News 23 May 2010

MotoGP: Rossi on pole after scorching Le Mans qualifying

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi topped a frantic qualifying session to take pole position for Sunday’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The final ten minutes of Saturday’s hour-long session saw the top spot on the timesheet change hands a number of times as the MotoGP riders pushed hard under the searing Le Mans sunshine.

The Italian snatched top spot in a time of 1’33.408, quicker than the existing race lap record, and with it took his first pole position of the 2010 season, and his first at the French circuit since 2005.

Jorge Lorenzo made it a Fiat Yamaha one-two in the session as he went round just 0.054s off Rossi’s pace, having consistently lapped amongst the fastest times, whilst Dani Pedrosa completed the front row of the starting grid with a fine effort late on as well.

Casey Stoner had been one of those competing for pole throughout the session but the Ducati Marlboro man had to settle for the first slot on the second row, unable to make the most of the soft option tyre. The Australian’s team-mate Nicky Hayden was just two-hundredths behind, and joined him as the final rider under the 1’34” mark as he registered the fifth best time.

LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet will start his home GP from the second row as well after an impressive session placed him sixth.

Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso pushed himself to the front of row three with his final lap, whilst Colin Edwards and Loris Capirossi were eighth and ninth fastest respectively.

Completing the top ten times of the session was Aleix Espargaró, who despite running off at turn seven, did well to stay on his Pramac Ducati and went on to set his best time with his last lap of the session and seal his best ever MotoGP qualification.

Ben Spies and Mika Kallio were both back on track after their crashes in free practice earlier in the day, and set the 12th and 16th fastest times respectively in qualifying. Meanwhile Alvaro Bautista sat out qualifying and ruled himself out of tomorrow’s race after a huge high-side this morning aggravated his existing shoulder injuries.

Kenny Noyes rode a storming Moto2 qualifying session to take pole position for Sunday’s race, posting a best lap of 1’39.234 to place his Promoharris machine team at the head of the grid. Noyes is the first American to take pole in the intermediate GP class since John Kocinski at the Australian 250cc GP in 1990.

As was the case in the earlier practice session there was little separating a large number of riders, with the top 27 all within a second of one another. Second fastest, at just 0.031s behind Noyes, was Yuki Takahashi who will ensure that his Tech3 team start their home race from an encouraging spot. Alex Debón joins them on the front row, as will Frenchman Jules Cluzel.

Fonsi Nieto and Sergio Gadea maintained their consistency from practice to take the fifth and sixth fastest times respectively, whilst Toni Elías recovered from an early crash to record the seventh quickest lap. Simone Corsi will complete the second row.

125cc World Championship leader Nico Terol will start the race at Le Mans from pole position, after he topped qualifying session with a best lap of 1’43.719. The Bancaja Aspar rider currently holds a seven-point advantage over Pol Espargaró in the championship standings, and the Tuenti Racing rider was second quickest in the session just 0.145s behind.

German youngster Sandro Cortese ensured that the front row will have a non-Spanish rider on it for the first time this season, and Marc Márquez will make it three Derbi machines out of four.

Bradley Smith looks to have rediscovered his pace on his Aprilia after a seizure on Friday, and will start from the front of the second row. The Brit set his best time of the session on his 19th and final lap, before suffering a small fall right at the end. Tomoyoshi Koyama, Randy Krummenacher and Danny Webb all set top-eight times as well to give themselves promising starting positions for Sunday.

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