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.
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.
Untitled Jorge Lorenzo
3rd / 1'32.846 / 8 laps
"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."
Untitled Valentino Rossi
7th / 1'33.352 / 9 laps
"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."
Untitled Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 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."
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 Bradley Smith
6th / 1'33.299 / 9 laps
"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 Pol Espargaro
12th / 1'33.724 / 8 laps
"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 closed 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 shower 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 timed changing tyres perfectly 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.
Untitled Stefan Bradl
16th / 1'34.575 / 9 laps
"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 tyre because I was losing the rear a bit. For the race tomorrow I will go for the hard tyres: I am confident we are not far from the points."
Untitled Loris Baz
22nd / 1'35.456 / 7 laps
"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 honour 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."