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Stoner edges Simoncelli for pole position in France

Stoner edges Simoncelli for pole position in France

Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner set pole position for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France by a margin of just 0.059s over Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team). Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) will join the duo on the front row.

Stoner continued his form from the weekend at Le Mans but has fierce competition from his Honda rivals as the RC212V dominated the top four places on the grid. The Australian’s lap time of 1’33.153 was just 0.059s faster than Simoncelli as the Repsol Honda rider took his 25th premier class pole at a circuit he has never won at.

Simoncelli split the Repsol Hondas, as he had done in the final practice session earlier in the day, and will start from the middle of the front row. Fellow Italian Dovizioso will start from the front row for the first time this season after timing in third fastest. The 25 year-old factory Honda rider finished third at the French circuit in 2010 after passing his team-mate Dani Pedrosa on the final lap, and Pedrosa will head the second row after recording the fourth best lap of the qualifying session. This will be the first time in the 2011 campaign that the Spaniard has not started the race from row one.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) will start from fifth, and like his compatriot Pedrosa 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 on Sunday, and along with his fellow Spaniard Pedrosa was over half a second off the pole position lap time set by Stoner.

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 the second row having improved on his previous best grid spot of eighth, in only his fourth MotoGP race. Team-mate Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was just behind in seventh.

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) will start from his lowest grid place of the 2011 season so far in eighth place, behind the satellite Yamaha machines, 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. Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) who missed the MotoGP race here last season due to injury and who is still recovering from his broken femur, finished a respectable 12th place, ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), Héctor Barberá (Mapfre 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.


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