2012 Le Mans Moto2 and Moto3 Press Release Previews

Below are the press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams, as well as official tire supplier Dunlop,  ahead of this weekend's Le Mans round of MotoGP:


Dunlop Moto2 Preview: Le Mans

Monster Energy Grand Prix de France (Round 4/17) 20.05.2012

Taking it to the Dunlop Bridge.

Dunlop’s Moto2 tyres head to the world renowned motorsport location of Le Mans where they will be put through their paces underneath the iconic Dunlop Bridge for the fourth round of the of the Moto2 World Championship - the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France - on May 18-20.

Le Mans Zest

The inland location, 200km south-west of Paris, has provided a wide range of different weather conditions in past seasons, so Dunlop’s tyres could encounter almost anything from cold to hot, wet to dry. The 4.18km Le Mans Bugatti race circuit is all about braking and traction demands, with numerous slow speed corners requiring heaving braking in their approach, and then hard acceleration on their exit.

Dunlop will bring the tyres from the Group A ‘Baseline’ range, the 3757 soft and 3854 soft rear compounds. The 3757 was initially introduced as the high ambient tyre in late 2010 but has since, has proven itself more durable in cooler conditions on less aggressive circuit surfaces. The 3854 offers a similarly wide range of qualities. These rear tyres are allied to the 717 and 302 fronts, resplendent in their latest profile.

Dunlop’s Moto2 Operations Manager, Clinton Howe:

“Le Mans has a very low grip surface and it’s a very flat circuit. It’s not only the straights which are flat, as the corners don’t feature much positive camber which normally assists with cornering speeds. If the weather is cool - as we have experienced there in the past - there can be a reasonable amount of abrasion from the track surface. However we have seen surprisingly hot events too. As it’s spring time at Le Mans, it is very difficult to predict the weather, but we hope we can account for a wide range of possibilities. If it does rain, our wet compound has worked very well so far this season, but with Le Mans the circuit surface is more slippery than most when wet and it has very slow drainage, meaning there can be a lot of standing water.

“At Estoril it was nice to see the improved Moto2 lap times at the third round. Taking 36 seconds off 2011’s race time is a good sign that our continued improvement in development for this class is working. I would like to think that the reduced times had something to do with the new profile front and the latest ATR05 rear tyre construction which were not available for Estoril in 2011.

“For Le Mans I hope that the new profile front and slightly stronger softer front compound option with the latest ATR05 rear tyre construction will again reduce the lap times. Weather permitting of cause…”

Moto2: Johann Zarco, JIR Moto2, Motobi:

“Le Mans is a great circuit and I like riding there. Although I am French, it was not until 2009 that I first raced there as I started my career in Italy and the rest of Europe. The weather can be a challenge at Le Mans as it can vary quite a lot. If it is wet the circuit can be very slippery, however Dunlop’s wet tyres are very good in these situations. If it’s dry it can be difficult to decide which is the best tyre choice. The softer tyres don’t slide as much but they might not last as long as the harder tyres. There are some parts of the track where you need a strong front tyre because of the braking demands, such as into turn six, which is where a harder tyre is better. For me, it’s a great feeling riding under the Dunlop Bridge as the corner afterwards is blind and you’re approaching it under full throttle. You need confidence in your tyres when you do this, and Dunlop’s Moto2 tyres do give you good confidence.”

Moto3: Louis Rossi, Racing Team Germany, FTR Honda:

“Le Mans is not a difficult track. It is like a short circuit with a lot of short straights and very hard braking. This is the most important aspect of riding this circuit – you are braking a lot, and then hard on the gas accelerating through the corners; it’s a stop and go track. You put a lot of load on the front tyre under braking as you brake very hard and very late, then turn and exit so this is for Le Mans we rely on the front. The Moto3 bikes are actually really easy to ride, especially with the confidence of the Dunlop tyres. You need to have a lot of speed in the mid corner, very similar to the 125s, or perhaps probably more mid-corner speed. The Moto3 bikes are easier to ride, which means you can push hard and make some more mistakes without crashing every time. The tyres are improved from last year too, and this has helped a lot. I enjoy the way we work with Dunlop and it’s very valuable to my riding and performance.”

Moto2 Tyre Allocation Le Mans

Front Moto2 slicks per rider

120/75R17 Moto2

4 x 302

4 x 717

Rear Moto2 slicks per rider

195/75R17 Moto2

4 x 3757 (ATR05)

5 x 3854 (ATR05)

Wet Moto2 tyres per rider

3 x Front 125/80R17 KR191 414 (4 tyres allocated if all practice sessions are wet).

3 x Rear 190/55R17 KR393 414 (4 tyres allocated if all practices are wet).

Moto3

Jerez gave a thorough workout to Dunlop’s wet weather Moto3 tyres, as well as testing the extremes of performance on a mixed dry with wet patches circuit in the race. Estoril presents a similar challenge to Jerez in terms of the demands on a Moto3 bike and tyre.

Le Mans: It’s all about stop and start …

For Estoril the following Moto3 tyres will be allocated:

Front Moto3 slicks per rider

95/75R17 Moto3

5 x Medium

3 x Hard

Rear Moto3 slicks per rider

115/70R17 Moto3

5 x Medium

4 x Soft

Wet Moto3 tyres per rider

3 x 95/70R17 KR189 WB

3 x 115/70R17 KR389 WB


Repsol riders look to defend lead at Le Mans

World Championship arrives in France with Stoner leader in MotoGP and Márquez Moto2 frontrunner. Viñales lies just two points off the top in Moto3 classification.

Dani Pedrosa holds the race lap record of 1’33.617 (fastest lap in last year’s race) and the MotoGP circuit record of 1’32.647 (pole from 2008).

Maverick Viñales took the first podium of his career last year at Le Mans, as winner of the French GP.

Marc Márquez has been on the podium for the past two years at Le Mans, winning the 2011 Moto2 race and taking third in 125cc in 2010. He also holds the Moto2 lap record of 1’38.533 [2011], and that of the 125cc class with 1’43.787 [2010].

Repsol Media Service - France, Le Mans Circuit - Tuesday 15/05/2012

After the four podiums taken at the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Repsol riders arrive in France with the desire to continue their successful run. Maverick Viñales’ second place in Moto3, Marc Márquez’ lead in Moto2 and the first and second positions for Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa in MotoGP are strong boosts going into race four of the campaign.

Reigning MotoGP champion, Casey Stoner, showed last year that he is a favourite for victory at Le Mans, dominating the 2011 contest and crossing the line first. The Repsol Honda Team rider currently leads the way in the standings after taking two wins and a third place from the opening trio of races. Teammate Dani Pedrosa holds the race and practice lap records at Le Mans, plus three wins in France (2003, 2004 and 2005 in the 125cc and 250cc classes), although recent years have not been kind to him at the scene of this weekend’s contest. His best results at the track in MotoGP have been third in 2006 and 2009.

In the intermediate category, Marc Márquez heads to France leading by nine points. The Spaniard has managed to regain his spark from last season over the course of the opening three races, claiming two wins and a second place. This weekend he will be aiming to repeat his performance from last year, in which he came back through the field to claim his first Moto2 victory.

Maverick Viñales was also a winner at Le Mans last year, in his debut campaign in the World Championship. That made him the youngest Spaniard ever to win a Grand Prix and was the Repsol rider’s first podium. A repeat of the triumph would give him the lead of the Moto3 class.

Miguel Oliveira also made his first appearance in France last year, capped off with a top ten finish. He feels comfortable with the Le Mans circuit. Teammate Álex Rins will undertake his first race at the track, aiming to maintain his place in the top six in his rookie season.

Dani Pedrosa

MotoGP Rider

"Le Mans is a hard circuit, quite similar to Estoril, a stop and go track where you need to prepare a bike with good stability, traction and acceleration. In the past I felt comfortable riding there, I had good results in 125cc and 250cc, but not really perfect in MotoGP, so I have something small inside me I want to achieve. Last year I did the fastest race lap, but I couldn't keep the pace before the crash, so I want to do better this time.

We've had three good races so far, I'm riding well, but I missed something in all of them, especially on the first laps, where I've been stronger in the past. I need to put everything together and if we get better starts, we will start wining races".

Casey Stoner

MotoGP Rider

"The past two tracks have not historically been my best but I've managed wins at both of them so I'm hoping we can go to Le Mans and be competitive again. I've had some mixed results there in the past, the track layout is unique, it's a little stop-start with a lot of braking and I think this year both the Honda's and Yamaha's will be competitive there.

It was disappointing that the weather in Estoril on Monday prevented us from testing, we need to work on the chatter issue we have on the bike so let's hope we have some dry sessions from day one in Le Mans so we can get out on track and work on it".

Marc Márquez

Moto2 Rider

“Le Mans is a similar track to Estoril, based around braking, getting into the corner and then getting on the gas. Although every track has its complications, we will be trying to start calmly and find the best setting for the race, which is the most important thing. I have some good memories of the track from last season, although this year is sure to be different. I hope that everything goes well over the weekend, as I am more comfortable on the bike every time and very motivated after winning in Portugal”.

Maverick Viñales

Moto3 Rider

“This is a circuit that I like a lot, above all because of the win last year. Le Mans is a good track for me and fits my style, with strong braking and fast acceleration. I think that Honda will have to get on the case, just like us, as hard work is needed. We arrive in France happy to be up there with the frontrunners, with the confidence of Qatar back again. Now we need to make some steady improvement”.

Miguel Oliveira

Motor3 Rider

“I like Le Mans; it is fast and technical. I am looking forward to riding there, as I haven’t been able to finish the past two races and have the objective of finishing in the points. This is the second time that I have raced at the track and last year it was good to me —I was able to put down fast times and I felt comfortable. I placed in the points, which is what I will try to do this year. I want to be competitive, take things with calm and think about the race”.

Álex Rins

Moto3 Rider

“We have to keep pushing ourselves as we have been up to now, as the team have been doing a fabulous job. When we arrive at Le Mans we will need to try to adapt to the track as soon as possible and get a good result. As I haven’t ridden at the track before, what I have done is visualise it playing a computer game; when I get there, Emilio [Alzamora] and José Carrión will take me for a couple of laps to give me some advice for doing as well as possible on Sunday”.


ANTONELLI LOOKS TO SPRING ANOTHER SURPRISE AT LE MANS

Niccolò Antonelli, the youngest rider in the MotoGP World Championship, is looking to spring another surprise at Le Mans this weekend after announcing his arrival with an impressive sixth place last time out at Estoril. After building his confidence with the FTR-Honda machine in Portugal the youngster is looking forward to improving his performance levels at what is an entirely new circuit for him.

Niccolo’ Antonelli “Estoril was an important weekend for me because we managed to perform to a good level. It was definitely my best race so far because I didn't make a great start but I stayed focused and managed to run with the lead group and fight for fifth place to the end. We still need to work hard with the set-up of the bike, especially because I am carrying a ten-kilo ballast, which we need to find a better position for in the chassis so that it doesn't affect the bike so much when the tyres are worn. Anyway, I am confident that the team can find the right setting for Le Mans and that I can take another step forward. I don't know the circuit other than what I have seen on the television but it looks like a technical track. I will try to learn it as quickly as possible so that I can start to concentrate on the bike.”

Fausto Gresini “Niccolò was exciting to watch at Estoril and at Le Mans we will finally have our 'own' bike because for the last two races we have been using a prototype version loaned to us by FTR. So at Le Mans the guys in the team will be working hard to give Niccolò the bike he needs by finding a permanent home for the extra ten kilos that he is forced to carry. We'll be working hard to give Niccolò a competitive package that should allow him to take another step forward."


REA SWITCHES TO SUTER

It hasn't been an easy decision to take but Team Gresini have opted to switch to a Suter chassis for their Moto2 project for the remainder of this season, starting this weekend at Le Mans. The French Grand Prix will therefore be more like a test for Gino Rea, who faces the twin challenge of racing at the Bugatti circuit for the first time in his career on a completely new motorcycle.

Gino Rea “I am very pleased that the team have decided to change to the Suter chassis, which I think will prove to be a very positive step for us in the long run. It is not going to change my fortunes overnight because we have a lot of work to do in terms of adapting my riding style and setting up this new chassis to work with the Showa suspension. However, it is the start of something new for us and I think we can start to make progress from here. Obviously I don't know this circuit so that is something else to overcome this weekend but I am very much looking forward to racing at Le Mans for the first time. I had some trouble with my knee at Jerez and Estoril so I have let it recover for a few days but now I'm back into hard fitness training. The circuit looks nice, I have done everything possible to learn it, from watching videos to playing it on the Playstation and with the added motivation of a completely new chassis to work with I am really looking forward to it!"

Fausto Gresini “We have taken the decision to switch to Suter because our objective is always to improve and give our riders the opportunity to perform to their maximum potential. It wasn't an easy decision but it was one we had to take. Now we start a completely new project from scratch and this Grand Prix will be more like a test but we go into it with belief and determination to give it our maximum. Hopefully this move will give Gino the chance to show his true ability on track.”


WILAIROT SWITCHES TO SUTER

It hasn't been an easy decision to take but Team Gresini have opted to switch to a Suter chassis for their Moto2 project for the remainder of this season, starting this weekend at Le Mans. The French Grand Prix will therefore be more like a test for Rattapark Wilairot, who is still nursing an injury to his right hand suffered at Estoril. However, “Feem” is ready and excited to be making his debut on the new bike.

Ratthapark Wilairot “Portugal was not so easy, everything there was difficult - even the weather! But as always everybody in the team tried to give 100 percent to me and the bike for every session. I tried to change my riding style to the bike but I still had the same problem with the front and rear. In the race at Estoril I had a problem with my right hand which meant I couldn't use the brake a lot so I have been visiting the Clinica Mobile at Imola and working hard on my fitness. For Le Mans we are making a good change to Suter. I have tried to watch videos to learn how to ride it but the first time won't be easy so I just hope that we have less problems than before. I have a good feeling with this circuit, you need a lot of technique to control the bike. We have to wait and see what the weather does but I feel we can do well and change our recent result."

Fausto Gresini “We have taken the decision to switch to Suter because our objective is always to improve and give our riders the opportunity to perform to their maximum potential. It wasn't an easy decision but it was one we had to take. Now we start a completely new project from scratch and this Grand Prix will be more like a test but we go into it with belief and determination to give it our maximum. Hopefully this move will give Feem the chance to show his true ability on track."


HONDA MOTOGP RIDERS TAKE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO LE MANS

Repsol Honda riders Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa arrive for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans with an eye toward maintaining a perfect podium record in the 2012 MotoGP World Championship. Reigning world champion Stoner rides an 18-race podium streak into the iconic French circuit, while Pedrosa has been three-for-three in podiums this season.

The 55th running of the French Grand Prix at Le Mans is meaningful for both Stoner and Pedrosa. The 4.180Km circuit west of Paris is a scrapper’s track and not one that Stoner favours. That did not prevent him from taking his first MotoGP victory at Le Mans last year from the pole position to kick off a string of three wins in a row en route to his second world championship.

The 26-year-old Australian has been brilliant this year, but the season has not been without its challenges. The front end chatter that has affected every motorcycle on the grid has been frustratingly difficult to resolve. And Stoner has repeatedly been afflicted with arm pump. Yet he has overcome both to win two of the first three races, something he has not done since his 2007 title-winning season.

Pedrosa has been waiting a year to put the 2011 French GP behind him. Pedrosa got off to a lightning start in 2011, finishing third, second, and first in the first three races before heading to Le Mans. But his championship hopes were derailed when he fractured his right collarbone in a racing incident with the late Marco Simoncelli. His 2012 start has been almost as strong-he currently sits third in the championship-having shown versatility with podium results in differing conditions on different tracks.

Pedrosa has finished on the MotoGP podium in France, and won both times during his two 250cc World Championship seasons, which gives him optimism heading into the fourth race of the championship. Pedrosa has not gotten the lightning starts that have characterised his career, which he hopes to change in France, a track where passing is difficult and racing from the front is often the path to success.

Alvaro Bautista (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC213V) has not gotten the full measure of Honda RC213V in his first season with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team. Weather is one of the culprits. The previous two races were complicated by wet weather, which prevented the Spaniard from increasing his comfort level on the motorcycle that has won two of the first three races. Le Mans could certainly continue the trend of inclement weather, which makes setting up his motorcycle with limited dry track time that much more of a challenge.

Bautista has one year’s experience in the MotoGP class at Le Mans, having missed the 2010 race. But in his last year in the 250cc class, he started from the pole and finished fourth.

Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda MotoGP RC213V) finished second in Le Mans during his strong early season run that led to the 2011 Moto2 World Championship. The young German rider has three finishes in the top nine in his rookie MotoGP campaign, having finished seventh in Jerez, a track similar to Estoril. Still, he arrives in France having to learn how to tame the track on the much more powerful Honda RC213V. The emphasis here is on braking, specifically braking into the corners where the front tyre is put under great stress, a technique which Bradl is quickly learning.

Michele Pirro (San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda), another MotoGP rookie, comes to Le Mans having improved his finishing position in each of his first three races, culminating with his first MotoGP points in Estoril. The development of the FTR-Honda CRT machine has been done entirely at the race track since the start of the season. Pirro and the team were hopeful of making a development step at the post-Estoril test, but rain washed out that opportunity. Le Mans is not one of his favourite circuits, but his early season progress on similar tracks makes him confident that his upward path can continue.

After a worrying off-season dominated by concerns about his vision, Spaniard Marc Marquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol – Suter) has begun the season stronger than ever. The 2011 Moto2 runner-up has two wins and a second in the first three races, as well as two pole positions. He’s coming off his best race yet; a win in Estoril from the pole.

That win put him in a good frame of mind for Le Mans, a venue that he sees as similar to the Portuguese track. It was at Le Mans where he won his first Moto2 race last year, the first of seven wins. And it is at Le Mans where he hopes to continue his dream season.

The only other rider to win a Moto2 race in 2012 is Pol Espargaro (Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex). The Spaniard sits second in the Moto2 championship having had a season nearly as successful as Marquez’s. Espargaro celebrated his first Moto2 win in his home race in Jerez, a win that he sandwiched between a third in Qatar and second in Estoril. Espargaro has fond memories of Le Mans, having won there on a 125 in 2010.

Le Mans also has a special hold on Swiss rider Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock – Suter). Luthi won his first ever grand prix at Le Mans in 2005 aboard a Honda RS125 and he repeated the win in 2006. Other than a fifth place finish in the Qatar season-opener, Luthi has been on the podium every time out, with thirds in the next two races. Luthi had led every race this season, finishing less than half a second from victory in Spain and less than a tenth of a second out of second in Estoril, where he led from laps two through 19 before being passed by Marquez and Espargaro on the same 20th lap.

Maverick Vinales (Blusens Avintia - FTR Honda) earned a thrilling first grand prix win with a last lap pass in Le Mans last year in only his fourth 125cc grand prix. Vinales is amongst the riders who likes Le Mans. The track plays to his style, with hard braking and fast acceleration. He’s hopeful that the similarity to Estoril is reflected in his results; he finished second in Estoril by .055s.

Team Italia FMI - FTR Honda rider Romano Fenati was the revelation of the early part of the inaugural Moto3 season. The Moto3 rookie led his first race in Qatar, then won his second race in mixed conditions in Jerez by an astounding 36s. The margin of victory was the largest in the smallest displacement class for nearly 25 years, since San Carlo Honda Gresini team owner Fausto Gresini won the 1987 Swedish Grand Prix by 37s over Bruno Casanova. Fenati’s strong start hit a speed bump when he failed to finish in Portugal, but that has not affected his preparations for Le Mans.

Like most tracks on the 2012 calendar, Le Mans is another that Fenati will be seeing for the first time. But that was no different than Qatar and Jerez, where he had great success.

Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda), like Fenati a grand prix debutante, will also be visiting Le Mans for the first time. He has been training for Le Mans on his computer, and will also call on the vast experience of team manager Emilio Alzamora; the 1999 125cc World Champion, aboard a Honda RS125, finished on the Le Mans podium three times during his career.

In his first grand prix season Rins continues to look for consistency. He announced his presence by taking the pole in his second race in Jerez, which he followed up with a fourth place finish and less than a second from second place. In Estoril he learned how competitive the Moto3 class can be by engaging in an 11-rider fight en route to a seventh place finish.

Le Mans first hosted a motorcycle grand prix in 1969 on the 4.422Km Bugatti Grand Prix Circuit, which was built in 1965 around the much larger 13Km 24-hour track. Le Mans alternated with a number of other circuits up until 2000 when it became the permanent venue of the French Grand Prix following extensive rider safety enhancements.

Honda’s first win at Le Mans came in 1983 with Freddie Spencer, who won the 500cc World Championship that season and again in 1985, when he also won Le Mans. In the 20-year history of the French GP in Le Mans, Honda has 11 wins, with Spencer’s fellow Honda world champions Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Alex Criville, Valentino Rossi, and Casey Stoner also winning in the premier class. Marco Melandri and Sete Gibernau also raced Hondas to victory in the premier class in Le Mans.

The now 4.180Km circuit has a number of slow corners connected by short straightaways, with the second half right-hand biased, which mandates the use of asymmetric rear tyres. There are 13 corners in all, nine rights and four lefts, with the longest straightaway of 674m. The Honda technicians will set up the motorcycles with an emphasis on stability under the repeated hard braking, with riders standing up their motorcycles on corner entry to make the best use of the thick part of the rear tyres.

The other challenge is the weather. The late spring date always brings some measure of rain, which complicates machine set-up if the race is held on a dry track. And the often cool temperatures make it imperative that riders get heat into their tyres quickly.

MotoGP Rider Quotes

Repsol Honda rider Casey Stoner says:

“The past two tracks have not historically been my best, but I've managed wins at both of them, so I'm hoping we can go to Le Mans and be competitive again. I've had some mixed results there in the past. The track layout is unique, it's a little stop-start with a lot of braking and I think this year both the Hondas and Yamahas will be competitive there. It was disappointing that the weather in Estoril on Monday prevented us from testing. We need to work on the chatter issue we have on the bike, so let's hope we have some dry sessions from day one in Le Mans so we can get out on track and work on it.”

Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa says:

“Le Mans is a hard circuit, quite similar to Estoril, a stop-and-go track where you need to prepare a bike with good stability, traction and acceleration. In the past I’ve felt comfortable riding there. I had good results in 125cc and 250cc, but not really perfect in MotoGP, so I have something small inside me I want to achieve. Last year I did the fastest race lap, but I couldn't keep the pace before the crash, so I want to do better this time. We've had three good races so far. I'm riding well, but I missed something in all of them, especially on the first laps, where I've been stronger in the past. I need to put everything together and if we get better starts, we will start winning races.”

San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista says:

“The weather at Estoril finally afforded us some dry track time and we were able to make some changes to the bike and get a good rhythm together before the race. At the start we were struggling for feeling with the front Bridgestone, but gradually it improved. In the race I was struggling in T4 because the bike did not feel great in corner entry so I was just focused on holding my position. Now we go to another circuit where the weather is always unpredictable so we have to be ready to adapt. With the data we gathered in Portugal I think we can take another step forward and find a few important tenths to close the gap to the guys in front of us. I don't really like this circuit, unfortunately. Le Mans has a lot of direction changes, short straights and the worst thing is the low grip levels and cool track temperatures. I have never finished on the podium here in the 125 or 250 classes, but hopefully we can have a good race this weekend and improve on the results from Estoril.”

LCR Honda MotoGP rider Stefan Bradl says:

“Le Mans is another good circuit which I like and last year I gained the second position in the Moto2 race. However, as I said for the previous rounds every track is different from the past because the MotoGP bike is another story. I am quite confident we can proceed with our good results: On this surface you must find the right setup in braking and you use the front tyre more than the rear one. It’s important to pick up the bike faster. We shouldn’t struggle with rear grip issues here. Estoril was a different layout and the asphalt was not excellent. I had a look at the weather forecast, probably we will have another rainy weekend so I must remain focused”.

San Carlo Honda Gresini FTR-Honda rider Michele Pirro says:

“The memory of picking up our first points at Estoril is still fresh in my mind and I think it is a nice confidence boost for myself and all the guys in the team, who have been working tirelessly on this new project, which we all believe in. We have achieved our first objective and now we need to focus on developing from here. Unfortunately the post-race test at Estoril was cancelled so we missed the opportunity to try some new things but as usual we remain upbeat and look to make up for it this weekend at Le Mans. The circuit is definitely not one of my favourites but that doesn't matter one bit. We have to try our best to improve and close the gap to the top guys in the championship.”

Moto2 Rider Quotes

Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol - Suter rider Marc Marquez says:

“Le Mans is a similar track to Estoril, based around braking, getting into the corner and then getting on the gas. Although every track has its complications, we will be trying to start calmly and find the best setting for the race, which is the most important thing. I have some good memories of the track from last season, although this year is sure to be different. I hope that everything goes well over the weekend, as I am more comfortable on the bike every time and very motivated after winning in Portugal.”

Pons 40 HP Tuenti – Kalex rider Pol Espargaro says:

“We have a very good feeling with the motorbike, with the team and we are working so good for the championship. As far as the French Grand Prix, I don’t know because it’s in Le Mans, all circuits are different, there are many riders different in front. It’s very difficult to predict one result here in Moto2. But I’m sure that we must be in front for the championship; we are so consistent. Three podiums in three races it’s so good for us and we have to work more to take the second victory there.”

Interwetten Paddock – Suter rider Thomas Luthi says:

“It’s a very good start, I’m very happy with the start of the season and with the podium as well. It was quite a good race and I was a long time leading the race and that’s a good feeling for sure. So I’m just looking forward to Le Mans and I think we can keep up the pace and we’ll be stronger in the future.”

Moto3 Rider Quotes

Blusens Avintia - FTR Honda rider Maverick Vinales says:

This is a circuit that I like a lot, above all because of the win last year. Le Mans is a good track for me and fits my style, with strong braking and fast acceleration. I think that Honda will have to get on the case, just like us, as hard work is needed. We arrive in France happy to be up there with the frontrunners, with the confidence of Qatar back again. Now we need to make some steady improvement.”

Team Italia FMI - FTR Honda rider Romano Fenati says:

''I will race at Le Mans for the first time and I'm very excited to discover this track that has made a lot of history in racing cars and motorcycles. I cannot wait to try out the asphalt and the French curves to discover their charm. I am sure that I will like the track a lot and look forward to putting the Estoril race behind me.”

Estrella Galicia 0.0 – Suter Honda rider Alex Rins says:

“We have to keep pushing ourselves as we have been up to now, as the team have been doing a fabulous job. When we arrive at Le Mans we will need to try to adapt to the track as soon as possible and get a good result. As I haven’t ridden at the track before, what I have done is visualise it playing a computer game; when I get there, Emilio [Alzamora] and José Carrión will take me for a couple of laps to give me some advice for doing as well as possible on Sunday.”


Next stop Le Mans for Kallio and Redding

Gosselies, Belgium - 16th May 2012: Mika Kallio and Scott Redding head for this weekend's Grand Prix de France at Le Mans confident of a return to form, after tyre and handling issues saw them finish ninth and eleventh last time out in Estoril.

Chatter issues mid race plagued Kallio, halting his progress through the field from 17th on the grid, while Redding was unable to capitalise on his front row start after using up his tyre chasing down the leading group.

The Marc VDS duo are keen to make amends this weekend and both head to France with confidence restored following a successful two-day test at the Navarra circuit in Northern Spain earlier this week.

Part of the Circuit de la Sarthe, on which the legendary 24 Heures du Mans car race is run each year, the Bugatti circuit is dominated by second gear corners and short straights, demanding a bike that is stable under braking, but with good acceleration out of the low-speed turns.

For the second year running the Elf logo will be prominent on the bikes of Kallio and Redding, which will also run a special red, white and blue colour scheme at Le Mans this weekend. The Elf logo and the one-off livery are part of an agreement that will see the French oil and lubricants giant as the primary sponsor of the Marc VDS Racing Team for five races this season, starting with the French Grand Prix this weekend.

Mika Kallio #36:

"The test at Navarra was quite positive. I did a race simulation on the second day and the bike felt the same for the duration, not different on almost every lap like in Estoril. Le Mans is a different circuit, so we will need to confirm everything there on Friday, but it's certainly looking promising. Le Mans is another stop start sort of track, with some heavy braking areas and mostly slower corners, not to mention weather that often plays a big part during a race weekend. I need to improve in qualifying, to start the race from closer to the front of the grid. If I can do that this weekend then I think a top five finish is possible."

Scott Redding #45:

"We didn't get the result we were looking for last time out in Estoril, but that was mainly down to going with the wrong tyre for the race. It's something we need to think about this weekend at Le Mans, where the racing is likely to be even closer because of the characteristics of the track. We had a good two days testing at Navarra, where we definitely made some improvements to the bike, so I'm pretty confident we can bounce back with a good result this weekend in France."

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

"We had some issues in Estoril, which is why we decided to test at short notice in Navarra before heading to the French Grand Prix in Le Mans. The weather conditions in Spain couldn't have been better and both Mika and Scott managed to make improvements to the set-up of their bikes over the two days. Now we head for France, which is an important race for us. For the second year running we welcome Elf as title sponsor for the French Grand Prix, where we'll run with a very distinctive red, white and blue livery. Elf have been a strong supporter of the team since the start and I hope we can repay their commitment with two good results this weekend at Le Mans."


MAHINDRA WORKING TOWARDS FRENCH RENAISSANCE

Wednesday, 16 May, 2012: With three races done and with the European season gathering pace, the Mahindra team is relishing the challenge of round four at France’s classic racing venue – Le Mans.

It is the first visit to the challenging Bugatti circuit for the Moto3™ class, and the new-generation 250cc four-stroke racers have been setting new standards and winning new fans. Close exciting racing is guaranteed, as 33 young riders vie to make their mark.

The majority ride over-the-counter production racers from established racing factories.

The Mahindra team is taking a more difficult but more rewarding path. The MGP-30 machines are all-independent, with a unique chassis and a shared-development specialist power unit.

Early-days results have been promising. With the white-and-red machines still at the beginning of development, riders Danny Webb (21, England) and Marcel Schrötter (19, Germany) are already knocking on the door of the top-15 points-scoring positions.

Webb achieved a best-so-far at the last round in Portugal, qualifying 18th. But his chances were scuppered by a technical issue in the race leading to a retirement. Back at base in Italy, Mahindra Racing’s team of experienced engineers have been working hard with a focus on improved reliability before a number of planned performance enhancements are implemented on the MGP-30s engine.

At Le Mans riders Danny and Marcel will be making maximum use of the MGP-30’s fine handling on the 2.60- mile (4.186-km) circuit’s twisty layout and long corners, and using every trick in the book to put the MGP-30 in the points.

DANNY WEBB

But for a little problem in Portugal I felt we could have had the first points for the MGP-30. Le Mans will be another chance. I have a new engine; we need to get the chassis dialled in and everything working right, and then we’ll see what we can do.

MARCEL SCHRÖTTER

It’s been tough so far, but step by step I get more confident. I had some problems off the start in Portugal and lost too many places, but when I got past them again I had a good steady pace, but too far away to do better than 19th. I need a better start at Le Mans.


MotoGP Moto3: Team Italia looking for redemption at French GP

The Le Mans circuit hosts the 4th round of the Moto3 Championship this week-end. Fenati wants to redeem himself after the abrupt stop in Estoril, Tonucci aims at a convincing performance.

The Portugal race two weeks ago left a bitter taste: after a great start to the season, Team Italia could not score points: Romano Fenati had to retire, giving the championship lead to Cortese; Tonucci did not shine either, fighting in the back throughout the race.

At the French round, the goal is to resume the pace set earlier in the season with the 2nd place in Qatar and victory in Jerez, both scored by "Fenny."

In the past couple of weeks, Romano got over the disappointment of withdrawing from Estoril after the collision with Rossi and is ready to repeat his earlier performances. Tonucci, who did not express his full potential thus far, hopes to be able to fight for top positions.

Team Italia worked over psychological aspects with Fenati: reacting positively after a tough start such as in Estoril is essential for a rookie, especially for someone with his brilliance. With "Tonu", the team focused on technical aspects to help him achieve a better feeling with the bike.

"We didn't get too excited after the positive beginnings, and we're not down now – said Massimo Vergini, team manager of Team Italia FMI – The championship is a long road, and we have to grow more experienced race by race, trying to score points every time. We proved to have the potential to fight at the front, which is what we'll try to do again in Le Mans."


NEXT STOP FRANCE FOR THE BANKIA ASPAR TEAM

Weather sure to play a decisive role again as series heads for Le Mans

The fourth round of the Moto3 World Championship takes place this weekend at the legendary Le Mans circuit, venue of the world famous 24-hour car race. The permanent short track that forms part of the longer street circuit presents the BANKIA ASPAR Team will a difficult challenge due to its 'stop and go' nature, which puts a lot of set-up focus on braking, hard acceleration and rear grip. As well as a series of chicanes the circuit also features a short main straight of 674m, which heads into one of the fastest and most exciting corners in the world - no doubt set to be the scene of plenty of drama on Sunday.

It promises to be an easier challenge for the minor category riders on their new Moto3 machines than it was on the old 125cc bikes, given that mistakes tend to be paid for less dearly on the four-strokes - especially in wet weather, which looks certain to be a feature of this weekend, just as it was last time out in Portugal.

The BANKIA ASPAR Team will aim to set up their KALEX-KTM machines as quickly as possible for a circuit they have no testing data for, with the added target of introducing a clutch update if possible. Héctor Faubel and Alberto Moncayo have had contrasting fortunes at this circuit in the past but both have plenty of reasons to look forward to the fourth round of the season.

Héctor Faubel: "Le Mans is a circuit that holds happy memories for me. I have been on the podium there a few times but the most special was in the 250cc class in 2009, when I finished second behind Marco Simoncelli, a great rider who is sadly no longer with us but who we remember fondly. Hopefully we can make some improvements here this weekend. We are not picking up the results we need at the moment but we are working hard. We have seen a KALEX-KTM on the podium but it was a long way behind the winner and we need to react."

Alberto Moncayo: "My record at Le Mans is not good because I have never been able to get my head around the track. Having said that there are other circuits where I have traditionally struggled, like Valencia, but in testing with the KALEX I was fast so that makes me motivated to get to the circuit and start working hard with the team. In the meantime my fans can check out my new website www.albertomoncayo.es".


MAPFRE ASPAR RIDER TONI ELIAS READY FOR 200TH GP START

Nico Terol targets improvements in fourth round of championship

The MAPFRE ASPAR Team head to the fourth round of the Moto2 World Championship on the back of an interesting day's testing at Albacete last week, where Toni Elias tried some new settings for the rear of his Suter - namely with the shock and swingarm pivot position - that he hopes will propel him back towards the podium positions this weekend.

The experienced Spaniard is set to make his 200th Grand Prix appearance at Le Mans, where he has taken two of his ten career wins: in 250cc in 2003 and in Moto2 two years ago. Elías joins an exclusive club of just sixteen riders to have reached the double century mark in the entire 64-year history of the sport and the whole MAPFRE Aspar team would like to congratulate him on the achievement.

By contrast Nico Terol continues his adaptation to four-stroke racing this weekend, having stepped up from the 125cc class in the winter. His third Moto2 outing in Portugal saw an improvement in performance and fortunes as he closed the gap to the points positions with a sixteenth-place finish, less than ten seconds off sixth, raising hopes of an even stronger challenge at circuit that suits his riding style.

Toni Elias: "I am excited to be competing in my 200th Grand Prix. It has been a great career with some fantastic moments and some not so good. The other day at Albacete I was reminded of the last time I was there as a 14 year old, when I was competing in the Spanish Championship with just my father and we had to do everything ourselves. Back then I would have signed up instantly for the career I have had and I feel very lucky. The test went well and although I can't say we'll be challenging for podium positions right away we should definitely be closer. We have been able to rule a few things out and hopefully we can confirm the information at Le Mans. We are doing a good job though, that much I know."

Nico Terol: "Of the three races so far Estoril was the most positive. I was lapping just 0.8 seconds off the pace of the winner so we have taken a big step forward and now we have to build on that at Le Mans. A big thing for me is to keep my concentration at the start of the race, which would be helped by a better grid position so that I don't get boxed in. In Moto2 there are a lot more fast riders than there were in 125cc and for that reason I need to step up my performance levels in the early laps. I am feeling pretty relaxed though and looking forward to the start of practice at Le Mans".


 

2012

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