2011 Le Mans MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result: Thrilling Qualifying Decided By Small Margin

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.

Jorge Lorenzo failed to grab a spot on the front row for the first time this season, the Yamaha rider getting bumped down to 5th by the two Repsol men, and Lorenzo has the deeply impressive Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow just behind him in 6th. Crutchlow has consistently set a strong pace throughout practice, and continues to exceed expectations set of the former World Supersport champion. The third row sees the two remaining Yamahas, with Monster Tech 3's Colin Edwards ahead of factory rider Ben Spies. Spies is the last of the Yamahas, but starts ahead of the two factory Marlboro Ducatis, setting the same time as Valentino Rossi, and seven hundredths faster than Nicky Hayden, who rounds out the top 10.

Though the gaps are close in qualifying, they look a lot less close on race setups, as demonstrated earlier in the session. Before the riders put soft tires in and went for a qualifying spot, there was a whole second between 1st place and 4th, the Repsols of Casey Stoner and Andrea Dovizioso respectively. From Dovizioso backwards, the field was a lot close, a second separating the 4th place man from 17th. Weather conditions are still uncertain for tomorrow, with rain a possibility, which would open the race up completely.


Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 27 Casey STONER HONDA 1'33.153    
2 58 Marco SIMONCELLI HONDA 1'33.212 0.059 0.059
3 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'33.621 0.468 0.409
4 26 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'33.683 0.530 0.062
5 1 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'33.706 0.553 0.023
6 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW YAMAHA 1'33.804 0.651 0.098
7 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'34.063 0.910 0.259
8 11 Ben SPIES YAMAHA 1'34.206 1.053 0.143
9 46 Valentino ROSSI DUCATI 1'34.206 1.053 0.000
10 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'34.277 1.124 0.071
11 14 Randy DE PUNIET DUCATI 1'34.351 1.198 0.074
12 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SUZUKI 1'34.513 1.360 0.162
13 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA HONDA 1'34.612 1.459 0.099
14 8 Hector BARBERA DUCATI 1'34.650 1.497 0.038
15 65 Loris CAPIROSSI DUCATI 1'34.866 1.713 0.216
16 17 Karel ABRAHAM DUCATI 1'35.010 1.857 0.144
17 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1'35.433 2.280 0.423


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Looking at the lap charts of QP I guess up the race pace in case it remains dry tomorrow:

1'34.1 Stoner
1'34.6 Simoncelli
1'34.7 Dovizioso
1'34.7 Pedrosa ???
1'34.8 Lorenzo
1'35.0 Rossi
1'35.4 De Puniet
1'35.6 Spies
1'35.6 Edwards ???
1'35.9 Crutchlow ???
1'36.0 Hayden ???

Pedrosa's, Crutchlow's and Hayden's lap times show such strong variation that it's hard to guess the real pace. Especially Pedrosa's lap time variations are interesting given that he's one of the "most precise clockworks" of all riders.
Lorenzo must be shocked about how far he's off.

if neither Sic nor Rossi will take him down in "Yet Another Normal Race Incident".

Haha, I wouldn't feel comfortable having Sic directly behind me at the start :)

Lorenzo is dreaming about doing 1'34.0 - 1'34.1 as a race pace, Bautista fantasizes about mid- 1'34.

WTF?? Is there something unhealthy in the drinking water at Le Mans????

I could hardly believe it. Stoner really has got all options covered barring rain.
Spoiled for options when you're that quick can spoil a race.
I really hope we have a good clean race without any torpedo incidents or chaotic chain reaction.
Back at Ducati,surely by now, they and Marlboro must be rueing a decision made, I believe, rightly or wrongly to release Stoner as early as 2009.
The blokes having the biggest laugh right now must be Davide Tardozzi and Livio Suppo. I believe it was one of Rossi's not so subtle conditions that the pair of them disappear along with Stoner before he would sign.
Sadly for them,I reckon Stoner on the 2009 screamer would have had the CF D16 on the front row for tomorrows race.
Granted,that was prior to the 6 engine handicap,but the 'big bang' L-4 is a step backwards.
By no means is this Prezziosi's problem, he's merely applying Rossi and Burgess' input to the shop floor. By contrast,the HRC machine has come on in leaps and bounds since Stoner joined. No doubt, inter rider rivalry has spurred the effort and this is what Ducati lack. A clear #1 whose status is not threatened is generally a formula for complacency. Hail Caesar !!!
As for the race,barring unwanted incidents,I can't see anyone challenging a Honda victory. Who it will be remains to be seen,but 'Karma' owes Casey the win considering 3 out of 4 poles and the Jerez debacle.
No doubt,George will be in the mix come race end. A very canny and realistic Champion he certainly is.

By no means is this Prezziosi's problem, he's merely applying Rossi and Burgess' input to the shop floor. .... No doubt, inter rider rivalry has spurred the effort and this is what Ducati lack. A clear #1 whose status is not threatened is generally a formula for complacency.

I disagree, I do think it's partly Prezziosi's problem. Judging from past press releases and interviews of Prezziosi, Burgess and Rossi they appear to essentially misjudged the state of the Ducati GP bikes.
Prezziosi appears to have got the memo, to me it seems that seeing Rossi struggle convinced him that the GP11 has a fundamental problem and it looks like he is desperately developing for his life.

On the other hand the last comment I read from Burgess still carried that "I would fix it in 80 seconds" tone and other than Prezziosi it seems that he still isn't at the initial state of problem solving - to understand that there *is* a problem.

Rossi's state of mind is difficult to decipher, but given that he tries his pesky mind games with other rides, mainly Stoner, might be an indication that he feels the heat. Not only from the competition, but from the press or maybe the whole motorcycle race fan community. More or less everyone is expecting him to start winning races again somewhere around summer. That would be in 1 or 2 months. And he has to find around 1sec or more ..., I have growing doubts that Prezziosi + Burgess will find the wonder update in that time frame. And Rossi himself appears to not be able to adapt his riding style to the Duke, manhandling the Duke in Stoner-Style, that's something that really surprises me. If he continues this way, cheesus, he will demolish the legend status he still has all by himself.

Come September and Rossi has no race win in 2011 ... it will all end in tears ....

Stoner will run away at the front, but when he manages the gap and Simoncelli gets within 2 seconds he'll push harder to get away from him and lose the front all on his own. Pedrosa will come on late for a win. Spies will take out Crutchlow and start a new feud. Dovi will break down and Colin will finish just ahead of Rossi. Lorenzo will quietly take home 13 to 20 points.

... and hence might keep the front where it should be.

But it might get interesting if Sic and/or Lorenzo have a better start than Stoner. Sic might show some really stupid overtaking maneuvers, completely disrupting Stoners rhythm, or Lorenzo will show his skills again to make his Yam wide as Rossis ego.

I find it entertaining how people(psychologists) try to "decipher" Rossi's mind set and suggest that "it'll all end in tears"....that's kinda funny. None of this pressure, expectations or so-called burden weighs on him. He's still the most real and genuine rider.....always self admitting when he's faced with a challenge and/or is struggling. This is a sign of true self confidence in one's ability backed by experience, success and 9 titles. Unlike Stoner, he has the ability to develop and make the Ducati a winner, this is the challenge he's accepted. Not just to win "this weekend" like Stoner. Like I said before, Ducati will be fine in due time....

Marco Sic is the fun one and keeps this very entertaining. I admit I was disappointed to hear him say(post Qualifying) his goal was to only "finish the race", because I like his ambitious, no fear(nor respecter of persons) style. I prefer when he's up front bashing fairings and pissing people off.

It's the Stonerettes' favorite hobby no doubt. I found it hilarious how Rossi's legacy will apparently been demolished at the end of the season. :)

I also find Simoncelli very exciting addition to the front, and detest the elitist attitude the other to guys (bar Pedrosa) show. Apparently they had ganged up on Simo during the Safety commission (?) meeting despite the fact that he hasn't done any dangerous moves this season!

I had Sic just a couple of weeks ago at 350:1, with rain bucketting down and a certain high-side that almost brought me to tears..

As for this race.. Stoner out in front from start to finish.

Quite the opposite actually.

The bike has seemingly gone backwards, but perhaps that's just the Repsol colours flying past him so fast that it just looks that way.