2016 Le Mans Qualifying Results
As Jorge Lorenzo looks to throttle his way back to the points lead, he will start off Sunday’s 28-lap French Grand Prix in the most optimal position - first.
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1 pilot, who has the most wins at Le Mans with five - four in the premier class and one in the former 250cc class - earned the pole with a new record lap at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit.
Lorenzo claimed his first-ever pole at Le Mans with a lap time of 1:31.975 during the 15-minute qualifying session around the 2.6-mile circuit containing 14 corners. This was also a new record at Le Mans - and the first for Michelin since returning to MotoGP after Bridgestone, which was the spec-tire provider from 2009-2015.
The 29-year-old Spaniard, who led Le Mans MotoGP Friday practice, absolutely dominated the French circuit on Saturday, finishing 0.441 of a second ahead of the current points leader and rider who has won two races so far this season (Circuit of the Americas, Argentina), Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. Earning the final front-row qualifying position was Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who finished 0.494 of a second behind Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, who joins Ducati in 2017, said: "From the beginning, the first practice on Friday, everything went very well already with our first setting. 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 tires throughout free practice 4 and normally that means that when you use new tires 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."
Heading up row two is Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro. The Spaniard will be joined on row two by the other factory Ducati GP16 pilot, Andrea Dovizioso, and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith.
Nine-time World Champion, who won two weeks ago at Jerez MotoGP, qualified seventh, 0.854 of a second behind his teammate. Joining him on row three are Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow. Octo Paramc Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, who returns to racing after missing the opening four rounds due to injury, qualified 10th, ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and the other Suzuki GSX-RR pilot, Aleix Espargaro.
The only French rider in 2016 MotoGP, Avintia Racing Ducati’s Loris Baz, struggled, qualifying dead last in 21st.
The grid returns to the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit Sunday for warm-up at 9:40 a.m. local time. The race is set for 2 p.m. local time; beIN will provide live coverage beginning at 7:55 a.m. EST Sunday, May 8.
Photos by Luciano Bianchetto
2016 Le Mans MotoGP Qualifying Results: