Repsol Honda‘s Casey Stoner continued his dominance in France to take pole position for the Monster Energy Grand Prix De France, with a stunning lap of 1:33.153s. Marco Simoncelli put in a belting final lap to come within 0.059s of Stoner, the closest anyone has come this weekend, to put his San Carlo Honda Gresini machine in the middle of the front row.
The front row is closed by another Honda, the surprise being that it is the Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian has been the slowest of the three Repsol machines so far this weekend but, having gained a slipstream from the flying Simoncelli, Dovizioso finished 0.468s behind Stoner.
An unhappy Dani Pedrosa starts at the head of Row 2 after finishing 0.530 behind team-mate Stoner. An equally unhappy Jorge Lorenzo still finds his Yamaha unable to improve from 5th place, where his has finished in every session. Monster Yamaha Tech3‘s Cal Crutchlow continues to impress with a solid 6th place start on a track he is still learning. The Brit’s time just 0.098s behind the lead factory Yamaha.
Crutchlow’s teammate Colin Edwards heads Row 3 in 7th place with factory Yamaha rider Ben Spies eventually putting in some decent laps to claim 8th. Spies spent most of the session near the bottom of the table as his horrible start to the season continues. Ducati’s Valentino Rossi continues to develop the factory GP11 and claimed 9th on the grid.
Nicky Hayden will start in 10th on the grid on the second factory Ducati, and is followed by satelite rider Randy De Puniet, who had to use his spare bike for most of the session after losing his Pramac Ducati into the gravel early on in the session. The back of Row 4 is occupied by Ãlvaro Bautista after a sterling lap on the Rizla Suzuki. His lap of 1:34.351s shows that his is well on the road to recovery.
Hiroshi Aoyama will head Row 5 in 13th, the San Carlo Honda Gresini rider angering Casey Stoner near the end of the session. Stoner wasn’t happy with something that the Japanese rider did and showed his frustration on the start/finish straight. Hector Barbera will start in 14th, after suffering a lull in form on the Mapfre Aspar Ducati with Loris Capirossi behind on the second Pramac Ducati in 15th.
Karel Abraham suffered disappointment after crashing halfway through the session and had to use his spare Cardion AB Motoracing Ducati for the remainder of the session, and will start in 16th, ahead of a frustrated Toni Elias. Elias’ LCR Honda folded under braking with 7 minutes left to go and he ended in the gravel. The marshals seemed reluctant to help the Spaniard restart his bike due to the damage, with Elias gesticulating madly. Even though he did get it going, he could not improve and will start at the back of the grid.