Marc Marquez is proving that he will be a threat for the championship by grabbing his second pole position of his rookie MotoGP season at the Le Mans circuit on Saturday. Despite suffering a lowside crash in the final free practice session prior to qualifying, Marquez quickly jumped on his backup bike and proceeded to show that the fall did nothing to dent his confidence. The Repsol Honda rider set his time midway through the qualifying session, and even a supreme effort by Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo couldn’t unseat the young Spaniard.
Marc Marquez overcame a practice...
Marc Marquez overcame a practice crash just prior to qualifying to take his second career pole position.
Lorenzo was very satisfied with his qualifying performance however, citing that the team had found a solution to the front tire issues that had been plaguing him ever since Jerez. But the big surprise of the session was the flyer turned in by Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso, the Italian shooting upward into the team’s first front row qualifying result for quite some time.
And what of Dani Pedrosa? Marquez’s teammate actually crashed in the same corner (the entrance to the Dunlop chicane) that claimed the younger Honda rider in practice, but Pedrosa had the misfortune to suffer his crash in the opening laps of the 15-minute qualifying session. Pedrosa got back to his pitbox and jumped on his backup bike, but he was only able to run a couple of laps before the session ended, his 1:33.639 lap only good enough for sixth spot on the grid.
Another faller in the final free practice session was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow, the Brit falling heavily in a nasty highside on cold tires. Although he lay prone on the circuit for a bit and forced the session to be halted temporarily to allow corner marshals to tend to him, Crutchlow received clearance to get back on course and promptly put his Yamaha in fourth spot, just 0.006 seconds off the front row. He eventually was diagnosed with a small fracture in his shin, but the hard-as-nails Brit will be racing in his team’s home Grand Prix.
"After FP3, in which we had a small front end crash and I lost my confidence a little,” related Marquez, “I was back on it immediately. It was hard to heat up the tires, but that was the same for everyone. I think that's the reason why there were so many crashes. I am very happy, because I think that we had a good session and have a good pace. Tomorrow we will try to give 100% and see if we are fortunate enough to have a dry race. If it is a wet one, then we just have to do as well as we can."
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge...
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo came up just 0.030 seconds short of pole at Le Mans.
“Our pace is very good, much better than Jerez where I did two laps and then in the third or fourth lap it was impossible to keep the same pace,” said Lorenzo. “Here in this track with the improvement we made with the bike it’s much more easy to keep a constant pace so I’m much more satisfied. I tried to make a perfect lap, it was ok, but Marc was just slightly faster than me. I don't know what will happen if it rains tomorrow because we haven’t tried it in the wet. Last year it was ok, but every year it’s different so I don't know what to expect. I would prefer a dry race. If it rains though it can be a possibility to recover some points if we don’t make a mistake.”
Andrea Dovisioso surprised...
Andrea Dovisioso surprised even himself by qualifying third quickest at Le Mans.
“I was surprised to do a 1:33.6, as I didn’t think I’d be able to do that, but it was a beautiful feeling,” admitted Dovisioso about his qualifying lap. “I’m pleased with the work we’ve done over the weekend because we’ve been consistently fast and we have the pace to do a good race—maybe not to finish on the podium but we’re much closer to the competition than we have been at other tracks. Although I know it will be a difficult race, I still hope that it’ll be dry tomorrow; those are the conditions that we’ve practiced in and we’re pretty fast. Still, it shouldn’t be a big problem even if it rains, as it seems that our GP13 works well in the wet.”
Valentino Rossi looked like...
Valentino Rossi looked like he might be in the mix on Friday, but continuing rear tire problems frustrated the Italian on Saturday.
After showing some promise yesterday during opening practice
, Valentino Rossi continued to struggle with rear grip problems on Saturday, and the switch to the soft tire for qualifying only made things worse. “Unfortunately today was a worse day compared to yesterday,” lamented Rossi. “We started quite badly this morning because we had some problems with the rear tire so we struggled very much in the practice. We had a lot of question marks so we wanted to try the same setting this afternoon. In fact the tire had a problem because this afternoon it was not so bad. My rhythm and pace for the race is quite good, unfortunately especially Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa are a bit faster. Like the other races, in the qualifying I am unable to do what I want, when I try to push more I create some problems with the bike. The other riders are better than me to use the extra grip from the new tire, so I have to start from the third row. My rhythm is not so bad so we have to try to fix something.”
MotoGP Le Mans qualifying results:
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda 1:33.187
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:33.217
3. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati 1:33.603
4. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 1:33.609
5. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 1:33.634
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:33.639
7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:33.984
8. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:34.009
9. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha 1:34.222
10. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:34.242
11. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:34.754
12. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:35.086
13. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 1:35.062
14. Michele Pirro (ITA) Ducati 1:35.228
15. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:35.714
16. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW 1:35.770
17. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:36.221
18. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia 1:36.271
19. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:36.330
20. Michael Laverty (GBR) ART/Aprilia 1:36.596
21. Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda 1:36.714
22. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW 1:36.768
23. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia 1:36.961
24. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki 1:37.523