STONER ON FRONT ROW, HAYDEN UNABLE TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF PROGRESS Casey Stoner will start the Grand Prix de France from the front row of the grid tomorrow after contesting pole position until the final moments of this afternoon's qualifying...
STONER ON FRONT ROW, HAYDEN UNABLE TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF PROGRESS
Casey Stoner will start the Grand Prix de France from the front row of the grid tomorrow after contesting pole position until the final moments of this afternoon's qualifying practice at Le Mans. With heavy clouds and a damp track in the early stages giving way to warm sunshine later on, the Australian dominated much of the second half of the hour-long session but wasn't finally able to hold off the challenge of Jorge Lorenzo, who edged out him by just 0.070 seconds, and Dani Pedrosa, who went 0.005 seconds quicker than his fellow Spaniard to snatch pole in a thrilling finale.
Stoner's Ducati Marlboro team-mate Nicky Hayden significantly improvement his lap time by almost 2.5 seconds from yesterday, moving two positions up the overall classification to qualify thirteenth fastest. The American is still struggling to find confidence with the rear end of his Desmosedici GP9 but he has made progress this weekend that he hopes to consolidate in tomorrow's 28-lap race.
CASEY STONER (Ducati Marlboro Team) 3rd (1'34.049)
"This afternoon's session was always going to be something of a gamble because of the weather conditions. It was a similar situation to the one we had in Jerez, with everybody struggling to get enough time to set up the bike. We really needed to use the qualifying session to try to get a bit better set up, but still in the back of your mind you tried to keep enough time in the end of the session to get a good qualifying position. We went out and the bike felt quite good but we didn't get a really good time with the first softer tyre. When I went out with the second one unfortunately I got stuck behind Chris Vermeulen for a couple of laps and pretty much used the best of the tyre. I'm a bit disappointed because I think we could have been a little bit faster. Anyway, I'm reasonably happy with my race pace. We've had a few issues with the bike that we've worked on well and it's important that we're on the front row. It's going to be a tough race tomorrow whatever the conditions, but I feel a little bit more confident here than in Jerez. I hope to able to stick at the front a little bit better! "
NICKY HAYDEN -- (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th (1'35.682)
"We started over with some of the settings this weekend but like everybody the lack of track time at the moment is hurting us. We have made steady progress over the course of the weekend but at the moment I still don't have the rear grip going into the corners that I need. We've made little steps in some areas that we need to build on but at the end of the day the time sheets don't lie and we're too far from the front of the grid. The priority tomorrow is to get a good start and go fast early in the race. It would be nice to have some fun and finish with a good result".