On the weekend 18. – 20. 5. 2018 will be another round of world championship MotoGP. This time all the teams go to legendary circuit in Le Mans in France, where will be held the 5th Grand Prix of this season. How the riders feel before this weekend?
Source: MotoGP Teams
Ángel Nieto Team
For the Ángel Nieto Team the goal for France is to build on the progress made last time out at Jerez. Álvaro Bautista recovered from 20th on the grid to finish his home race in eighth, whilst his team-mate Karel Abraham also made up seven positions before crashing out. The Spaniard stayed on with the Ángel Nieto Team for a day of testing on the Monday after the race at Jerez, to further improve his feeling with the Ducati GP17 and the Michelin tyres. Abraham, meanwhile, will be looking to get back on the pace he showed in Spain, which would have been sufficient for a top ten position had he made the finish.
“After the Grand Prix at Jerez we stayed on for a day of testing that allowed us to try some things to improve the set-up. We gathered some positive data and found some things that could help us in the future, especially in lower temperatures. I am looking forward to getting on track in France to see if the feeling is the same as Jerez. It is a short track with a lot of direction changes, where the contact between the tyres and the asphalt is important. I think the tests we did at Jerez can help us there. The objective is to reduce the gap to the front guys and I think we are on the right path to doing that.”
“I am looking forward to racing at Le Mans, where we didn’t manage to finish the race last season. It is a track that I have always liked, apart from one aspect – the asphalt, which they have now changed. It is a track with a lot of direction changes and a short straight. Let’s see.”
Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are en route to France for round 5 of the MotoGP World Championship, to be held at historic Le Mans circuit on Sunday. Marquez dominated the last two MotoGP rounds, in the USA and Spain, where he helped Michelin celebrate their 400th Grand Prix victory. Now he prepares to face the challenges posed by the Bugatti circuit’s stop-and-go layout. The 25-year-old aims to maintain the momentum that currently has him at the top of the Championship by 12 points. Pedrosa looks forward to taking advantage of the positive feeling he has with his RC213V, at a track where he has been quite successful over the course of his career.
At the Gran Prix de France
Dani Pedrosa has 4 wins: 1 x 125 (2003), 2 x 250 (2004 and 2005), and 1 x MotoGP (2013), plus an additional 4 podiums and 6 pole positions.
Marc Marquez has 2 wins: 1 x Moto2 (2011), and 1 x MotoGP (2014), plus an additional 2 podiums and 5 pole positions.
“Le Mans is a track where we’ll have to work hard and do our best to try and keep the good momentum. In the past, we’ve been able to win or get on the podium there on some occasions, and other times we’ve struggled to get on pace, but as I always say, every season is different. Of course there will be question marks about the weather, the tyres, and the setup, but our mentality and approach will be the same as always: positive. This year we’re already at a good level as we head to France, so we’ll see how the weekend goes. We’ll try to start well beginning on Friday and then fight for the podium on Sunday.”
“I’m happy with the work we did with the team during the days of testing after the last round; it gives me confidence and makes me look forward to the next race. The French GP always presents many challenges, starting with the weather, which can be quite unpredictable. The temperature may be low, which can cause challenges with the tyres. We’ll try to keep our focus and have a good race.”
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini
The second European round of the 2018 MotoGP World Championship will be held this weekend on the French „Bugatti“ circuit in Le Mans. A historic theatre for international motorsports, it is part of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe that hosts the renowned „24 Hours“ endurance competition.
The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini arrives at the French round after two days of hard work at Mugello which served to try out entirely new setups for Scott Redding, still looking for an effective and stable setup for his RS-GP. Development on the bike for the English rider seems to be moving in the right direction and now it will need to be verified this weekend. Aleix Espargaró, on the other hand, focused on testing new components. In particular, he tested a new carbon swingarm with good sensations, so much that it is now expected to make its debut in one of the next races.
„Le Mans is a particular track; very ‚stop-and-go‘, with hard braking and abrupt acceleration. The climate also contributes to increase the level of difficulty, so first and foremost I hope to find consistent weather. My goal is still to stay in the top six. We have the potential and in the Mugello tests we took another step forward.“
„I like the French track. It is rather different than the others on the calendar. In the two days of testing at Mugello we made some radical changes to the setup of my RS-GP and I think we will be able to start from this informations, given the positive sensations. In these early races the results have not been what we expected, but I know that I have greater potential. I want to thank the guys on the team for the support they’re giving me. They deserve a great result for all their hard work.“
Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Ninth place in Jerez last time out was Franco Morbidelli‚s best result to date and his first top ten finish since stepping up to the MotoGP class at the beginning of the season. The reigning Moto2 World Champion heads into the French Grand Prix in a confident frame of mind, after backing up his Jerez result with a positive test at the same circuit the following day.
While a crash late in the race means that Thomas Lüthi doesn’t have the same positive memories of the Jerez weekend as his teammate, the Swiss rider’s confidence was also boosted by what was an extremely productive test on the Monday following the race.
This weekend will see Morbidelli and Lüthi racing MotoGP machines around the 4.2km Bugatti circuit for the first time, but both have won races at the circuit previously. Tom Lüthi was victorious in Moto2 in both 2012 and 2015, but he also won twice in the 125cc class, with his first victory coming in 2005, the year he was crowned 125cc World Champion. Franco Morbidelli took the win at Le Mans in 2017, on his way to claiming the Moto2 World Championship title.
„We go to Le Mans after a positive race and an equally positive test in Jerez. The Le Mans circuit is very different to Jerez in character; very stop and go, so we know we will have some work to do with the bike during free practice. The stop part is not an issue, as we know we are strong in this area, but the go part, driving the bike out of the turns, is an area on which we know we will need to work to find improvements during the weekend. I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead and to building on what we achieved in Jerez.“
„It was disappointing to crash out of the race in Jerez, but the one day test on the Monday was an important one for us. We made another step with the bike, identifying in which direction we needed to go with the set up. I was able to improve my pace from the previous day, especially on used tyres, and that gives me a positive feeling going into Le Mans. The first practice sessions in Le Mans are going to be busy, as it’s a new track for me with the MotoGP bike. I need to learn the lines and find the braking points, but I hope we can carry the momentum we gained at the Jerez test into this weekend at Le Mans.“
„Le Mans is yet another new track for Franco and Tom on the Honda RC213V, so it’s imperative that we work to get the set up dialled in to suit the stop start nature of the circuit as quickly as possible during free practice. Both made a step forward during the test in Jerez, finding improvements that brought about an increase in pace and that will stand us in good stead this weekend in France.“
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
After two successful tests, one in Jerez (Spain) and one in Mugello (Italy), the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are ready to put on a show this weekend at the Le Mans – Circuit Bugatti in France.
The combination of Maverick Viñales, his YZR-M1, and the French circuit proved to be a winning formula last year, when the youngster secured Yamaha it‘s 500th Grand Prix win. He already realized a third place race result in 2016 and had his heart set on making it a podium hat-trick this weekend. The Spaniard currently holds third place in the championship, 20 points behind the leader. After last week‘s tests he approaches the competition in Le Mans with a positive mindset and he will be giving his all to bridge the margin to the top of the standings.
Valentino Rossi is eager to start the fifth round of the championship as he‘s looking to set things right with the thousands of fans that visit the French MotoGP round each year. He was fighting for the win in last year‘s race when he crashed out of second place. This year he is keen on a do-over, so he can step onto the French rostrum and celebrate with the crowds. Traditionally, the Doctor scores competitive results at the Grand Prix de France. Throughout his premier class career he has collected three victories at Le Mans (2002, 2005 and 2008), six second places (2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and three third places (2000, 2001 and 2011). He currently sits in sixth place in the championship standings, 10 points behind his teammate.
„The race in Jerez was very difficult for us again this year. Fortunately, the tests last week were good. We are very close to finding the perfect set-up for me, so I‘m heading to Le Mans with a positive mindset. I have really good memories from my victory on the Yamaha last year, so hopefully we’ll be able to repeat the success we had there. Le Mans is a good track for us, it suits my riding style, and I think we can do a really good job. We’ll do our best to be at the top of the classification.“
„I’m happy we’re going to France next, because on paper we should be fast in Le Mans – usually the Yamaha works well there. I think that at the moment the situation is difficult to predict, because our rivals are strong, so we’ll see what our potential will be like. I expect to be a bit more competitive compared to the previous GP weekend, but I don’t know where we stand compared to the other bikes yet, so that will be interesting to find out. For sure my guys and I will do our best, as always, to make it a good race weekend.“
„Vale, Maverick and the team have had little to no rest since the Grand Prix of Spain, as we have completed two tests last week. The Le Mans circuit suits our bike and both our riders – Maverick secured Yamaha’s 500th Grand Prix victory just last year and Valentino has stood on the French podium many times – making it a good track for us to gain positive momentum after Jerez. So far, the weather forecast looks perfect, so we are looking forward to a competitive race weekend and having both our riders fighting at the front again, like they did last year.“
After completing a one-day test last Thursday at Mugello, in which factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo concentrated mainly on preparation work for the Italian GP, the Ducati Team has now arrived in France for the fifth round of the championship, scheduled for the iconic Le Mans circuit. The track where the bike race takes place – the Bugatti circuit – forms part of the history of motorsport and even though it only shares a small section of the Sarthe circuit where every year the famous 24 Hours car race is held, it offers a fascinating spectacle for the packed crowds who flock to the French circuit every year for the GP.
Andrea Dovizioso has often produced good form at Le Mans, qualifying five times on the front row in ten races, and he has climbed onto the podium three times in MotoGP, the last time in 2015 when he finished third, while twelve months ago the Italian crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Jorge Lorenzo has a truly extraordinary record at Le Mans. Since his MotoGP debut in 2008 he has scored a total of five wins at the Bugatti circuit, the last two in 2015 and 2016. In addition, in his ten races in the French GP, he has qualified five times on the front row, while last year he finished the race in sixth.
“If we look at how competitive we were at Jerez, I’m convinced we can also go well at Le Mans, and so from this point of view I’m pretty unfazed. In today’s MotoGP you can’t afford to lose too many points, and so the zero we picked up in Spain is a big setback, but after the performance we demonstrated in the race on a track that on paper was not favourable for us, I believe that we have put the frighteners on our rivals just a little bit more. So I’m confident we can also do a good race in France.”
“After what happened at Jerez I can’t wait to race at Le Mans. As I said after the race, despite the crash I think that the information we picked up during the Spanish GP was very positive. We worked well throughout the weekend and improved my feeling with the Desmosedici GP. In the race, even though I didn’t have the best pace, I showed I was one of the quickest riders out there and this should be our starting point in every grand prix. The aim at Le Mans will be the same as always: to be competitive right from day 1 and be able to fight up at the front in the race. I’m full of energy and anxious to race on Sunday at a circuit where I’ve won many times in the past.”