Respol Honda’s Marc Marquez keeps his perfect 2014 record intact, seizing pole position for the French GP in dominating fashion. The defending MotoGP champion will be joined on the front row by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro and factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.
Marquez left no doubts about his place in the running order during qualifying, immediately setting a lap record at the beginning of the session. From there the Spaniard improved on the pace, eventually raising the bar to 1’32.042. The Repsol Honda ace will look to retain his perfect season intact, racing for his fifth win of the year in tomorrow’s GP.
"I'm very happy to be on pole and also with the gap between myself and second place on the timesheet,” said Marquez in a Repsol Honda press statement. “Starting from pole is an advantage and I will try to capitalize from it and give 100% –as always– to fight for the win!"
If Marquez’s placement was unsurprising, his front row companions were. Tech 3 Yamaha’s Espargaro secured his best-ever grid placement with a strong second-place effort. Meanwhile, Dovizioso delivered a positive result for the Ducati squad in third. However, both riders demonstrate the mastery of Marquez, trailing well clear by 0.692 and 0.713 respectively.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl heads Row 2, the German rider returning to action at Le Mans after going uder the knife for arm pump surgery. Taking up the five and six spots on the grid are the factory Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo – where they will both see the satellite Tech 3 Yamaha ahead of them when the lights turn.
While well off the pace of Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi missed out on the front row by a mere tenth. After qualifying Lorenzo sounded confident of a podium, stating in a team PR of his Le Mans qualifying: “It’s been the opposite of Jerez, here we have good pace but we couldn't make a very fast lap time. I didn't make a perfect lap and just for one tenth I couldn’t be in second place. For the race we have more options than the last races so I’m going to try and finish on the podium. We have to pay attention in the first laps because everyone wants to overtake but I think we can keep our place and move up.”
Dani Pedrosa was another factory man humbled by the satellite riders, starting from ninth on Sunday. The Repsol Honda rider, like Bradl, is returning from arm pump surgery and bested on Row 3 by Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and the top-running Open class rider, Forward Racing’s Aliex Aspargaro.
Behind Pedrosa, Tech 3’s Bradley Smith rounds out the top 10. The British rider is trailed by Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone and factory Ducati rider Cal Crutchlow.
2014 MotoGP Le Mans Qualifying Results:
1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 1'32.042
2. Pol Espargarò (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1'32.734
3. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) 1'32.755
4. Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda) 1'32.846
5. Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) 1'32.873
6. Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha) 1'32.899
7. Alvaro Bautista (Gresini Honda) 1'33.006
8. Aleix Espargaro (Forward Racing) 1'33.015
9. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) 1'33.023
10. Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) 1'33.058
11. Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) 1'33.102
12. Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team) 1'33.315
13. Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar) 1'33.859
14. Yonny Hernandez (Pramac Ducati) 1'33.999
15. Colin Edwards (Forward Racing) 1'34.203
16. Scott Redding (Gresini Honda) 1'34.233
17. Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar) 1'34.457
18. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB) 1'34.880
19. Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) 1'35.499
20. Brok Parkes (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1'35.795
21. Michael Laverty (Paul Bird Motorsport) 1'35.932
22. Mike Di Meglio (Avintia Racing) 1'36.163