MotoGP Round 3 At Le Mans – The Doctor Claims Pole

Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi took the 59th pole position of his career and his first of the season yesterday with an authoritative performance in sunny Le Mans. His team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was just five hundredths of a second off his time, as the Fiat Yamaha pair put up a commanding display ahead of today’s French Grand Prix.  It was the seventh Fiat Yamaha one-two qualification in Rossi-Lorenzo era.

After topping the time sheets on Friday, Rossi was third in the morning with Lorenzo ahead of him in second. In the afternoon temperatures once again soared into the high twenties and both riders looked in menacing form, having already found excellent base settings for their M1s yesterday. Both had spent time at the top of the standings before the session entered its final quarter and with ten minutes to go Lorenzo went top again, becoming the first man to dip into the 1’33s.

The Mallorcan held out for a few minutes before Casey Stoner (above) and then Dani Pedrosa took over but it was Rossi who had the most still hidden up his sleeve, the 31-year-old maestro pulling out a brilliant lap in a time of 1’33.408, a target that proved unassailable in the final two minutes. Rossi is still worried about his damaged shoulder over race distance tomorrow but he will be doing all he can to take a second win of the year, as will his championship-leading team-mate Lorenzo, when the third round of the season gets underway at 1400 CET today.

Lorenzo, who turned 23 two days after Jerez and the memory of his first home MotoGP win was still fresh in his mind as he celebrated his birthday at home in Barcelona, following a successful one-day test. He cannot help but feel confident for another good weekend in Le Mans, where last year he kept his head to win by 17 seconds as the weather wreaked havoc all around him, and the season before he finished second despite riding with two broken ankles. Lorenzo has one other win at Le Mans, in 2007 on the way to his second 250cc title.

The French Grand Prix in 2009 on the other hand is one that nine-time World Champion Rossi would rather forget, plagued as he was by a catalogue of mishaps and visits to pit lane before limping home in 16th position. His previous record at the famous French track is exemplary however, with two wins for Yamaha in 2008 and 2005, as well as one other win and six podiums in all classes. Another two weeks off has given him time to fully recover from the shoulder injury that hampered him in Jerez and he will be back on top form and shooting for the top this time out.

Loris Capirossi (above), Rizla Suzuki’s sole rider this weekend, will start today’s French Grand Prix from the third row of the grid after qualifying in ninth place with a time of 1’34.306. He was consistently within touch of the front pack throughout the whole of the qualifying session and with a few more modifications to his Suzuki GSV-R this evening, he is confident he can have a strong race on Sunday.

Alvaro Bautista visiting MotoGP doctor at nearby Le Mans Circuit clinic.

Capirossi will be Rizla Suzuki’s only rider participating in this year’s French Grand Prix, following the withdrawal of Alvaro Bautista earlier in the day. Bautista suffered from a big high-side in this morning’s practice session and the fresh injuries he sustained – added to his already broken collarbone – forced him to make the decision to take no further part in this weekend’s events. He was disappointed about not competing in France, but also mindful of getting back to full fitness for a hectic schedule ahead.

Le Mans is most famous as home to the iconic 24-Hour race but the MotoGP also draws a huge crowd every year. The first part of the track is the most difficult in what is not a particularly technical circuit, with the high-speed, uphill turn one giving way to several tight chicanes. The remainder of the track is made up of short straights and hairpins calling for a set up that yields both balance and control under hard and repeated braking and a quick transfer from full braking to full acceleration on the exit of the corners.

Yesterday’s Qualifying was held in hot and sunny conditions with air temperatures reaching 28ºC and track temperatures getting up to 46ºC.

Qualifying Results :

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 33.408s
2. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 33.462s
3. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 1m 33.573s
4. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 33.824s
5. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 33.845s
6. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 1m 34.074s
7. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1m 34.204s
8. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 34.304s
9. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 34.306s
10. Aleix Espargaro SPA Pramac Racing 1m 34.514s
11. Marco Melandri ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 34.523s
12. Ben Spies USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 34.920s
13. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 34.942s
14. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Interwetten Honda MotoGP 1m 34.979s
15. Hector Barbera SPA Paginas Amarillas Aspar 1m 35.323s
16. Mika Kallio FIN Pramac Racing 1m 35.810s

Photo : Fiat Yamaha Team / Rizla Suzuki MotoGP / MotoGP

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Comments
One Response to “MotoGP Round 3 At Le Mans – The Doctor Claims Pole”
  1. Titus Gilmore says:

    I wish Rossi speedy recovery, it’s a really sad day for me and I believe for all motorsports fan too.

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