Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo will start tomorrow’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France from the front row of the grid in second position. The reigning World Champion was denied pole by just 0.030 seconds in the afternoon 15minute quick fire qualification heat. Lorenzo led from the start of the session before relinquishing the top spot to rival Marc Marquez with eight minutes remaining. A flurry of activity followed with most riders pitting at the same time for fresh rubber before the hectic final minutes began. Despite twice dropping under the pole time through the second sector in the final laps Lorenzo final time puts him in second for race day.
After a strong first day yesterday Valentino Rossi experienced a less than perfect qualifying session this afternoon, struggling to make his YZR-M1 work to the best of its ability on the cooler Le Mans circuit. With a best qualifying time of 1’34.009 The Italian will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix from the third row of the grid in eighth place, 0.822 seconds from pole.
Jorge Lorenzo 2nd, Time – 1’33.217
“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. 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.”
Valentino Rossi – 8th, Time – 1’34.009
“Unfortunately today was a worse day compared to yesterday. We started quite badly this morning because we had some problems with the rear tyre 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 tyre 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 tyre, so I have to start from the third row. My rhythm is not so bad so we have to try to fix something so we will see tomorrow.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It was an exciting qualification. This afternoon in free practice the rhythm was very good. In qualifying the temperature dropped a bit because rain was supposed to be coming so it was not as easy as we thought it would be and also for the safety aspect. Anyway, the lap time is very good with the 33.2, Marc just beat him with a 33.1 but tomorrow is the race and he’s on the front row with no crashes so let’s see what will happen.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“It’s a pity to lose the pole for just 0.030 seconds but anyway I think the pace was very good. Also in the free practice Jorge did a good long run so I think we are ready to fight. For Vale unfortunately we couldn’t improve the set up as he wanted. We are still checking the data and hopefully tomorrow morning the warm up will be dry and we will find the right set up. He is a good fighter, to start from the third row is going to be difficult but not impossible for him.”
The Blink of an Eye Separates Crutchlow from the Front Row in Le Mans
Monster Energy Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow stole the show yet again today, delivering a drama filled performance and a heroic qualifying effort to take fourth on the grid for tomorrow’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The 26yr old took a huge tumble in the fourth free practice, bringing out the red flags whilst medical staff attended on track. The British rider’s amazing determination and bravery was once again on show as having paid a flying visit to the circuit medical centre he was immediately back out on track, fighting for another front row start in qualifying practice two.
Crutchlow rode through obvious pain and looked certain to have secured a brilliant third place when former teammate Andrea Dovizioso improved his lap time to just six thousands of a second faster, relegating him to the second row of the grid in fourth for tomorrow’s race.
Teammate and fellow British rider Bradley Smith continued to show his calm concentration and steady improvements as he lapped the Le Mans circuit today on his YZR-M1. Having performed well enough to join the second qualifying session the young British rookie stayed out on track during the 15 minute heat whilst the majority of rider spitted for fresh rubber and enjoyed an empty track. In the hunt for the best possible grid position Smith was able to lay down a best time of 1’34.222 seconds for ninth on the grid, just over a second from pole and just 0.213 seconds from nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi in eighth.
Cal Crutchlow 4th, Time – 1’33.609
“I can’t be disappointed to have qualified in fourth position after how the day went. Unfortunately it was another difficult one for us and for sure the crash in free practice four didn’t make things easier. We’ve struggling the whole weekend in a few areas and I still don’t feel completely confident with the setup of the bike, so we have some work to go through tonight. I’m also feeling very sore after the crash and the medical staff diagnosed that I’ve got a small fracture of the right shin but that will not prevent me from giving 100% in tomorrow’s all-important home race for my Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team!”
Bradley Smith 9th, Time – 1’34.222
“I’m definitely happy to qualify on the third row today. We made some great improvements throughout the whole weekend getting consistently faster during each session. Nevertheless I’m embittered about the gap to the fastest because it’s just over a second and my aim was to be a little bit closer, but probably I would need to worry if I’m completely satisfied after finishing ninth. Anyway, I want to say a big thanks to my team because they prepared a fantastic bike for me that gave me more and more confidence with every single lap. I’m really looking forward to putting on a good show in front of the French fans during tomorrow’s 28 lap race.“
2013 MotoGP France
Le Mans 18/05/2013
1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’33.187
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’33.217
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’33.603
4 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’33.609
5 Stefan Bradl Honda GER 1’33.634
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’33.639
7 Alvaro Bautista Honda ESP 1’33.984
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’34.009
9 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’34.222
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’34.242
11 Aleix Espargaro ART ESP 1’34.754
12 Randy De Puniet ART FRA 1’35.086
13 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’35.062
14 Michele Pirro Ducati ITA 1’35.228
15 Hector Barbera FTR ESP 1’35.714
(Valentino Rossi, 1-1-2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Daniel Pedrosa, 18-5-2008)
Last Years Winner: