Le Mans MotoGP: Pedrosa Snatches Pole

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2012 French GP Qualifying Results

Throughout the first free practices at Le Mans, Casey Stoner was untouchable, the reigning MotoGP Champion leading all three sessions by over two-tenths of a second.

But qualifying began under wet conditions, making teams scramble for optimal wet setup.

And during the last 30 minutes of the hour-long session, the Le Mans circuit began drying out, allowing the man who trailed Stoner throughout the FP sessions to grab the pole – the Australian’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa.

The Spaniard put in a best lap of 1:33.638, allowing him to take his fourth pole at Le Mans. Trailing 0.303 of a second behind was Stoner, who announced that he will retire at the end of 2012 MotoGP, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso taking the final front-row position for Sunday’s Le Mans MotoGP. This was Dovi’s best qualifying so far in four rounds this season.

Heading up the second row will be Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who was 0.466 of a second slower than Pedrosa. Starting from fifth will be Dovi’s teammate, Cal Crutchlow. The Brit was 0.540 of a second behind the pole man, and the last to post within a second of Pedrosa.

These top five were just under a half-second faster than the rest of the grid. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Ben Spies, who completes the second row, was 0.491 behind Crutchlow, and 1.031 behind Pedrosa.

Heading up the third row is Valentino Rossi aboard the Ducati Team GP12, which was his best qualifying position so far this year. Last year at Le Mans, Rossi posted his highest result with the Ducati Team – third. Joining Rossi on the third row will be San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, who suffered a crash during the final minute of qualifying, and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera.

The top CRT qualifier was Power Electronics Aspar’s French rider Randy de Puniet, who will start from 12th on the grid.

MotoGP reports that LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl crashed half way through the session, after being one of the first riders to head out on slicks on the drying track. Iván Silva saved a near low-side early in the session, before taking an excursion into the gravel towards the end, while De Puniet’s teammate Aleix Espargaró’s misery continued this weekend as he had to return to the pits with bike issues.

The riders will be back on the Le Mans circuit Sunday for the race, which will be broadcast on SPEED TV at 8 a.m. EDT, and then again at 3 p.m.

2012 Le Mans MotoGP Qualifying Results:

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
1. 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 303.7 1’33.638
2. 1 Casey STONER AUS Repsol Honda Team Honda 306.0 1’33.941 0.303 / 0.303
3. 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 304.0 1’33.976 0.338 / 0.035
4. 99 Jorge LORENZO SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 300.8 1’34.104 0.466 / 0.128
5. 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 302.4 1’34.178 0.540 / 0.074
6. 11 Ben SPIES USA Yamaha Factory Racing Yamaha 299.0 1’34.669 1.031 / 0.491
7. 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Ducati Team Ducati 298.5 1’34.907 1.269 / 0.238
8. 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini Honda 300.4 1’34.922 1.284 / 0.015
9. 8 Hector BARBERA SPA Pramac Racing Team Ducati 305.1 1’34.950 1.312 / 0.028
10. 17 Karel ABRAHAM CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati 301.8 1’35.250 1.612 / 0.300
11. 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Ducati Team Ducati 298.5 1’35.291 1.653 / 0.041
12. 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Power Electronics Aspar ART 286.5 1’35.694 2.056 / 0.403
13. 6 Stefan BRADL GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 300.7 1’35.862 2.224 / 0.168
14. 51 Michele PIRRO ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR 283.7 1’36.646 3.008 / 0.784
15. 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ COL Avintia Blusens BQR 283.6 1’37.202 3.564 / 0.556
16. 77 James ELLISON GBR Paul Bird Motorsport ART 279.2 1’37.666 4.028 / 0.464
17. 41 Aleix ESPARGARO SPA Power Electronics Aspar ART 281.3 1’37.760 4.122 / 0.094
18. 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ITA Came IodaRacing Project Ioda 269.5 1’37.767 4.129 / 0.007
19. 22 Ivan SILVA SPA Avintia Blusens BQR 282.0 1’38.198 4.560 / 0.431
20. 54 Mattia PASINI ITA Speed Master ART 279.3 1’38.511 4.873 / 0.313
21. 7 Chris VERMEULEN AUS NGM Mobile Forward Racing Suter 281.8 1’38.658 5.020 / 0.147