Moto GP

Jorge Lorenzo Powers to Pole Position in Le Mans

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo was 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.

After keeping up the pace in today's two free practice sessions on the second day in France, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo went straight through to the Q2 session to qualify on the first 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.

"From the beginning, the first practice on Friday, everything went very well already with our first setting." Lorenzo said. "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."

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.
Marc Marquez emerging second-best from a demanding qualifying session
There were mixed feelings for Repsol Honda with Marc Marquez emerging second-best from a demanding qualifying session and Dani Pedrosa forced to settle for 11th place after slipping off at turn 4 halfway through the session.

Marquez had found quite a good pace in the morning FP3 session, and he struggled to match that speed in his first run in qualifying. However, the Spaniard put in a couple of very fast laps during his second exit and finished in a strong second position behind pole-man Jorge Lorenzo.

‰ÛÏI was able to set a good lap today, but it wasn‰Ûªt perfect." Marquez admitted. "At first with the new tyre I found it hard to get the same feeling I had with used tyres and the bike moved about a lot when I tried to push more.

"At the end I changed my riding style a little and set two pretty good laps that helped me to fulfil my main objective, which was to get on the front row.

"I think the pace that I have isn‰Ûªt bad, and in the last free practice I felt comfortable, although I‰Ûªm still not quite as fast as Jorge [Lorenzo]. We‰Ûªll see what weather we have tomorrow and what the track temperature is for the race, and try to manage things as best we can.‰Û
Andrea Iannone set third-quickest time in qualifying for the French GP at Le Mans.
Andrea Iannone set third-quickest time in qualifying for the French GP at Le Mans. The 26-year-old Italian clocked a time of 1‰Ûª32.469 on the second lap of the Q2 session and, despite a subsequent crash, will start Sunday‰Ûªs race from the front row of the grid.

It will be a row 2 start on the other hand for Andrea Dovizioso, who was fifth with a time of 1‰Ûª32.587. The 30-year-old notched up his best time on the first lap of his second run in Q2.

‰ÛÏIt wasn‰Ûªt an easy qualifying session and, even though I am happy for the front row, I‰Ûªm not entirely satisfied because I was convinced I could have got second place." Iannone reflected. "In any case, looking at the way things went, we even ran the risk of losing third place and luckily my time with the first tyre was enough to keep the front row slot.

"I am sure that with the second tyre I could have improved by a few tenths, but on the second exit unfortunately I had a problem with my bike. A light went on for the water pressure in the system and then I suddenly crashed. In any case I‰Ûªm happy because we managed to get a positive result and I want to thank the guys in the team who did a great job after Jerez.‰Û
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro delivered a highly impressive performance in qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espagaro delivered a highly impressive performance in qualifying 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 the 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.

"It's a really positive feeling to get back on the second row as I have had to wait since Aragon last season." Espargaro commented. "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."
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR‰Ûªs Maverick Vi̱ales and Aleix EspargarÌ_ will start the race in France from the third and fourth rows respectively
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR‰Ûªs Maverick Vi̱ales and Aleix EspargarÌ_ will start the race in France from the third and fourth rows respectively following final qualifying this afternoon. The two Spaniards had some troubles today in finding a good feeling with their machines, which resulted in eighth and 12th position on the grid.

Vi̱ales‰Ûª path to qualifying was a little easier, as he got the direct access to Q2 right after FP3. However, he struggled to find a good set-up with his GSX-RR and was not able to fight for better positions, as he has been able to lately. In all today‰Ûªs sessions he tried his best to find a confident pace and also the effectiveness in time attack, but his technicians need some more time to find better solutions.

EspargarÌ_ on his side had to make some additional work to enter the fight for the top-12 positions on the grid, as he had to go through Q1. In this morning‰Ûªs FP3 he suffered a crash at the last corner, generated by a bump in the track, and this took much time to recover the bike and preventing him the most efficiency in the time attack. With a wise management of tyres, he was successful in Q1 and finally got through to Q2.

Australian Jack Miller will start from 18th position on the grid.
MotoGP Qualifying Results
Moto3 Qualifying Results

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