Tech 3 Yamaha target podium challenge in home race
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will go into its home race at the historic Le Mans circuit in France confident that Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow can battle for the podium after both produced brilliant qualifying performances today.
For the third time in four races this season, the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team has one rider starting from the front row after Dovizioso stormed to third place on the grid.
Dovizioso, who is going in search of a third successive MotoGP rostrum at the legen dary Bugatti track in tomorrow's 28-lap race, challenged for a front row place throughout a session that started on a wet track after earlier rain.
Conditions quickly improved and for the second half of the session, Dovizioso and Crutchlow were able to lap on slick tyres with the circuit completely dry and at one stage they occupied the top two places on the timesheets.
Only eight minutes remained when Dovizioso thrilled the large number of Tech 3 Yamaha fans in the crowd by powering his YZR-M1 machine to a lap of 1.34.099. That moved him to the top of the timesheets by almost 0.9s.
He was able to improve his pace to a 1.33.976, which secured him a richly deserved first front row start as a Yamaha rider and he was only 0.035s behind reigning World Champion Casey Stoner in second.
British rider Crutchlow also led the leaderboard in the early stages and he came close to claiming a third front row start of the season after another outstanding qualifying display.
He was in eighth place when a lap of 1.34.178 elevated him to the front row. Despite the 26-year-old's best efforts to improve his pace he will start from the middle of the second row in fifth place, his best time just over 0.2s from Dovizioso.
Position 3rd - Time 1.33.976 - Laps 23 “I am really happy to be on the front row for the first time with Tech 3 and Yamaha. We have done a great job all weekend. I have been fast in every session and even in the tricky conditions at the start of qualifying I was very competitive and strong and the times were coming really easily. I am particularly happy to be on the front row because a small problem meant I was not able to be on track for the final five minutes of the session. That is the period when you improve your time and it was a pity that I couldn't battle in the final stages because I'm sure I had a chance of getting pole position. So to be on the front row despite not riding in the last five minutes is fantastic and I am very confident for the race tomorrow. I'm sure I have the pace to stay at the front and I am very happy to be on the front in the Tech 3 Team's home race. I will do my best for Tech 3 and our main sponsor and event sponsor Monster.”
Position 5th - Time 1.34.178 - Laps 22 “I can't be disappointed to have qualified in fifth position but I think I could have chal lenged for pole position had things gone my way. I made a couple of small mistakes on my fast laps right at the end and that cost me a little bit of time. And we didn't have the best set-up with the bike. We made some modifications for qualifying but with the conditions wet and damp at the start, we couldn't tell if it was an improvement and in hindsight it would have been better to stay with the setting I ran this morning. We are not sure what is in store with the weather tomorrow but I am happy with the job we did today and once again we are very close to the front and I'm really looking forward to a good fight in the race. Andrea did a good job today and it is great to have both Tech 3 Yamaha riders competing for the front row. Hopefully we can both have a strong result for Tech 3 and Monster tomorrow.”