Marc Marquez has collected a second MotoGP pole position for this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. The championship leader beat current title holder Jorge Lorenzo by just three hundredths of a second as Andrea Dovizioso celebrated his first front row for Ducati Team. Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa will start sixth after crashing.
The majority of those in the paddock expected rainfall for qualifying, but this was not to be the case as a steady breeze graced the historic Le Mans venue. Delivering an impressive lap time of 1’33.187, Marquez looked to have convincingly sealed his second pole after Texas but was challenged hard by Lorenzo. With Dovizioso taking his first front row since Malaysia 2012, today’s result also marks the first time that the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati factory outfits have shared Row 1 since Spain 2012.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow came back from a heavy crash at La Chapelle in final practice to achieve the fourth best grid spot and will share the second row with LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl and the aforementioned Pedrosa, who was forced to rush back to the pits with less than ten minutes to go after repeating an error made by Repsol Honda Team partner Marquez (but in final practice for the latter) and falling at Turn 3. He eventually missed out on the top spot by half a second.
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Valentino Rossi hopes to become the fourth winner from four races this weekend, but could muster only eighth in qualifying and will be flanked on Row 3 by GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Bradley Smith, who with ninth place equals his best grid position of the season so far. Nicky Hayden completed the top ten for Ducati as Power Electronics Aspar successfully saw two CRT riders into the Q2 for the first time; although he was quicker than his teammate in Q1, local hero Randy de Puniet could not out-qualify teammate Aleix Espargaro when it came to the all-important final shootout.
Elsewhere, Michele Pirro qualified 14th and one place behind Pramac Racing teammate Andrea Iannone as he stands in for the recovering Ben Spies, while Colin Edwards was highly optimistic with the latest evolution of his FTR frame and went on to qualify 17th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing. On his return, Karel Abraham - with seven screws and a plate in his right shoulder following a collision in Austin - was, like Iannone, still in some pain but managed to achieve a sixth row placing.
Sunday’s 2013 Monster Energy Grand Prix de France will begin at 2pm local time (GMT +2) and forecasters are continuing to predict rain.
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