Challenging Qualification at the 2011 Le Mans MotoGP for Yamaha

Yamaha Racing Press Release

Today’s MotoGP qualifying session at Le Mans for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of France was a tough session for Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies.

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Despite the threat of rain this morning the sun did finally break out, allowing the riders to make the best possible use of the softer tyres on track.

Lorenzo made another step forward in set-up, going nearly a second faster than yesterday’s free practice. The Mallorcan spent the session hunting for further grip and less wheelie from his Yamaha YZR-M1 as he battled for third position.

A front row start was looking possible before dropping to fifth at the end of the heat and a second row start for the race.

Spies was also making improvements from yesterday, the American finding an extra 0.7 of a second in qualifying today. A flying lap at the end of the session was unfortunately interrupted by another rider obstructing him, leaving him in eighth place on the third row of the grid for the race.

Jorge Lorenzo
Position 5th – Time 1.33.706 – Laps 30

“We start on the second row for tomorrow; we will try to keep our pace of 34.0 or 34.1 seconds. If we can do this then maybe we can fight for the podium. If other riders make some mistakes and are not fast enough and we are a little bit faster then it’s possible to fight for more. It’s our goal and this is what we are going to try for the race. I am optimistic though, I think we are not very far from Pedrosa or Dovizioso and if I can improve my riding and be a bit faster on the race and they struggle a little bit we can be with them.”

Ben Spies
Position 8th – Time 1.34.206 – Laps 30

“it was an ok session for us; we got held up a bit on our quick lap but in all actuality I’ve been building up more confidence through the weekend and feeling better with the bike. We’re going to make a change for tomorrow and hopefully we can find something. We have pretty good pace for the race and I’m quite confident we can get some decent points.”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager“We are still running a bit behind. We improved our lap time in qualification but fifth position at the moment is the worst we have been in over a year. We need to find more grip on the track and less wheelie for Jorge. We will discuss now what to do and try for tomorrow, there are always possibilities.” Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director“We are still working to make Ben more comfortable on the bike; hopefully we can find something more for him tonight for his race set-up so he can ride to his full potential. We know he will continue to give 100% tomorrow and fight as hard as he can. On Jorge’s side he has already shown us that he can deliver in race conditions. We will continue to put all of our efforts in for the best possible Yamaha result.”

Crutchlow and Edwards show class in Le Mans

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team is confident of a strong showing in its crucial home race tomorrow after Cal Crutchlow and Colin Edwards produced breathtaking qualifying performances at the Le Mans circuit this afternoon.

Crutchlow’s fantastic rookie season in the MotoGP World Championship continued in brilliant fashion, the British rider surging to a career best sixth position on the grid in just his second day of riding at the legendary Bugatti track in France.

The 25-year-old spent most of the session assessing the performance of Bridgestone’s hard compound rear tyre before Crutchlow commenced a stunning time attack in the final 15 minutes. A lap of 1.34.374 pushed him into fifth position but Crutchlow then shaved another 0.5s off to secure a memorable maiden top six place on the grid for tomorrow’s 28-lap French Grand Prix.

Crutchlow’s best time of 1.33.804 was only 0.098s behind reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo riding the factory Yamaha YZR-M1 machine, as less than 1.5s split the top 14 riders in an enthralling session. Crutchlow was less than 0.2s away from a front row start, raising hopes that he can fight for a third consecutive top ten finish in tomorrow’s race.

With temperatures slightly cooler than yesterday as scattered cloud hung over the Le Mans circuit, American Colin Edwards equaled his best qualifying performance of the campaign and he’ll start the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team’s all-important home race from seventh on the grid.

Edwards worked tirelessly to improve the set-up he first tried during the Estoril test earlier this month, which significantly helped with the rear grip of his YZR-M1 machine. Edwards, who has scored two of his 11 MotoGP podiums in Le Mans, clocked a best time of 1.34.063 to finish seventh on the timesheets. Edwards was only 0.259s behind Crutchlow.

Cal Crutchlow
Position 6th – Time 1.33.804 – Laps 28

“I knew I had the raw speed to come into MotoGP and be fast, but to get a top six on the grid in just my fourth race is a brilliant achievement. Thanks again to my guys in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because we’ve worked really well again and I wanted to do well with this being the Team’s home race in France. At one point in the session I was only 15th and I was starting to get a bit worried because we spent a lot of time on the hard tyre. I couldn’t get it to work and I did a faster lap on a softer tyre that had done 30-laps. To be honest, the bike has been quite difficult to ride this weekend. We’ve had to change the wheelbase setting from the Estoril test but it still feels a little bit unstable. To qualify sixth on a circuit I’ve never seen before though is great, but my expectation will still be to finish in the top ten. And that’s going to be difficult when you look at how close the times are. As always I’ll be going all out tomorrow to get a good result.”

Colin Edwards
Position 7th – Time 1.34.063 – Laps 30

“I liked looking at the timesheets in Le Mans a lot better when the Yamaha used to be on the top. I honestly can’t do anything on else with the package I’ve got. I know I’m riding really good and the set-up we found in Estoril that improved rear grip has been working fantastic here too. I could probably find a tenth or two but I definitely don’t have another second hidden away. I know where I’m losing the time but there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t change the bike to make it accelerate it any harder but that other bike is a really good package. The goal tomorrow will just to be aggressive in the first few laps and ride the wheels off it until I see the flag. That’s really all I can do but this is the Team’s home race and a huge event for Monster, so I’ll be pushing my hardest for another top six.”

2011 MotoGP France
Le Mans 14/05/2011

1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’33.153
2 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’33.212
3 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’33.621
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’33.683
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’33.706
6 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’33.804
7 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’34.063
8 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’34.206
9 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’34.206
10 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’34.277
11 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’34.351
12 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’34.513
13 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’34.612
14 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’34.650
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’34.866
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