Qualifying ResultsAfter topping the MotoGP time sheets yesterday, Valentino Rossi was third this morning with his teammate Jorge Lorenzo just ahead of him in second.
Both motorcycle racers had spent time at the top of the standings before the session entered its final quarter and with ten minutes to go Lorenzo went top again, becoming the first man to dip into the 1’33s. Lorenzo held out for a few minutes before Casey Stoner and then Dani Pedrosa took over but it was Rossi who had the most still hidden up his sleeve, the 31-year-old maestro pulling out a brilliant lap in a time of 1’33.408, a target that proved unassailable in the final two minutes.Valentino Rossi says: "This weather is really making me very happy, because for once in Le Mans we have been able to use all of the sessions properly and now here we are on pole. My setting is good, I feel comfortable on my M1 and Bridgestone tyres and my race pace is not bad either so everything is working out. It’s a great pleasure to be on pole and when I looked and saw the lap time I was very pleased with my performance and with how well we had worked, so thanks to all my team. I am still worried about my shoulder because sincerely today after ten or fifteen laps I started to lose power, but I hope adrenaline will take over in the race and that I will be able to arrive fast right to the end."Jorge Lorenzo says: "This was another good session and we are very strong, although there are quite a few riders here who are fast with a good race pace. Today I was consistent and I can ride happily at around 1’34.5 so if I can keep this up during the race then we have a good chance. I need to try to get a good start tomorrow and be stronger during the first few laps, then I think I can fight for victory."Davide Brivio (Rossi Team Manager) says: "A good job from us all to get the first pole position of the year. The bike is working well and we only need to make a few small adjustments for tomorrow to be ready to fight. Valentino’s shoulder isn’t 100% and we aren’t sure how it will hold up under race distance but we’ve done the best we can do to put him in the right position so now we will just have to see how it goes. It looks like the weather could be even hotter so at least we don’t have to worry about that!"Wilco Zeelenberg (Lorenzo Team Manager) says: "This was a good session and we’re pleased with the way we’ve worked. Jorge has a good grid spot without the added pressure of being on pole and his race pace is definitely fast enough to allow him to run at the front tomorrow. We hope that the work we did in Jerez will help him with his start and give him a bit more confidence and I’m sure he won’t let the others go tomorrow over the important first ten laps."Dani PEDROSA says: "At the end of the session we could put in a good final lap which has put us on the front row, and this is very important because the lap times are very close here. For the race we need to find some tenths of a second per lap in order to be able to keep a high pace, and at this track you have to be very focused because the race is long and it’s really important to be consistent and not to make any mistakes. Anyway I think we are in a good position.Now we will sit down with the team and work on the improvements to up our race pace. We’ve had good weather so far this weekend and it looks like it will continue tomorrow so we’ve been lucky this time. From the front row I hope to make a good start and give myself the best chance in the race".Andrea DOVIZIOSO says: "I cannot be happy to start from the third row because this has the potential to make the race more complicated. So it will it be important to make a good start and stay with the front group – that’s the plan now. Our race pace is not so bad but we need to improve it a little more.Compared to this morning the feeling with the front was not quite as good and I think this was because of some set-up changes that we made, and also the gap to the front riders was a bit bigger this afternoon. Anyway we have some ideas of what we can improve and I’m ready to give it my best in the race."Casey Stoner says: "We have a lot of work to do to try and get more performance out of the softer tyre because our rivals seem to be able to make bigger improvements on it than us. We didn’t manage to lap much faster than the times we were doing on the harder race tyre so that is a little disappointing because it would have been nice to start from the front row here but at the same time we know we have a good pace over race distance. In general the bike is going really well, our race pace is more competitive than it was at this stage of the weekend in Jerez so I’m confident we can do a good job tomorrow."Nicky Hayden says: "The second row for us is a positive result because to be honest my race pace hasn’t been great and now we’ve given ourselves a chance because the start is so important here. We made a big step with the bike in the session this morning but weren’t really able to follow it up with another one this afternoon so we have work to do tonight because at the moment it’s looking like a really tough race for us. At least the weather is fantastic – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many fans here and they deserve it because they’ve had to put up with a lot of rain over the years! Tomorrow they might be leaving with sunburn but they won’t be complaining."Loris Capirossi says: "The grid position is not the best, but I am quite happy because we have worked so hard for the whole weekend. We started to adapt the bike a bit more over the two days and now I think we are close to getting what we are looking for. My rhythm today was good and I didn’t follow anybody at all in the two sessions, which is good because it helps us understand what the rhythm and performance will be like in a race. I am really optimistic for tomorrow and I think if I get a good start I can be involved in the action towards the front."Colin Edwards says: "I’m riding as hard as I can but I’ve only ended up in eighth position. Those guys at the front have dropped half-a-second off the pole time from last year and while I hate to say it, I couldn’t do a mid-33. The bike feels good and I feel good but it’s just really hard work trying to run the pace of the front group. We have worked really hard this weekend and we seem to have got a fix on some of the problems we’ve had at the first two races. I’m much more comfortable on the bike and the feeling with the front-end is coming better. I liked the harder tyre more than the soft tyre today. The soft tyre felt like it moved a little bit too much but the race tyre I feel really comfortable with. Getting into a rhythm quick is going to be the key tomorrow. It is going to be a long and tough race but it is a big race for Tech 3 and Monster, so as always I’ll be pushing as hard as I can for a good result."Ben Spies says: "After missing most of the morning session, I ‘m not too upset to be where I’m at. Even injury free I wasn’t going to be on the front row or anything like that. I just made a mistake this morning. I definitely wasn’t starting a fast lap but I might have been going a little too hard for the rear tyre at the time. When it flicked me, my foot was half off the peg and when it snapped back it just completely rolled the ankle and the knee. There are no broken bones and it’s nothing major. The pain level is not that bad on the bike but it i s mainly downshifting gears. It’s a matter of getting my foot back into position for the corner after shifting. I have to move my whole leg to do it. It’ll be a little tough race but it won’t hold me back. The foot doesn’t feel good now but hopefully for 28 laps I can put it out of my mind and get a good result for Tech 3 and Monster."Randy De Puniet says: "I am very happy about this result as yesterday’s session was very tough for us. Yesterday after the practice I said I was confident for today it was not right. I felt very frustrated because I could not lap as I like and the bike was very nervous. But the guys made an excellent job and this morning I immediately felt more comfortable. Then we took a step forward in the qualifying obtaining the second row once again for the third time this year. Everybody in the team is very pleased with this result and I want to thank them for their efforts. This race is really special for me and hope to finish in the front ahead my fans though I am a bit worried about the start as it is very difficult to overtake on this track".Loris Capirossi says: "The grid position is not the best, but I am quite happy because we have worked so hard for the whole weekend. We started to adapt the bike a bit more over the two days and now I think we are close to getting what we are looking for. My rhythm today was good and I didn’t follow anybody at all in the two sessions, which is good because it helps us understand what the rhythm and performance will be like in a race. I am really optimistic for tomorrow and I think if I get a good start I can be involved in the action towards the front." Álvaro Bautista says: "It is not a good way to say bye-bye to a MotoGP race! This morning I had an injection to help with the pain and for two laps the feeling was a little bit better, not a big difference, but better. Then I crashed and I don’t really know why because I was not going very fast and I just lost the rear tyre. After that I felt more pain down my left side and I decided not to race here and make sure I make a full recovery for the next race. In the future we have lots of races together so it is better to be 100% in all of them, than be 50% or less in one!"Paul Denning (Rizla Team Manager says: "Loris has improved in all the sessions and if we can tidy things up a bit more before the Grand Prix, then I think he has the race-craft and determination to grind out a decent result tomorrow. The focus for the crew overnight will be to make the bike a bit easier to ride, particularly in the faster braking areas, and to create a bit more stability, which will be important over race distance. This isn’t Loris’s favourite track, but it is certainly his favourite weather, so I think he’ll be fired-up and pushing for his best result of the season so far tomorrow."It is a great disappointment not to have Álvaro competing for the rest of the weekend, but in the end the team and the medical staff at the track had to advise him to sit out and let the relatively minor injuries he has heal in time for Mugello. The combination of injuries would have significantly compromised his safety and possibly that of other riders. He’s disappointed, but we are now guaranteed that he’ll be fit and strong for Mugello and we’ll be looking forward to him building on his strong Jerez race performance."Marco Melandri says: "It was a difficult session and the things that we found that worked at Jerez didn´t really happen today. Unfortunately we are down on corner speed because I am struggling to get off the brakes on the way into the turns. We struggled with this yesterday and even though I thought we´d found the solution we had similar problems again today. My riding style relies on corner speed so we need to work on this. Tomorrow will be a tough race and we may have to be on the defensive."
Marco Simoncelli says: "I´m pretty happy to be honest because we did a good job this morning and I thought I could have done a better time on the softer tyre. Unfortunately a couple of problems emerged with the rear end and I wasn´t able to make the improvement that could have lifted me a few places on the grid. Having said that I am still confident because my race pace is decent – not quick enough to go with the front guys but certainly to improve on my position on the grid. I think I can improve on my eleventh place finish from Jerez and with a bit of luck maybe even challenge for the top eight. That would be great!" Fausto Gresini says: "Everybody was really on the pace today and even though our lap times are not far off we are still a little way down the grid. After yesterday´s session I was expecting a bigger improvement from Melandri but he struggled with his corner speed. Tomorrow we´ll try and give him a bike that he feels better with. Simoncelli has taken another step forward with his lap times but even that wasn´t enough to move him up the grid. He has a good race pace though and I think it could be a good one for him."Aleix Espargaro says: "I am delighted with the result that I obtained, I have reduced by almost a second the best lap time I had yesterday, I also kept the same gap that I had from the leader of the first free practice. So I start out with an enormous charge for tomorrow, I hope to be able to finally repay the confidence that the team has placed in me during this difficult start of the championship. I have a good bike and the technicians have worked to make my bike perfect for this race. Too bad for not being able to make another qualifying lap, maybe I could further lower my lap time. This is absolutely the best position I have got on the grid since I race in MotoGP, I have a good feeling with this track and I hope to do a good race tomorrow. " Mika Kallio says: "During the free practice of this morning I crashed after just two rounds, this caused me a shoulder problem and has not allowed me to try on the track the set that the team had prepared for my bike. Fortunately, the shoulder is not broken, the doctors of the mobile clinic have made me some infiltration to allow me to do better qualifications. Despite the pain, I really wanted to take part in qualifying and I try to make the perfect balanced bike for the race of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the shoulder pain and the time that I have lost this morning, have just allowed me to reduced just half a second the time that I have achieved in the practice yesterday. To start again from the bottom of the grid is not so nice, but I will give my best to repay the tremendous work that the team have done for me. "Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tires) says: "The temperature continues to be very high for Le Mans, but even if we could have predicted such temperatures here we would not have changed our compound selection. Although the track temperature is high, the surface is smooth so a softer tyre is needed to generate sufficient grip."We have also seen that even the soft rear can cope very well with a track temperature increase of almost 20 degrees Celsius, and I can say that we still have some temperature range left in both specifications so durability tomorrow will not be a problem. Wear rates were good after the qualifying session, even on the soft option rear, and Le Mans is a circuit that is not too demanding on tyres because of a lack of many long and fast corners."For tomorrow’s race the harder option front tyre looks to be the riders’ preferred choice, although rear tyre selection is likely to be more mixed based on machine setup and rider preference. Riders who want better outright edge grip will favour the softer option, but riders who want improved traction and stability through the right-handers will favour the medium rear tyre as this is the advantage given by the asymmetric construction."Qualifying Results & Times | Starting Grid Positions FRONT ROW 1. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’33.408 2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Fiat Yamaha Team 1’33.462 3. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’33.573 SECOND ROW 4. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’33.824 5. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Marlboro Team 1’33.845 6. Randy de Puniet (FRA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’34.074 THIRD ROW 7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1’34.204 8. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’34.304 9. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1’34.306 FOURTH ROW 10. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Pramac Green Team 1’34.514 11. Marco Melandri (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’34.523 12. Ben Spies (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’34.920 FIFTH ROW 13. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’34.942 14. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Interwetten-Honda MotoGP 1’34.979 15. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 1’35.323 SIXTH ROW 16. Mika Kallio (FIN) Pramac Green Team 1’35.810 Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha – 2008), 1’34.215 – 159.910 Km/h
Best Pole: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 1’32.647 – 162.617 Km/h