These just in:
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez leads the way in France
In an unusually sunny Le Mans, it was Championship leader and reigning World Champion, Marc Marquez, who was fastest in both sessions today with teammate Dani Pedrosa finishing second this morning and 5th in the combined times.
After a chilly morning with and ambient and track temperatures of just 12ºC and 13ºC respectively, temperatures rose in this afternoon's FP2 session to 20ºC - air - and 39ºC on the track. Marc tested both option rear Bridgestone tyres but recorded his fastest time of 1'33.452 on lap 14 of 20 on the softer option - beating Dani's record race lap from 2011 (1'33.617). It was a positive day also for Dani, who had surgery to treat compartmental syndrome in his right forearm last week. Again he used both option rear tyres and also preferred the softer, completing 22 laps in the afternoon with his best time of 1'33.942 arriving on lap 17.
FP3 will take place tomorrow morning at 09h55 local time.
1st - 1'33.452
"I felt comfortable right from the start today. We began with the base setup from Jerez and worked from there. In the afternoon we tried things out with the tyres and tweaked the setup further to keep going forward. Besides being the fastest over a single lap, our pace was also really good today, so I am happy with how everything went in general. Tomorrow we shall try to do even better, because I'm sure that the rest of the riders will take another step forward"
5th - 1'33.942
"Today was basically a day to see what kind of shape I am in, and it went well. For the first time using my arm in ten days, the feeling is okay. I took things carefully and didn't push too much, because I didn't want to go 100% too soon. The initial feeling was pretty good, and we hope that things will improve further overnight. In theory today should be the toughest day, and I hope to be better tomorrow. On track I focused on putting in a lot of laps, but without making too many changes to the bike. We basically tried out the tyres, and at the moment the soft option seems to be the most adequate"
Dovizioso eighth, Crutchlow thirteenth in French GP free practice at Le Mans
Today was a day of highs and lows for the Ducati Team at the Le Mans circuit in France. While Andrea Dovizioso managed to be competitive in the two free practice sessions, his British team-mate Cal Crutchlow struggled to find a good feeling with his Desmosedici GP14.
The Italian rider, seventh in the morning session when the temperature was quite cold, was even at the top of the timesheets for a short period of time in the afternoon, but after setting a best time in 1'34.117, had to settle for a provisional eighth place.
Crutchlow on the other hand encountered a few more problems, and despite knocking half a second off his time in the second session, was unable to establish a good feeling with his bike.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) - 8th (1'34.117)
"I am very happy with the pace I had today when I lapped with the same tyres as the other riders. We are in the group at the front, in amongst the fastest riders, and this is positive. So I'm satisfied with the work we did today, even though I think that we can still improve the set-up. At the end of the session I didn't put on another tyre because I had already set a good time and I was sure I was going to be in the top 10. In any case the weekend has started well and my feeling with this track here at Le Mans, is positive as always."
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) - 13th (1'34.907)
"It wasn't a good day for me; we tried a few different things with the bike but it felt exactly the same as always. Everything I tried with the settings, the bike feels like it has understeer and I cannot turn, so we lose in the braking area and in turning. It seems that nothing we tried at the test at Mugello is working here at the moment but we have to work with the team tonight and see what we can come up with for tomorrow because I have to improve."
DRIVE M7 ASPAR RIDERS MAKE CONSTANT PROGRESS IN FIRST DAY AT LE MANS
Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama improve times from first to second sessions and plan improvements for day two
Marc Márquez set the pace as the MotoGP World Championship resumed with free practice for round five at Le Mans today but with just 0.007 seconds in it the series leader may not have it all his own way this weekend. Whilst on paper this 'stop and go' track is well suited to the Spaniard's Honda there was another manufacturer at the top of the timesheets today as Andrea Iannone sealed the second fastest time on his Ducati. Fourth placed Bradley Smith was the top Yamaha ahead of factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
DRIVE M7 Aspar pair Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama both set their best times on lap seven of nineteen in the second session, when they noted improvements from the morning - the American finding eight tenths and the Japanese four tenths. Nicky ended the day in fourteenth position, two ahead of Hiro, with both riders sure of where they can improve tomorrow.
14th Nicky Hayden 1.34.961 (38 laps): "I don't want this to sound like an excuse but Le Mans has always been a tricky circuit for me. We haven't had great results here in the past and I don't enjoy the track as much as some other places. I knew my wrist would also be a problem but anyway it is a bit better than Jerez so we will have to see how it holds up for the rest of the weekend. Luckily the doctors at the Clinica Mobile are on the case, giving me treatment after each session, and even though we are still some way off the top in terms of lap times we have got a lot of work done in the two sessions today and took a big step from the morning to the afternoon. We are on the right lines and have some ideas for tomorrow."
16th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.35.229 (39 laps): "I am happy because usually this is a difficult weekend in terms of the weather but today the conditions were very good. The track was quite cool this morning but the situation improved in the afternoon and we were able to work well and get a positive feel for the bike. Obviously we still have work to do to adapt the bike to the track but for the moment we are on the right lines. We improved our lap times significantly in the second session. Tomorrow we will try to improve the performance of the bike, especially in the slow corners."
Marquez on record pace in Le Mans Friday practice
Round 5: French MotoGP - Free Practice 1&2
Le Mans, Friday May 16 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-Soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
Weather: FP1 - Dry. Ambient 12-14°C; Track 23-26°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 - Dry. Ambient 20-20°C; Track 44-44°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez led the field on the opening practice day for the French Grand Prix, as the current championship leader went quicker than the Le Mans Circuit Record with a time of 1'33.452 in Free Practice 2.
Marquez ended the day just 0.007 seconds ahead of Pramac Racing's Andrea Iannone in second overall, while third quickest today was GO&FUN Honda Gresini's Alvaro Bautista, who was 0.216 seconds behind Marquez. Marquez and Bautista set their quickest times on the combination of the soft compound rear and front slicks, while Iannone's best time was achieved using the extra-soft rear slick paired with the soft front.
Fine track conditions greeted riders for Friday practice at the French Grand Prix, with track temperatures reaching a peak of 44°C during FP2. All slick options front and rear were evaluated by riders today but predictably, the riders opted for softer slick options front and rear in the cooler morning session. In the warmer FP2 session, many riders assessed their harder rear slick option; soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders and medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders, but the softer rear options proved to be more popular on the low-grip Le Mans track. The higher track temperatures in FP2 also saw front tyre choice shift from the extra-soft to the soft compound front slick for most of the riders.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
"Warm and dry conditions gave us a good start to the race weekend here at Le Mans with the pace of the riders already extremely quick. Compared to last year's Friday practice sessions, the riders on average are lapping around half a second quicker so as well as being safer, it seems our 2014 specification tyres have also given a boost to performance to the riders here at Le Mans. Similar conditions to today are forecast for the rest of the weekend, and I think some riders already have a good understanding of what their race tyre choice is, although more data will still need to be collected tomorrow. If the riders continue to push at this quick pace and can improve their setup further, I predict we will see some super-quick lap times in qualifying tomorrow."
BRADL IN GOOD SHAPE AT LE MANS GP OPENING DAY
Le Mans, 16 May: MotoGP riders headed out for the first day of practices of the Grand Prix de France in unforeseen sunny conditions with Stefan Bradl lapping the "stop-and-go" circuit in 1'34.040. The German arrived in France with high expectations after the surgery he sustained last week to treat the arm-pump symptoms, and todays' sixth fastest lap time confirms that Bradl is in a good shape.
Stefan: "Today we tried two different geometries of the bike which we tested already in Jerez testing day. The result so far is so and so as we had some advantages on the new geometry and some disadvantages on both bikes. We must find a clear solution for tomorrow because it seems that the new geometry is quite good but we still loose too much time in corner entry. Overall I am quite satisfied because the sixth position is not bad. I only had three laps on soft tyres at the end of session two and I made a small mistake in my flying lap passing another rider. Physically I am ok (just a small painkiller injection for my arm) so if we find the way to improve the bike we can go faster for sure".
Action Begins in Le Mans for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France
14:00 Local time GMT+2 Sunny Air 20°C
Track 39°C Humidity 37%
Le Mans (France), 16th May 2014
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track today at the historic Le Mans circuit in France, working through their first free practice sessions ahead of Sunday's Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
Lorenzo was able to make a half second improvement from the morning to the afternoon session as he focused on his set up. He led the second practice for most of the session, only dropping in the last ten minutes as his rivals switched to new rubber. He finished the day in seventh in the combined times, 0.6 seconds from first.
Teammate Rossi had a less fortunate day, the nine time world champion struggling in several set up areas on the notoriously unpredictable French track. Rossi ended the day in 10th place in the combined times, just over a second from the front.
7th / 1'34.054 / 21 laps
"I'm satisfied with the pace which is constant and with my riding. We are not in a position that reflects our performance in the time sheets; we were the only one with the same tyre the whole session instead of putting a new tyre on at the end or running an open tyre. I think with a new tyre we could have improved half a second at the end."
10th / 1'34.498 / 21 laps
"I'm not happy about today, especially this afternoon. I wasn't able to be strong and near the top. I have a lot of problems with the bike especially in acceleration, I have a big problem to open the throttle because the bike is very nervous. We tried to modify something during the practice but we didn't fix the problem. I'm too far from the front so for tomorrow we have to check the data and improve to be more competitive; it is important to start in the top five here. The difference between Jerez and here for the settings is unbelievable so we have to change a lot of things. Le Mans is always like this!"
"We started today's first practice with a base set up from our Jerez test last week. The first impressions from the morning were quite good. We then didn't make big changes between the sessions because we were expecting track conditions to improve in the afternoon to suit the setting of the bike better. Unfortunately the track did not improve for us that much. We made a change from the soft front to the medium for the afternoon and adjusted the electronics but we still need to make some steps forward for tomorrow. Jorge was very consistent; his place in the timings doesn't necessarily reflect his performance. Vale is having more issues with his set up than Jorge so we have some work to do with his set up to be ready to step up for the third practice in the morning."
Position : 4th Time :1'33.920 Laps : 37
"After starting the day in a less than ideal way, I am really pleased with what we managed to achieve this afternoon. I am feeling very happy with the bike now, as due to some of the issues we have experienced recently we decided to divert back to the what I was using in Qatar. Therefore, I am confident and I know that I can go fast with it. At the same time, I am slightly disappointed that we couldn't succeed with our experimentation, but I am excited to continue in this manner during the next sessions. Tomorrow the plan is to fine-tune the setup and then try my best in qualifying to get as high up the grid as I can. Again, I feel confident, am back on the road to completeness and can't wait to put on a good show for the fans. "
Position : 11th Time : 1'34.506 Laps : 45
"All in all it has been a positive day. This morning we had a really good start and after FP2, I have to say that I'm satisfied with our rhythm as we used the same front tyre for the whole session, and were still able to improve our lap time at the end. We tried different geometric modification on the bike, but not everything went according to plan. So therefore, we went back to our setting from this morning and were able to improve again. This also gives me a lot of confidence for tomorrow and I think we are in better situation than in Jerez."