Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took his first pole position of the year after time expired in the lone qualifying session for Sunday’s French Grand Prix on the famed Le Mans circuit.The session began with the top spot changing hands rapidly and 12 of the 17 riders were fastest at one point or another, with the action calming down at the midpoint of the hour. Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards lowered the time on four successive laps, holding the top spot from the 24th to the 39th minute when Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner took over. Then Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo went to the top and he and Stoner swapped the position for the final 21 minutes.When the checkered flag fell Stoner was fastest. Then Lorenzo’s name flashed to the top 10 seconds after the hour expired. But Pedrosa was on his flyer and 51 secs. after the hour finished he had his first pole by a mere .005 secs.His final time was a 1:33.974 to the 1:33.979 for Lorenzo, with Stoner only .075 secs. behind.”Well, we will see tomorrow the race because I think with the weather we are having this weekend it can be everything,” Pedrosa said of the forecast of rain on Sunday, “so tomorrow we will have to be very focused in the race. And regarding qualifying, it was great to do pole position. It was a long time, but my target anyway was front row. I think in this track it’s very important to be on the front row.””I was tiny bit unlucky on that last lap, and we were so very close so it’s a pity,” Lorenzo said. “Anyway the important thing is that we’re on the first row and now we can try to get the good start that we need. I felt strong on the bike today and I was able to make a lot of consistent laps this afternoon, so I am happy about the shape we’re in for the race. I really hope that the weather is the same tomorrow and I am looking forward to the race and to getting a good result, like last year here.”World championship leader Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha) leads off row two in front of Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso and Edwards.Rizla Suzuki’ s Chris Vermeulen and Loris Capirossi, the final two riders on the lead second, are joined on row three by Hayate Racing’s Marco Melandri (Kaw).Frenchman Randy De Puniet had a disappointing session in front of his fellow countryman by qualifying tenth. The LCR Honda rider shares row four with San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Toni Elias and Monster Energy Yamaha Tech 3’s James Toseland.Ducati Marlboro’s Nicky Hayden is 13th and 1.708 secs. off pole. Class rookies Mika Kallio (Pramac Racing) and Yuki Takahashi (Scot Racing Team MotoGP) complete row five.The sixth row is San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Alex De Angelis and Pramac Racing’s Niccolo Canepa.Grupo Francisco Hernando’s Sete Gibernau (Duc) fractured his collarbone and now faces the possibility of missing his home race in Catalunya in four weeks.MotoGP Qualifying:1. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:33.9742. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:33.9793. Casey Stoner (Ducati) 1:34.0494. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:34.1065. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1:34.3006. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:34.3307. Chris Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:34.6768. Loris Capirossi (Suzuki) 1:34.8399. Marco Melandri (Kawasaki) 1:35.00810. Randy De Puniet (Honda) 1:35.39911. Toni Elias (Honda) 1:35.43112. James Toseland (Yamaha) 1:35.52413. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:35.68214. Mika Kallio (Ducati) 1:35.74115. Yuki Takahashi (Honda) 1:35.774
Pedrosa Takes Le Mans Pole
Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor
Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.