Colin Edwards took his debut MotoGP pole and Yamaha’s fourth of the season at Le Mans today after a close Qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s French Grand Prix. The 33-year-old Texan’s achievement was made all the more impressive as it followed a crash in this morning’s practice session, when his M1 high-sided and he fell hard into the gravel trap at turn two.
His Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi was also a front-row contender but was edged out in the closing seconds and will start from fourth tomorrow, the first time this season that he starts off the front-row.
Proving there were no problems remaining after his eventful morning, Edwards was quickly running consistently at the top of the standings as he looked to perfect the race set-up of his Yamaha. After yesterday’s issues Rossi had shown considerable improvement this morning and he too was looking to use this afternoon’s session to continue his progress towards finding the right race setting.
The closing minutes of the session saw Rossi move into second behind Carlos Checa before the Italian was nudged down a place by Casey Stoner. Edwards meanwhile, having made a small mistake with his first qualifying tyre, was determined to make the most of his second and the Texan Tornado stormed into pole with a perfect final lap in a time of 1’33.616, a new pole position record for this circuit.
Colin Edwards. Position:1st Time: 1.33.616 Laps:28
“This morning’s off was a pretty big one and as I was flying through the air I was pretty sure it was going to hurt! Somehow though I landed, the bike sort of rolled over me, I stood up and realised I was ok! I honestly think that had a positive bearing on my performance this afternoon; my bike was working great but I screwed up the last section with my first qualifying tyre and so I knew it had to make or break the second time around. As I went into that final section I thought “here goes, it’s pole or crash and after this morning I’ve realised the ground doesn’t hurt so much after all!” I gave it everything I’ve got and it paid off. Yet again the Michelin qualifying tyres were brilliant and my bike worked really well with them. It’s my first pole in MotoGP so it feels good. As for the race, this place is something of a turnaround for us because we’ve actually got two race tyres that are working well. I can do 35.0s with both so it’s just a case of checking a few things tonight and making our final decision for the race. I’ve got to say a big thank you to my team because they worked flat out to rebuild my bike after this morning and that’s the one I did my lap on. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow; hopefully this is the start of a great weekend.”
Valentino Rossi. Position:4th Time:1.33.876 Laps:29
“Today was much, much better than yesterday! We changed a lot of things on the setting and straight away this morning I could ride better, although things still aren’t perfect and we definitely still need to improve more. I didn’t use my qualifying tyres so well today and I lost the front row through a small mistake, but anyway fourth isn’t so bad. Of course it would be better to be on the front row because I think, with these bikes and with everyone so close, it’s going to be a big battle tomorrow! Our biggest decision now is about the tyre for the race and I think we’ve got some work to do tonight and in warm-up. Colin is looking really strong and I’m happy for him. Now I hope we can get a good start and stay with the leaders tomorrow.”
Davide Brivio: Team Director
Once again Yamaha is on pole and this time with Colin! It’s his first pole position in MotoGP so we’re all very happy for him. He did a great job and now we hope this can be a forerunner of his first win as well! This pole position is amazing after such a big crash this morning, and it’s proof that he has enough trust in his bike to push hard like this despite this morning’s problem. Valentino didn’t quite make the front row but starting from fourth isn’t a problem for him as we know. However with him we know we still have some more work to do to perfect his race package for tomorrow, when we have the real job to do!”
Qualifying 1
Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’33.616
2 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 0’0.094
3 Carlos Checa Honda ESP 0’0.243
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 0’0.259
5 John Hopkins Suzuki USA 0’0.486
6 Toni Elias Honda ESP 0’0.509
7 Nicky Hayden Honda USA 0’0.631
8 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki FRA 0’0.702
9 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 0’0.744
10 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 0’0.796
11 Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha FRA 0’0.891
12 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki AUS 0’0.958
13 Alex Barros Ducati BRA 0’1.201
14 Shinya Nakano Honda JPN 0’1.218
15 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 0’1.287
16 Makoto Tamada Yamaha JPN 0’1.730


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