Pedrosa heats up Bugatti Le Mans circuit to earn pole

Spaniard racer Dani Pedrosa grabbed today his second consecutive pole position in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) at the Alice Grand Prix of France on the Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans. Kawasaki Racing Team's Shinya...

Spaniard racer Dani Pedrosa grabbed today his second consecutive pole position in the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP) at the Alice Grand Prix of France on the Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans.

Kawasaki Racing Team's Shinya Nakano and Rizla Suzuki's John Hopkins will join Pedrosa on Sunday's front row.

Pedrosa set 1m33s990 on his last lap of the session to secure pole position for his Repsol Honda team. The Spaniard is set to try tomorrow to repeat his performance of a week ago in Chinese GP, where he claimed his first MotoGP victory.

"I`m really satisfied of having the pole again, but the important day is tomorrow. The activity today has been hard because of the wind, but it hasn`t rain, which is good", commented Pedrosa.

The Shanghai winner stayed in mid positions by halfway through the session until the final 20-minutes, when the moment of speed came for the Spaniard. "After some mistakes in the first part, I was more focused in the final minutes and I achieved a better pace. We found good tyres for the race, wo I`m happy", he said.

For Sunday`s competition on a circuit where he won over the last three times he raced (`03 in 125cc and `04, `05 in 250cc), Pedrosa stated: "The set-up of the bike, if it doesn`t rain, should be fine. I hope to make a good start and a good race, but we must wait and see what happens with the weather".

Pedrosa became the first rider to repeat pole position this season and wants to become the first to repeat victories tomorrow.

Second place meant for Nakano his strongest result so far in 2006 for a grid position. The Japanese set 1m34s201 and was ready to celebrate the pole until the 20 year-old Spaniard appeared.

"Mission accomplished! I had a very good feeling during practice yesterday, so I knew a front row start was possible, but I didn't really expect to be fighting for pole position", mentioned the rider of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR.

Nakano has the pole right there after he took an advantage of over half a second to Hopkins but he didn`t count the young Spanish ace rider.

"When I saw the chequered flag I thought I'd held onto pole, but at the back of the circuit they have a big TV screen, which showed Dani stealing pole position as I rode past it on my way back to the pits. I was a bit disappointed not to take pole, but I'm happy enough with second place on the grid", Shinya commented.

Nakano`s best result this season so far has been a seventh place in the season opener round in Jerez, something the Japanese wants to improve on Sunday: "So far the races have been difficult for us, but here we know we have a strong package in the Ninja ZX-RR and our Bridgestone tyres, so a good result is possible; maybe even a podium finish if everything goes well".

American racer Hopkins marked 1m34s636 to take another front row start as he did in China.

"What can I say, I'm happy to be on the front row but not exactly happy with the way it went on the qualifiers. Dani did a good job but I think if we had had a proper go at him we could have got near him or even on pole", Hopkins expressed.

After fourth place in Shanghai`s race, Hopkins will try tomorrow to get a podium at Le Mans.

"We have a pretty good race set-up and once again the crew has worked really hard. The Bridgestones and the Suzuki have come together pretty well on this track, so wet or dry we need to chase that first podium and perform as well as we possibly can", stated the American.

It is the third consecutive time this year that a Suzuki will start on the front row after Chris Vermuelen`s pole in Turkey and Hopkins second grid position in China.

Top six were completed by local rider Randy de Puiet -- his best result so far. The French rider is followed by Marco Melandri and Loris Capirossi, while reigning World Champion, Valentino Rossi, ended up in seventh place with the Camel Yamaha.

"To be honest I expected a better position this afternoon so I am a little disappointed but it is not a disaster. We worked in the right way and found a good race setting for the bike. When we used the very soft tyre at the end of the session we again found some vibration problems caused by the extra grip but it's not such a problem on the race tyres", admitted Rossi.

Standings leader, Nicky Hayden, clocked tenth best laptime with the Repsol Honda factory bike and will have to improve the pace tomorrow to maintain the points lead.

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Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Loris Capirossi , Valentino Rossi , Shinya Nakano , John Hopkins , Marco Melandri , Dani Pedrosa