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Morbidelli to Start Grand Prix De France from Second Row

Morbidelli to Start Grand Prix De France from Second Row

Franco Morbidelli claims fourth in MotoGP qualifying at Le Mans; Valentino Rossi, ninth, will start from third row.

After gambling on slick tyres from the outset of Q2, where changeable weather conditions played their part at Le Mans, PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli will start the FrenchGP from fourth. Team-mate Valentino Rossi will be one row behind, after qualifying ninth.

Damp conditions and rain at the beginning of FP3 prevented riders from improving upon their times from FP2, which meant that Morbidelli was guaranteed a place in Q2. Using the session to rack up the wet weather laps, Franco ended the session 17th – 1min 43.700secs. However, he did go on to twist his left knee during a practice bike swap at the end of the session. The Italian held provisional pole early on in Q2 and stayed within the top places throughout the session. Morbidelli battled the raindrops in the final minutes to end Q2 fourth with a 1min 32.766secs lap, securing a place on the second row of the grid and top Independent Team Rider honours.

Rossi’s fastest lap from yesterday’s FP2 session also proved to be good enough to see him straight through to Q2, due to the cold and damp Le Mans Circuit, so the Italian used FP3 and FP4 to gather data in the different track conditions. Joining his team-mate in the early slick tyre gamble in Q2, Valentino was set to take an early provisional pole position, but a moment in the final sector saw him run wide and scuppered his plans. Improving his time with each lap of the French circuit, Rossi’s final time – 1min 33.391secs – will see him start tomorrow’s race from ninth, one row behind his team-mate.

Track action will resume for Morbidelli and Rossi with Warm Up at 10am local time (4pm MYT) tomorrow, with lights out for the 27-lap MotoGP race at 2pm local time (8pm MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"I’m happy with this fourth position. It has been a difficult day with tricky conditions, but we were able to overcome them and had a good strategy in qualifying. We were rewarded with this place at the head of the second row, so I’m happy about that. My knee is okay and Clinica Mobile has been helping with some treatment for it. It feels alright while I am riding. It’s going to be a tough race and we know that it will be important to start it from the front two rows. Let’s see what we can do, we’re ready to fight for the podium tomorrow."

Valentino Rossi

"We did the right strategy, going with the slick tyre, in qualifying and it gave us a small advantage. Unfortunately I had a moment in the second lap because I touched a damp patch, and I could not be at 100% in the final two corners without taking too much risk and I did not have complete confidence after this. This weekend though we have improved the pace, compared to the first few races, and the feeling. We will see tomorrow what happens because the weather is really unpredictable. The race is about 42 minutes long and in that time today it changed from wet to dry three times, this will make it very difficult. Personally I would prefer it to be a dry race, because this is where I feel more comfortable. Starting from the third row we have to try to have the best race possible."