Morbidelli and Márquez ready for podium fight in France
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez are optimistic they will play a prominent part in the battle for victory in tomorrow’s French Moto2 race at the legendary Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans.
Morbidelli’s bid to extend his nine-point advantage over Thomas Lüthi in the World Championship standings will be launched from third place on the grid, with the Italian preserving his 100% front row starting record at the end of an eventful qualifying session this afternoon.
Second at the end of free practice, Morbidelli was a constant threat for his third pole of the season in a record-breaking qualifying session that saw the top four riders all lap within Lüthi’s 2016 pole record of 1’36.847.
Morbidelli had already logged a best of 1’36.649 when his late pole attack was thwarted by an off-track excursion at the Garage Vert turn, but he is confident his pace in race trim is competitive enough to mount a strong challenge for his fourth win of the season.
Márquez had a bruising but ultimately successful second day in France, which started in painful fashion when he fell heavily while powering his Kalex machine out of the famous La Chapelle corner in FP3.
The Spaniard suffered a hairline fracture in his left foot and the pain and discomfort was hardly eased when he tumbled again at turn 12 in the early part of qualifying.
Márquez though showed tremendous tenacity to return to the track to finish just over 0.2s outside off the front row and his charge for a second successive victory in 2017 will commence from sixth place on the grid.
Franco Morbidelli: 3rd – 1’36.649
“I really wanted to get pole position today but I was pushing hard at the end of qualifying and just made a few mistakes which cost me. It is still very positive to be on the front row of the grid and I have shown all weekend that my rhythm for the race is strong. It will be a long 26-laps and I know how strong Lüthi is here at Le Mans. I am sure we can put up a strong fight, but the most important thing will be to finish the race after the DNF in Jerez.”
Álex Márquez: 6th – 1’36.884
“You could say that was an eventful day. Finishing sixth is positive after the two crashes and despite the falls I feel good on the bike and very confident. It will be important to get a good rest tonight and sleep well because my body has taken a good beating today. I don’t feel a lot of pain when I’m on the bike but I can feel some discomfort when I’m walking. The adrenaline will kick in during the race and I think I can be battling for the top places again.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“It was a bit of an up and down day today and typical of what has been a complicated weekend so far with the track conditions and the weather changing a lot. Franco did a good job to get on the front row again and I’ve no doubt that he has the potential to be fighting for the win. Álex was heroic today because the crash this morning was a heavy one and he wasn’t completely unscathed. To fight the pain and forget two crashes to get on the second row shows his strength of character. I’m sure he can have a good race tomorrow because his pace has been strong in all conditions this weekend.”