Stoner throws down the gauntlet at Le Mans2012-05-18 07:52
Following a two week break, the MotoGP™ world championship was back once again at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at the historic track of Le Mans, where Repsol Honda Team’s Casey Stoner laid down the marker for this weekend after setting the fastest time of the day in the second MotoGP practice session.
Set in dry conditions, a lap of 1.33’740 placed him just over two tenths ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa in second, who has performed solidly all weekend. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo completed the top three as he continued to hunt down the Hondas, which have dominated all day.
In fourth, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista was having a tremendous outing, as he continues to improve on-board his satellite machine, just under seven-tenths off Stoner at the front. Lorenzo’s teammate Ben Spies set the fifth quickest time of the day, as he looks to get his championship back on track after some difficult first rounds.
Sixth place was occupied by Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Andrea Dovizioso, who continued where he left off at Estoril, by beating his teammate Cal Crutchlow, who finished seventh. Both riders will be looking for strong performances this weekend at the team’s home Grand Prix, especially after both have made very promising starts to the season.
In eighth, Pramac Racing Team’s Héctor Barberá was in impressive form as he finished top Ducati, ahead of Ducati Team duo Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Rossi, who announced yesterday that he will continue racing for at least another two years, finished just under 1.5s off the top.
Top CRT honour went to local favourite Randy de Puniet, who put in a good performance in 13th, despite still suffering back-pain from his crash at Estoril. NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s replacement for Colin Edwards, 2007 Le Mans race-winner Chris Vermeulen, finished in last place, as he was getting used to the Suter-BMW machine.
Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci had a day to forget, as he suffered a serious engine failure early in the second session. It was misery as well for Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini as he dropped his bike in the gravel after running wide, while in the final few minutes of the afternoon, Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró had his second crash of the day as lost the front of his ART machine. San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro was the only other rider to crash in the morning session, after coming off in Museum corner.
Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding topped the Moto2™ timesheets on the first day at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France in Le Mans ahead of Interwetten-Paddock’s Tom Lüthi.
Redding set the tone for this weekend’s racing at the historic French track by positing the fastest time of 1.37’869, just under one tenths ahead of Lüthi. Third place went to Came IodaRacing Project’s Simone Corsi, who has been resurgent all day after being somewhat under the radar for the first part of the season.
Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio took fourth spot just half a second down, while fifth place went to Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol’s championship leader Marc Marquez, who could not quite match the afternoon pace. Behind him, Pons 40 HP Tuenti’s Pol Espargaró was close on his heels, no doubt preparing for yet another close battle between the pair.
Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone was seventh fastest, in front of Blusens Avintia’s Julián Simón, who is slowly improving on his Suter chassis. Completing the top ten were Technomag-CIP’s Dominique Aegerter, who had a solid day, as well as GP Team Switzerland’s Randy Krummenacher.
There were incidents early-on in the afternoon, as JiR Moto2´s local favourite Johann Zarco and Kiefer Racing’s Max Neukirchner pushed each other into the gravel. Both managed to re-join the session later on, yet Neukirchner suffered another fall with just a few minutes left in the session. There were also crashes for both of Espargaró’s teammates Axel Pons and Esteve Rabat, while Tech 3 Racing’s Bradley Smith crashed out of the morning session. None of the riders were injured in the incidents.
Blusens Avintia’s Maverick Viñales ended the first day of the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at the top of the combined Moto3™ timesheets in front of compatriot Luis Salom.
Viñales was the pace setter all day, and posted the fastest time of 1.44’141 in the afternoon session, with RW Racing GP’s Salom a full six tenths behind in second. Third spot was occupied by Racing Team Germany’s local rider Louis Rossi, who gave his home crowd something to cheer about.
The fourth fastest time was set by Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Miguel Oliveira, who could not match his second position from the morning practice, ahead of Team Italia FMI’s Romano Fenati, who is doing well at his first ever outing at the French track. In Sixth, Oliveira’s teammate Alex Rins had a good day, finishing just over a second off the front.
JHK T-Shirt Laglisse’s Efrén Vazquez was seventh after a solid performance, ousting AirAsia-SIC-Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin into eighth. The top ten was completed by Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Sandro Cortese and Redox-Ongetta-Centro Seta’s Jakub Kornfeil. Championship leading Cortese had a difficult second session after suffering a mechanical failure 17 minutes before the end, with his best time coming from the morning practice. JHK’s Adrian Martín fared even worse as he crashed out of the second session with three minutes remaining, yet walked away unhurt.
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