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MotoGP Le Mans: Pics from Friday and rider quotes after qualifying

If anyone had any doubt that Honda has finally gotten it right after long four years since the advent of the 800cc bikes only has to look at today’s qualifying grid at Le Mans.
Four Honda riders in the first four spots and on the circuit which has historically been much more friendly to Yamaha.

Here’s what all the MotoGP riders had to say after qualifying:Casey Stoner – 1st “We’re very happy with this pole.
We focused a lot on race set-up this afternoon, going from one bike to the other, making small adjustments to improve the bike a little.

The conditions aren’t perfect at the moment.
It’s quite windy, so it’s hard to see if you’ve improved or not, but my Honda was working really well and I never found myself pushing to the limit too much which is always good.
This is our third pole of the season but we’ve only converted one of them into a victory so we hope to have a little more luck here in Le Mans and fight for the win.

” Marco Simoncelli – 2nd “I got really close to my first-ever pole today – 0.
059s is hardly anything! Strangely it is the same gap that I missed out on the podium by last year at Estoril.
In any case I am happy and we are not in bad shape for the race.
We have improved from session to session so I am confident.
We have improved under braking today, but I still don’t feel 100% secure.
My objective tomorrow is to get to the end of the race and bring some important points home.
I won’t be pushing over the limit to get a result at all costs.
I want to manage the race well.
”Andrea Dovizioso – 3rd“I’m very happy to start from the first row.
Even though this was our target, I didn’t expect it.
I was behind Simoncelli for two laps and this helped me because I followed his lines.
This afternoon we did some small changes to the set-up and my feeling with the front improved.
We arrived at this race very confident; I think we can fight for the podium.
Tomorrow the race will be tough, Casey is very fast and he may try to run away.
I have a good pace and I think I will fight with Simoncelli.
I want to thank my team for all their hard work and hope we can get a good result tomorrow.
”Dani Pedrosa – 4th“We improved quite a lot compared to yesterday, but we still feel a lack of traction in the rear and good grip to have the tyre working as we would like.
At the beginning of this afternoon’s session we managed to find a good rhythm with the soft tyre, but these are not qualifying tyres anymore and in my last run of the session, with only five laps to push, I could not make the most of the tyre.
In the warm-up tomorrow we have to improve the bike a little and for the race it’s important to get a good start.
Here the first chicane is delicate and we need to avoid any trouble.
The first laps will be crucial because the tyres are cold and it’s important to stay in front.
Besides Casey, other rivals are closer here, such as Simoncelli and Dovi.
Lorenzo has also improved, so we must be prepared to fight because the race will be demanding and long, but as in Estoril, we will try.
”Jorge Lorenzo – 5th“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.
” Cal Crutchlow – 6th“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 – 7th“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.
”Ben Spies – 8th“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.
” Valentino Rossi – 9th“Naturally, we’re not happy with our position: it’s not good, because I had hoped to start from the second row.
I’m pleased with the way we worked, though, as well as with how I rode, because I was finally able to ride well.
We solved some problems, and we understood that other aspects of the setup weren’t going in the right direction, so we changed them.
I think this was our best qualifying session since I’ve been at Ducati, because with just a few minutes left, I was inside sixth place.
Unfortunately, when the moment to use the softer tyre comes, we don’t take a big enough step, so tomorrow I’ll have to start from the third row, behind some riders who had a slower pace.
We have a couple more ideas to try in the warm-up though, and if they work, we can do better in the race.
Nicky Hayden – 10th“This morning wasn’t bad, but I hoped for more in qualifying, for sure.
The bike was working quite well at the pace I’ve been running, but when I tried to cut those last couple of tenths, it was moving around a lot.
It’s unfortunate after being fourth yesterday and fifth this morning.
I was hoping to be up a few spots, but I don’t really have a lot of excuses.
I had a couple of good, clear laps, but I just didn’t put down the lap time I needed to.
I’m starting tenth, and as bad as that sounds, it’s my best grid spot of the year.
Anyway, tomorrow is what counts.
” Randy De Puniet – 11th“I’m okay despite my crash at the beginning of qualifying.
Looking at the pictures, I think I was lucky to make it back to the garage; I could have been serioiusly hurt, and instead I only have a little pain in my left shoulder.
I don’t remember a lot about the crash, just that my head hit my shoulder.
In the end, the time wasn’t so bad, especially because it’s the best I could do.
We’re just behind the factory Ducati team, which means I gave everything I had.
For tomorrow’s race, I hope to get back into the top ten; that would be a good result for me and my fans.
”Álvaro Bautista – 12th“I am happy with the work we have done today.
This morning we tried a new setting in the bike because yesterday we needed more rear grip when we entered the corners and today we tried to make the bike shorter to help with this.
It was the right thing to do because suddenly it felt much better, but the change was made on the old frame, so this afternoon we put the same setting in the new chassis and the improvement was even better.
My rhythm was between mid 1’34 and 1’35 all the time and this was easy to do.
At the end of qualifying I tried to follow some other guys, but I made some mistakes on my best lap – so I think I can certainly improve on that.
We have done a good job today and I am happy with the whole team because they are helping me so much to get the confidence in the bike.
If we continue in this way I think we will be at the top of our performance very soon!”Hiroshi Aoyama – 13th “I am not too happy with the result today.
I haven’t improved much on my best lap from yesterday afternoon and for that reason I have dropped a few positions.
Hopefully tomorrow in the race I can recover those positions and first of all find some set-up solutions in the morning that will help us have a good race.
”Héctor Barberá – 14th“I am having quite a lot of difficulty on the way into the turns.
I don’t know why but I don’t feel comforable.
We have looked at the telemetry and I am losing a lot in turns four and five.
In the other corners I am riding well but I lose it all in that one section.
We are going to try and solve this in the morning and even though we haven’t qualified well we will not give in.
We have worked hard on used tyres but at the end of the session you always need a tow and plenty of rubber to set a good time.
This category is so close that if you don’t have everything just right then other guys pass you like you’re standing still!”Loris Capirossi – 15th“I’m still having a very hard time.
Today I wasn’t able to find traction on corner exits, and this problem cost me a few too many tenths.
Tomorrow we have to change something.
I tried today, and in the end we’re all very close, within just a few tenths.
Unfortunately, I can’t manage to get the most out of my laps.
I have to give it my best effort and hope that everything goes well.
”Karel Abraham – 16th“This race weekend isn’t ideal for us.
I tried to improve my time, but in the left-handed turn front tire slipped and I crashed.
I will do my best in the race and then we will see.
Toni Elias – 17th“I believe we have made a step forward on bike set-up because my feeling was better than yesterday.
I lapped on used tyres for the most of the session this afternoon, posting decent lap times and then I moved to a new rear tyre.
Unfortunately on my last run I lost the front at turn nine, losing the chance to improve my lap time and my spot on the grid.
Honestly, I believe we could have jumped few places and not being in the back of the grid this weekend, but the good thing is that the base set-up we have got now is pretty good.
” Photo

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