Rossi Leads The Yamahas as Le Mans Begins at Position 3

Valentino Rossi wrapped up the first day of action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France as the fastest Yamaha rider and third overall behind rival Dani Pedrosa. The Italian spent the day’s two free practice sessions working to set up his YZR-M1 for the Le Mans circuit, focusing on a soft front and hard rear tyre combination. Rossi opted for the 2012 M1 chassis for the Le Mans weekend whilst the team continues to evaluate the difference between the old and new. The final session saw the nine-time World Champion improve to climb from seventh to second, dropping to third at the end just 0.138 seconds from first. Rossi was also the fastest rider through the second sector of the Le Mans circuit.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was as usual quick from the start of the first session, contesting with the fastest riders and wrapping up the morning in second place. The afternoon saw more of the same fast consistency from the reigning World Champion, taking the session lead with a 1’34.2 second lap with 17mins remaining. A flurry of fast laps in the final minutes dropped him to fourth however he was just 0.166 from first. Lorenzo remained fourth in the combined times. The Spaniard also focused on a hard front, soft rear tyre option but opted for the 2013 chassis to evaluate the Le Mans circuit. 


Valentino Rossi – 3rd, Time – 1’34.173

“Today we were good in braking because we modified the settings and we tried two different settings to understand which way to follow to improve the braking, that was the main problem. This morning was not too bad and this afternoon especially I made the comparison one more time. I took the setting I preferred with some small modifications and the last run was very good. I could brake hard, which was the main problem in Austin and also in Jerez so it’s a good day. We try to modify also the rear for to not stress the rear tyre so much; that helped me a lot; I did my best laps with a used tyre that had more than 30 laps on. The practice this afternoon was good so I’m happy. We are already quite good with the setting of the bike so now we wait for the weather tomorrow. In case of rain we are more or less ready and if dry we can try something else, some small details to modify. We are very close to those in front so its not so bad.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 4th, Time -1’34.201

“We are changing the bike to improve the feeling because at the moment we have a lot of margin for improvement. I think we can make a big step to improve the constant pace for the race. I think if it rains tomorrow things will change completely and it will be a different story. We will have to be as always more careful and have more concentration in the wet.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager

“The first day at Le Mans and a dry day too! Overall everything is very close and tight. After FP2 we are in fourth but just two tenths away and our lap times are very close to Dani. We are not satisfied as we have some small details to solve. We are not ready for race day yet but hopefully tomorrow we will have another dry session so we can make the next step.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director

“A promising first day. I think the Monday test in Jerez gave us a good result because we were satisfied with it and also its effects here. The pace is good; the tyre life issue seems to be solved as well, maybe due to the temperature but also due to our testing in Jerez. Lets see what the weather brings tomorrow as it may be wet. Anyway I think we are ready for all circumstances.”
Positive start for Crutchlow and Smith in France

he biggest race of the MotoGP World Championship campaign for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team started in positive fashion for British duo Cal Crutchlow and Bradley Smith at the historic Le Mans track today. This weekend’s race is not only the all-important home encounter for the French-based Tech 3 squad, but the popular Le Mans event is sponsored once again by Monster Energy, the high profile American energy drinks company that is the title backer of Crutchlow and Smith’s MotoGP effort. In extremely cool conditions this morning, Crutchlow was sixth fastest in a closely fought FP1 that saw the top nine covered by less than a second. In higher temperatures this afternoon, Crutchlow remained in sixth position, despite improving his pace by well over 0.5s. A best lap of 1.34.512 was only 0.477s off the best time, the second session proving to be another close affair with the top nine split by just over 0.7s.

Smith was 15th this morning, the British rider getting to grips with the world renowned Bugatti track while also working on the set-up of an updated YZR-M1 chassis which he tested with such positive results in Jerez recently. He was able to improve by almost 1.5s in FP2 and he rocketed up into 11th place on the rankings with a best time of 1.35.362 that gave the 22-year-old a huge confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s 28-lap race. Smith’s vast improvement was reflected in the gap to Jerez winner Dani Pedrosa, who led the way in FP1 and FP2. Smith was over two seconds behind Pedrosa this morning but he ended the second session just 1.327s off the quickest pace.

Cal Crutchlow, 6th, Time – 1’34.512

“We did not have our best day today and I’m not really happy with how things started this weekend. We experimented quite a lot with the bike and made it shorter and longer but we did not find an ideal setting yet. We have a lot of chatter and not too much grip, so clearly we are struggling quite a bit at the moment because the other guys seem to improve while I feel the same as on the first lap out there this morning. So we still have a lot of work to do tonight and we have to improve in several areas. I’m having an issue with the brakes but we are still confident for tomorrow and I am sure we can improve to put on a good show in such a big race for Tech 3 and Monster Energy.”

Bradley Smith 11th, Time – 1’35.362

“Today was a good first day in Le Mans. I started to feel a lot more confident this afternoon compared to this morning because there was extra grip on track thanks to the higher track temperature. We found almost 1.5s and that’s really positive. I like this circuit a lot, especially with a MotoGP bike and the differences compared to a smaller bike seem to be not that big compared to the other tracks I have experienced so far. I just have to understand the different braking points like in the first corner where I’ve already made three mistakes so far. But now I think I understood where the limit is. But it was a good day and we are closer than usual to the top after day one and I really feel confident with the new chassis, especially on new tyres, so we will work hard tonight and hopefully go straight into the second qualifying session tomorrow.”
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