Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after qualifying on Saturday:
A good qualifying by Simone Grotzkyj, eleventh on the grid and best amongst Italians. A crash had a say in both Taylor Mackenzie's and Giulian Pedone's performances – as far as the young Briton is concerned, it is the one he suffered fifteen days ago in Estoril, and still affecting his performance. His young Swiss team mate crashed yesterday, when a competitor following him hit his bike at the end of the main straight. Giulian went down, and dislocated his right hand - this means that he's far away from his best.
Simone Grotzkyj "I would say that I'm satisfied with my performance. I improved a lot from free practice to qualifying and, what is even more important, I have found a good rhythm. I've not been able to put together my best sectors – probably, because yesterday, at the beginning, I did not find a good feeling with the track. Many riders have similar lap times – I suppose tomorrow will be a tough and open race".
Taylor Mackenzie: "Probably, there was something of the crash suffered in Estoril still wandering in my mind, at the beginning. I have been better and better at every session, but the start was slow. The Portuguese GP was a setback from which we have to fully recover".
Giulian Pedone: "Yesterday someone crashed into me at the end on the main straight, were speed is around 220 kilometres per hour. In my turn I crashed, and dislocated my right hand. Doctor considered improbable I could line up today for practices. I did and qualified, which is a success, due the condition – hard braking is really tough. I'm not really happy with the situation, but I promise I'll do my best in race, tomorrow".
Frustrating Qualifying In France For Kenny Noyes
The high hopes that Kenny Noyes brought to Le Mans have not met with much fulfillment so far. After starting from pole at the classic French circuit last year, the Avintia-STX rider was looking to figure at the sharp end of the proceedings in France again this year.
But things have not gone the American's way. After a strong start during free practice on Friday, Kenny struggled with confidence in the front end of his FOGI-Racing FTR on Saturday, making carrying the corner speed that is vital at the Le Mans circuit extremely difficult. Try as he might, Kenny has not been able to get anywhere near matching his lap times from last year. When Noyes did try pushing through the barriers, he ended up losing the front in the final corner, and suffering a minor crash.
Frustrated with his own performance, Kenny's Avintia-STX team have been working flat out on helping the American regain some confidence in the front end of his machine. To this end, the technicians from FTR have been providing invaluable feedback on possible solutions to Kenny's dilemma, which the team will try out in the warm up tomorrow morning. Starting from the twelfth row on the grid, Noyes faces a hard row to hoe on Sunday, but will be giving it his all for the best possible result for his team.
34th, Fastest Lap: 1'40.361
Kenny said, "We got here Friday and felt pretty good right away, but then we just ran into a wall. We can only go so fast, then there's a point were we just can't get the corner speed to improve the time. I just don't have the confidence to push the front end and carry the corner speed we need."
"It was frustrating in the afternoon because we couldn't make use of the new tire here. We need to get a better feeling in the front end, but my team and the guys from FTR have some ideas that could help me out, and my teammates have not had the same problems. I need to figure out what I can do to get more out of the bike and improve my times."
"I had high hopes coming in here, because Le Mans is the place I was able to get pole last year. But we just haven't been able to drop below the 1'40s, and that's been real frustrating. We know the bike is capable of it, now I just have to make it happen, so I'm going to put it all out on the track tomorrow and see where I end up.""
RW Racing GP not satisfied with qualification session in Le Mans
The qualifying session of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France is not entirely proceeded satisfactorily for RW GP Racing Team. The Spanish rider Luis Salom came to a tenth starting position but missed the connection with the top riders in the 125cc class.
The third free practice on Saturday morning, Luis Salom used to find a good race pace. He succeeded partially but could not keep the same pace every lap. After several adjustments to the suspension, the Spaniard went out again and could improve his lap times. In this session the RW Racing GP rider ended on a nineth position.
The qualifying was held under dry conditions with temperatures around 17 degrees. At the beginning of the qualifying session Salom was able to ride lap time good for a seventh position. Halfway through the session, the Spaniard dropped back outside the top 10. In the final run Salom had trouble getting his lap to improve what was partly caused by the rising wind. Salom could not take advantage of a slipstream, but knew in his final lap to improve his time and climbed one spot in the standings resulting in a tenth starting place. The RW GP Racing rider will start Sunday's French Grand Prix from the fourth row.
Luis Salom (10th, 1:45.347):
"Today was not my day. In the free practice I wasn't entirely in my rhythm and I decided to go for a fast lapit while I was actually looking for my race pace. In qualifying it wasn't much better. I was able to ride pretty fast a 1:45 lap but it was very hard to catch these lap times again. Especially when the wind came up halfway through the session, I couldn't improve my lap time. In the last minutes I was overtaken by Maverick Vinales and I took his slipstream. The gap to the top is bigger than yesterday which I obviously don't like! Tomorrow I have to have a good start and directly ride fast lap times to make a top 8 result possible."
BANKIA ASPAR CONTINUE TO DOMINATE AT FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Nico Terol takes third pole from four thanks to sensational lap, three tenths ahead of team-mate Héctor Faubel
The hypothetical theory that Le Mans is a circuit where the gap between riders' lap times is reduced was blown out of the water today as BANKIA Aspar Nico Terol blasted his way to a dominant pole positions. Vázquez, Zarco and Cortese had all shown signs in free practice that they might be able to challenge the Spaniard but in the end it was his own team-mate Héctor Faubel who put up the strongest resistance. Tomorrow's race looks like it could be a straight battle between the pair although they will have to keep an eye on hungry youngsters Adrián Martín and Maverick Viñales.
Martín capped off a perfect day in the BANKIA Aspar box, starting off this morning when Nico, Héctor and Adrián lapped first, third and fourth fastest. In the afternoon the more experienced pair were the only riders to break the 1'44 barrier, sealing Nico's third pole of the year already and Hector's best grid. The team's youngster was just 1.148 seconds further back, qualifying on the third row of the grid.
1st Nico Terol 1.43.578 (18 laps): "I pushed really hard this afternoon and felt really comfortable. My objective was to try and set the fastest ever lap here and my pace was really fast, which will serve us well for the race. I ran into a lot of traffic on my last run but I was still able to run a pace around 1'43.9, 1'44. and on the last lap I managed a 1'43.5 so I am really happy with that. It looks like my rivals are a little closer here at Le Mans but I just prefer to concentrate on myself and try to improve as a rider. Tomorrow I will try to make a good start and push hard to break the group up if I can. I think Héctor, Zarco and Cortese are my strongest rivals for the race. Héctor and I congratulated each other at the end of the session today because to be one and two on the grid is great for us and great for the team."
2nd Héctor Faubel 1.43.967 (18 laps): "We have improved the bike thanks to an enormous amount of work and effort from the team and we felt the benefit during qualifying. 50% of the race tomorrow will be in the start and I will have to get into the right position to try and follow Nico. More than fighting him for the win though the objective for us is to finish the race and bring an end to our bad run. A podium finish would be a huge boost for us. The crash in Portugal is water under the bridge and now I just want to enjoy myself on the bike, as I have done here all weekend. This is the best set-up we've found all season, we're taking giant steps forward and I hope that continues tomorrow."
7th Adrián Martín 1.44.726 (19 laps): "I am happy because I think the third row is where I should be right now. I felt strong this morning and finished fourth fastest, which gave me a lot of motivation for the afternoon. On my last run I was able to stay consistent and run in the group with Nico, Folger and Zarco so I just tried to stay with them and learn as much as I could. That lasted for five or six laps and the experience should come in useful tomorrow. Sharing a garage with Nico and Héctor is helping me a lot and I am progressing quicker than I would do if I was on my own."
Sixth fastest time for Marc Márquez at Le Mans
The Repsol rider secures a place in the second row of the starting grid after a very competitive qualifying session
In a very close Moto2 qualifying session, Márquez was able to secure a place in the second row of the starting grid by claiming the sixth fastest time. The times set were very close, as the first 17 finished within the same second in the all important qualifying before tomorrow's race.
Márquez, who was eight this morning in the 3rd Free Practice session, had a very good qualifying. He was among the fastest of the class and his sixth place could have been even better, as in his last attempt to set a time he finished with two red helmets on the time display.
But a small mistake from the Repsol rider prevented him from completing that fast lap, as first he stepped on some gravel with the tyres of his bike and in the next corner, to avoid a crash, he decided to take the escape road when he lost grip in his tyres when entering the corner.
Despite that, Márquez is having a good weekend, progression cautiously and focusing on tomorrow's race. As he predicts, the race will be very long and it is very important to have a good start to avoid any problem when arriving to the first chicane.
FP3 - 1:39.338, 20 laps, 84 km.
QP - 1:38.679, 20 laps, 84 km.
"I am very satisfied, as from the moment we started yesterday to this afternoon's qualifying we have steadily improved. We focused on the set-up for tomorrow and we found a configuration with which I feel comfortable and can keep a consistently high pace.
We will see tomorrow how the tracks conditions are, but if everything goes our way, I think we can have a good race. We will try to do our own race and then see where we can finish. It is important to have a good start, because in the chicane after the first corner there can be problems and I hope I am able to avoid them.
We will try to have a good start, be calmed during the first laps and then do our own race, which I am sure will be very long".
IANNONE WILL START FROM THE THIRD ROW IN THE GRAND PRIX OF FRANCE
In the second day of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, the starting grid for tomorrow's race was defined with the qualifying session of this afternoon.
The third free practice was held with lower temperatures than the sessions of Friday. Iannone and his mechanics tried out some modifications to the setting and analysed the consequent performance of the Suter MMXI machine: being unhappy with the results, they chose to move back to the previous set-up for the afternoon session.
With the time at disposal during the qualifying practice, they went through some minor improvements to the setting and, in the second half, they focused on the race rhythm. The best lap-time of the rider from Vasto is 1'38.799, which gives him a safe eighth spot on the grid: this is his best result in the qualifying session since the beginning of 2011 season.
Andrea Iannone, #29 — qualifying session: 8th with 1'38.799
"Today was once again a tough day. In the morning we chose to try out some modifications that we had thought at the end of the practice of Friday, but these didn't really work out well. We believed we could move forward, we were calm and we were sure we could make it, but we were proved wrong. We went back to the previous setting, we analysed everything once more and we made up something different for the qualifying session. In the end I can say that it was better than expected. We are working in the right way, we are understanding the problems we've had in the last few races and this is something very positive. I'm happy because we are working well, we are struggling less and we know what we have to focus on. We'll see how the warm up goes, in particular because we will try some new things, we'll try to improve and to do better in the race. I hope to have a good Sunday and to have a challenging race. Thanks to my team and to Suter, because they never give in."
Unlucky Smith thwarted in Le Mans qualifying
Bradley Smith was cruelly denied his chance to claim a deserved top 10 position on the grid ahead of the all-important home race for the Tech 3 Racing Team in Le Mans this afternoon.
The British rider was poised to improve on his best time of 1.39.223 when he was caught up in an incident at the fast first corner with Spanish rider Axel Pons. Smith looked a certainty to secure his third top ten grid position in four Moto2 World Championship races when Pons crashed in the braking zone for the first corner. Unable to take evasive action, a blameless Smith collided with the machine of Pons and tumbled into the gravel.
Smith was unhurt but the incident meant Smith was unable to rid e his Mistral 610 machine in the final seven minutes and he could only watch in frustration as he dropped down the rankings to 17th position. The speed Smith has demonstrated throughout the weekend though shows he is more than capable of fighting for the top ten in tomorrow's 26-lap race.
Mike di Meglio had a frustrating afternoon in front of a sizeable home crowd. The French rider was desperate to show the potential of the Mistral 610 machine with the Le Mans round the home race for the Tech 3 Racing squad.
But the former 125cc World Champion finished in 27th position on the timesheets having set a best time of 1.39.809. Highlighting just how closely contested the Moto2 World Championship is, di Meglio was less than 1.5s away from pole position.
Bradley Smith 17th 1.39.223 – 17 laps
"The big frustrating part of today was that I did not get to take the advantage of the new tyre. We had a real consistent bike and I was confident I could improve my times with the new tyre. But then I had the accident with Axel Pons and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. These things can happen in qualifying when people are pushing hard to improve at the end of the session and unfortunately today it was my turn to have the bad luck. We'll never know how much I could have improved because I didn't get chance to complete the last three laps. But I think I've shown already this season that I am quite strong at the end of qualifying when you need to produce a fast lap. I just need to get a good start from 17th and make up some places on the first couple of laps. It is a long race and this is definitely an overtaking circuit. You just have to be aggressive but pick the right moment. I feel confident, so I just don't need to make any stupid mistakes."
Mike di Meglio: 27th 139.809 – 21 laps
"It was a very difficult session for us. This morning it was not so bad and I knew I needed to qualify much faster to give myself a chance in the race. But it was not easy to find the pace. Right from the start we had some problems with rear grip. We changed the setting back to what I was using this morning, but we had the same problem again. All I can do is try and get a good start and be aggressive in the opening laps to put myself in contention for the top 15. It is going to be a hard race, but I'm still determined to put on an exciting show for the many French fans that come to support me. This is the Team's home race too, so that makes me doubly determined to fight as hard as possible."
Xavier Siméon gets to grips with famous Le Mans circuit
It was not an easy weekend for Xavier Siméon so far, finishing today's qualifying session for the team's home Grand Prix in Le Mans, France on 31st position.
The Youngster from Belgium is disappointed as he was not able to show the progress he made since the start of the season. Still some issues with confidence prevented a better result today. Siméon is still thinking he can have a Top 15 result for tomorrow's race after a good night sleep and a good start of the race tomorrow.
Xavier Siméon, 31st - 1'39.809, 21 laps:
"We were not very lucky today as I did not have a bad rhythm, but still finished far behind as I did not feel very comfortable with the new tyres. That was also the reason why I was not able to improve my lap times after changing the old tyre against the new one. I still have to figure out how to get the tyres on temperature best. The bike is working really good now for me. The problems I had in the past are all solved, so I am really sorry that I cannot show it in a better way. I will have a good sleep tonight, relax and try to give my best tomorrow in the race. If I can get a good start I hope I can fight for a Top 15 finish. My team deserves that as they really work hard for me and I want to thank them for that."
JULIÁN SIMÓN TARGETS LE MANS PODIUM FROM THIRD ROW
Xavi Forés makes late improvement to lap just over a second off pole time
Yesterday some sixteen riders lapped within the same second during Moto2 free practice at Le Mans and today during qualifying that number was extended to eighteen. It promises to be a chaotic race once the lights go out tomorrow, as forty riders head for turn one and the tight chicane that follows. Series leader Stefan Bradl starts as a narrow favourite from pole position but at least nine riders behind him have the pace to challenge for the win.
MAPFRE Aspar rider Julián Simón, who finished second last year, is determined to repeat that podium finish and his one from Portugal in the last round. The Spaniard will start from the third row after qualifying ninth fastest, a lap time of 1'38.819 leaving him just four tenths shy of pole position but with a consistency in the low 1'39s that is sure to form the basis of a strong challenge tomorrow. His team-mate Xavi Forés will also aim to make up several positions having today lapped just 1.2 seconds off pole position but only managing 24th position on the ultra-competitive grid. His target is to continue gathering experience and, if possible, points.
9th Julián Simón 1.38.819 (22 laps): "Qualifying practice was really close - there are a lot of riders within a few tenths of a second. I think we made the wrong tyre choice at the end of the session and that stopped me from challenging for a better position on the grid. The most important thing is that we have the pace to be running at the front if we can make a good start. Bradl and Luthi look really strong so we have to make sure they don't escape at the start. It should be a fun race, especially over the first few laps, but we have the pace to chase Bradl and finish on the podium - it all just depends on the start."
24th Xavi Forés 1.39.576 (22 laps): "As far as the lap times are concerned and the gap to the guys at the front I am happy because we are closer than past races. I feel more and more comfortable with the bike and get faster every time we go out. I am only 1.2 seconds off the fastest lap yet we are still down in 24th position, which shows you how tough this category is. We have to think positive and keep working in the same way we are now because that will eventually take us into the points."
REDDING CONFIDENT OF PODIUM CHALLENGE AT LE MANS
Scott Redding stormed to his best qualifying result of the 2011 Moto2 World Championship in Le Mans this afternoon, raising expectations of a podium challenge from the Marc VDS Racing Team rider in tomorrow's French Grand Prix.
Modifications to the ride height of his Suter MMXI machine further increased Redding's confidence with the front-end this afternoon, which enabled the 18-year-old to claim a fantastic fifth position on the grid for tomorrow's 26-lap race.
Redding was able to increase his speed with impressive ease throughout the session, which culminated in him setting a best time of 1.38.655 to finish less than 0.2s away from securing a stunning front row start.
He was less than 0.3s away from pole position and Redding is brimming with confidence that he can secure his first points of the season with a fight for his third rostrum in the closely contested Moto2 World Championship.
Teammate Mika Kallio was counting himself unlucky not to finish higher up the grid after he qualified in 23rd position, despite finishing just over a second away from Stefan Bradl's pole position time.
The Finnish rider worked through a range of set-up options on his Suter MMX1 machine, with Kallio seeking to find a better balance to move him into contention for a top 10 challenge.
He posted a best time of 1.39.561 on his 21st and final lap and is determined to fight his way into the top 15 tomorrow, to register his first points of the 2011 Moto2 campaign.
Scott Redding #45 - 1.39.502 - 36 laps
"Fifth is easily my best qualifying result of the season and now I am 100 percent focussed on making sure I am fighting for the podium in the race. I feel a lot better with the bike, particularly with the front-end because a few crashes earlier in the year definitely knocked my confidence a little bit. We played around with the rear ride height to help give me more feedback and I think part of it is just that I'm getting my head down and riding around some of the problems. Last year when the bike wasn't perfect I could still produce fast times and I felt I was doing that today. The best thing is that every lap I kept getting faster and faster. I didn't just need to rely on a super fast lap at the end because my consistency is definitely one of the best. I think I had a chance of the front row but on the last lap a wild card rider pushed me wide, but it was still a good session and I think we've proved that I've got the speed to fight for the podium."
Mika Kallio #36 - 1.39.561- 21 laps
"Obviously I'm disappointed to qualify outside the top 20 because once again I believe the Marc VDS Racing package is capable of being much higher. I've got the same problem as the previous three races. I start the weekend very strongly and am competitive, but then I find it very difficult to improve. It feels like I hit a wall that I can't climb over and my times don't get much faster and that is a little frustrating. We have tried many different solutions this season and we have made a lot of modifications to the bike here, but we haven't really fully understood why I don't get a lot faster as the weekend progresses. We have a lot of weight on the front and this is not my normal style of setting up the bike. Usually I have a lot of weight on the rear, so we are still searching for the best compromise to get the ideal feeling from the front-end. In Estoril I was in a similar position on the grid and fought my way into the points, so that will be my target. I will need to show my fighting qualities again but I am confident that I can challenge for a top 15."
Michael Bartholemy - Team Manager
"I'm really happy with Scott today because this is the position close to the front that we expected him to be all season. It is clear his confidence is returning with the bike and a lot of credit must go to his crew. They have worked incredibly hard to give him a competitive package that allows him to show the speed we know he is capable of. We know that the first corner can be very difficult to negotiate here, so being on the second row means a good start should hopefully see Scott avoid any trouble and allow him to secure a good result. It's a pity that Mika is only 23rd because he was very fast on Friday and we were hoping he could improve more today. We are working incredibly hard to find a solution and give him a bike that allows him to ride comfortably but fast. We know he's a fighter so we'll be looking for him to demonstrate his overtaking skills again in the race. I'd like to say congratulations to Fred Makowiecki, Maxime Martin and the rest of the Marc VDS GT1 team for their second qualifying race win of the season at Sachsenring today. Hopefully we can emulate their success in tomorrow's race at Le Mans, to make it a double celebration and show that the Marc VDS Racing Team is a force to be reckoned with on two and four wheels."
FRONT ROW FOR THIRD FASTEST YUKI TAKAHASHI
After a few problems yesterday and this morning Yuki Takahashi and his team finally found the right way forward with the set-up of his Moriwaki MD600 just in time for qualifying this afternoon. The turnaround allowed the Japanese rider to lap third fastest and qualify on the front row of the grid for tomorrow's race. Unfortunately there was no immediate solution for Michele Pirro, who faces a battle from the fifth row of the grid.
Yuki Takahashi (3rd 1'38.540) "We struggled yesterday but finally we found the right way with the set-up and I was able to qualify on the front row. The guys have been great and they made the right choices. We have another couple of small changes planned for tomorrow morning and then I think we will be ready for a race in which I am confident of scoring a positive result."
Michele Pirro (13th 1' 39.064 ) "At the end of the day we made a small improvement but we are still some way off an acceptable set-up. We are suffering more at this circuit with the same problems as usual and the only thing to do tomorrow is to try and get a good start and defend my position. Anything more than a repeat of this position will be difficult but I will do my best to finish as far forward as possible."
Fausto Gresini "We have partially solved the problems we had yesterday but we definitely still have work to do. The guys in the team have done a good job to give Takahashi a bike that he could put on the front row and I am sure they will improve it further in tomorrow's warm-up. Pirro struggled a little more than him but I have confidence in him because he is a brave rider and I am sure he can overcome his disadvantages to compete with the best."
MOTO2, qualifying practice for Technomag-CIP Team.
Dominique Aegerter : 10th / Kenan Sofuoglu : 25th
Le Mans, 14 May 2011 – For The Technomag-CIP Team, the French GP is the national Grand Prix of the year. The weather is pretty mild even if the temperatures remain cool for the season (18°C in the afternoon).
After the three free practices, Dominique Aegerter and Kenan Sofuoglu gradually show a satisfying progression. Kenan discovered the technical and atypical track and finished these practices at the 30th position with a gap of 1,5 second of the pole. For Dominique, the progression was more important and he gained the 14th place at only 8 tenth-a second.
During the Qualifying Practice, our riders were very focused. Laps after laps, time lap are decreased. Until the last minutes, all positions are moving after each thousandth a second earned.
At the end, Dominique does his best lap in 1:38.849 with a gap of 0,492s with the poleman. Kenan set his fastest lap in 1:39.655 and was 1,2 second off the pole position. Within this highly competitive category the gaps are tiny. Dominique arrived 10th and Kenan 25th. Regarding these achievement, the start from the 4th and 9th lines should not be a big handicap during the race that should be highly competitive.
Alain Bronec, owner of the team : "this class is outstanding, the 25 first riders are separated by just 1,3 second. Dominique is very fit and he had a very regular practice. Kenan has never ridden here before and he did a good start. Unfortunately, he couldn't improve in the last laps."
Neukirchner gets up to speed –
West struggles with set-up problems
Despite his injury, Max Neukirchner gets up to speed at the French Grand Prix. The 28-year-old MZ factory rider, who suffered an open fracture of his left little finger when he crashed at the Portuguese Grand Prix two weeks ago, qualified in 20th position at Le Mans and was only 1.1 seconds behind Stefan Bradl on pole position.
Team-mate Anthony West on the other hand kept struggling with set-up problems on his new bike. The 29-year-old Australian, who uses an FTR chassis for the first time in Le Mans, had to settle for 33rd place and was bitterly disappointed with his grid position. However, West is famous for his fighting spirit, and there is still hope that he will be able to turn things around in the race.
Max Neukirchner – 20th, in 1:39.485 min.:
"We struggled this weekend, and I don't know if I can blame my finger injury alone for our problems. Even though we are just 1.1 seconds behind Stefan Bradl on pole position, we can't be satisfied with 20th place – my aim is to at least break into the point rankings. We tried a lot with the set-up of the bike, and the team worked very, very well in order to get us right on track. We ended up finding something that made the bike work better, but we are still not at a 100 per cent. There still is too much movement in the chassis!"
Anthony West – 33rd, in 1:40.016 min.:
"I was too slow and I am not happy with my position. There is nothing wrong with the bike, but practice still didn't go the way I wanted. This is the fourth frame that I'm on this year, and I guess I'm just confused. I don't know if I'm at the limit or not. Every bike I've been riding felt completely different, and it's tough right now!"