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Saturday, May 16, 2009

MotoGP Le Mans Practice

The 2009 MotoGP paddock continues to be cursed by inclement weather conditions as rain forced the riders to enter the pit just over half an hour into the free practice session in Le Mans, France on Friday. The teams were happy that practice sessions for the rest of the season have been reverted back to an hour from 45 minutes, however, the rain restricted the riders to fewer laps than they could have completed in a decent 45-minute session.




Andrea Dovizioso posted today's quickest time at 1’36.135 on his Factory Honda. The next quickest rider was Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) trailing by less than one-tenth of second, followed in third by the LCR Honda ridden by French favorite Randy de Puniet with a time of 1’36.293.

Chris Vermeulen began his Le Mans Grand Prix weekend on a strong foot by steering his Rizla Suzuki GSV-R to fourth place ahead of Dani Pedrosa’s Respol Honda. The two Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, who were part of an all-Yamaha podium at Le Mans last year, completed the session in sixth and seventh places respectively. Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri showed that his strong fifth at the Grand Prix of Spain might not be a one-off event after the only Kawasaki rider in the paddock rounded out the provisional second row starters for the day.

The rain was especially unwelcomed by the Pramac racing team’s rookie riders Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa. Having never raced at Le Mans Canepa took the slowest lap time on Friday. Nicky Hayden was also robbed of the much needed extra practice time that the Ducati Marlboro team will need to get his Desmosedici sorted.

All the riders will be hoping for a little French sunshine as they try to improve their performances in tomorrow's official session that will start at 1.55pm local time. The second one-hour practice session will be followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday's 28-lap race.

Le Mans MotoGP Friday Free Practice Times:
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) – 1’36.135
2. Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) – 1’36.194
3. Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) – 1’36.293
4. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) – 1’36.301
5. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) – 1’36.476
6. Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) – 1’36.751
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Fiat Yamaha) – 1’37.024
8. Marco Melandri (Hayate Racing) – 1’37.024
9. Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) – 1’37.224
10. Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) – 1’37.224
11. Toni Elias (San Carlo Honda Gresini) – 1’37.270
12. James Toseland (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) – 1’37.738
13. Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) – 1’37.800
14. Sete Gibernau (Gruppo Francisco Hernando) – 1’37.875
15. Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro) – 1’38.032
16. Alex de Angelis (San Carlo Honda Gresini) – 1’38.323
17. Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing) – 1’38.639
18. Niccolo Canepa (Pramac Racing) – 1’39.116

Le Mans: Record Lap
V. Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1'34.215

Le Mans: Best Qualifying Lap
D. Pedrosa (Honda) 2008, 1'32.647

MotoGP Rider Quotes:



Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha – 6th, 1’36.751
“We always seem to have bad luck with the weather here! The conditions weren’t easy today, it was quite cold and the track wasn’t so good, and then it rained and so we couldn’t use all of the session. It was still useful to get some laps done in the dry though, even if we couldn’t learn as much as we would have liked to today. Every lap has it’s own small problems and during the first rain break we made some modifications to our setting and actually I was quite confident that we were on the right track. We hoped to get a few more laps before the end of the session once the rain stopped but unfortunately it started again and so we had no real chance to check our work. We know we’re fast in the rain but I prefer it dry…the problem is that you never know with Le Mans, the weather seems to change every five minutes!”

Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha – 7th, 1’37.024
“It’s a pity about the rain because we needed the time today, but this is the situation so we have to deal with it. I just hope it doesn’t continue. At least we had some dry track time but the situation of the track wasn’t so good and I was quite slow. We need time at each circuit to learn how our bike works with the Bridgestone tires and we didn’t really have enough time today, but we will keep trying tomorrow and hopefully we can improve our pace.”

Colin Edwards - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 10th, 1.'37.269
“It was a really weird day to be honest and I'm a bit confused. My record proves that I like this track and we know the Yamaha is a really strong package in Le Mans, but right from the start nothing really seemed to work. It's obvious we've got a couple of small issues to solve for tomorrow because Valentino (Rossi) and Jorge (Lorenzo) are not up near the top either. So out of the box nothing really seems to be working and that is very strange. From my side I just don't feel comfortable. Braking and corner entry I'm not that confident and I was running wide quite a lot. It felt like we had a lot of weight on the rear but I need to get my thinking head on tonight, sit down with my guys and figure something out. We'll check over some data with Yamaha too because right now I'm a little bit confused. But we've definitely got to do something to make it more comfortable. I know this is a massively important weekend for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team. It's an awesome achievement for them to be involved in the world championship for 20 years. I'll be trying my best to give them something to celebrate on Sunday

Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki – 10th, 1’37.224
"It has not been too bad today considering the conditions, but luckily I did get the opportunity to test two completely different settings on the bike. The first one was not perfect but the second one was definitely a lot better. I came in to make a couple more modifications that I'm sure would have helped, but the rain came and we couldn't test everything that we wanted to. I now hope it either stays dry tomorrow and race-day or it rains on both, because a mix of the two will be no good at all. We will just have to wait and see what happens!"

James Toseland - Monster Yamaha Tech 3 - 12th, 1'37.738
“I think I'm going to stop saying I need more time on the track, because when I do something makes sure it doesn't happen. From the off we're not too far away but we need time to try things on the bike. I'm sure the guys behind me are saying the same thing, but we still need to find a comfortable setting and it is a frustrating scenario when you only have one session on a Friday. We made the wheelbase longer to get a bit more stability from the bike and I did eight laps and we made some changes based on comments about the good and bad points. But then it started raining so I couldn't see if the changes were moving me in the right direction. I'm looking to be more comfortable and not feeling so on the limit not doing the quickest times. When the bike is not set-up right you always feel on the limit even though the lap times are not as fast as they should be. We'll find what I need but you need to be out on the track to find it. I really want to get a good result this weekend given that this is the home race for Tech 3, and the team is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It's incredible to think they have been racing in Grand Prix since I was eight years old! I'd love nothing more though than getting a good result for the team in France.”

Mika Kallio - Pramac Racing - 13th, 1’37.800
"Here the weather conditions are always unpredictable, you can find over twenty degrees and sun, but after a few minutes it can start to rain ruining your work plan. It's a pity because we had found the right way to follow. We started with the same set up as in Jerez and after a few modifications we found a good balance of the bike. Nothing special for sure, but anyway a good start."

Niccolò Canepa - Pramac Racing -18th, 1’39.116
"Really unlucky today. This has been the first time for me in Le Mans and I need to make as many laps as possible to learn the best lines to follow. Anyway I can be quite happy because I didn't make any modifications to the bike, but I have only concentrated to learn the track. We only hope to find better climatic conditions tomorrow."

World Superbikes winner MSMW2012