Round 4: French MotoGP™ - Qualifying Practice
Le Mans, Saturday 19 May 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather: Dry Ambient 15-17°C; Track 16-20°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Dani Pedrosa has put himself in a strong position to score a first ever MotoGP™ victory at Le Mans after the Repsol Honda rider took pole position for tomorrow’s French Grand Prix ahead of teammate Casey Stoner.
The top three qualifiers at Le Mans used different front tyres in combination with the soft rear slick to record their best times, with Pedrosa setting his time of 1:33.638 on the medium compound front slick tyre to finish three-tenths of a second clear of Stoner who ran the soft compound front slick. Meanwhile, Monster Tech3 Yamaha’s Andrea Dovizioso opted for the new specification medium compound front slick and was the only other rider to qualify in the 1 minute 33 second bracket and will line up on the grid in P3. In front of his home crowd, Power Electronics Aspar Randy de Puniet was the top CRT qualifier and will start on the fourth row in 12th place.
Rain earlier in the day resulted in the qualifying session starting under damp track conditions with riders taking to the track on soft wet tyres front and rear in an effort to gauge grip levels on the circuit. Halfway through the session a dry line started to appear and riders began to switch to slick tyres which quickened the pace and saw the rider classification change from one lap to the next. Though the session ended with the circuit being mainly dry, track temperatures remained quite cool at around 20°C which prevented riders matching the times recorded at last year’s qualifying practice which took place in much warmer conditions.
Race action at the French Grand Prix kicks off at 1400 local time (GMT +2) tomorrow.
Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department “We had highly variable conditions for qualifying today, with the track starting damp and then drying slowly during the session and so riders chose a wide variety of wet and slick tyre compounds to deal with the rapidly changing grip levels on the circuit.
“As we saw in yesterday’s free practice, when conditions were dry in qualifying many riders chose to run the soft rear slick in conjunction with the medium front slick to give them more stability in the heavy braking sections in the first half of the circuit. I expect that if conditions are dry tomorrow then this combination will be widely used and that the majority of riders that choose the medium compound front slick will select this option in the new specification front slick tyre. There is a high probability of a wet or flag-to-flag race but whatever the weather brings tomorrow, the pace for the top five riders is very close so I hope to see a very exciting race.”