Jorge Lorenzo raced to a record breaking lap as he took pole position for this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans.
The Ducati bound Spaniard has looked in fine fettle throughout free practice and showed no signs of letting up his pace as qualifying got underway this afternoon. Immediately from the off, Lorenzo was lapping quicker than his rivals with his first flying lap being quicker than anyone else with the rest of qualifying still ahead of him.
Trying to get in his slipstream was Andrea Iannone and he looked the most likely to take the fight to the Movistar Yamaha initially but when he tipped his Ducati into the gravel on an out lap it didn’t seem as though he could maintain attempts to grasp a front row starting spot. The Italian could be seen running back to the pits to get on his second bike to keep up his hopes of that position behind Lorenzo.
While all this was happening the number 99 was blasting to a record-breaking lap to further distance himself from the chasing pack. Lorenzo put in a 1’31.975 to be the first rider ever to go under the 1’32 barrier at the French circuit.
The Repsol Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez were struggling a little with Pedrosa hitting the floor with eight minutes of the session remaining. However, former World Champion, Marquez was the closest to catching the pole sitter as the session wore on but he could only get within half a second of Lorenzo to qualify second.
Iannone was relieved to pin down the final front row spot for the race tomorrow, with Monster Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro coming home in fourth place, a terrific result for the team at their home round. Andrea Dovizioso came fifth with Britain’s Bradley Smith rounding out the second row with his best qualifying performance of the season to date.
Valentino Rossi could only secure seventh place, 0.854 seconds behind his teammate, Maverick Vinales just behind on the Suzuki with Cal Crutchlow in ninth spot. The returning Danilo Petrucci was the man finishing in tenth spot, a very good result for the Octo Pramac Ducati rider who is making his maiden bow of the season following his recovery from a hand injury which he picked up in a pre season crash at Philip Island.
Further down the grid, Dani Pedrosa could only pick up 11th spot ahead of Aleix Espargaro in 12th. Meanwhile the other Brits finished in 14th and 16th spots, Scott Redding coming in ahead of Eugene Laverty on the independent Ducati’s.
QUALIFYING TOP 10:
- Jorge LORENZO SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’31.975
- Marc MARQUEZ SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’32.416
- Andrea IANNONE ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’32.469
- Pol ESPARGARO SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’32.502
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1’32.587
- Bradley SMITH GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1’32.820
- Valentino ROSSI ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’32.829
- Maverick VIÑALES SPA Team SUZUKI ECSTAR Suzuki 1’32.933
- Cal CRUTCHLOW GBR LCR Honda Honda 1’32.963
- Danilo PETRUCCI ITA OCTO Pramac Yakhnich Ducati 1’33.102