Italian Marco Simoncelli came within 0.059s of claiming a stunning maiden MotoGP pole position in Le Mans today.
The San Carlo Gresini rider produced a brilliant final lap of 1.33.212 to come tantalisingly close to ending Casey Stoner’s domination of the French Grand Prix weekend.
The former 250GP world champion will start the 28-lap race from second on the grid but he tried to detract attention away from the prospect of a debut win or podium in the MotoGP class tomorrow.
Simoncelli has squandered great chances to break his premier class rostrum duck in the last two races having crashed out of the lead in a rain-hit Jerez race. And he was looking like a strong contender for a podium in Estoril before he crashed out on the first lap.
Simoncelli said his prime focus for the fourth round of the 2011 MotoGP world championship will be to bring his factory Honda RC212V home.
He said: "I could get the podium in the last two races but I put everything in the rubbish bin with the two crashes. My target is just to finish the race and in the best position as possible. But my main target is to finish the race."
He also admitted he was shocked to lap so close to Aussie Stoner, who claimed his third pole position of the 2011 campaign with a blistering lap of 1.33.153.
Simoncelli added: "I have always been fast and today I didn’t expect to arrive so close to Casey. But in the end with the soft tyre I pushed a lot and I did a good lap. I’m happy for this but I’m mainly happy for the setting of my bike for the race because for me it is not so bad. We have to improve the front confidence but I can have a good race tomorrow."