Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's French MotoGP round at Le Mans:
Repsol Honda Team head to Le Mans with momentum on their side
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are en route to France after an incredible start to 2014, with Marc winning the first four races from pole position and Dani scoring a very positive 72 points from a possible 100, with two 2nd places and two 3rd place finishes. Thankfully Dani has healed well from his minor surgical operation last week to treat compartmental syndrome, in order to fix discomfort in his right forearm. It took just two incisions to enter the forearm, freeing the flexor and prone-extensor muscles in the appendage via minimally invasive microsurgery.
The Le Mans Bugatti circuit, very different from the much longer 24-hour car track, returned to the GP calendar in 2000 after an absence of four years, during which time the French GP was run at Circuit Paul Ricard in Provence. The track’s character is very stop-and-go, with plenty of slow turns where braking and acceleration performance are crucial. Riders and their engineers concentrate on honing their machines’ stability during braking, as well as improving rear-end traction for the numerous hairpin exits.
The 4.18km circuit features the same start-finish straight as the Le Mans 24hr event and a blindingly fast right-hander leading to the famous Dunlop chicane. Following this quick start to the lap, the stop-start character becomes evident, with a slow right-hander leading on to the main straight. It is one of nine right hand turns, and four lefts.
Dani has finished on the podium 7 times in Le Mans including an emphatic win in atrocious conditions during the MotoGP race last year and three victories in the lower classes (2003 in 125cc, 2004 and 2005 in 250cc). Marc has had mixed results at this circuit, including three DNF’s, but endured his first wet MotoGP race here last year and came through the field to take 3rd. He’s also enjoyed a victory in 2011 (Moto2) and a podium in 2010 (125cc).
Championship Standing: 1st - 100 points
“After another really great weekend in Jerez and a positive day of testing on Monday, we are now on our way to Le Mans. You never know what the weather will do there so it is important to start strong from FP1. Last year we had our first wet race here and I really learned a lot, but this year I hope it will remain dry! We know that Dani, Jorge and Valentino will come back at us hard here, but we will work on our own programme - as usual - and fight for victory or at least some important Championship points”
Championship Standing: 2nd - 72 points
“I enjoyed the weekend in Jerez, and the battle at the end with Rossi was a lot of fun. After Monday’s test I had a tight feeling in my right forearm. On Tuesday morning I went to see Dr. Mir and he recommended surgery immediately. We took his advice and it seems to be healing up well but I guess I won’t know until I’m back on the bike on Friday for FP1. I won for the first time in Le Mans in MotoGP last year in a very tough race. I enjoy the circuit and we’ve had good results there in the past but we must always pay attention to the weather! The testing in Jerez was useful and we confirmed some feelings, now we must see if they translate to the track this weekend”
The Ducati Team gears up for French GP weekend at Le Mans
After completing a day’s testing at Mugello on Monday, the Ducati Team is now heading towards the fifth round of the championship, and the second race in Europe this season. The next Grand Prix in fact takes place at the Le Mans circuit in France, located around 200 kms from Paris.
The Bugatti Circuit, where the bike racing events are held, forms part of the history of the sport and, although it shares just a small part of the Sarthe Circuit where every year the legendary 24 Hour car race takes place, it offers a fascinating spectacle for the numerous French fans who flock to the circuit every year.
Andrea Dovizioso has often obtained good results at the French track, in particular last year, when on his debut with the Desmosedici he qualified on the front row, was in the lead for some of the early laps in the wet, and then finished fourth. Cal Crutchlow’s form at Le Mans is also pretty good, the British rider qualifying fourth in 2013 and finishing runner-up, his best result of all time in MotoGP.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04)
“Last year I went well both in qualifying and the race here at Le Mans, and it’s a circuit where I think we can be closer to the front. As for results it’s going to be difficult because this year there are many strong riders, but I think we can do well, even though the weather conditions are always an unknown factor. I am in any case happy to go to Le Mans, after fifth place at Jerez for sure it’s a positive moment for me.”
Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35)
“Le Mans for me is a strange circuit but last year I had a great race. I managed to take a podium and a second position in MotoGP. Given the conditions you never know what it’s going to be like on a race weekend, but I look forward to riding the Ducati there. After the recent bad luck run of races, hopefully we can go to Le Mans and start to have some good results. The right hand is still a bit sore, but I think we should be a lot better than we were at Jerez.”
The Le Mans Circuit
The Bugatti circuit is located 5 km south of the town of Le Mans and 200 km south-east of Paris. Built in 1965 around the Le Mans 24 Hour track, at the end of the 1960s the circuit was chosen as the venue for the motorbike Grand Prix, and then it returned to the calendar in 2000 after a series of modifications to improve safety. Le Mans is a narrow track with a series of unusual corners, which force the riders to brake hard and accelerate rapidly. It has four left-hand corners and nine right, the longest straight measures 674 metres and it can accommodate more than 100,000 spectators.
Circuit record: 1’33.617 – Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2011
Qualifying: 1’32.647 – Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 2008
Race length: 28 laps (117.2 km)
Start: 14:00 (GMT +2)
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Prepare for Le Mans
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 14th May 2014
After a short rest from the grueling early season schedule, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP now heads to France for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at the historic Le Mans circuit this Sunday.
Both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo will be keen to put last year’s difficult race behind them and return to more familiar winning ways at the classic French track.
Traditionally the French GP delivers good results for both with Rossi claiming three premier class victories and one 125cc GP win and Lorenzo claiming three premier class wins and one 250cc GP victory.
Rossi will be looking to make best use of the new chassis for the hard braking areas whilst Lorenzo will be focused on a set up that allows him to keep as much corner speed as possible on the tight chicanes and hairpins between the short straights.
"I am very happy about the weekend in Jerez, unfortunately I wasn’t able to win over Marquez but I managed to win over Pedrosa and Jorge. I am also happy about the test done on the following Monday at the same track. During the test I continued to work on the new chassis and I like it, it helps me especially with the front tyre. At Le Mans I will have only one new chassis but I am confident that Yamaha will bring me the second chassis as soon as possible. I want to continue the work on this. I made good times during the test, even the "time attack" was good and so I will try to start from the front row at Le Mans. It’s a positive moment for me because I'm pretty fast, I work well in the box and I think we can be very optimistic. We can have a good race"
“After the result in Jerez we could analyze the data during the test on Monday and we got some good information. We finished that test day happy with the result and we could figure out where the problem was during the race. We found that with the soft rear tyre we are much more comfortable than the hard one and therefore from now on we will be focused on this compound. We will try to get a more constant bike with the soft tyre and that is why we need to improve the bike and adapt it. Now we travel to Le Mans, a new track and a new opportunity. The weather will play a big part, usually it is colder and can be tricky like it was with the rain last year. The asphalt can be slippery but I am confident we can manage the circumstances and try to get a good result. Right now I am just thinking race by race and not about the championship. I think I will have a better pace there, I have had some wins in Le Mans and I like the circuit.”
“The post-race test in Jerez went pretty well: we found a good package to be consistent and fast with both riders. Le Mans in the past has been a good circuit for Yamaha and also for Jorge and Vale. As with the last four rounds the competition will be very tough but we are confident we can put up a good fight at the front. Le Mans is usually wet so we’ll have a different weather challenge which should make things interesting. As always we are looking forward to getting set up and started on Friday morning!”
Smith and Espargaro gunning for glory at Tech3s Home GP
Monster Yamaha Tech3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro are aiming to fly high this weekend at the team's hugely anticipated home race, in the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, for round 5 of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship.
After a successful and confidence affirming post Jerez test, Smith and Espargaro will build on their positive results so far this season and put their newly acquired knowledge from the test to use in the 28-lap sprint at the 4185 metre Le Mans circuit, one of the most historically significant motorsport tracks.
Bradley Smith's notable start to the season has seen him flirt with the accolade of the leading satellite bike in the opening races, and he will be looking to break the top five in Le Mans. Whereas rookie Pol Espargaro will continue his rocket start to his MotoGP career and intends to collect his fourth top ten finish, as he consistently battles against established riders in the top half of the field.
“I am looking forward to the Grand Prix de France and doing my best for the Tech3 team in their home country. I won the race here in 2010 in the 125 class, and have always enjoyed the circuit. I am still learning step by step, but am feeling really confident, especially after testing a few things on the bike in the test after the Jerez race. I feel very optimistic in achieving a good result in front of the team's fans and am excited to see what I can do aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 around the famous Le Mans circuit.”
"After a quite satisfying start to the year in terms of results, I am fully confident of battling for a positive finish at the team's home Grand Prix. We had a useful post race test in Jerez and found some valuable information, which will aid my riding and setup. I rode to my first ever podium here in the 125 class in 2007, so Le Mans holds some good memories for me and I intend to create some more here this round. It's a really technical and demanding track,however I enjoy a lot riding here and even if there is still a little work to be done, I am certain to put on a good show for the team this weekend.”
"Firstly, I want to say that I am really looking forward to the teams' home race. I am always really impressed and truly grateful by the home support from the French fans who really get behind our team. The atmosphere is always superb in Le Mans and for me one of the best in Europe, so we hope for a great result from both riders, which would please everyone. For Bradley, we expect he will be able to continue trying his best and battling as the leading satellite bike, and with Pol we hope his great start to his rookie career and his ever-increasing confidence will continue. Of course, no one knows what will occur with the weather, so it is guaranteed to be an interesting weekend."
BRADL READY TO RIDE AT THE LEGENDARY LE MANS RACE TRACK
Le Mans, 15 May: LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl travels to legendary motorsport venue Le Mans this week for the Grand Prix de France with the aim to ride back in the front. Arm pump syndrome ruined Bradl’s race at Jerez (he ended the race 10th) but the German had an operation to fix the problem last Tuesday and his motivation is high because he has shown that he can keep up with the front this season. Even this year LCR Honda MotoGP Team is pleased to announce that Elf will act as Title Sponsor branding Stefan Bradl’s Honda motorbikes ahead the fifth round of the season.
Elf is a brand of TOTAL, one of the largest major integrated oil and gas companies in the world, with activities in more than 130 countries. Elf, since the 70’s, never ended its commitment on the various prestigious motor sport platforms developing year after year the most advanced chemical technologies for producing top performing racing fuels, engine lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids including all kinds of industrial and automotive grease products.
Stefan: “As everybody knows I had another surgery to treat the arm-pump problem which affected my race in Jerez. The operation was quick and successful and, in recent days, I have made all the treatments required to be fit for Le Mans. Actually I cannot make any prediction because I must see how it goes when I am on track but I feel good right now. Last year it was a tough race for me in the wet but it seems that the weather will be decent this weekend”.
BAUTISTA AND REDDING READY TO RACE AT THE HISTORIC LE MANS CIRCUIT IN FRANCE
One of the most famous motorsport venues in the World, Le Mans, awaits this weekend the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini riders, Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding, for the French Grand Prix, fifth round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship. The event is held, since 2000, at the Bugatti circuit, located in the immediate outskirts of the town of the Sarthe region, famous all over the World for hosting the 24 Hours automobile race.
Alvaro Bautista - fresh from the sixth place finish in the recent Spanish Grand Prix, and who also finished sixth in the last two editions of the Grand Prix of France, in 2012 and in 2013 - is looking for another good result: in this respect, could be helpful the recent testing session completed at Jerez the day after the race, during which the Spaniard tried several new suspension and brakes parts, working closely with Showa and Nissin engineers.
His team-mate, Scott Redding, will be back on a track on which last year he triumphed for the first time in the Moto2 class: the Briton, who has collected points in three out of his first four races in MotoGP, is determined to return the fastest rider aboard the Open class Honda RCV1000R after two complicated races, albeit useful for his apprenticeship.
ALVARO BAUTISTA “Le Mans is not one of my favourite tracks and probably this is due to the fact that often the bad weather makes it difficult to work properly on the bike during practice. In any case, our goal remains the same we set ourselves before Jerez, that is collect as many points as possible. It’s difficult, however, to make a prediction, because the weather forecasts predict rain for Sunday. During the test we have carried out the day after the Spanish Grand Prix, we could test several new solutions that have worked well: therefore, we hope that they will prove useful also on this track”.
SCOTT REDDING “Last year, in Le Mans, I won my first race in the Moto2 class, so I am very happy to return to this circuit. The only concern is related to possible difficult conditions because of the bad weather: I never had the opportunity to ride a MotoGP bike in wet conditions, so this would be a completely new situation for me. Otherwise, if the track will remain dry, I think that it can suits well the characteristics of our bike, as long as we can find more grip than we did in Jerez. Like Jerez, Le Mans is quite a narrow and small track, so it will take a little time to adjust the electronic controls and to adapt my riding style, but I think that we learned a lot from this point of view from the Spanish GP weekend, also considering the positive day of testing carried out after the race”.
FAUSTO GRESINI “The Bugatti circuit is without a doubt very unique and demanding: I personally like a lot this event, not only because of the track layout, but also because you can feel the passion of the fans; there is a very engaging and exciting atmosphere. Hopefully we can start well the weekend, and thus continuing the string of results opened in Jerez with Alvaro and to be protagonists in the Open class with Redding”.
MOTOGP CONTINUES EUROPEAN ROAD TRIP IN FRANCE
DRIVE M7 Aspar riders ready to tackle fifth round of the season at Le Mans
After a hard-earned week off the MotoGP World Championship keeps rolling this week as the paddock moves from Jerez in Spain to the Le Mans circuit in France for the fifth round of the season. The opening four rounds have been dominated by Marc Marquez and this circuit is well suited to the Honda on paper, thanks to its hard braking and acceleration zones, although it has traditionally been favourable to Yamaha and Jorge Lorenzo, race winners for the past three seasons. At the moment, however, it is impossible to bet against the all-conquering Márquez.
DRIVE M7 Aspar riders Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama travel to France aiming to continue their positive progression during the early stages of the season after improving their performance levels at Termas de Río Hondo and Jerez. Hayden was hampered at the Spanish round by an inflammation of the right wrist that required surgery during the winter. Even though it didn't stop him from racing at Jerez it did rule him out of the post-race test but a period of rest and recovery has done him good and he is fit to ride again this weekend. Aoyama was able to complete the test and the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider is looking forward to putting some of the solutions found into practice this weekend.
Nicky Hayden: “Le Mans has never been a great track for me personally and truthfully it's not my favourite, but when we were kids my dad never let us say we don't like a track so I never say it! What I can say is that there are some fun corners and great fans. Unfortunately for us at the moment there is a lot of acceleration coming out of slow corners, which is not the strongest point of our bike. Anyway, I need to understand how much my wrist irritation from Jerez has improved and try to keep the progress we made in Spain rolling, go have so fun and go fast!”
Hiroshi Aoyama: “We have been in good form over the first four races of the season and we have improved the set-up of our bike a lot, especially during the test following the race at Jerez. We found some things that I am looking forward to trying out at Le Mans. It will be a difficult circuit for us with so many straights and slow corners where you need to get the bike stopped. Anyway, we go there full of motivation and determined to maintain our good form from Jerez. Le Mans has a very rich history in motorsport and I love the atmosphere there. Hopefully we can have a good weekend in France and find some consistency in the first part of the race, which is what we lacked in Spain. That's the objective.”
MotoGP at Le Mans for the fifth round
The MotoGP riders will tackle this weekend on the historic French circuit of Le Mans. The good forecast should allow to program the work to take advantage of every session available. The goal is to get to the race with the best setting possible and to fully exploit the potential of the Ducati D16GP14.
The French track, named after the Italian car manufacturer Ettore Bugatti, is located 5 km from the town of Le Mans. It was designed in 1966, using parts of the existing " Circuit de la Sarthe " in which the famous "24 hours” was raced. Born for cars, the track was later inaugurated for motorcycle racing in 1969.
The track is 4185 meters long , has 4 left turns and 9 to the right, the majority of which are characterized by "stop & go” style of riding, with sudden braking and acceleration .
Andrea Iannone - Pramac Racing- season has no stops, and after the post-race test at Jerez the Italian rider takes part of the private Ducati test at Mugello. Andrea is ready and motivated to face this French race in the best way possible and return to compete for the positions that count.
Yonni Hernandez - EnergyT.I . Pramac Racing - For the first time on this track woth the Desmosedici. After having to skip the post-race test at Jerez for gastrointestinal disorders the Colombian twenty-five year old has been training in order to be ready right from the first practice sessions to understand the secrets of the French track. The goal is to reach the top ten.
NGM Forward Racing riders head to Le Mans for the France GP
This weekend the 2014 MotoGP World Championship heads to Le Mans. The Grand Prix of France, fifth round of the calendar, welcomes the NGM Forward Racing Team with Aleix Espargaro currently 7th in the Champion in the MotoGP class and Simone Corsi 5th in the Moto2 classification.
After a well-deserved seventh place at Jerez, Aleix Espargaro aims at repeating a strong performance on the tight French track, characterized by first gear corners, late braking and hard acceleration. Also team mate Colin Edwards looks forward to get a good result at Le Mans, a track where he visited the podium in 2005 and 2008.
“I like Le Mans and I have good memories on this track with two podium finish. I hope to have a better weekend, I need a good result and I will do my best working with the team each session to prepare the race at the best.”
“Le Mans is a good track. There are a lot of tie corners and I think that for the characteristics of the track, we will suffer in the hard braking and in the parts that require hard acceleration. Our target remain to fight in the top 5 and I will give my best to get the best possible result.”
A crash stops Scassa in the Mugello tests
Terni, May 13, 2014 – A crash at Turn 2 of the Mugello circuit put an end to testing on ART 2014 for Luca Scassa.
The Tuscan rider that would replace Danilo Petrucci in the GP of France, had reached the Team Aprilia development and technical Iodaracing to try the ART for the race at Le Mans.
Scassa made two exits of three laps later, than in the third one he lost the control of the bike at Turn 2 (Luco) of the Tuscan circuit. Immediately relief from the medical staff of the Mugello, Scassa has been stabilized in the circuit and then transported to the Borgo San Lorenzo Hospital, where he was found to fracture at the head of the right femur, which must be operated in the evening to reduce recovery time.
The Team Iodaracing is near Scassa and Team Pedercini that had given to his rider permission to carry out this test and the next race in France. At this time the Iodaracing MotoGP Team is considering whether to participate in the French Grand Prix on Sunday.
Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 5: Le Mans, France
Wednesday, May 14 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Round five of the 2014 MotoGP™ season takes place at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in France, a venue that has produced some unexpected results over the years due to its unpredictable weather.
Measuring 4.185 kilometres in length, the Le Mans circuit features a ‘stop-and-go’ configuration with low-speed corners punctuated by a series of short straight sections. The layout places an emphasis on acceleration and braking, rather than outright corner speed and the circuit demands a good bike setup to ensure the tyres work in their optimum operating range. The relatively slow corner speeds at Le Mans make the venue the least severe circuit on the MotoGP™ calendar for tyres. The low corner speeds and the generally cool temperatures at Le Mans means that the slick tyre allocation for this round uses Bridgestone’s softest rubber compounds to ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention. There are nine right-hand corners compared to five left-hand corners at Le Mans, so asymmetric rear slicks with slightly harder rubber on the right shoulder are provided to riders for the French Grand Prix.
For Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tyre allocation for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will be the soft and medium compound options, while the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft and soft compounds. The front slick allocation for Le Mans will be the extra-soft, soft & medium compound options. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for Le Mans will be the soft compound although each rider will be able to select the hard compound wet tyre if they choose.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“After four dominant performances by Marc so far this season, we all await with anticipation to see which rider can stop his run of victories, or if he will continue his domination. The stop-and-go layout of the Le Mans circuit is quite different to the flowing nature of the Jerez circuit which hosted the last round, so it will be interesting to see which riders can use this to their advantage. The layout of the Le Mans circuit and the variable weather always makes it difficult to predict the winner for the French Grand Prix, with few riders able to win the race from pole position in recent times. Once again the Ducati and Open-class riders will have access to the extra-soft rear slick this weekend and with Le Mans being the least severe circuit on tyres on the whole MotoGP calendar, it could prove to offer quite a performance boost in both qualifying and the race.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Le Mans is an event where we often experience cold temperatures so ensuring good warm-up performance for the tyres is very important. The circuit itself is relatively gentle compared to other circuits as well, so our slick tyre allocation for the French Grand Prix is formulated from softer rubber compounds to ensure better warm-up and grip. The circuit has a stop-and-go nature and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tyres at Le Mans are low which is another reason why we provide softer compounds here. Another performance requirement here is to provide front tyres that provide maximum stability under braking.
“The circuit has an unbalanced layout that uses the right shoulder of the tyre more than the left, so asymmetric rear slicks with harder rubber on the right shoulder have been developed for all rear specifications this year. Last year, our extra-soft rear slick at Le Mans was symmetric, but for this year we developed an asymmetric extra-soft rear slick. The unstable weather at Le Mans can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice and in previous years we have seen vastly different conditions from one session to the other so it is always a busy race for our technical team.”