get a good lap time, even though there was always a lot of traffic on the track. We have got a good feeling at the moment, me and my team, so we want to keep working in the same way. We know that many riders will be strong in tomorrow's race. Most of all, I want to finish and I want to make a clever race.”


Thomas Luthi, Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter: 2nd 1m, 38.402s
“I'm happy to be on the front row again and the goal tomorrow is to get more points than we did at Estoril, where we scored zero. At the beginning of practice I found it quite difficult. I couldn't find my rhythm and I was stuck in fifth place for a long time, because the guys in front were going very fast. In the end I managed to go a bit faster. I feel like we are ready for the race.”


Yuki Takahashi, Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki: 3rd 1m, 38.540s
“It seemed like a long session, with everyone riding together, so the track always seemed so busy. My last lap I worked very, very hard to get in a good lap time. My rhythm was already quite good, but on that last lap I was very fast and so I am very happy. My rhythm for the race should be okay so we are looking forward to a strong ride tomorrow.”

MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix Round 04
French Grand Prix at Le Mans Qualifying
line
MotoGP
1 Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)
2 Marco SIMONCELLI (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
3 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Repsol Honda Team)
4 Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)
5 Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)
6 Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
7 Colin EDWARDS (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)
8 Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)
9 Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)
10 Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)
11 Randy DE PUNIET (Pramac Racing Team)
12 Alvaro BAUTISTA (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP)
13 Hiroshi AOYAMA (San Carlo Honda Gresini)
14 Hector BARBERA (Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP)
15 Loris CAPIROSSI (Pramac Racing Team)
16 Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)
17 Toni ELIAS (LCR Honda MotoGP)
Moto2
1 Stefan BRADL (Viessmann Kiefer Racing)
2 Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten Paddock Moto2)
3 Yuki TAKAHASHI (Gresini Racing Moto2)
4 Aleix ESPARGARO (Pons HP 40)
5 Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)
6 Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)
7 Simone CORSI (Ioda Racing Project)
8 Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)
9 Julian SIMON (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2)
10 Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)
125cc
1 Nicolas TEROL (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)
2 Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)
3 Maverick VINALES (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing)
4 Sandro CORTESE (Intact-Racing Team Germany)
5 Jonas FOLGER (Red Bull Ajo MotorSport)
6 Johann ZARCO (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)
7 Adrian MARTIN (Bankia Aspar Team 125cc)
8 Sergio GADEA (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing)
9 Efren VAZQUEZ (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo)
10 Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)


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