Pedrosa was fastest in both Friday practice sessions. Pedrosa was fastest in both Friday practice sessions. Photo courtesy Repsol Honda

Pedrosa fastest in French GP practice

Written by  on Friday, 17 May 2013 16:35

Fresh from his win in the Spanish Grand Prix, Dani Pedrosa topped both Friday practice sessions at Le Mans ahead of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France MotoGP World Championship event. The Repsol Honda Team rider led teammate Marc Marquez and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi as less than three tenths of a second covered the top five riders.

Heading into the afternoon session, there was a sense of urgency to seal top 10 positions for Q2 Qualifying as rain is forecast to hit the iconic venue on Saturday. Pedrosa led with 1:34.035 as the top eight riders of the afternoon beat the leading lap time of the morning period.

“We had a chance to run in the dry, so it was important to get some information and try the tires as well,” Pedrosa explained to motogp.com. “We were lucky today to get some sun, so the track temperature was not so bad and we could do some laps to see how the bike was. I think it was important to take profit of the conditions.

“I hope the bike is also working well in wet conditions; we have experience here from last year but will still need to go out and check how the grip levels are.”

Marquez has travelled to France as the youngest ever sole leader of the MotoGP™ World Championship, having past Jorge Lorenzo at the last corner in Jerez.

“Today was so good,” the 20-year-old reported. “In the beginning I was struggling a little bit because this track is so small – and with MotoGP it was even smaller!

“We tried to find the best setup and I felt so good this afternoon, especially. For tomorrow it looks like the forecast will be rain and then 50/50 for Sunday, so we will try to do our best and continue like this.”

Rossi was upbeat following the opening day of practice, although Yamaha Factory Racing teammate Jorge Lorenzo was somewhat less content with his day’s work.

Rossi, who is striving to become the fourth winner in as many races so far this season, was just over a tenth of a second off the top time registered by Pedrosa. This also marked the first time in the 2013 season that he had finished ahead of teammate Lorenzo.

“I’m very happy with today,” the nine-time world champion told motogp.com. “Right from the morning my speed was good and in the afternoon we were working with the bike. We had two different settings and in the end I decided to follow one way; it’s been modified in order to save the tires and not lose too much traction under acceleration.

“The modification worked because I did my best lap and the rhythm is quite good; I’m third but very, very close. I hope for a dry race because I think we can be more competitive with the Yamaha in the dry.”

Behind Marquez and Rossi, Lorenzo and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl completed the top five.

Cal Crutchlow led the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 charge from sixth position as teammate Bradley Smith took a pair of almost identical trips through the Dunlop gravel trap across the opening couple of sessions.

There was a worse moment for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who ended the day in 12th place after suffering an accident on the exit of Raccordement, the final corner of the lap.

On the Ignite Pramac Racing bike, Michele Pirro is standing in for the recovering Ben Spies, while Karel Abraham is back in action for Cardion AB Motoracing.

The top 10 was rounded out by Ducati Team duo Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden plus GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro - the leading CRT runner. Teammate and home rider Randy de Puniet ended the day 13th quickest.

Came IodaRacing have switched from a chiefly white to black livery, whereas NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Claudio Corti experimented with a new air in-take on his FTR Kawasaki.

If third practice eventually takes place amid dry conditions, the riders will have one final chance to confirm a guaranteed Q2 position by finishing in the overall top 10 from across the opening trio of practice periods. Should they fail to do this, another chance will come as the top two riders from Q1 will join the top 12 shootout for pole.

Scott Redding went even quicker on Friday afternoon to cement his position atop the Moto2™ practice timesheets. The Marc VDS Racing Team rider saw off Interwetten Paddock Moto2’s Tom Luthi by just under four tenths of a second as Tuenti HP 40’s championship-leading Esteve Rabat suffered a fall in the Chemin aux Boeufs s-bends.

Already quickest as the morning session drew to a close on a stereotypically changeable day for weather (when even hail fell at Le Mans), Redding reduced the leading time to 1:38.283 in the completely dry afternoon period.

Behind Luthi and Simon, Qatar podium finisher Takaaki Nakagami and Dominique Aegerter were fourth and fifth for Italtrans and Technomag carXpert, correspondingly.

Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins set the practice pace as Moto3™ track action began on Friday. The Spaniard moved ahead of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom as an unforeseen flurry of hail disrupted the end of the second session.

Rins led with a best lap time of 1:44.147, beating Folger by just six thousandths of a second. Behind third-placed Salom was Team Calvo’s Maverick Viñales, who had topped the morning session but suffered a highside accident on the exit of the Bleus ‘S’ in the afternoon.

MotoGP Top 15 Practice Times (courtesy Yamaha)

1

Daniel Pedrosa

Honda

ESP

1'34.035 

2

Marc Marquez

Honda

ESP

1'34.169 

3

Valentino Rossi

Yamaha

ITA

1'34.173 

4

Jorge Lorenzo

Yamaha

ESP

1'34.201 

5

Stefan Bradl

Honda

GER

1'34.299 

6

Cal Crutchlow

Yamaha

GBR

1'34.512 

7

Andrea Dovizioso

Ducati

ITA

1'34.578 

8

Nicky Hayden

Ducati

USA

1'34.590 

9

Alvaro Bautista

Honda

ESP

1'34.739 

10

Aleix Espargaro

ART

ESP

1'35.045 

11

Bradley Smith

Yamaha

GBR

1'35.362 

12

Andrea Iannone

Ducati

ITA

1'35.433 

13

Randy De Puniet

ART

FRA

1'35.447 

14

Michele Pirro

Ducati

ITA

1'35.864 

15

Hector Barbera

FTR

ESP

1'35.940 

--from motogp.com

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John Hopkins

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