Le Mans : MotoGP qualifying
Colin Edwards took his first ever MotoGP pole position as the fastest ever rider at Le Mans, something long overdue for the popular ‘Texan Tornado'.
Edwards' only previous experience of heading the World Championship field was when he
won last year's Official Test BMW Award, but his final all-or-nothing lap at the French circuit gave him a great chance of his second podium of the year.
The Fiat Yamaha rider had experienced a crash at the end of the morning session, but he appeared unfazed by the high side as he smashed the circuit record at the last possible moment. Already assured of a place on the second row, Edwards had nothing to lose by going all-out for pole, a decision for which he reaped the rewards with a time of 1'33.616.
The fastest lap of the day came somewhat out of the blue, as Casey Stoner had looked all but certain of his first pole of the season. The championship leader was less than a tenth of a second slower than Edwards, and has not been off the front two rows this season.
A rider who has more experience of the Le Mans circuit than most put his knowledge into practice in the afternoon outing, as Carlos Checa returned to the front row on the LCR Honda. He was joined by five time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi as part of the four-rider group who went round in under 1'34.John Hopkins and Toni Elias completed a top six split equally between Michelin and Bridgestone riders, ahead of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden and home rider Randy de Puniet.
The latter will be hoping for better luck than he had at his maiden MotoGP race in France, in which he was involved in a collision with Rossi on the opening lap and forced to retire. The 2006 race winner and poleman rounded off the fastest ten riders of the day. Marco Melandri was unable to match his timesheet-topping achievement from yesterday, whilst Dani Pedrosa never looked like troubling the frontrunners onboard the Honda RC212V.
Special mention must go to the second French rider competing at this week's Alice Grand Prix de France, Sylvain Guintoli. The Yamaha satellite rider had his best ever MotoGP qualifying session, and at one point was even the fastest rider of the day –much to the delight of the fans gathered at the historic Le Mans circuit. He will start from eleventh place tomorrow.
DORNA / CAPSIS International