2015 Le Mans MotoGP Saturday Post-Qualifying Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after qualifying at Le Mans:


Marquez conquers 25th premier class pole with impressive 8th for Pedrosa

Today in qualifying for the GP of France, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez stormed to an impressive pole position – half a second faster than second place Dovizioso. His teammate, Dani Pedrosa, who has just returned back from injury, put in a valiant effort and earned himself and third row start for tomorrow’s 28 lap race.

Brief rain showers created mixed conditions in FP4 but gave the riders an opportunity to test the wet weather settings on their bikes. However, by the time Q2 began the track was almost completely dry. Marc took provisional pole on his first exit and then on his final lap he was able to improve by over 0.7s – with his time of 1’32.246 – to secure his front spot start, at the circuit where he achieved his first ever pole in GP racing in 2009 (125cc). Dani, who was 3rd fastest in the wet / dry FP4 session continued to build his confidence since his six week absence and took 8th for tomorrow with his time of 1’33.419.

The race will begin at 14h00 local time.

Marc Marquez

1st 1'32.246

“Every time that we have gone out on track this weekend we have made big changes, in order to decide which direction to take things with the setup. In qualifying we used the best setup that we had found. We were lucky that the track was in good condition which allowed me to ride normally. I am happy with pole position and tomorrow a tough race awaits us, because Jorge especially has a very good pace. We will try to be as close to him as we can!”

Dani Pedrosa

8th 1'33.419

"This first qualifying session back has not gone badly. We could have gone a little faster but in the end I didn't quite manage it. The positive news is that today I am feeling a little better physically than yesterday and that's a good thing!”


Front-row start for Andrea Dovizioso in French GP qualifying with second-quickest time at Le Mans. Andrea Iannone will start from fifth place on row 2.

Andrea Dovizioso put in yet another good performance today in French GP qualifying at Le Mans. The Italian powered to the second-quickest time in the 15-minute qualifying session and will start from the front row of the grid for Sunday’s 28-lap race. In the morning’s third free practice session, Dovizioso had been fourth quickest in the dry conditions, but in the early afternoon it started to rain at the French circuit and FP4 took place in the wet, even though it dried out towards the end of the session. In Q2 all the riders fitted slicks and Dovizioso set his quickest time using an extra-soft rear tyre.

Andrea Iannone also had a good day, especially considering the condition of his left shoulder, which was injured during Ducati testing at Mugello on Tuesday. Thanks to the assistance of Clinica Mobile doctors and physiotherapists, the Italian was able to take to the track again today, lapping at a good pace. After setting second quickest time in FP3, in Q2 Iannone made his first run with the extra-soft tyre, but then opted to fit a soft rear tyre with which he notched up the fifth best time of the day, and which will allow him to start from the second row of the grid in Sunday’s race.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’32.749 (2nd)

“I am not completely satisfied with my qualifying lap, because after the rain I was not able to prepare myself mentally and even physically I was feeling pretty tense. In any case the front row is fine and it is also very important because in MotoGP it’s always essential to start as far up the grid as possible. I could probably have been a bit closer to Marquez and try and go for pole, but in any case I set a good lap time, and this is the result of the good work me and the team have been doing throughout the weekend. For the race I’m starting with a good set-up and I am happy with my pace, but it’s not easy to interpret how our rivals are going and so I don’t know what to expect from them. In any case we are quick, and so tomorrow we’ll see who goes better over 28 laps”.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’33.001 (5th)

“To be honest I am pleased with the result, because it wasn’t taken for granted that I would be so quick in these conditions, seeing as I am not 100% fit. The shoulder I injured in the crash at Mugello is not doing its job very much and I find myself having to use my right arm much more to compensate: I am very tired because of this situation and so I never expected to be so quick today. I set my quickest time on the soft tyre and maybe I could have even gone a bit quicker. We must remain focused for tomorrow, because in my opinion we’ve done a good job so far and my team in any case has managed to improve the Desmosedici GP15’s performance, without me being able to give any big indications because of my physical condition. I also want to thank the guys from the Clinica Mobile who are giving me a big hand in managing the problem with my left shoulder.”


Lorenzo Demonstrates Pace at Damp Le Mans

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will start tomorrow‘s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France from the first and third row of the grid after taking third and seventh place respectively in today‘s qualifying session.

Le Mans (France), 16th May 2015

Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo faced cold and cloudy conditions during an intense 15-minute qualifying session at Le Mans, that saw Lorenzo and Rossi qualify on first and third row for tomorrow‘s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.

After dropping under the 1‘33 mark with a 1'32.647 lap in FP3 and being right on the pace during FP4, Lorenzo had a slightly cautious start to the qualifying session. As the first man to leave pit lane he enjoyed some free track and slowly built up the pace. He took the top spot with his third flying lap, a 1‘33.369, before being pushed back to third place when the pace quickened. With a little less than seven minutes to go he came into the pits for a fresh set of rubber. One and half minutes later Lorenzo was back on track and had just enough time left for two more hot laps. He waited until the last moment to show his pace on the extra soft front tyre, posting a 1‘32.846 on his final lap moving him up from fifth to third.

It was an eventful day for teammate Valentino Rossi. The nine-time World Champion was quick to follow his teammate to be guaranteed some free track space. He consistently improved his fastest time of the session on his first three flying laps, but was unable to join the top tier and held twelfth place as he came in for new tyres. With five minutes remaining he started his second stint, and set another personal best lap, moving him up to ninth. He gave his all to clock a 1‘33.352, shooting him up to the top six, before being demoted to seventh in the final stages of the session. The Doctor still had some time left for a final push, but he was unable to improve and remained seventh.

JORGE LORENZO

The conditions were difficult on the track, you have to be careful with slicks and stay confident. We were lucky on the last lap to have 99% of the track dry and I pushed quite a bit. It was a pity that I didn‘t ride any good laps and was slower than I was in FP3. I made a mistake in sector three and lost probably half a second, but I was lucky not to go outside of the track and ride a very good sector four, which put me on the first row. I was hoping to stay at least in third place, because it‘s always important to be on the front row. There were a lot of riders who hadn‘t finished yet so I stayed in front of the big screen to watch them. I made a very good lap time in Jerez, but this time I couldn‘t do it. It was my own fault, but at least we managed to stay in the top three. I prefer a dry race for tomorrow, I think almost everybody does, because it‘s more fun and safer.

VALENTINO ROSSI

I had hoped to stay a bit more at the front, on the second row, but we were unlucky. It was a very important free practice because we had a new tyre and had to try a new setting, because I wasn‘t fast enough and it was difficult this morning. Unfortunately it rained and I wasn‘t doing so bad, but I couldn‘t try my bike on the dry, so I had to start on a different bike during the qualifying and that‘s always difficult. At the end I arrived in seventh place and I think with some more kilometers I could have done better. We can improve the pace, because this new setting is better, but for tomorrow it will be hard because the first three guys on the front row have a very good pace. We have to try the maximum to stay with them. This morning we suffered because we were always on a used tyre. We understood that the modifications we had done were not right and for this afternoon we changed a lot. I‘m still not fast enough but I think with more laps in, I can go faster and we hope for good weather. I‘m ready for tomorrow morning, I‘ll try to have a good warm up and be ready for the race.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

The qualifying session doesn‘t reflect our real capabilities. Jorge couldn‘t do a perfect lap but still qualified on the first row, which is a good place to start the race. This third position and the pace he had in FP3 show how strong he and his setting are and these are really good signs for tomorrow‘s race. It will be a bit more difficult for Vale, who will be starting from the third row. His final results have been compromised due to the weather during FP4, but we know his capabilities and his racing attitude, so we are confident. We hope to have good conditions for the warm up tomorrow morning, so we can check some last details, and a dry race in the afternoon. We look forward to another great battle.


TOUGH BUT POSITIVE DAY FOR TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR

Team Suzuki Press Office – May 16th

The second day in Le Mans was a hard one for Team SUZUKI ECSTAR and its riders as they prepare for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix.

In the morning’s session Aleix Espargaro suffered a heavy crash while he was testing his extra-soft tyre, resulting in a high-side that required an immediate medical check. Luckily he hadn’t suffered any major injuries, but the crash did give him a lot of pain in his lower back and his right hand. His will to race still saw him take to the track for FP4 and qualifying, finally entering Q2 and gaining 10th place on the grid for tomorrow thanks to his 1’33.665s lap.

Maverick Viñales did a good job during the whole day, getting closer and closer to the top-10. After FP3 he missed direct access to Q2 by only 0.027s. In Q1 he pushed hard to enter the fight for the top 12 positions, but he finally finished Q1 in third place which gave him 13th place on tomorrow’s grid, with the time of 1’34.245.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“The day has been hard for several reasons, in part for the cold and difficult weather conditions, but mainly because Aleix had a bad crash in the morning. I would say that in the afternoon he has been really incredible to do the job he’s done, because he suffered a lot of pain and it was very hard to get back riding again just a few hours after such a big impact. Not only did he get back in the saddle but he has also done such an amazing job for us by entering the top-10 for tomorrow’s race. I want to thank him and we must recognise he did a very courageous thing. Aleix’s crash is a pity also because he was feeling good, he had a good pace and I hope that tomorrow he will be able to find this feeling again, while dealing with the pain as best he can. Maverick has been very close to Q2: we are always very close, this is a pity from one side because we still miss something I think, but it is also positive from another side because I strongly believe we will soon make a little step forward that will let us be in the better positions. Tomorrow he will start from 13th place therefore the important thing will be to finalise a good set-up for the race that can make him comfortable enough to recover some positions.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“I think we’ve been very lucky today. The crash was very hard and I was lucky I didn’t have any major injuries. I still feel painful and I probably have some issues with a ligament in my hand, but I’m eager to race because – strange to say – I feel very good with the bike. Although this is not one of my best tracks I must say that our set-up is very effective, probably one of the best we’ve ever had so far. Of course the crash prevented me to fight for a better position, but in my opinion we can make a good race. In the middle of Q2 I decided to stop because we had to preserve the hard tyres, which are the ones with which I felt better and we will use in the race and also to let the hand recover faster: to gain one or two places in qualifying wasn’t as important as to concentrate on the race ahead of us tomorrow.”

Maverick Viñales:

“The weather was strange, with difficult conditions, and for us I’m not totally satisfied. I know we can do much, much better, but we are still a young team – I’m a rookie – and we still have room for improvement in better understanding how to exploit the practice: maybe by making the fast lap attack earlier. But for tomorrow I feel confident because I have a good pace. I like the track and I know I can perform better, especially in fighting for positions during the race.”


EIGHTH AND NINTH ROW FOR BAUTISTA AND MELANDRI

Le Mans (France), 16 May 2015 - The unpredictable weather conditions, with cold and a less than perfect track, after the rain late this morning and the resulting poor grip, did not help the work Bautista and Melandri were trying to accomplish, still looking for the right direction to go in development of the Aprilia RS-GP bikes.

After the morning free practice session where the good time Bautista put on the sheets (16th in 1'34.341) was a sign that the work being done in the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini garage was headed in the right direction, a light rain decidedly worsened the condition of the French asphalt. Although the track had dried off when the qualifiers started, the poor grip definitely hindered the performance of the Italian bikes and ended the session - which decided the order on the starting grid for the race tomorrow - with Bautista in 23rd place (1'35.458) and Melandri in 25th (1'37.522), positions which respectively place them on the eighth and ninth row for the start of tomorrow's GP.

ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)

"The poor grip conditions, precisely in the qualifiers, certainly didn't help since our main problem at this time is tyre performance. It's obvious that significantly poor grip like what we have today penalises us more than the others. It's a shame because the morning went rather well with Alvaro, who was then unable to repeat the performance in the decisive session. We are well aware of the problem and we absolutely must improve this aspect which is decisive in order to improve the overall performance of the bike."

FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)

"It's quite clear that here at Le Mans today we paid the price for the poor grip, also due to the low temperature. In these conditions it's difficult to get power to the tarmac. But it's no surprise and what we need to do is take steps to fix the situation for tomorrow. We have some changes in mind and we'll try them tomorrow during warm up. The goal is to improve for the race."

ALVARO BAUTISTA

"After the free practice sessions we had to face rather unfavourable conditions in the qualifiers. Poor grip, despite the fact that the asphalt had dried off, put us at a distinct disadvantage, especially in terms of traction. I'm disappointed because in the morning I had put in a good time and I thought I could improve even more. For the race everything is hinging on the weather: if it's dry let's hope for some heat as well, which would eliminate some of the disadvantages that hindered us today."

MARCO MELANDRI

"I'm facing the same problems as I had at the beginning of the season. I need some significant changes that will help me gain more confidence on the bike. This is a fundamental condition for me to think about pushing hard to try and achieve results."


Redding caught out by conditions in Le Mans qualifying

Le Mans, France - 16 May 2015: Typical Le Mans weather provided a challenging qualifying session at the French Grand Prix that saw Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding qualify 15th in the damp conditions.

A rain shower one hour before qualifying left the riders facing treacherous conditions with a dry line having developed just before the start of qualifying. As a result timing was to prove crucial during the session, with riders having to pick the optimum window in which to set their fastest times.

The track conditions were constantly improving but, unfortunately, Redding was on the sidelines after a crash with three minutes remaining of QP1. Redding highsided at turn two and didn't have enough time to get back to the pita for his second bike. As a result the 22-year-old Briton had no chance of challenging for a top two position, and a spot in QP2.

Scott Redding: 15th - 1'34.551

"We just don't seem to be going forward. We're not going round in circles but we’re not making any steps forward either. It seems that we can do one lap time and then we stay at that lap time. I'm disappointed but at the moment there isn't anything that we can do. I need to try and work the bike out in my head, to try and find something myself that we can do, but at the moment we have to go into the race and just try and improve every lap. Qualifying today started okay, but then I had a highside at turn two when the rear just went came round on me. Maybe it was a bit of a cold tyre but at the moment I’m not sure.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

"It's not where I expected us to qualify. I think that the weekend started well but slowly however, since then, we've been pretty much stuck in this position. We tried something this morning and I knew that it might mean that we'd end up in QP1, but I thought that it would also mean we would be able to get into QP2. I'm disappointed with the result today, but we need to focus now on improving the situation for tomorrow’s race.”


Best qualifying of the year for Smith at the Tech3 Teams home Grand Prix

Bradley Smith continued his strong form at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in qualifying today and will launch from the rear of the second row in tomorrow’s 28 lap sprint around the Le Mans circuit. The British rider began the day by undertaking some additional setup work in FP3 this morning where the track conditions were much colder when compared with day 1. Nevertheless, his brilliant time from yesterday’s free practice 2, where he clinched 1st position, was strong enough for him to graduate straight through to QP2. When rain started to fall at lunchtime before FP4, it looked like it would interfere with the Q2 session, yet the track had dried when the 15 minute shootout began. Here, Smith leapt into action straight away and powered onwards to ride a 1’33.299 lap time, confirming his sixth place on the grid which is his highest qualifying position this season. Tomorrow he will aim to undertake a flying start and then challenge for the leading satellite rider position at the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s home Grand Prix.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Pol Espargaro will begin from 12th place on the grid after a challenging qualifying 2 session at the 4.2 kilometre Le Mans circuit. The Spaniard produced a lap time of 1’33.694 in FP3 which saw him progress through to the second 15 minute shootout. As Q2 got underway, Espargaro took off at speed as he looked to seize a strong starting position for the race and ultimately he produced a personal best time of 1’33.724 on his final lap out of 9. Tomorrow he will intend to ride relentlessly through the field to end round 5 of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship on a high.

Bradley Smith

Position : 6th Time : 1'33.299 Laps : 9

"I’m really happy to be on the second row as I said at the beginning of the event that this was my target in the qualifying. However, on my flying lap, I made a mistake which probably prevented me from doing a high 1’32 lap time, so I could have been even higher, but I’m still delighted with what we achieved today. The team did a great job, especially considering the tricky conditions and we certainly made the right decision with the front tyre choice today and I felt confident. At the moment it’s a bit uncertain for everyone with regards to the race pace, however our race setting is strong so therefore I feel comfortable. This is especially important at this track because of the hard braking points and also the length of the Grand Prix. Everything went to plan today, but tomorrow is the most important day and I aim to start well and then follow the front guys for as long as possible, like I did in Austin, in order to score a great result here in France."

Pol Espargaro

Position : 12th Time : 1'33.724 Laps : 8

"For sure, today was not my best day and I hoped that we could have qualified in a higher position, like we did last year. However, suddenly in the Q2 session we found that we had an issue with the turning of the bike and there wasn’t enough time to fix this so it was impossible to improve the lap time even though the time that I set wasn’t super fast. I can’t hide my disappointment especially after the performance that we showed here last year, so I arrived with high expectations. Yet, the race hasn’t happened already and the points are still there to be taken, so the team and I will work to improve my feeling with my bike for tomorrow where I will fight for a strong result at the Tech3 team’s home race."


Bradl second Open bike in Le Mans qualifying

Stefan Bradl closes qualifying just over three tenths off the Open class pole for the team Athinà Forward Racing on the track of Le Mans.

After a cloudy morning, a light rain was the real protagonist of the qualifying session this afternoon. In the free practice session before it, the rain started to fall on the track. In these treacherous conditions, while the track was drying, Loris Baz got the perfect timing in changing the tires and ended the free practice session on top of the standings with a time of 1.41.913. After he returned to the pits, the Frenchman was back on the track for Q1 on semi-dry asphalt and failed to repeat himself. He will start tomorrow in 22nd position with the aim of hitting the points.

His teammate Stefan Bradl will start instead from the sixth row, 16th just behind Hayden in the Open category. The German tried several new solutions on electronics and is confident for tomorrow's race.

Stefan Bradl

"I started FP4 with the idea of trying different solutions but it began to drizzle and the track got damp. However, in Q1, the track was dry again but I could not take full advantage of the soft tire because I was losing the rear a bit. For the race tomorrow I will go for the hard tires: I am confident we are not far from the points".

Loris Baz

"We did a good job in the morning and afternoon practice sessions. I tried several new solutions for the race. In FP4 the track conditions were difficult, we went on the track in the wet and gradually the track dried up. I was in the Top10 most of the time and at the right time I put the slicks on. I went back out and I posted the fastest lap: a great way to honor my home GP. In qualifying unfortunately, I made a small mistake and I could not repeat the exploit. I found a good feeling and tomorrow I believe we can recover many positions and chase points tomorrow".


Tricky conditions for Avintia Racing in Le Mans qualifying

16/05/15 Avintia Racing MotoGP – Grand Prix of France – QP

The rain finally came to Le Mans and the MotoGP riders could only ride on the dry and perfect track conditions during the FP3. Just before the last free practice session one rain shower left the track in tricky conditions to attack the lap times. The Q1 was held with a dry line, but some wet patches still there and the Avintia Racing team riders couldn’t get the maximum performance. Mike Di Meglio will start his home Grand Prix tomorrow from the 17th position of the grid, while Hector Barbera will start 19th. Both riders expect a dry race and they hope to gain some positions to try to finish in the best possible position in the 28 laps race.

MIKE DI MEGLIO #63 / 17th (3rd Open) 1'34.833 @Mikejpp63

Today was much better, because yesterday’s crash cost us a lot of time and we also had some problems with the second bike. But I’m happy because today the two bikes were working well and I have to thank the team and Ducati for they hard work to find a solution. Today I used more the second bike as I get better feeling from the chassis, and another positive point is that I made my best lap under difficult conditions and this is something good for the race, because it means the set up works. I expect good weather and a dry race.

HECTOR BARBERA #8 / 19th (5th Open) 1'34.870 @HectorBarbera

Today was difficult for me because is really hard for me to get the speed when the track has wet patches, but to be honest, at the end it was almost dry. I think that we didn’t play well our cards and because of that we’ll start from the back of the grid. I also believe that something happened with the electronics, because with the dry mapping the anti spinning was working on the straights and I was not able to use the power in every gear. It’s a pity, because we now have a better chassis but the electronics are playing against us. But overall we are okay and tomorrow we’ll have to give the maximum if it’s dry or wet.


CRUTCHLOW NARROWLY MISSES FRONT ROW AT LE MANS

Cal Crutchlow came just 0.051 seconds short of a front-row start in tomorrow's French Grand Prix after qualifying fourth fastest in this afternoon's qualifying practice at Le Mans.

The CWM LCR Honda Team rider eased through to Q2 with the third fastest time in this morning's third free practice session and although FP4 took place on a damp track after lunchtime showers, the asphalt had dried in time for this afternoon's grid shootout.

Crutchlow's second lap of his first run was enough to move him into provisional pole position just four minutes into the session but Marc Marquez then stepped up the pace. The Spaniard's effort with nine seconds left on the clock was enough to distance himself from second place by over half a second, with Crutchlow just over a tenth further back as one of only four riders to break the 1'33 mark.

Cal Crutchlow #35 (4th – 1'32.897)

“I seem to keep missing the front row by nothing. In the past I have had quite a good record for front-row starts but this year it isn't happening so I have told the team that next time I'll bypass second and third place and go straight to pole position!

“Joking aside we have worked hard today. This morning we tried something to improve rear grip and while it was better in some aspects it was worse in others. Really we needed FP4 to try some things but it rained so that was disappointing. We need to evaluate some things tonight and hopefully in the warm-up tomorrow morning before we make a final decision on the setting for the race.

“Marc did a really good job in qualifying and set a fantastic lap but the rest of us behind him are quite close so I am looking forward to tomorrow, I think it will be a good race.”


MILLER SEALS BEST MOTOGP GRID START AT LE MANS

Jack Miller secured the best qualifying position of his short MotoGP career at Le Mans today, sealing eighteenth place on the grid for the French Grand Prix.

The CWM LCR Honda rookie has felt comfortable with the legendary French circuit, where he took victory in the Moto3 race last season, all weekend and he was able to make progress again today despite the fact that the final free practice session was washed out by rain.

Thankfully the track had largely dried up in time for this afternoon's qualifying practice and after topping the timesheets with his second lap after four minutes of Q1 he went on to post the eighth fastest time of the session, bettering his previous best grid of nineteenth in Texas.

Jack Miller #43 (18th - 1'34.858)

“Qualifying wasn't a total disaster, we had some tricky conditions that didn't make life easy but I felt really good in the wet weather so we have a good base if it rains tomorrow.

“For the qualifying lap we should have gone for a harder option on the front – I just don't feel as comfortable with the softer option. I'm still not happy with this qualifying position but it is our best so far, which means we are making steps forward. Our pace is pretty good for the race so we'll see tomorrow what happens!”


Petrux is the king of Q1 and will start from the 3rd row. Yonny very close to the Top 10

Pramac Racing ends with satisfaction the Saturday activity in Le Mans.

Yonny Hernandez ended up 11th after having obtained the direct qualification in Q2 once again. Danilo Petrucci confirmed to be undefeatable in Q1 and later lapped strongly in Q2 managing to set the ninth time which means the third row in the Gran Prix de France which will take place tomorrow on the Le Mans circuit.

Petrux's day started off with the 13th time recorder in the FP3 (1'34.057) that obliged the rider from Terni (Italy) to go throug Q1. During FP4, influenced by the rain that stopped only a few minutes before the beginning, positive signals regarding the race pace had come and they also increased the rider's self confidence since he was able to win easily the Q1 for the third time this season. In the last run of the Q2 the fastest lap of 1'33.556 will allow him to start from the third row tomorrow.

Yonny Hernandez started off the day very well by going straight to Q2 obtained at the end of FP3 where the rider from Medellin did a great job and ended up in the 8th spot (the time set - 1'33.646 - would have placed him in the Top10 of the starting grid ). In Q2, however, Yonny was not able to maintain that kind of performance and his quickest time of 1'33.714 (50 hundredths of a second away from the 10th position) will make him start from the 11th spot.

9° - Danilo Petrucci - Pramac Racing #9 - 1'33.556

The Q1 is a rock very difficult to overcome because there are so many riders who struggle trying to stay in the slipstream. I always lapped alone and this helped me a lot. I am very happy for the Q2 with a third row that gives me great satisfaction. The whole day went very well, including the FP4. I kept a good pace and so I really hope to finish in the top 10 tomorrow. Meanwhile I thank the team who did a great job. My Crew Chief Daniele Romagnoli has worked a year with the Desmosedici GP14 and managed to find the right solutions. It was not easy after yesterday's free practices (16th place) to get back in the top 10. But the result that counts is tomorrow.

11° - Yonny Hernandez - Pramac Racing #68 - 1'33.714

In FP3 I had a good feeling and I won direct qualification with a good time. But in Q2, partly due to the rain that fell late in the morning, I could not find the ideal conditions to stay in the Top 10. I'm disappointed about the laptime, very close to the tenth position, but I think that tomorrow I can do a good race . In these two days I managed to keep a good pace and I hope to do the same in the race to fight again for the Top 10.


Nicky Hayden qualifies as top Open for first time this season

Saturday, 16 May 2015 16:47

POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider reaps benefits of set-up change for Q1 and closes the gap to the top

After four free practice sessions led by four different riders in Dovizioso, Smith, Lorenzo and Baz, this afternoon's qualifying practice for the French GP saw another change at the top of the timesheets as Marc Marquez snatched pole position for the fifth round of the season. Rainfall during Moto3 qualifying abated for the final free practice session in the top class and as Q2 took place on a dry track Márquez was able to overcome the challenge of Lorenzo and Dovizioso to snatch his third pole of the season.

POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider Nicky Hayden continued to attack the weekend with his usual never-say-die attitude and his persistence paid off this afternoon when a set-up change in Q1 allowed him to seal his best grid of the season so far. The American came close to qualifying for Q2 as he finished fourth fastest in Q1, securing fourteenth position on tomorrow's grid, as the best Open bike for the first time this season. Eugene Laverty had a less enjoyable day as he crashed twice, admitting that both were down to the wrong tyre choice. The Irishman continues to learn in his rookie MotoGP season and he is looking forward to a more positive day tomorrow.

14th Nicky Hayden 1.34.267:

“Even though it rained shortly beforehand, luckily it was dry for qualifying. It was our best qualifying practice of the season so far, which is a boost going into tomorrow's race. Now we have to turn this positive progress into a result. We made a small change this afternoon which turned out to be very positive and I would have liked to qualify for Q2 but it wasn't to be, we need to keep working. My mechanics have been doing a great job all season so hopefully I can pay them back. There won't be much space in the first three turns tomorrow so we'll have to be careful but my goal is to stay focused and turn my best grid position of the season so far into my best result.”

21st Eugene Laverty 1.34.947:

“Yesterday was a tough day and I didn't enjoy myself on the bike but today we really managed to improve the front-end response of the bike and I was able to get it turned more easily. The only shame today was that we had two crashes, which both happened when I was on a used front tyre and a new rear. It is a mistake we need to learn from but apart from that I am okay, the pace is decent and tomorrow we need to build on it. I think we deserved more than 21st place today but we didn't manage to put a faster lap in so we have to try and make up positions tomorrow.”


To Sunday´s race from the twentieth position

Today Karel Abraham fought hard from the beginning of the qualifying practice till the end for the best position on starting grid. Czech rider improved his best time several times during the session, but finally finished on twentieth place and to Sunday´s race will start from the seventh row on the starting grid. The whole Saturday was influenced by the weather which is traditionally rainy and cold in Le Mans.

Karel Abraham

"Today was a tough day. The track was completely wet at one moment. Then got drying up and it´s very difficult to do something with that. I was quite happy with the time, I thought it would suffice for better position, but it didn´t. We´ll see what the weather will be like tomorrow, it shouldn´t rain. I think, that the technical problem with rear suspension will be properly solved until next race in Italy, as there is usually warm or hot. So far it fairly works. Tomorrow we must make good decision about the tyres for the race. I used an extra soft front tyre in qualifying parctice, but I guess it isn´t good choice. After few fast laps the bike started to slide a lot.“


Marquez masters challenging conditions en route to pole position at Le Mans

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Le Mans, France

Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Weather: FP3 - Dry. Ambient 11-12°C; Track 13-17°C (Bridgestone measurement)

FP4/QP – Wet/Dry. Ambient 14-16°C; Track 17-21°C (Bridgestone measurement)

In challenging conditions at Le Mans, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was half a second quicker than his nearest competitor in Qualifying Practice 2 as he claimed pole position for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix.

On a track surface that was far from ideal due to earlier rain, Marquez’s best lap time of 1'32.24 in QP2 was just two-tenths off his own Circuit Best Lap record at Le Mans and saw him comfortably take the top spot ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who managed a best time of 1’32.749. Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo is a three-time MotoGP winner at Le Mans, and he did his chances of claiming a fourth victory at the circuit no harm by qualifying on the front row, his time of 1’32.846 the third quickest in qualifying. Both Marquez and Lorenzo set their best times using the combination of soft compound slicks front and rear, while Dovizioso used the soft compound front and extra-soft compound rear slick to set his best time.

Rain began to fall prior to this afternoon’s Free Practice 4 session which was declared wet, and although a dry line was present for qualifying, conditions were far from ideal. Track temperatures throughout the day were low, ranging from just 13°C at the start of this morning’s FP3 session to a peak of 21°C at the end of QP2. The cold conditions resulted in riders using the extra-soft and soft compound front slicks in today’s dry sessions, with the medium compound front slick remaining unused. When attempting a quick lap during time attacks in qualifying, the majority of riders preferred the soft compound front slick and this is also likely to be the most popular race choice. The soft compound rear slick also emerged as the preferred race choice today, although some open-class riders are likely to select the extra-soft rear slick for the race, particularly if temperatures remain low. During the wet FP4 session, only the soft compound wet tyre was utilised, with no riders opting for the alternative, hard compound wet tyre.

Tomorrow’s weather forecast suggests slightly warmer conditions, with only a slight chance of rain. The next MotoGP session is the twenty minute Warm Up session at 0940 local time tomorrow (GMT +2) before the twenty-eight lap French Grand Prix gets underway at 1400.

Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“The conditions at Le Mans today were extremely challenging for the riders, this morning we had the coolest track temperatures we’ve experienced in MotoGP in a long time, and so I am happy that our tyre allocation enabled the riders to manage the conditions safely. Quite a few riders were able to lap under the race lap record in this morning’s freezing FP3 session which indicates the tyres offered enough warm-up performance and feel in the conditions, which is what you need as a rider at this circuit. Although we had a disruption with the wet conditions in FP4, we’ve had enough dry track time for the riders to decide on which slick tyre combinations will work best for them in the race. The soft compound front and rear slicks are the most popular options due to their optimal combination of cornering and braking performance, and ability to retain temperature, but it is likely that the extra-soft rear slick will be chosen by some open-class riders for the race.”


Tissot Pole Position Awards - France

MARQUEZ TAKES 25TH MotoGP™ POLE DESPITE PROBLEMS AND WEATHER

World champion Marc Marquez took his third pole position of the season and the 25th of his MotoGP™ career when he led qualifying for the Grand Prix of France at Le Mans this afternoon. The Spanish Honda rider overcame a number of set up problems and a drying track at the 4.185 kms Bugatti circuit to receive his Tissot pole setting T-Touch Solar watch from Charmil Drouod, Manager of the Tissot shop in the Champs Elysees, Paris.

He is joined on the front row of the grid for the 28 lap fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship by the Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso and the Yamaha of Jerez winner Jorge Lorenzo. It was a good afternoon for Tissot Ambassadors Bradley Smith and Nicky Hayden. Smith, after leading the opening two practice sessions yesterday produced his best qualifying of the season to put his Yamaha on the second row of the grid after qualifying in sixth. Hayden led the open class after qualifying 14th on the Honda with Stefan Bradl two places behind him.

Alex Rins and Sam Lowes could not be separated on time at the top of Moto2™ qualifying, but Spaniard Rins took his first Moto2 pole after his second fastest lap was quicker than Lowes’. Rins received his first Tissot T-Race pole setting watch and is joined on the front row by Lowes and championship leader, Frenchman Johann Zarco. Tissot Ambassador Tom Luthi is a three times winner at Le Mans and will be in contention tomorrow after qualifying in sixth place.

Sixteen year old Frenchman Fabio Quartararo received his second successive Moto3™ pole setting Tissot Quickster watch after an extraordinary session. As the riders left pit lane the rain began to fall and it was obvious they had two almost dry laps to set their qualifying times. Honda-mounted Quartararo set the fastest lap and then crashed at the fast turn two. As he stood up his team-mate Jorge Navarro crashed at the same corner after setting the second fastest lap and that was that as the rain came down. Completing the front is Italian Francesco Bagnaia on the Mahindra. The big loser was Championship leader Danny Kent chasing his fourth consecutive grand prix win. Caught out by the rain he qualified a lowly 31st.

FAST FACTS

MotoGP™

• For the fourth successive race the three riders on the front row of the MotoGP grid are riding bikes from three different manufacturers.

• Marc Marquez starts from pole for the third time in 2015 and for the third successive year at the French Grand Prix.

• Andrea Dovizioso is in second place on the grid – his third front row start of 2015. Dovizioso was the first Ducati rider across the line last year at Le Mans in 8th place.

• Jorge Lorenzo, who is in third place on the grid, will be aiming for his first podium at Le Mans since he won the French GP in 2012.

• Bradley Smith starts from sixth place on the grid, which is his best qualifying result since he was fourth fastest qualifier at Phillip Island last year.

Moto2™

• Alex Rins has qualified on pole for the first time since moving up to the Moto2 class this year. Rins is the third youngest rider to qualify on pole in the Moto2 class, after Marc Marquez and Shoya Tomizawa.

• Sam Lowes starts from the front row for the third time in 2015; he is the only non-Kalex rider in the Moto2 class to have started from the front row so far this year.

• In third place on the grid is Johann Zarco, who has finished either first or second at the last three races. Zarco will be aiming to become the first French rider ever to win an intermediate-class (Moto2/250cc) grand prix at the Le Mans circuit.

Moto3™

• Fabio Quartararo becomes the youngest ever rider to start back-to-back grand prix races from pole position taking the record from Maverick Viñales.

• Quartararo is the first French rider to start on pole for a French grand prix since Olivier Jacque in the 250cc class at Paul Ricard in 1997 and the first French rider to start on pole for a GP at Le Mans since Jean-Philippe Ruggia in the 250cc class in 1989.

• In second place on the grid is Jorge Navarro, which is his first front row start in grand prix racing.

• Francesco Bagnaia is in third place on the grid – his first front row start in grand prix racing. Bagnaia finished 4th at Le Mans last year, which is his best ever GP result.


Round Number: 
5
2015

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