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May 17, 2014 - 02:42 PM
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Qualifying Grand Prix of France, Le Mans
Posted by: newsla on May 17, 2014 - 02:41 PM
Qualifying Grand Prix of France, Le Mans

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) kept his amazing momentum going at Le Mans this afternoon, riding to his fifth pole position from the first five races of the season. The 21-year-old reigning MotoGP World Champion goes into tomorrow’s French Grand Prix with a full house points score of 100 points from the first four rounds and looking to extend his advantage over team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) who holds second place in the points chase.


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The last time a rider took pole and race victory at the first five races was way back in 1971 when Giacomo Agostini – the most successful rider in history – dominated on the MV Agusta.

Marquez started out yesterday with the same set-up he had used to win his home Grand Prix at Jerez two weeks ago and gradually honed the settings with his team to end the day fastest. This morning he was a close second fastest to Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) and ready to up his pace for the crucial qualifying outing, thanks largely to improvements to corner-entry stability. As a result, he set a new qualifying lap record.

Fourth-fastest Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) was less than one hundredth of a second away from taking his second front-row start of the year, just 0.091 seconds behind Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati). The young German – who had post-Jerez surgery to fix an arm-pump problem – will start the race alongside factory Yamaha pairing Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo who were fifth and sixth quickest.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) will head the third row of the grid after qualifying seventh fastest, a mere 0.107 seconds behind Lorenzo. The Spaniard was third fastest at the end of day one but slipped down the order today, struggling more than his rivals as the circuit’s grip level improved.

Pedrosa showed good pace in free practice but was unable to up his speed for qualifying, largely due to the surgery he underwent on his right arm to reduce arm pump following the Spanish Grand Prix. Ninth fastest and on the third row, he knows he will have to focus on getting his tyres as hot as possible on the warm-up lap so he can attack and pass rivals in the first laps of the race.

Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) won the contest to be the quickest rider on Honda’s production MotoGP bike, the RCV1000R. Handicapped by an old right wrist injury – which requires painkilling injections – the former MotoGP World Champion improved his pace today and probably only missed out on a place in QP2 due to a small mistake on his best lap in QP1.

MotoGP rookie Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) was delighted to be the second fastest of the four RCV1000R riders. The Briton – who won last year’s Moto2 race at Le Mans – was 16th overall, just ahead of former 250 World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) who was happy with his work today, only spoiled by a small error on his best lap in qualifying.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) was 18th quickest in qualifying after finding the ideal set-up a little too late to further improve his pace.

Jonas Folger (AGR Team, Kalex) continued his impressive adaption to the hard-fought Moto2 class, taking pole position for his fifth race in the category. Two weeks ago the former Moto3 race winner scored his first Moto2 podium at Jerez.

Folger’s late charge in this afternoon’s qualifying outing dislodged points leader Tito Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex) from pole by four thousandths of a second. The Honda-powered Moto2 pack is as tightly packed as ever, with pole position and 20th-placed Johann Zarco (AirAsia Caterham, Caterham Suter) separated by just 1.067 seconds.

Rabat, who scored three poles and two wins from the first four races, had led much of the session until he slid off at the slow-speed Garage Vert double right. He returned to the pits where his crew undertook repairs, but when he returned to the track he was unable to improve his time and slipped to second. Another former Moto3 winner, Luis Salom (Pons HP 40, Kalex), who scored his first Moto2 podium at last month’s Argentine GP, was third fastest, just 0.112 seconds from pole.

Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team, Kalex), who scored a start-to-finish victory from pole at Jerez, missed out on another front-row start by just less than four hundredths of a second today. The Finn shares the second row with Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock, Suter) and Simone Corsi (NGM Forward Racing, Forward Kalex).

Grand Prix of the Americas victor Maverick Vinales (Pons HP 40, Kalex) heads row three in front of Ricard Cardus (Tech 3, Tech 3) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP, Kalex).

Efren Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) scorched to his first Grand Prix pole position this afternoon, giving Honda its second Moto3 pole position of the year. The Spaniard – currently third in the points standings – outpaced Jack Miller (KTM) in the final minutes, ending up 0.025 seconds ahead of the Australian. Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) made it two Hondas on the front row, completing the outing 0.202 seconds behind Miller.

Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda NSF250R) is back to form at his hone race, following a difficult start to the season. He qualified fourth fastest, just 0.034 seconds off the front row, to make it three Hondas in the top four. The Frenchman and his crew adjusted the set-up of his NSF250R for this race, finding a new and promising direction that gives him the confidence to push the limits like he could last year. Masbou had moved into second place midway through the session, then lost the front and crashed at the Musee left-hander. Although he didn’t improve his lap time following the minor tumble, his earlier time was good enough to put him fourth.

Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) was seventh fastest and will head the third row of the grid tomorrow, alongside fellow NSF250R riders John McPhee (SaxoPrint-RTG Honda NSF250R) and Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Ongetta-AirAsia Honda NSF250R).

Tomorrow’s racing is followed by the Italian GP at Mugello on June 1.

Honda MotoGP rider quotes

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: pole position – 1m 32.042s
“I’m very happy to be on pole and also with the gap between myself and second place on the timesheet. Tomorrow will be interesting as my main rivals – Dani, Jorge and Valentino – are not on the front row but on rows two and three. However, I know they will be there in the battle and we must be prepared. Starting from pole is an advantage and I will try to capitalise from it and give 100 per cent – as always – to fight for the win!”

Stefan Bradl, LCR Honda MotoGP: 4th – 1m 32.846s
“After yesterday’s sessions we went back to our standard geometry that we used in the past races because I have more front feeling. Our pace is pretty good and I am happy about fourth place today (also considering my recent surgery) but we must be realistic. The other riders are very fast too and I am starting from the second row with two big rivals like Rossi and Lorenzo. Even Pedrosa will push to catch the front group so our target is to finish in the top five. This would be a very good result for us. My arm is getting better and today it was not necessary to have a painkilling injection.”

Alvaro Bautista, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 7th – 1m 33.006s
“Yesterday we started the weekend very well and also today my feeling with the bike has improved further, but the other riders were able to progress more than we did. As usual, when the grip on the track improves, as happened today, we struggle a bit more than other riders. However, apart from Marquez who was really fast, we are not far from the second position: the gap is less than three tenths of a second and that means that we are all very close. Our situation is undoubtedly better compared to Jerez, so tomorrow we’ll try to get a good start, then we will do our race with the usual goal: cross the finish line collecting as many points as possible”.

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: 9th – 1m 33.023s
“Free practice wasn’t too bad for us, but in qualifying we weren’t so great. I’m riding a little smoother this weekend and not so aggressive, due to my injured forearm, and when I wanted to push to improve my times I wasn’t really able to. I think that in general we have done a good job in practice and I will try to get a good start tomorrow, because I am very far back. It will be important to bring the tyre temperature up on the warm-up lap and try to overtake some riders in the opening laps.”

Nicky Hayden, Drive 7 Aspar Honda: 13th – 1m 33.859s
“To be honest my wrist is still very painful but I tried to give my best in qualifying. I want to thank all the staff at the Clinica Mobile for the work they are doing to limit the pain. We have improved the set-up of the bike today but unfortunately not as much as we had hoped. We lost some valuable time working on one of the bikes trying to fix something that we still need to get to the bottom of. Anyway, the lap time in qualifying was good. I made a little mistake in the chicane that possibly cost me a place in Q2, which is a shame because the extra track time would have been useful to test one more tyre option for the race. It will be a tough race tomorrow but we are ready to fight for the best possible result.”

Scott Redding, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini: 16th – 1m 32.233s
“Until today we have always been the third or fourth Open Class Honda, so it’s good to be again the second fastest Honda RCV1000R during FP4 and qualifying. I’m feeling a lot better, we changed a lot on the bike to give me back some feeling, and as a result I started to enjoy myself again. This morning I didn’t feel comfortable on the bike, but in the end we solved our problems. Now we have to see if we can make more improvements tomorrow morning, especially from my side, because now the bike is pretty good.”

Hiroshi Aoyama, Drive 7 Aspar Honda: 17th – 1m 34.457s
“We improved the handling of the bike in the slow corners today. We worked hard and the outcome was very productive, which we can see in the lap times. In qualifying when we put the soft tyre in to push for a fast time I made a little mistake in the chicane on what was my best lap. It is a shame but we have to be satisfied that our performance has improved and we are quite well prepared for the race. I think we have a consistent rhythm, even on the hard tyre and I hope we can have a good race tomorrow.”

Karel Abraham, Cardion AB Motoracing: 18th – 1m 34.880s
“The good news is that the bike worked quite well in qualifying. This set-up is certainly the best we’ve tried during the weekend and I’m pretty sure that if we had it earlier, we would be faster now. I’m little bit angry that I missed the chance to do one more fast lap. Unfortunately I saw the flag only some seconds before I passed the start line. The important thing is that tomorrow I’ll stay close to the other Open Honda riders and fight for some points.”

Moto2 rider quotes

Jonas Folger, AGR Team: pole position – 1m 37.619s
“I feel really good with my bike at the moment. We struggled a bit at the beginning of the weekend because this track is so different to the others we’ve already been to this year. But at the very end we found something with the set-up and I could make a really good lap time, so I think we can be quite strong in the race.”

Tito Rabat, Marc VDS Racing Team: 2nd – 1m 37.623s
“I’m very happy. This morning went well and the first part of qualifying went well. In the second part I made a mistake after fitting a new rear tyre. I pushed too hard on the brakes into Garage Vert and slid off, which broke the rear brake. The mechanics repaired the brake in the pits but it didn’t feel quite the same when I went back on track, so I couldn’t improve my lap time. We will try to have a good warm-up, find the feeling again and have a good race.”

Luis Salom, Pons HP 40: 3rd – 1m 37.731s
“I think we’ve made a good job so far here and I think we can have a good race, but it will be difficult, like it always is at Le Mans. Yesterday went well, then this morning we changed something that I didn’t like and that cost me some rhythm. So we went back to the previous set-up for qualifying and I stayed on the track all session, only stopping once, because I wanted to concentrate on my rhythm.”

Honda Moto3 rider quotes

Efren Vazquez, SaxoPrint-RTG: pole position – 1m 42.491s
“I am a little surprised by this pole, even if I have always believed in this team and in the Honda Moto3 project. We have a good package and a good performance, so we are always up front at the moment. I’m happy and I hope we can continue like this. To think about winning the race tomorrow is difficult, because this is an unusual track where it’s difficult to overtake. We have a good rhythm, so we will need to be clever on the front lap, keep calm and see what happens in the last few laps.”

Alex Rins, Estrella Galicia 0,0: 3rd – 1m 42.718s
“As I said yesterday, I’m starting to enjoy myself on the bike and I’m having fun. This gives me peace of mind, not having to always go to the limit, and I’m happy with the pace we are doing. Through all this we managed to make it to the front row once again. I believe that every time we go to the track I try to get better and from FP1 here we’ve managed to refine the set-up for the race. I feel more comfortable, but also I’ve had to change my style compared to last year, so we are slowly improving with every kilometre.”

Alexis Masbou, Ongetta-Rivacold: 4th – 1m 42.752s
“I’m happy. Our level wasn’t so high at the first four races, so we were a little afraid to come here. But we’ve done a good job all practice, so now I have feel, confidence and a good pace. Before this weekend we were a little stuck with last year’s settings – this year’s bike is similar to last year’s but there are many little things that are different, so we’ve had to find a new way. Now we need to fight for the podium tomorrow…”

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