French MotoGP: Dani Pedrosa secures first pole of the season

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Dani Pedrosa continued his amazing French form to claim his first pole position of the season in Le Mans this afternoon.

The Spaniard snatched the pole position and also a new lap record from Texan Colin Edwards who had looked certain to start his second consecutive race from pole.

Edwards will start second tomorrow with defending champion Casey Stoner lining up beside him on the Ducati GP8.

Britain’s James Toseland knocked almost two seconds off his previous best time at this yet another new circuit for the 27-year-old and will begin the race from the front of the third row.

Casey Stoner posted the first real fast time of the afternoon with a 1:34.676 on his fourth lao with just nine minutes gone. Stoner improved on the next lap with a 1:34.572 but Friday fast man Dani Pedrosa then knocked 0.2secs off this to top the timesheets.

Pedrosa then recorded a 1:34.061 as he edged nearer the 1min 33sec mark.

Colin Edwards showed his fastest time of the weekend from this morning was no fluke as he put himself second behind Pedrosa after 23 minutes with a 1:34.463.

Feeling the heat, Pedrosa became the second rider to move into the 1min 33sec mark by posting a 1:33.911 and then Valentino Rossi knocked his former team-mate down to third as he managed a 1:34.173.

The injured Jorge Lorenzo had another big moment coming up to the half way mark running wide off the track and taking an extremely bumpy ride back to it.

Edwards then moved his Yamaha YZF-M1 back to second by knocking 0.3secs off his previous best time.

A surprise visitor to the top of the timesheets was Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen who was also under 1min 34 with a 1:33.859. And then Britain’s James Toseland gave his fans a reason to celebrate as he put himself on the front row with a 1:34.099 to go third.

Lorenzo then showed more bravery with his injured ankles to put himself second, although Pedrosa immediately answered back with a 1:33.767 and Rossi was next with a 1:33.065.

But the veteran of the field reminded the younger guys that he’s still got what it takes to set a new lap record with a 1:33.065 on the Yamaha.on a qualifying tyre.

Valentino Rossi put himself second with just a quarter of an hour left, but Chris Vermeulen pushed him down to third putting in a 1:33.478 having also moved onto qualifying tyres.

Edwards improved his pole time posting a 1:32.774 and it was good news all round for the Tech 3 Yamaha team as Toseland put himself back up to fifth.

This lasted just seconds though as current MotoGP champion Stoner landed second spot with a 1:33.108. And Pedrosa posted another fast lap to go second with just over seven minutes left after going round the Le Mans circuit in 1:33.007.

Toseland once again improved his time, as he continues to learn the Le Mans circuit, to move up a place to sixth with a 1:33.396 just as Casey Stoner also improves his position to go second on the Ducati GP8.

Then 2006 MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden had by far his best lap of the session with two  minutes to go to do a 1:33.286.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa snatched pole position with just second remaining of the session to grab a 1:32.647 and with it the lap record from Edwards.

French MotoGP qualifying results:

1 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’32.647

2 Colin EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1’32.774

3 Casey STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1’32.994

4 Valentino ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1’33.157

5 Jorge LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1’33.269

6 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1’33.286

7 James TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1’33.396

8 Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1’33.440

9 John HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1’33.628

10 Andrea DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP HONDA 1’33.689

11 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1’33.707

12 Randy DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP HONDA 1’33.723

13 Shinya NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 1’34.077

14 Toni ELIAS SPA Alice Team DUCATI 1’34.561

15 Alex DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini HONDA 1’34.670

16 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team DUCATI 1’34.747

17 Marco MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1’35.081

18 Anthony WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1’35.349

Sarah Carnell

By Sarah Carnell