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May 18, 2013

Nakagami Earns FIM Moto2 Pole Position At Le Mans (Updated)

FIM Moto2 World Championship
Le Mans, France
May 18, 2013
Qualifying Results (all using Honda engines and Dunlop tires):

1. Takaaki NAKAGAMI, Japan (KALEX), 1:38.508
2. Scott REDDING, UK (KALEX), 1:38.858
3. Johann ZARCO, France (SUTER), 1:39.187
4. Esteve RABAT, Spain (KALEX), 1:39.193
5. Xavier SIMEON, Belgium (KALEX), 1:39.296
6. Nicolas TEROL, Spain (SUTER), 1:39.333
7. Pol ESPARGARO, Spain (KALEX), 1:39.355
8. Thomas LUTHI, Switzerland (SUTER), 1:39.437
9. Mattia PASINI, Italy (SPEED UP), 1:39.543
10. Mika KALLIO, Finland (KALEX), 1:39.558
11. Anthony WEST, Australia (SPEED UP), 1:39.571
12. Mike DI MEGLIO, France (MOTOBI), 1:39.599
13. Dominique AEGERTER, Switzerland (SUTER), 1:39.657
14. Toni ELIAS, Spain (KALEX), 1:39.721
15. Jordi TORRES, Spain (SUTER), 1:39.891
16. Marcel SCHROTTER, Germany (KALEX), 1:39.994
17. Sandro CORTESE, Germany (KALEX), 1:40.011
18. Julian SIMON, Spain (KALEX), 1:40.013
19. Alex DE ANGELIS, San Marino (SPEED UP), 1:40.020
20. Ricard CARDUS, Spain (SPEED UP, 1:40.173
21. Louis ROSSI, France (TECH 3), 1:40.281
22. Kyle SMITH, UK (KALEX), 1:40.284
23. Yuki TAKAHASHI, Japan (MORIWAKI), 1:40.369
24. Axel PONS, Spain (KALEX), 1:40.487
25. Hafizh SYAHRIN, Malaysia (KALEX), 1:40.498
26. Danny KENT, UK (TECH 3), 1:40.613
27. Steven ODENDAAL, South Africa (SPEED UP), 1:40.665
28. Ratthapark WILAIROT, Thailand (SUTER), 1:40.746
29. Alberto MONCAYO, Spain (SPEED UP), 1:40.793
30. Simone CORSI, Italy (SPEED UP), 1:40.815
31. Gino REA, UK (FTR), 1:40.861
32. Randy KRUMMENACHER, Switzerland (SUTER), 1:41.222
33. Doni Tata PRADITA, Indonesia (SUTER), 1:42.036
34. Rafid Topan SUCIPTO, Indonesia (SPEED UP), 1:42.312

More, from a press release issued by MAPFRE Aspar Team:


MAPFRE Aspar man has high hopes given his good race pace throughout the weekend, whilst his teammate Jordi Torres, is looking to make up ground from 15th on grid

The rain was on everyone's minds at Le Mans on Saturday and although it held off for most of the day at the French GP by the time the Moto2 riders started qualifying the riders knew it was coming. The session started in the dry and the riders went out hard to register early fast laps, in order to have one in the bag. The rain arrived about ten minutes into the session and the riders stayed out initially, but once the rain became more intense most of the riders regressed to their boxes and stayed dry. By that time, and to no great surprise given his pace in free practice, it was Nakagami at the head of the timesheet ahead of Redding. Those two look strong, whilst Terol and Luthi are nearby and pushing hard.

Terol is in sixth place on the grid, but he has looked good throughout the weekend and was third fastest in morning practice. Whilst not registering a super quick single lap the Spanish rider is showing good race and hopes to fly in tomorrow's race. Working to improve that pace, Nico has found more rear grip, which he was searching for at Jerez, and his engine performance is improved, putting his bike amongst the fastest on Saturday. Jordi Torres is not having such success. He tried several settings in the morning but only ended up having a crash on the second corner whilst searching for improvements. He felt better feeling with the bike in the afternoon but the opportunity was cut short by the rain and he ended up 15th. Nevertheless the Catalan aims for a good ride on Sunday from the fifth row.

6th Nico Terol 1.39.333 (10 laps): "We've been doing a good job throughout the weekend. The aim was to get on the front row but we're still happy with the QP. We're pleased because in the morning we went fast and ended up third overall, with the bike running well and the rear grip getting better, as well as the engine settings. We couldn't do much in qualifying because of the rain and the slippery track. I still got in a decent lap to finish in sixth and if the race is dry there should be a good group of us fighting at the front. If it's wet we know this is a tricky circuit so we'll have to be alert".

15th Jordi Torres 1.39.891 (11 laps): "It was a difficult day today. We had a lot of work planned for the morning session but then I crashed and that set us back. So we were already thinking about the qualifying session as the changes we were making weren't working. We went with the best setting we had for QP but there was no time to complete a good fast lap. One positive was that I saw how to overtake at the highest speed posible because we saw the rain was coming and we just had to get it done. I've never ridden here before so I'm aiming to have a good race tomorrow and learn as much as I can".

More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders struggle at Le Mans
The qualifying session at the Grand Prix de France comes to an end for the NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders and their SpeedUp bike.

Simone Corsi

"A difficult qualifying session, unstable rain conditions ending with Mattia Pasini in the Top10 in ninth place. Far behind him, due to setting problems during the qualifying session we have Alex De Angelis in nineteenth place and Spanish rider Ricky Cardús in twentieth and Simone Corsi in thirtieth.

Alex De Angelis

“A very difficult qualifying session for a weekend in which I have not been able to find the right setup. When the time came to qualify the temperature dropped and it started raining preventing me from improving my lap times and that means we will start tomorrow’s race from the back of the grid. I hope that weather will not be under unstable weather conditions but rather full on rain or dry race.”

Mattia Pasini

“I had hoped for a better qualifying today, we had made many modifications to the bike this morning but the rain prevented us from using them during qualifying. I liked the new modifications done to the bike but unfortunately during qualifying I got stuck in traffic making it impossible for me to make the lat time that I knew I could have done. By this I don’t mean that I could have be on pole position but I could have surely placed about ten positions ahead. When it started raining I decided to do a few laps to make sure the setting worked in the rain. I was fast in these conditions and this means that this could be the right setting to try to improve the feeling with the bike.”

“I am satisfied with my qualifying results. We have definitely placed better for tomorrow’s race than we have in the past few races and this makes us hopeful for tomorrow even if it rains. We could have done better since the feeling with the bike has improved a lot after the test we did last week at Estoril, I feel more comfortable riding the bike. I hope tomorrow we have a dry race since we have never had a race in rain conditions and I wouldn’t want to go into a race blindfolded. I have to take into consideration the fact if it rains it will rain for all of us not just for me.”

Ricardo Cardus

“The rain made the qualifying session strange, we were only able to be on track fifteen minutes. It rained off and on and that made it very difficult to give a hundred percent. I went out and in the first three laps I didn’t have a lot of confidence with the bike but towards the end it improved. Tomorrow we expect a race in wet conditions, it will be a long race.”

More, from a press release issued by Marc VDS Racing Team:

Front row start for Redding after rain disrupts Le Mans qualifying

Le Mans, France - 18 May 2013: Scott Redding will start tomorrow's Moto2 French Grand Prix at Le Mans from the front row of the grid, after posting the second fastest time in this afternoon's rain disrupted qualifying session at Le Mans. Mika Kallio will start from the fourth row of the grid after qualifying tenth fastest this afternoon.

Despite a crash at La Chapelle during free practice this morning, Redding went into this afternoon's all-important 45-minute qualifying session full of confidence and determined to push for his second pole position of the season.

With rain clouds looming around the Le Mans circuit, the 20-year-old Briton was quick to claim provisional pole, but was pushed back to second by Takaaki Nakagami, just as the rain finally arrived at Le Mans. With conditions worsening as the session drew to a close, Redding was forced to settle for second place on the grid and his third front row start of the season.

Kallio has struggled to find a good feeling with his Kalex Moto2 machine all weekend at Le Mans. Set-up changes after this morning's free practice gave some improvement, however, which allowed the 30-year-old Finn to claim tenth position on the grid during this afternoon's qualifying session.

Kallio will try a number of additional set-up changes in tomorrow's warm up session in preparation for tomorrow's 26-lap Moto2 race, which gets underway at 12.20 local time.

Scott Redding #45: 2nd - 1'38.858
"I was up for taking another pole position today, as I definitely had the pace here, despite the small crash this morning. Unfortunately the timing was wrong, in a session that was more of a sprint than qualifying is normally. I put in a fast lap right at the start but, unfortunately, Taka got a lap behind me, which was all he needed to take pole. I thought I could come back, but then the rain arrived and that was it. Anyway, I'm happy enough with the front row, especially as I'm ahead of Espargaro and Rabat on the grid. We also got some time on the bike in the wet this afternoon, which could be important given that there's a good chance of rain tomorrow."

Mika Kallio #36: 10th - 1'39.558
"The goal is always to be in the first nine and on the front three rows, so I'm a little disappointed to miss out on that by such a small margin today. We've had some issues with the bike all weekend and, while the changes we made for qualifying improved things slightly, there's still something missing. I think if we can find just a little more from the bike tomorrow in warm up then it should be possible for me to make up the rest of the time we miss to the fastest guys. If we can do that, and I get a good start in the race, then top five is possible. If it rains tomorrow, which is looking likely, then everything changes anyway."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"I'm sorry that the rain meant Scott didn't get the chance to try and retake pole position, as he's been pretty dominant here all weekend during practice. But, he's on the front row and ahead of his two closest rivals in the championship, who have both seen how fast and consistent he is here at Le Mans. Wet or dry tomorrow I think Scott has every chance of being on the podium once again. Mika hasn't been able to find a good feeling with the bike this weekend, which has knocked his confidence a little, but his best performance so far came in qualifying and I know that's all the motivation he will need to fight for a top five finish tomorrow. It will be hard, but he's done it before and I've no doubt he can do it again, whatever the conditions in the race."

More, from a press release issued by QMMF Racing Team:

West eleventh with new set-up Sucipto ready to attack in the rain

QMMF Racing Team rider Anthony West moved up to eleventh place in qualifying for the French Grand Prix. One part of the promising result was due to the determination of the 31-year-old Australian, who pulled all stops to ride around the problems with a lack of front end feel of his bike. The other part of the improvement was due to a radical new set-up that QMMF Racing Team had tried during a private test session in Portugal. The significant changes on West’s Speed Up bike include a different linkage for the rear suspension system, a longer swingarm and a different shock absorber, with noticeable changes to weight distribution and handling of the bike. After initial hesitations to introduce these changes to Grand Prix racing without further evaluations, West convinced his team to give it a go on Saturday morning and will now continue to try these evolution parts in the race on Sunday.

Young team-mate Rafid Topan Sucipto was also upbeat after qualifying, having found the right braking points for the special Le Mans circuit layout. Determined to put up a fight in the race, the teenager from Jakarta now even hopes for wet conditions, where he sees a chance to score a good result thanks to his bravery.

Anthony West – 11th in 1.39,571
“I was thinking about the problems with our bike too much yesterday. In qualifying, I forced myself to forget all our issues and decided to throw myself and the bike into battle, just hoping that things would work out. I managed to improve my lap time and to get a decent starting position, but I still think it is not a very good track for this bike, since all Speed Up riders have similar issues with the front end feel. When it counted in qualifying, I did my best time of the weekend despite dodgy conditions with a little bit of rain. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the lap, I was just holding on and hoping for the best, since the bike wasn’t giving me the feeling that I expected. The changes on the bike helped a little bit. They were not a massive improvement, but the bike wasn’t worse either, so it definitely was the right decision to convince my guys to give these new parts a go. It will be interesting to find out how the bike behaves with the new set-up if it rains in the race. Regardless of the weather conditions, it will give us valuable data for the further development. After the Mugello Grand Prix, we will have another private test and I hope we can then confirm that we are heading the right direction!”

Rafid Topan Sucipto – 34th in 1.42,312
“I feel good today. My riding style has improved, I was relaxed in qualifying and I went faster without making mistakes. I’m starting to like the Le Mans circuit very much, the hard-braking action suits my riding style even though it took me a while to find the right reference points. For tomorrow, I wouldn’t mind a wet race. I like rain, because whereas others hold back in slippery conditions, I continue to attack!”

More, from a press release issued by Blusens Avintia Racing:

Toni Elías is fourteenth in a qualifying session disrupted by the rain

Kyle Smith suffers a fall that prevents him from being placed higher on the grid

Le Mans, 18 May 2013. The expected rain at the Le Mans circuit has not fallen until the half-way point of the Moto2 qualifying session. A session that has been altered by the presence of the liquid element and that, somehow, has determined tomorrow?s starting grid. Like the rest and threatened by rain, the Blusens Avintia riders tried to get a good time in the first laps, going out to the track at the very moment the pit lane was opened. Regarding yesterday, Elías took a very positive step in the set-up of the bike today, he felt more comfortable and, although the rain did not allow him to carry out the programmed plan, he finished fourteenth with a pace that makes him think very positively for the race.

Smith also showed a good progression after a really difficult Friday. When the track was still dry, he placed himself on the top twenty, but the wish to go beyond and the incipient rain led him to fall before the second half of the qualifying. Kyle could not do any lap in wet and will have to wait until the warm-up, if it is in rain conditions, to get the touch of his bike in these conditions.

24 Toni Elías (14th 1.39.721): Yesterday was a pretty bad day. It was hard for me to ride with a quick pace and I was not at ease with the bike. We worked a lot and, at the end, we made changes for today that have produced results. This morning I was much closer to the first riders and I had good chances for the qualifying session because we were going to make small changes which I am sure that would have worked, but it has started to rain and we have had to content with the position that we had at that time. Still, I am happy because we have worked well and, although we will begin a little far from the front rows, I am confident of doing a good start and taking advantage of the spaces and the possibilities on this track to overtake. I do not know if the race will be in wet or dry conditions, but we have worked enough to get a good race pace and I think that if we are lucky, we can achieve a good result.

9 Kyle Smith: (22nd 1.40.284): Having fallen upsets me, both for the team and me. Yesterday I had a difficult and complicated day in which I found really hard to advance. Today I have made a great leap and I have been very comfortable but when it has started to rain I have fallen at the end of the straight and I have not been able to return to the track. It has been a pity because if tomorrow rains, I will not have done any lap on wet, unless it rains in the warm-up. Anyway, I am in high spirits and every day I am closer to my rivals.

More, from a press release issued by ItalTrans/AGP Racing:

Gran Prix of France
Le Mans, May 18th 2013

It's a special day. Under a sky that all morning promised rain, and in the afternoon delivered it – precisely when the Moto2 contenders went on track to play for the places on grid - Takaaki Nakagami won the pole position. His first one in the World Championship (several are under his belt from the Japanese championships) and the first for Team Italtrans as well.

Race Direction had just ordered “go”, and the first drops began to hit the tarmac. Italtrans' garage decided for immediate use of new tires. Nakagami went on track knowing that an ultra-fast lap was needed as soon as possible, just in case rain intensified. The young Japanese did seven laps, not a single mistake and, when it began to rain cats and dogs, the fastest time was firmly in his hands. Simon, who the day before had been even faster than his team mate, experienced a problem and was not able to post the fast time he wanted.

Takaaki Nakagami (1'38”508 – pole position) “Full throttle off the mark. No time was to be wasted. Our idea was staying on the limit, never less, never more. I pushed every lap, every meter. I was confident in our possibilities, even if in the past we lost a few poles for a whisker. We have been strong since the winter test and I was sure that, sooner or later, the result would come. I hope for a dry race, tomorrow, and to to be able to stay focused as today. Our target? A podium place. The higher, the better”.

Julian Simon (1'40”013 – 18°) “I crashed, in the morning, at that has been a bad way to begin the day. The rain in the afternoon didn't help to restore my confidence. So, I went on track, for qualifying, not in my best mood – unfortunately, that was on the contrary a condition in which it was necessary to push since the first moment. This bike, nevertheless, was great just the day before. I'm confident we can do a good race”.

Claudio Macciotta (Nakagami race engineer) “Takaaki has been great – as usual. We had a strategy, and he carried it out perfectly, in a long run – seven laps. And we can improve our pace for the race”.

Pierluigi Aldrovandi (Simon race engineer) “A step back, unfortunately. Yesterday we got a good result, and confirming this afternoon it would have been important. But we are not going to give up”.

Luigi Pansera (Team Manager) “Enthusiasm and happiness for this pole, the first for the team and the rider. We are sorry for Julian, but are sure that the two have great potential, and we wait for the moment – we know it will arrive – when both will be happy with their result”.

More, from a press release issued by Tech 3:

Rain disrupts qualifying session for Rossi and Kent

The historic French circuit in Le Mans is well-known for its wet and quickly changing weather conditions which this afternoon hampered one more time the Moto2 rookies Danny Kent and Louis Rossi from putting convincing performances on track during the all-important home race for the French based Tech3 Racing Team.

Immediately after starting track time some rain drops began to fall, which forced the riders to push to their maximum from the earliest stages on, a situation which penalized the newcomers in the ultra-competitive Moto2 category.

Boost from the home crowd Louis Rossi managed to use the lack of experience on his Mistral 610 as extra motivation qualifying in twenty-first position on grid while his teammate Danny Kent will start tomorrow’s 26 lap race two rows behind the local French rider after Kent qualified 26th.

Today’s qualifying performances of both young talented riders do not demonstrate the real potential but both are hopefully for an aggressive start that will put them in a battle which of course will help to gain vital experience and bring home the first points of the season.

Louis Rossi 21st - 1'40.281 – 10 laps:
“Of course a seventh row on the grid is not what I would like wished to achieve in front of my friends and family around the track, but considering that we had another tough weekend I should not complain too much about the result. We made some modification before qualifying practice and even though I had just a few laps to evaluate it I felt immediately more confident on the bike. Therefore I’m optimistic that I’ll be able to fight for my first top 15 finish of the season tomorrow.”

Danny Kent 26th - 1'40.613 – 11 laps:
“Honestly I’m quite disappointed with the result of today’s qualifying as we were taking steps forward during the whole weekend in terms of improving my confidence on the bike. But just a few rain drops were enough to put me back to my initial position as I really wanted to avoid crashing out. Even starting from the ninth row is far from ideal, I will get my head down trying to score the best possible result in front of the French fans. Maybe the uncertain weather condition and the predicted rain will help me a little bit. My main aim is to focus on a good start and be immediately fast during the opening laps of the race as that seem to be the part where we are losing most of our time.”
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