MotoGP World Championship Grand Prix 2012
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC213V) scored a brilliant one-two in this afternoon’s qualifying session for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The session started on a slightly damp track, with most riders making a cautious start to proceedings on rain tyres. As the circuit dried the pace quickened and pole position changed hands time and again as rider after rider pushed the pace higher and higher.
Two days after announcing that he will retire at the end of this season Stoner led the way for much of the outing, twice heading the rest of the pack by more than two seconds. But with just two minutes to go Pedrosa moved ahead to claim his first pole of the year, by 0.303s. With the track fully dry during the final stages the Spaniard came within 0.021s of matching his 2011 French GP pole time, but afterwards he admitted that it had been a difficult qualifying because it had been tricky to judge whether the track was dry or damp. Stoner’s plans to regain pole from his team-mate went awry when he was baulked on several occasions by slower riders.
Despite this afternoon’s inconsistent conditions both Repsol Honda men are confident that they are well prepared for tomorrow’s race, round four in this year’s 18-round MotoGP World Championship. Both Pedrosa and Stoner have qualified on the front row at all four races so far. Earlier today Stoner had topped free practice, despite sliding off this morning when he rode over a damp section of kerbing.
Honda’s other two RC213V riders had a more challenging time at Le Mans this afternoon, with Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) and Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) falling victim to the treacherous track. Bradl suffered a nasty highside at the Musee left-hander, while Bautista’s tumble prevented him from repeating his fine performance during free practice, which he ended in fourth place. Despite their crashes both men were able to continue on their spare machines, ending the session eighth and 13th quickest.
Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda) was second best CRT rider in 14th position, just behind Bradl.
Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol-Suter) took the Moto2 pole position despite sliding off midway through the 45-minute session. His tumble required some repair work in the pits, but the Spanish teenager never relinquished first place. It was his third consecutive pole, following on from similar performances at Jerez and Estoril.
Towards the end of the 45-minute outing rain began to fall over some parts of the track, making it impossible for Marquez’s rivals to put in a last-gasp bid for pole. The damp conditions claimed Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing Team-Kalex) who tumbled without injury at Musee while trying to improve on his second-row start.
Marquez – who won his first Moto2 race here last year – will be joined on the front row by Thomas Luthi (Interwetten-Paddock-Suter) and Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti-Kalex). Luthi was just 0.029s seconds slower than Marquez, while Espargaro was a further 0.451s down.
Other top performers in the Honda-powered series were Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Speed Up) who was fifth quickest, just behind Redding, and Redding’s team-mate Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team – Kalex) who took the last second-row position in sixth.
Honda dominated Moto3 qualifying, filling the first five positions with Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia – FTR Honda) taking pole at the end of a tricky, rain-affected qualifying session. It was the Spanish teenager’s first pole of the season.
A rain shower soaked the track at the start of the session and the slippery surface caught out many riders, including Estoril winner Sandro Cortese (KTM). Vinales reigned supreme on the damp track, upping his pace as the tarmac began to dry out. He ended the session almost a full second ahead of Efren Vazquez (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse – FTR Honda). Last spot on the front row went to Miguel Oliveira (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda). Vinales’ best lap was a full ten seconds slower than he had managed in dry free practice.
The second row of the Moto3 grid is led by another two Honda riders – Jakub Kornfeil (Thomas Sabo GP Team – Honda) and local star Alexis Masbou (Caretta Technology – Honda).
Following today’s wet and dry weather, more rain is forecast for tomorrow.
|1||Dani PEDROSA (Repsol Honda Team)|
|2||Casey STONER (Repsol Honda Team)|
|3||Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|4||Jorge LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|5||Cal CRUTCHLOW (Monster Yamaha Tech 3)|
|6||Ben SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing)|
|7||Valentino ROSSI (Ducati Team)|
|8||Alvaro BAUTISTA (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|9||Hector BARBERA (Pramac Racing Team)|
|10||Karel ABRAHAM (Cardion AB Motoracing)|
|11||Nicky HAYDEN (Ducati Team)|
|12||Randy DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar)|
|13||Stefan BRADL (LCR Honda MotoGP)|
|14||Michele PIRRO (Team San Carlo Honda Gresini)|
|15||Yonny HERNANDEZ (Avintia Blusens)|
|1||Marc MARQUEZ (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol)|
|2||Thomas LUTHI (Interwetten-Paddock)|
|3||Pol ESPARGARO (Pons 40 HP Tuenti)|
|4||Scott REDDING (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|5||Andrea IANNONE (Speed Master)|
|6||Mika KALLIO (Marc VDS Racing Team)|
|7||Alex DE ANGELIS (NGM Mobile Forward Racing)|
|8||Johann ZARCO (JIR Moto2)|
|9||Claudio CORTI (Italtrans Racing Team)|
|10||Toni ELIAS (Mapfre Aspar Team)|
|11||Julian SIMON (Blusens Avintia)|
|12||Dominique AEGERTER (Technomag-CIP)|
|13||Randy KRUMMENACHER (GP Team Switzerland)|
|14||Simone CORSI (Came IodaRacing Project)|
|15||Ricard CARDUS (Arguiñano Racing Team)|
|1||Maverick VIÑALES (Blusens Avintia)|
|2||Efren VAZQUEZ (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|3||Miguel OLIVEIRA (Estrella Galicia 0,0)|
|4||Jakub KORNFEIL (Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta)|
|5||Alexis MASBOU (Caretta Technology)|
|6||Sandro CORTESE (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|7||Alberto MONCAYO (Bankia Aspar Team)|
|8||Hector FAUBEL (Bankia Aspar Team)|
|9||Luis SALOM (RW Racing GP)|
|10||Zulfahmi KHAIRUDDIN (AirAsia-Sic-Ajo)|
|11||Jonas FOLGER (IodaRacing Project)|
|12||Adrian MARTIN (JHK T-Shirt Laglisse)|
|13||Niklas AJO (TT Motion Events Racing)|
|14||Arthur SISSIS (Red Bull KTM Ajo)|
|15||Louis ROSSI (Racing Team Germany)|