LE MANS, France, May 19 (Reuters)


American Colin Edwards, riding a Yamaha, was fastest in Friday’s practice for Sunday’s French Grand Prix.

Edwards, who lies eighth in the motoGP standings after four races, lapped the Bugatti circuit in one minute 35.170 seconds.

“It was not bad. We came here and we knew a good result was possible. Everything looks pretty good,” he told reporters.

Edwards added: “I feel comfortable. I’m getting a pretty good confidence-level and feeling-level of what the bike can do.”

World champion Valentino Rossi, who won in France last year, was second quickest, 0.112 seconds behind his team mate.

The Italian, who has won the last five world titles in the top category, is using a new chassis after retiring with a tyre failure in China last weekend and being plagued by excessive vibrations elsewhere.

“He’s trying to fix the problems he had in China. We’ll let him do the job, do the race and we’ll see,” Edwards said of Rossi.

Japanese Shinya Nakano, on a Kawasaki, was third 0.277 second off the pace as the Honda riders had disappointing sessions.

Championship leader Nicky Hayden of the United States had to settle for 11th place, 0.801 behind Edwards, while Spain’s Dani Pedrosa was ninth after taking his first win in the top class in Shanghai last weekend.

“To be honest, I don’t really like the track,” Pedrosa told reporters.


“Le Mans is very different from Shanghai. The circuit has a lot of hard acceleration, a lot of hard braking sections and a very fast, long corner at the end of the straight.”

The charismatic Rossi returned to Europe lying an unaccustomed sixth in the standings, 32 points adrift of Hayden after his worst start to a season in the top category.

Earlier on Friday, San Marino’s Alex de Angelis, riding an Aprilia, took the 250cc category provisional pole when he beat world championship leader Andrea Dovizioso of Italy by 0.010 seconds.

Spain’s Hector Barbera, who trails the Honda rider by three points in the standings, was third 0.030 second off the pace with his Aprilia.

De Angelis, who fell in two of the four races this season, clocked a best time of 1:39.797.

Spaniard Alvaro Bautista, riding an Aprilia, grabbed the provisional pole in the 125cc category with a time of one minute 45.280 seconds.

Finn Mika Kallio was second fastest on a KTM, 0.189 behind Bautista with Derbi Czech rider Lukas Pesek in third place and 0.297 seconds off the pace.

After two wins from four races, Bautista enjoys a 28-point lead in the lowest category standings.


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