The normally relatively sedate session that is Warm Up turned positively fiery on Sunday morning at Le Mans. Literally, in the case of Jorge Lorenzo, whose Yamaha M1 caught fire after the reigning World Champion suffered a lowside on cold tires. Worse followed, when a resounding boom and large cloud of black smoke emerged from Lorenzo's Yamaha, strongly suggesting that his engine had just gone boom.
Le Mans, France
If you switched on for the last 10 minutes of qualifying at Le Mans this afternoon, you were in for a treat. A thrilling finale to qualifying reminded everyone of why MotoGP doesn't really need Superpole, as exciting as that can be on a World Superbike weekend. Casey Stoner finally secured his third pole of the season by just 0.059 seconds, or fractionally more than a bike length. Marco Simoncelli had been using his lanky frame to muscle the San Carlo Gresini RC212V around the track in pursuit of Stoner's time, but the Italian came up just a fraction short. With Simoncelli this close in qualifying, it should be a pretty close race, right?
Ask Colin Edwards, and he'll rid you of that delusion straight away: "I'm willing to make a wager," the Texan told MotoGP.com, "Stoner's going to win hands down unless someone takes him out or something strange happens. Looking at his lap chart, it's just phenomenal, he's doing lap times on the hard tire that I can't even qualify at." And indeed, looking at the race pace the riders were clocking before they put in soft rubber and stowed their common sense for a spot on the grid tells another story altogether: after putting on a fresh set of hard tires to finalize his race setup, Casey Stoner posted a bunch of laps in the mid-1'33s, where the other riders were happy to get close to low 1'34s in race trim.
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after qualifying on Saturday:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday at Le Mans:
Crutchlow and Edwards show class in Le Mans
The outlines of the future MotoGP calendar are becoming clear, as deals are being signed throughout the year. One key question left open was the future of the French MotoGP round, with the contract between Dorna and the event organizers coming to an end after this year's MotoGP round. There was never any question that France would be left without a Grand Prix, the only question was whether the race would continue to be held at Le Mans.
And after a press release issued by Dorna, that question is still uncertain. For Dorna has renewed their deal with Claude Michy and his organization, PHA, to organize the French MotoGP round for the next 5 years, through 2016. However, as the deal is with the promoter, where the French GP is to be held is not specified.
Results of Moto2 qualifying practice at Le Mans:
Results and summary of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Le Mans:
Casey Stoner has taken his third pole of the season at Le Mans, consolidating his dominance in the MotoGP class. But the Repsol Honda rider did not have the imperious margin he has held for the rest of the sessions, finishing just 0.059 ahead of San Carlo Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli, while Andrea Dovizioso hooked ride with Simoncelli on his fast lap to grab 3rd, ahead of Repsol teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Results of qualifying practice for the 125cc class at Le Mans:
Simone Corsi has put an end to Stefan Bradl's hegemony in the Moto2 class, the Ioda Racing rider topping the third session of free practice at Le Mans. Corsi was joined by Interwetten's Thom Luthi ahead of Bradl, the Viessmann Kiefer rider ending the session in 3rd spot, though the differences between the top three were just sixty-five hundredths of a second. Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding took 4th, ahead of Aleix Espagaro and Julian Simon.