Stoner edges Simoncelli for pole position in France

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner set pole position for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France with a small margin over Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team). Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) will join them on the front row.

Stoner continued his form from the weekend in Le Mans but has fierce competition from his Honda rivals as they dominated the top four places on the grid. The Australian’s lap time of 1’33.153 was just 0.059s faster than Simoncelli. The Repsol Honda rider set his 29th pole position of his career, his 25th in the top class at a circuit he has never won at.

Simoncelli split the Repsol Honda’s, as he had done in the third practice and will start on the middle of the front row. Fellow Italian Dovizioso will start from the front row for the first time this season in third. The 25 year factory Honda rider finished third here in 2010 after passing his team mate Pedrosa on the final lap. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) who after Portugal reached the milestone of 50 podiums in the premier class and became only the 11th rider to achieve such a feat, will head the second row in fourth place. This will be the first occasion of the 2011 campaign that the Spaniard hasn’t started the race from row one.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) will start from fifth, and like his compatriot Pedrosa, he will not start from the front row for the first time this season. The reigning MotoGP World Champion is scheduled to become the youngest rider to reach the milestone of 150 Grand Prix starts across all classes. The current holder of this record is Pedrosa. The Spanish duo were over half a second off the pole position lap time set by Stoner.
Stoner edges Simoncelli for pole position in France
Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) recorded his best ever qualifying result in MotoGP in his debut season with sixth place. The British rider will start from sixth position in just his fourth race, his previous best grid spot had been eighth twice this year. Team mate Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was just behind in seventh. The American had his worst result in France last season when he finished in 12th.

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will start from his lowest grid place of the 2011 season in eighth place, behind the satellite Yamaha’s, but ahead of the Ducati Team duo of Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. The Italian just got the edge over his team mate and will start on the third row in ninth. The nine time World Champion finished second here last season after Lorenzo passed him to claim victory.

Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing) had a tough qualifying hour after crashing into the gravel at turn 12 in the first ten minutes but managed to finish just outside the top ten in 11th in front of an enthusiastic French crowd. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who missed the MotoGP race here last season due to a broken collarbone and is still recovering from his broken femur, finished a respectable 12th place, ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Héctor Barberá (Páginas Amarillas Aspar) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac Racing).

Bringing up the rear in Sunday’s race will be rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) and Toni Elías (LCR Honda) who both crashed during the qualifying hour but were able to rejoin unharmed.