Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Thunder strikes on first day of MotoGP action in France

The adverse weather conditions that have followed the MotoGP World Championship
for the past two rounds of the season continued today at the Grand Prix Alice de
France, where afternoon thunderstorms interrupted the second free practice for
the MotoGP class and turned the 250cc first qualifying session into a virtual
flood. Alex Barros set the fastest time of the day just moments before the heavy
grey clouds hanging over the Le Mans circuit finally burst, clocking a time of
1'34.171 to top the time sheets overnight ahead of Honda colleagues Sete
Gibernau and Max Biaggi.

"The weather conditions were really strange today, constantly changing," said
Barros. "We found a reasonable base setting in the dry, but once the track had
been dampened, I also felt at ease in the wet, and I was able to lap well. The
asphalt wasn't totally wet, but I wanted to get an idea of the grip levels it
offered with wet tyres. Now our only hope is that the weather decides one way or
the other."

Whilst the rain quickly subsided and allowed the riders to return to the track,
it proved impossible for them to improve their times any further and left them
with the simple task of preparing their machines in readiness for more rain
forecast for the rest of the weekend. Colin Edwards was unable to better his
fastest lap from the morning session, when he topped the time sheets from
Gibernau, and dropped to fourth fastest overall ahead of his Yamaha team-mate
Valentino Rossi, who also failed to improved from the morning to the afternoon.

The biggest mover on the time sheets in the limited dry track time in the
afternoon was Honda rider Marco Melandri, who knocked over a second off his best
lap from the morning to move up to seventh fastest behind Kawasaki's Shinya
Nakano. John Hopkins was eighth quickest on the Suzuki whilst Ducati rider
Carlos Checa and Honda's Nicky Hayden completed the top ten. Local favourite
Olivier Jacque, making his second appearance for Kawasaki as a replacement for
the injured Alex Hofmann, was fifteenth fastest.

Makoto Tamada did not take part in the afternoon session after suffering
extensive pain in his injured wrist on his return to action this morning. The
Japanese rider missed the last round in China because of the injury and will
again be replaced by Dutch rider Jurgen Vd Goorbergh. "I'm very sad that I am
not able to compete here, but when the pain is too much there is nothing you can
do" explained Tamada. "Now I want to concentrate on the rehabilitation of my
right hand because I want to be ready for the next round of the season at
Mugello in three weeks' time."

Anthony West made a sensational return to Grand Prix action with provisional
pole position for the 250cc race after responding to a late call from Aprilia
Germany to replace injured Colombian rider Martin Cardenas on Wednesday night.
The Australian is contracted to KTM and hopes to ride the Austrian factory's
brand new quarter-litre machine for the first time at the next round in Italy
but was given permission to ride the Aprilia by his team as he looks to recover
his race sharpness. West showed that he had lost none of his edge as he charged
to top spot through torrentially wet conditions, with the majority of riders
deciding not to complete a single lap of the sodden circuit. Only four of the
riders who took to the track were within the mandatory 107% limit of West's lap,
with local riders Arnaud Vincent and Hugo Marchand qualifying ahead of Alex de
Angelis and Alex Debon. Reigning World Champion Dani Pedrosa, current series
leader Andrea Dovizioso and the winner of the last two rounds, Casey Stoner,
were among the riders who chose not to take part.

The first qualifying session for the 125cc class had earlier taken place in dry
conditions, with Mika Kallio again demonstrating his authority. The series
leader clinched provisional pole position with a time of 1'43.693 and is joined
on the front row by Marco Simoncelli, Gabor Talmacsi and Hector Faubel.
Meanwhile Mattia Pasini, winner of the last round in China, looks certain to
miss the rest of the weekend's action after crashing and breaking his wrist.

INFO 2005/54. 13-05-2005