Lorenzo Powers to Pole Position in Le Mans
Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back in action at a dry and slightly overcast Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit to determine their place on tomorrow's starting grid. They pushed their YZR-M1s to the limit during an intense 15-minute qualifying session and took first and seventh place respectively ahead of tomorrow's Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
After keeping up the pace in today's two free practice sessions on the second day in France, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi went straight through to the Q2 session to qualify on the first and third row for tomorrow's fifth race of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship.
Lorenzo had his signature start to the qualifying session, waiting for all other riders to leave the pit lane before rushing out on his YZR-M1. Having set a 1'32s lap this weekend, the Mallorcan continued the trend dropping a 1'32.437s, a best lap of the weekend at that time, for first place. He further extended his lead with a 1'32.236s before heading back to the pits with more than seven minutes remaining.
Two minutes later Lorenzo was back on track and had just enough time left for two more hot laps. Despite a slight error on his third hot lap, he made a stunning recovery. He waited until the last moment to show his blistering pace and became the fastest man ever around the Le Mans Bugatti circuit, posting a new circuit best lap record of 1'31.975s, extending his lead to 0.441s.
Valentino Rossi had a similar strategy to his teammate and was one of the last riders to exit pit lane as the lights went green. His first flying lap put him in third place until Lorenzo completed his first flying lap, pushing the Italian back to fourth. Eager to stay on the first row, he improved his time on his second try and moved back into the provisional top three with a 1'32.829s.
The Doctor quickly returned to his box, before heading back out with a little less than six minutes remaining to start his second stint. He rode a strong second and third sector on his next lap but was unable to set another personal best lap and was pushed back to sixth. The Doctor put in two more laps, but was unable to improve and ended the session in seventh place.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"We are very happy for Jorge, this pole position was most certainly deserved. He was fast straight out of the box at the start of qualifying and he rode a perfect lap at the end, a superb 1'31.975s. This stunning lap, as well as the pace he has shown us all weekend, highlight how strong the combination of him and his YZR-M1 are at this circuit and this is a good sign for tomorrow's race. It will be a bit more challenging for Vale, who will be starting from seventh place. The qualifying session doesn't reflect his real potential, because a mistake cost him a few tenths of a second. He is feeling good on the bike after they found a good set-up and this gives him a good confidence to take on the competition tomorrow. We will make some final amendments to the settings, which we will test in the warm-up tomorrow and look forward to another great race."
1st / 1'31.975 / 7 laps
"From the beginning, the first practice on Friday, everything went very well already with our first setting. Little by little and practice by practice together with the whole team we improved small details in all the corners to create a bike that allowed me to keep a constant pace. I was using the same old tyres throughout free practice 4 and normally that means that when you use new tyres you can be very fast and that's what happened today. I didn't expect to set such an unbelievable lap time, but sometimes the lap time surprises you and I'm very happy with the pole position and the lap record and especially with the work we did with the whole team on the bike."
7th / 1'32.829 / 8 laps
"Unfortunately I made a lot of mistakes because we had different strategies that didn't work and I was stuck in traffic, I lost time. I had one chance at the end to improve my lap time, because my potential was a little bit faster and I could have stayed in the top five, I think, but I made a mistake on braking in turn six and went outside the track. It's a shame because we improved from yesterday and we are quite competitive in terms of race pace but I have to start from the third row. It looks like, if we want to have a really good race, we have to improve a bit because there are some areas that I'm not strong enough. If we're able to make this jump, we will be able to do a good race, but it will be hard when you start from the third row."
Tech3 duo seize fantastic second row starts for French GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro delivered a highly impressive performance in qualifying today which will see him begin the Tech3 team's home Grand Prix from the head of the second row. The Spaniard started the day with a brilliant showing in FP3, which left him third overall by the close of the session and only 0.134 back from the leading time. This strong result meant that Espargaro automatically qualified for Q2 and here, he got straight up to speed before blitzing to a time that left him only 0.086 from second position. Today's fourth place leaves the former Moto2 World Champion fully primed to clinch a top tier finish at the Monster Energy sponsored Grand Prix.
Meanwhile, Bradley Smith superbly sealed a starting position at the rear of the second row for tomorrow's race after reaping the rewards of his hard work from yesterday. He kicked off the day by completing 21 laps in FP3 and then set his best time on the final run which confirmed 9th and allowed him to progress instantly through to qualifying 2. Here, Smith immediately got to work and after building up his speed, he powered to his personal best on lap seven. The result sees him repeat his qualifying placement from last year, and tomorrow the young Briton will seek to battle to the top independent rider position in front of the Tech3 fans.
4th / 1'32.502 / 8 laps
"It's a really positive feeling to get back on the second row as I have had to wait since Aragon last season. Having said that, I feel that we definitely deserve it this weekend for the performances that we have shown in all the sessions. Yet, we have to bear in mind that tomorrow will be another story. However, the good thing is that by starting from the second row of the grid, we have a better chance of following the factory riders for at least the first part of the race, which means I can learn from them and enjoy the riding. Furthermore, I really like the new Michelin tyres because they allow me to ride my bike how I want to and the times come more easily for me which of course, gives me confidence. It goes without saying that it's a pity that we just missed out on the front row by only 0.033 of a second but there are a lot of the Factory guys behind me and this is what we will also aim for tomorrow. Therefore, I will try to get a good start and then fight all the way to the chequered flag in order to give the French fans and the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team something to cheer about."
6th / 1'32.820 / 8 laps
"First of all, it was great to go directly through to Q2 and it was the first time this year that we've achieved this, so I think the team added another year to their lives because Q1 is obviously quite stressful! All day we've slowly been improving the bike and I'm feeling more comfortable all the time. With every lap I'm learning and getting faster so even though we still need to make some final adjustments for the race, I believe that we have a strong base setting. In terms of the result, I can't really be any happier as we have turned around what has been a difficult first four races. To be on the second row at the team's home Grand Prix which is also sponsored by our title backer, Monster Energy, is great. It gives me a fantastic opportunity to start well tomorrow and then try to gain some more knowledge from fighting with the front guys. I believe the race will be another learning experience for me because of the new setting, which I haven't tried on a long run yet, and also the tyres but I will be as prepared as possible. Anyway, the team did a fantastic job and they've had a lot of patience during these opening events, so to finally reward them and get back to where we need to be is super and I must give a big thanks to them. I am ready for the team's home race and tomorrow will be 28 laps of fighting to get that top satellite position."