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Stoner on pole in France

Casey Stoner takes pole position for the French MotoGP at Le Mans, round four of the 2011 world championship.
Casey Stoner, fastest in all three free practice sessions at Le Mans, has taken pole for Sunday's French Grand Prix.

The Australian - winner on his RC212V debut in Qatar - was once again in dominant form throughout this afternoon, pushing pole out of reach whenever he was threatened.

But Gresini Honda's Marco Simoncelli came very close to causing an upset - jumping within 0.059sec of the Repsol Honda star on his last lap to match his best MotoGP qualifying at the previous Estoril round.

Stoner's Repsol Honda team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was shadowing Simoncelli during the exciting closing minutes, helping the Italian claim his first front row of the year in third (+0.468sec).

By contrast, championship leaders Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa saw their perfect 2011 front row records end on Saturday.

Repsol Honda rider Pedrosa, who moved within four points of Lorenzo after victory at Estoril, will start from fourth while Yamaha's Lorenzo - winner at Le Mans for the last two years – lines up in fifth place.

Lorenzo had qualified on the front row for the previous seven races, stretching back to the tail end of 2010.

But one rider sure to be smiling on the second row is ever-improving rookie Cal Crutchlow, who repeatedly put his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 inside the top six - a position he confirmed by over 0.25sec from team-mate Colin Edwards.

Edwards was the final rider within a second of Stoner, with factory Yamaha's Ben Spies and factory Ducati's Valentino Rossi setting the exact same lap time (+1.053sec) for eighth and ninth.

Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden was a fraction slower in tenth.

Randy de Puniet, the only home rider in MotoGP, suffered a highside fall from his Pramac Ducati in the opening ten-minutes.

The incident seemed to fire the Frenchman up and he rose to sixth place by the middle stages, but the #14 went on to qualify eleventh.

Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Ducati) and Toni Elias (Honda LCR) also crashed during the session.

A Honda rider hasn't won the French MotoGP since Marco Melandri in 2006, the last year of 990cc racing.


1. Stoner
2. Simoncelli
3. Dovizioso
4. Pedrosa
5. Lorenzo
6. Crutchlow
7. Edwards
8. Spies
9. Rossi
10. Hayden
11. de Puniet
12. Bautista
13. Aoyama
14. Barbera
15. Capirossi
16. Abraham
17. Elias

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John - Unregistered

May 14, 2011 3:16 PM

What are the chances of a decent string of comments ever appearing on here? Only 8 comments and already it's full of infantile rubbish :( For instance, what the hell has a poll on what Rossi can do in 80 seconds got to do with the qualifying??? PATHETIC!!! I give up, I really do....


May 14, 2011 2:37 PM

Entertaining qualifying. The grid in its own right by manufacturer,rather than rider is worth noting. Honda vs Honda. Yamaha vs Yamaha. Ducati vs Ducati. Hats off to Cal,great effort. Of course most of the focus will be around Casey and Simmo right now. The one thing that stands out is that Casey put in some huge laps on hard rubber. Weather conditions and tire choice will be critical over race distance. I really hope an idiotic 'banzai' charge does not spoil the race for any of the 17 riders and us spectators.

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