Marc Marquez bounced back from a practice fall to take his second career MotoGP pole. Marc Marquez bounced back from a practice fall to take his second career MotoGP pole. Photo courtesy Repsol Honda

Marquez takes second career pole in France

Written by  on Saturday, 18 May 2013 14:38

Marc Marquez collected a second MotoGP™ pole position for this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The championship leader beat current title holder Jorge Lorenzo by just three hundredths of a second on Saturday as Andrea Dovizioso celebrated his first front row for Ducati Team. Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa will start sixth after crashing.

The majority of those in the paddock expected rainfall for qualifying, but this was not to be the case as a steady breeze graced the historic Le Mans venue. Delivering an impressive lap time of 1:33.187, Marquez looked to have convincingly sealed his second pole after Texas but was challenged hard by Lorenzo.

With Dovizioso taking his first front row since Malaysia 2012, Saturday’s result also marks the first time that the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati factory outfits have shared Row 1 since Spain 2012.

Both Repsol Honda Team riders suffered falls at Le Mans on Saturday, just as they had on qualifying day in Jerez two weeks ago.

Marquez’s slip-up came at turn three in the pre-qualifying practice session, whereas Pedrosa was left with less than 10 minutes to return to the pits after he lost control in exactly the same spot shortly into the Q2 shootout.

“I was on my second bike, but to build that confidence again after a crash is quite difficult,” Marquez recalled. “It takes time. I took one or two laps, but then it was qualifying and I pushed like before. In terms of my rhythm: I’m happy, not so bad. Jorge (Lorenzo) had a very good rhythm but, you know, we will see how the weather and everything is tomorrow and we will try to do our best.”

Pedrosa was naturally downbeat about sixth place, having topped both of the practice sessions on Friday off the back of his maiden season victory at home in Spain.

MotoGP™ World Champion Lorenzo had set the pace in the pre-qualifying fourth practice session, but was pipped to the post in the Q2 shootout.

“All weekend we have been working very much to improve the feeling with the front tire - with which we had some difficulties in Jerez - in order to have a more consistent pace,” explained the Yamaha Factory Racing rider after qualifying. “I think we got it. I was concentrating on doing a very fast lap but unfortunately I couldn’t beat Marc today because he was really fast, but our main target for today was to improve the bike for the race and I think we got it. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Although he had predicted an improvement in performances at Le Mans this weekend, Dovizioso did not foresee his first front row position since Malaysia 2012 and Ducati’s first since the Spanish Grand Prix earlier in that season.

"We knew that our bike would be working better at this track, but we didn’t expect the first row," the Italian stated in the post-qualifying press conference.

"My pace is not too bad and we are closer to the fastest riders in comparison with other tracks, but I didn’t expect this lap time and I was really surprised when I saw the split during the laps. We had the possibility to do a good lap time and we have a better pace here, so I’m confident of having a good rhythm tomorrow: that is our target.

"I hope to have a dry race, but it looks as though the Ducati will also be working in the wet so we’ll see tomorrow."

Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came back from a heavy crash at La Chapelle in final practice to achieve the fourth best grid spot and will share the second row with LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and the aforementioned Pedrosa.

Crutchlow will undergo a further medical examination on Sunday morning to decide whether or not he is able to race at Le Mans. The Monster Energy Tech 3 rider took a heavy hit to his right side Saturday afternoon.

After taking part in qualifying the Englishman later returned to the Medical Centre for treatment and it was confirmed that he had suffered a fracture to the tibial plateau, which affects the overall stability and motion of the knee.

“It is a very small fracture, but it could cause bother,” explained a doctor from the Clinica Mobile. “Tomorrow he could be able to race, but the knee could swell up overnight and that would be a problem.”

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Rossi hopes to become the fourth winner from four races this weekend, but could muster only eighth in qualifying and will be flanked on Row 3 by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, who with ninth place equals his best grid position of the season so far.

Nicky Hayden completed the top 10 for Ducati as Power Electronics Aspar successfully saw two CRT riders into the Q2 for the first time; although he was quicker than his teammate in Q1, local hero Randy de Puniet could not out-qualify teammate Aleix Espargaro when it came to the all-important final shootout.

Elsewhere, Michele Pirro qualified 14th and one place behind Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone as he stands in for the recovering Ben Spies, while Colin Edwards was highly optimistic with the latest evolution of his FTR frame and went on to qualify 17th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing.

On his return, Karel Abraham - with seven screws and a plate in his right shoulder following a collision in Austin - was, like Iannone, still in some pain but managed to achieve a sixth row placing.

Sunday’s 2013 Monster Energy Grand Prix de France will begin at 2:00pm local time and forecasters are continuing to predict rain.

Japan’s Takaaki Nakagami achieved a career-first pole position for the Moto2™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The Italtrans Racing Team rider will share the front row of the grid with Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding and Came Iodaracing Project’s Johann Zarco, who is the leading French rider.

Nakagami, who starred at the start of the 2013 season by leading and finishing on the podium in Qatar, saw pole position confirmed as rain finally fell at Le Mans in the second half of Saturday afternoon’s 45-minute qualifying session. With a lap time of 1:38.508, he had already seen off Redding and Zarco by the comfortable margin of three tenths of a second.

Tuenti HP 40’s Esteve Rabat heads into the fourth round as championship leader. He will line up fourth on the grid from Desguaces La Torre Maptaq’s Xavier Simeon and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol, with Tuenti’s Pol Espargaro – who sits third in the riders’ standings behind Rabat and Redding – coming from seventh at the start.

Maverick Viñales confidently earned his first pole position of 2013 for the Moto3™ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The Team Calvo rider, championship leader, will share the Le Mans front row with Mahindra Racing’s Miguel Oliveira and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger.

Fresh from his first victory of the campaign at home in Spain a fortnight ago, Viñales confidently destroyed the previous best lap time of the French weekend to post 1:43.696.

MotoGP Qualifying Results (courtesy Repsol Honda)

1

  Marc Marquez

 1'33.187

 SPA

HONDA

 Repsol Honda Team

  2

  Jorge Lorenzo

 1'33.217

 SPA

YAMAHA

 Yamaha Factory Racing

  3

  Andrea Dovizioso

 1'33.603

 ITA

DUCATI

 Ducati Team

  4

  Cal Crutchlow

 1'33.609

 GBR

YAMAHA

 Monster Yamaha Tech 3

  5

  Stefan Bradl

 1'33.634

 GER

HONDA

 LCR Honda MotoGP

  6

  Dani Pedrosa

 1'33.639

 SPA

HONDA

 Repsol Honda Team

  7

  Alvaro Bautista

 1'33.984

 SPA

HONDA

 Go & Fun Honda Gresini

  8

  Valentino Rossi

 1'34.009

 ITA

YAMAHA

 Yamaha Factory Racing

  9

  Bradley Smith

 1'34.222

 GBR

YAMAHA

 Monster Yamaha Tech 3

  10

  Nicky Hayden

 1'34.242

 USA

DUCATI

 Ducati Team

  11

  Aleix Espargaro

 1'34.754

 SPA

ART

 Power Electronics Aspar

  12

  Randy De Puniet

 1'35.086

 FRA

ART

 Power Electronics Aspar

  13

  Andrea Iannone

 1'35.062

 ITA

DUCATI

 Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

  14

  Michele Pirro

 1'35.228

 ITA

DUCATI

 Ignite Pramac Racing Team

  15

  Hector Barbera

 1'35.714

 SPA

FTR

 Avintia Blusens

  16

  Danilo Petrucci

 1'35.770

 ITA

IODA-SUTER

 Came IodaRacing Project

  17

  Colin Edwards

 1'36.221

 USA

FTR-KAWASAKI

 NGM Mobile Forward Racing

  18

  Karel Abraham

 1'36.271

 CZE

ART

 Cardion AB Motoracing

  19

  Claudio Corti

 1'36.330

 ITA

FTR-KAWASAKI

 NGM Mobile Forward Racing

  20

  Michael Laverty

 1'36.596

 GBR

PBM

 Paul Bird Motorsport

  21

  Bryan Staring

 1'36.714

 AUS

FTR

 Go & Fun Honda Gresini

  22

  Lukas Pesek

 1'36.768

 CZE

IODA-SUTER

 Came IodaRacing Project

  23

  Yonny Hernandez

 1'36.961

 COL

PBM

 Paul Bird Motorsport

  24

  Hiroshi Aoyama

 1'37.523

 JAP

FTR

 Avintia Blusens

--from motogp.com

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John Hopkins

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