Previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's race at Le Mans:
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP All Set for French GP
After an incredibly successful weekend in Jerez, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are ready for action for the fifth round of the championship in Le Mans.
Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 13th May 2015
With Jorge Lorenzo‘s spectacular victory in Jerez a fortnight ago still fresh in mind, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team is ready to continue challenging at the top during the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France staged at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit this Sunday.
Having claimed his 200th career podium finish in Jerez, Valentino Rossi is excited to start the fifth round of the championship. He has topped the standing since the opening round in Qatar and is hoping to further extend his 15 points lead by adding another good result to his already extensive list of podium finishes at the French circuit. The Doctor has claimed three premier class victories at Le Mans in 2002, 2005 and 2008, four second places in 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2014 and three third places in 2000, 2001 and 2011.
Teammate Lorenzo has also had numerous successes at the Bugatti Grand Prix track and is eager to repeat his marvelous victory at the previous round this weekend. Having topped the time sheets of the Jerez test a little more than a week ago, he looks forward to being even more competitive aboard his beloved YZR-M1. He is confident he can add another top score to his impressive resume of three premier class wins in 2009, 2010 and 2012 and a second place in 2008. The Spaniard currently holds third place in the championship, just 20 points behind his teammate.
Built in 1965, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit forms part of the famous 24-Hour track, just 5km south of the city of Le Mans. The venue has hosted Grand Prix since the late sixties, but was taken off the MotoGP calendar from 1996 until 2000 after a serious accident in 1995 involving Spanish rider Alberto Puig. The safety of the tight track has since been improved and can now comfortably accommodate 100,000 spectators.
Dominated by first gear corners, the circuit places the emphasis on late braking, hard acceleration and rear end traction and has been the scene of a lot of racing drama in the past.
I‘m happy to go to Le Mans, it is a nice track, but every year it‘s different. Usually it‘s a good race for us, Yamaha and me, but last year our competitors were very strong. I imagine that Marc will also be strong this year, but I like this circuit, I like to ride here and our bike seems to go very well, especially on Sunday afternoon! This is a good thing, because we have to fight for the Championship. In Jerez we didn‘t have a perfect weekend. Third place was positive, but we can do better. Jorge did a great race, so the YZR-M1 is doing really well. At Le Mans we have to work well and fix the bike better. I'm confident. See you in Le Mans!
I feel happy after my win in Jerez. Now I look forward to racing at Le Mans, a different track compared to Jerez. Usually we are affected by the weather, but it‘s a circuit I like and where Yamaha got some good results in the past, so I‘m very confident of doing a good job there. The bike is good right now and after my first podium and win I feel good. I‘m not thinking about the championship, I just take it day by day, corner by corner and try to ride the best I can and enjoy every session. If we can find a good set up I think we will be fighting for the podium again. Hopefully the weather is good but in France you never know what is going to happen! Anyway I‘ll do my best whatever the weather will be!
Le Mans has always been a good track for Yamaha and we are really looking forward to going there. After this great start of the season we have good motivation and are optimistic for this weekend. We found some good solutions at the test in Jerez, so we continue to book progress. Both riders are in good form and we are excited to start, I‘m confident we will be protagonists.
Marquez and Pedrosa reunited for GP of France
After a three race absence, this weekend Dani Pedrosa will return to race alongside Marc Marquez for the Repsol Honda Team in Le Mans.
Dani received surgery to his right arm to alleviate discomfort from arm pump and as a result missed the races in the Americas, Argentina and Spain, but returns in Le Mans for round five of the 2015 World Championship. Marc, who was also injured in a training accident after the GP of Argentina, managed to fight for a courageous 2nd place in Spain, and now arrives in Le Mans this weekend almost back to 100%.
The Le Mans Bugatti circuit 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.
Marc has had mixed results at this circuit, but took his first MotoGP victory here last year, he’s also enjoyed a victory in 2011 (Moto2) and podiums in 2013 (MotoGP) and 2010 (125cc). Dani has finished on the podium 7 times including an emphatic win in atrocious conditions during the MotoGP race in 2013 and three victories in the lower classes (2003 in 125cc, 2004 and 2005 in 250cc).
Championship Standing: 4th - 56 points
"Since Jerez we’ve been able to rest and now I’m feeling much stronger for this weekend. I visited Dr. Mir for a check up and my finger is definitely improving and healing well. I haven’t trained much this past week in order to give my finger a chance to restore back to 100%, which was our main goal. I like the Le Mans track, the weather is always changeable but last year it was really good and I took my first win in the MotoGP class, so let’s hope it’s the nice for us again this year!"
Championship Standing: 14th - 10 points
"I’ve been doing a lot of therapy in the past few weeks since the operation and I am improving step by step. I’m beginning to feel stronger and looking forward to getting back on the bike - after all, this is the best way to check the feeling after all the rehabilitation work. It will be good to get back to my team and catch up with them all after this time and of course to see all the fans in Le Mans, so let’s hope the weather is kind to us again like in 2014!"
Ducati Team gearing up for French GP at Le Mans
After completing a private test at Mugello on Monday and Tuesday of this week, the Ducati Team are now in France for the fifth round of the championship and the second race on European soil in 2015, which takes place this weekend at the Le Mans circuit, around 200 km from Paris.
The track where the bike races are held – the Bugatti – is an integral part of motorsport history and, even though it only shares a small section of the Sarthe circuit where the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours car race takes place every year, it offers a fascinating spectacle to the massive French crowd that flock to the circuit for the French GP.
The two days of intense testing at Mugello for the Ducati Team riders were aimed at preparing for the Italian GP, to be held at the same circuit at the end of May. For Andrea Dovizioso the test was positive, and the man from Forlì was able to lap at a good pace. However, some anxieties surrounded the team’s other rider Andrea Iannone, who crashed at the end of the second day and picked up a dislocated left shoulder injury, after setting some good times in Tuscany. The rider from Vasto immediately underwent a check-up with a specialist and began an intense physiotherapy schedule that will allow him to take to the track this weekend.
The Le Mans round will begin on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55 am, while the 28-lap race gets underway on Sunday at 2 pm.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 2nd (67 points)
“The last race at Jerez didn’t go the way we had hoped for but we managed to score some points in in any case and hold on to second place in the championship. The test at Mugello was very important for us because it also pointed us in the right direction for the French GP: it helped us to understand the GP15’s behaviour much better and we lapped very strongly, and so I am very confident for this weekend’s race at Le Mans.”
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 5th (50 points)
“Unfortunately I injured my left shoulder during the second day of testing at Mugello. I was trying the harder front tyre when I crashed at the Arrabbiata 2 curve. After paying a visit to Prof. Porcellini in Cattolica, we immediately began treatment in order to recover as quickly as possible. My shoulder still hurts a bit, but in any case my mobility is good and this is important because it’s a comfort to know that you are not limited in your movements. I will try and ride as best as I can, but I don’t know how much pain I will have, and we will only get an idea tomorrow morning when I step onto my GP15 for the first time.”
The Le Mans circuit
The ‘Bugatti’ circuit lies about 5 km south of the town of Le Mans. Built in 1965 around the Le Mans 24 Hours car racing circuit, at the end of the 1960s the track became the venue for the grand prix bike race. After a few years the Le Mans round disappeared from the championship calendar until the 2000 season, while work was carried out to improve safety. One of the main features of the narrow track is the strange nature of its curves, which force the riders to brake brusquely and then accelerate hard out. The circuit can accommodate more than 100,000 spectators and has five left-hand corners and nine right.
Circuit Record: Marquez (Honda - 2014), 1’33.548 (159.5 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda – 2014), 1’32.042 (163.6 km/h)
Top Speed: Pedrosa (Honda – 2014), 313.8 km/h
Circuit Length: 4.2 km
Race Distance: 28 laps (117.2 km)
Race Start: 14.00 CET
ESPARGARO AND VIÑALES READY FOR LE MANS
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 12th
The French circuit of Le Mans is ready to welcome Team SUZUKI ECSTAR for the fifth round of the 2015 MotoGP™ season.
Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales will arrive in France in a positive mood, thanks to the steps forward that the Suzuki MotoGP™ project has made so far and the potential that the GSX-RR has shown. The last race in Jerez saw both riders consistently lapping close to the top riders in the class and yet more solid points were gained at the end of the race.
Although their feelings about their machines are pretty similar –very positive in terms of handling and looking for confirmation on electronics and traction improvements after the latest test – their expectations about the characteristics of the circuit of Le Mans are different: Aleix Espargaro feels more prudent about the coming event, while Maverick Viñales feels enthusiastic and confident.
Built in 1965 around the existing 24-Hour racetrack, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit is a tight track dominated by first gear corners that place the emphasis on late braking, which is an aspect of the GSX-RR that was tested and improved last Monday in Jerez during the test day following the race. The track is 4.2 km long with an average width of 16 metres and with a 674 metre-long straight.
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR takes to the track on Friday for the opening FP1 at 09:55hrs local time (08:55 GMT) with FP2 at 14:05hrs (13:05 GMT). Saturday’s all-important Qualifying starts at 14:10hrs (13:10 GMT) to determine grid positions for Sunday’s race, which gets underway at 14:00hrs (13:00 GMT) for a total of 28 laps.
“I’m satisfied with the steps forward we have made in the last test in Jerez. We are looking for better traction which could let us better exploit the bike’s potential. The electronics have made many improvements and we also tested some chassis parts on the rear that allowed us to make better lap times. We have also worked on geometry and set-up which finally gave us better braking, which also allowed us to enter the corners quicker and exploit the strong points of our chassis, which will be crucial for Le Mans. Personally my feeling with the French track is not the best, I prefer fast corners and I struggle on tight circuits, but this is not worrying me too much as I know the handling of my GSX-RR is good and I’m confident I will find a good feeling with the bike pretty quickly.”
“To me going to Le Mans is a good thing, I like this circuit and I am confident I will find a good feeling pretty quickly. The circuit is tight with slow corners, which means you have to brake later and be as efficient as possible through the turns to have a good exit speed. The improvements we’ve made in the recent Jerez tests give me hope; the electronics and also the new set-up has proved to be effective both on lap-times and on improving my confidence in riding.”
The MotoGP European season continues this week on the historic French Le Mans track: the goal for Bautista and Melandri is to finish in the points
Le Mans (France), 12 May 2015 - Fresh from a positive Spanish Grand Prix, Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri will be back astride their Aprilia RS-GP bikes for the fifth round of the MotoGP championship on the French Le Mans circuit.
The dual objective for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders is to finish in the points, further reducing the gap behind their adversaries - a result that Bautista has already brought home twice, in Austin and at Jerez - and to continue developing the bike, which has already undergone an initial acceleration from the start of the European season with positive feedback from Bautista who tested the new seamless gearbox for the first time in the post-race tests at Jerez.
ROMANO ALBESIANO (Aprilia Racing Manager)
“At Jerez the European phase of the Championship got off to a positive start: we finished the Grand Prix with both riders, the second championship point brought home by Bautista and a performance by Melandri that improved throughout the weekend. It was a trip where some comforting data came out for the future, thanks in part to the tests conducted the day after the race when Bautista provided the first positive feedback on a new seamless gearbox that should be making its début on the track very soon. This is confirmation that gives the entire team a boost of confidence: a first significant step in our development process that we knew would speed up once we got back onto European soil, with the opportunity to establish a more direct connection between on work at headquarters and track operations. Now we are taking on the French GP in the hopes of being able to take another step forward.”
FAUSTO GRESINI (Team Manager)
"In Spain we had a great weekend, completed by positive post-race tests. We can feel satisfied with our achievements so far, with the two championship points Bautista has earned. We have shown that we are able to easily battle to be in the top 15, so now it would be nice if Melandri could bring home his first points of the season in France. After all, Le Mans represents another important milestone in our path of development, so we'll keep working to reduce the gap behind our adversaries as we have done in recent races.”
“At Jerez we worked very well throughout the entire race weekend. At Le Mans we'll be taking on a track which is similar in many ways, so I think that the data we collected in Spain may be a good base to start from. In the tests on Monday I was able to try the new seamless gearbox for the first time. It's a shame we won't have it already for Le Mans because it is already at a great level, but I'm confident that even with the current version of our bike we'll be able to do well this weekend. I have great memories of last year's race where I took the third step of the podium. The goal this round is the same as the previous races: to keep reducing the gap behind the other riders that are ahead of us and to be as competitive as possible. The track has a lot of direction changes, so we'll be working hard to obtain an agile and easy to ride bike. For the rest we'll try to stay as focused as possible in order to be ready for any conditions since weather conditions often change quickly here at Le Mans. The second championship point earned at Jerez provides great motivation for the entire team. We're ready to work hard.”
“The Le Mans track is quite particularly, but I've always liked it. In fact, every time I've raced here I've done well. In this round it would be nice to try and get into the points. I think this is a realistic goal within our reach whilst waiting for important technical changes that will allow me to take more significant steps forward. The weather forecast seems pretty good so, as always, we'll be working as hard as we can and taking the weekend one day at a time, ready to take advantage of every opportunity.”
Tech3 duo ready for home GP at the legendary Le Mans circuit
Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro will fly the flag for the Tech3 Team at it's home race in the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France this weekend and will aim to storm to two top point scoring finishes. Round 5 of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship will occur on the famous 4.2 kilometre Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit which is built around the world-renowned 24-hour track. The tight and twisting circuit features a straight of 674 metres as well as 5 left and 9 right corners and can accommodate up to 100,000 enthusiastic fans for the 28-lap battle on Sunday.
Britain's Bradley Smith will intend to make it five strong results on the bounce as he looks to ride to glory at the team's home track and consolidate his position of 7th in the world championship standings. Having concluded a successful post Jerez GP test last week, the 23-year-old rider will use his knowledge to battle as close to the factory riders as possible. Meanwhile, Pol Espargaro will fully intend to follow up his impressive finish of 5th place at the Jerez Grand Prix with another top result in France aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. The Spaniard produced a sterling effort last year to qualify in 2nd position in only his 5th Grand Prix aboard a MotoGP bike and will seek to repeat this performance and fight for the leading satellite position.
Championship : 7th Points : 36
"Next up for us is the awesome Le Mans race which is certainly one I look forward to, especially as it's the team's home race, plus Monster Energy sponsors this event. The track itself is quite narrow and features some tight first gear corners plus the stadium section at the end of the lap can be tricky, so we must ensure we get everything set up and ready as soon as possible for the race. The Jerez weekend was a bit of a challenging one, however I still managed to battle through to 8th and we then found the solution to our issue in the test on Monday. Therefore, I am confident of clinching a top result aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1 in the 28-lap race on Sunday. Last year was quite a tough one for me at Le Mans, but I am determined to continue my strong form so far this season and as the crowd is always so ecstatic and passionate about our sport, I will do my best to give them something to cheer about!"
Championship : 9th Points : 26
"I can't wait to jump on the Yamaha and get out on the track this weekend at Le Mans! I had a good result last time in Jerez where I finished in 5th which was what the team and I needed after the tricky opening rounds that we experienced. Now I fully intend to follow this result up with another strong finish at the Tech3 team's home race. Last year, I scored my first ever MotoGP front row and finished in 4th but only 0.6 away from the podium, so I'm definitely keen to hit the ground running this weekend. Now, it's one year on and I know I can be pushing for this position, if not higher, after collecting more experience in the past twelve months. I am feeling confident for this race and although the weather can sometimes be tricky at this track, I will push hard for the team and the fans, who are always brilliant at Le Mans!"
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager :
"This weekend is the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team's home race at the fantastic Le Mans circuit and it goes without saying that we are excited and ready to put on a good show for our superb fans. The atmosphere is always incredible at the circuit and with the race being sponsored by our title backer Monster Energy, we have extra motivation to do a great job on Sunday. Both riders had a good race in Jerez, with Pol finishing 5th, which was a great result at the first European GP of the year and Bradley cleverly rode through a tough weekend and finished with a solid 8th position. Plus, he was able to improve his feeling during the post race test on Monday. Therefore, we can optimistically look towards round 5 of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship where we expect to have both guys in the top half of the field and also fighting to finish in the leading satellite position. Pol had a superb performance last year where he qualified in 2nd and finished in 4th and Brad has had some strong results so far this season, so we are sure they can do well this weekend. The only thing that we have to hope for is good weather and a huge, cheering crowd to support us!"
First home race for Loris Baz in MotoGP
The second European leg of the season is just around the corner for the Athinà Forward Racing. The team will be busy at the historic track of Le Mans for the French Grand Prix.
The race in La Sarthe region will be the first home race in the premier class for Loris Baz who will race in front of his fans with the aim of being the fastest Open bike. The Sunday’s race will have a special taste for the Frenchman as he will race with a special livery.
Stefan Bradl will go for an all-in weekend. After the successful day of testing at Jerez he is eager to get on the track of Le Mans. The German is aiming the head of the Open pack and the point-zone.
The Moto2 Italian duo is also very motivated to get back on track. Simone Corsi and Lorenzo Baldassarri have successfully completed a two-day test at Aragon where they worked on the development of the shocks and forks. They are ready for the rumble with the leaders of their class.
Stefan Bradl - 6
"We did a really good step forward with the setting and electronics in Jerez. We are eager to try these new settings in Le Mans to close the gap with the fastest Open. I cannot wait to get on track again".
Loris Baz - 76
"This will be my first home race in MotoGP. I look forward for Friday, it will be exciting to race in front of my fans and my friends. Moreover we have prepared a special livery along with a new helmet and a special suit for the race on Sunday. In Jerez we worked hard during the test trying to develop several new solutions and we can do well in Le Mans".
Simone Corsi - 3
"We get to Le Mans after two days of work in Aragon. I found a good set-up at the rear and surely this will improve our pace. Last year in this race I was on the podium: the goal is to try to get this result again".
Lorenzo Baldassarri - 7
"I am fully loaded for the race at Le Mans. I got more confidence with the bike in Aragon, concentrating on the front. Riding is now are more comfortable for me and definitely I can push harder. Getting points and the Top10 is our target".
New chassis for Hector Barbera in Le Mans
13/05/15 Avintia Racing MotoGP – Grand Prix of France – PREVIEW
Avintia Racing couldn’t dream a better start of the 2015 MotoGP World Championship, with Hector Barbera winning three out of four races in the Open Class. This Spanish rider will have a new chassis on his bikes this weekend in France. During the test in Jerez he tried it for the first time and working with his crew found a good set up with the GP14.1 Ducati chassis and Barbera hopes to be closer to the Factory bikes with this improvement.
Le Mans is the most important weekend of the season for Mike Di Meglio. He has very good memories from this track and the French riders aims for his home race is clear: to score the first points of the year with Avintia Racing’s Desmosedici in front of his crowd.
HECTOR BARBERA #8 / @HectorBarbera
Le Mans is a track I like. Is not so big but it’s very complete, with up hills, fast corners and some chicanes where you can make the difference. In France the weather is always important and the race can be a lottery, because you never know if it will rain or not. But we go with high motivation and very confident after the test in Jerez where we found a good set up with the new chassis that would help us to improve. The season is going well so far, but is always important to keep pushing.
MIKE DI MEGLIO #63 / @Mikejpp63
I have very good memories from Le Mans and I love this track, the best memory is the victory under the rain in 2008 in my way to win the World title. But last year in MotoGP I enjoyed riding the bike although the result was not so good. As usual we’ll have to be aware of the weather, because in Le Mans can rain at any time. It will be very exciting to race in front of the French crowd and I’m really looking forward to get my first championship points, because we have been close many times, but we need to make the last step.
POSITIVE VIBES FOR CRUTCHLOW HEADING INTO LE MANS
Cal Crutchlow and his CWM LCR Honda Team arrive at the historic Le Mans circuit in high spirits this weekend, after having achieved third and fourth place finishes in the last two MotoGP races.
To add to that the British rider has also had success at the French GP in recent seasons, having taken second place here in 2013. Coming off the back of a positive test session with his Honda RC213V in Spain, the 29 year-old is looking forward to getting back to business this weekend.
Cal Crutchlow #35
“I’m really looking forward to riding in Le Mans, we come here off the back of a not too bad result in Jerez. The whole CWM LCR Honda Team is working hard together to improve in a few areas, and then hopefully again we can do a good race here in France.”
“Last year I rode here injured, so it will be nice to finally ride and be able to push to my full potential this weekend. If that’s the case, then I expect to have a good result by Sunday evening.”
European road trip takes MotoGP north to France
POWER ELECTRONICS riders hope to convert information from Jerez test into strong Le Mans result
After four rounds of the MotoGP World Championship the series heads to Le Mans for round five with no fewer than three race winners already off the mark. Jorge Lorenzo's dominant victory in Jerez last time out came on the back of wins for Valentino Rossi in Qatar and Argentina and a single victory so far for the defending champion Marc Márquez in Texas. With Ducati's two factory riders looking capable and keen to open their victory account as soon as possible, the legendary French circuit promises to host another intriguing weekend of action from the moment free practice gets underway on Friday morning.
A post-Grand Prix test for the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar Team at Jerez will hopefully see Nicky Hayden and Eugene Laverty in more competitive shape this weekend. Over the course of countless laps at the Spanish circuit Hayden completed some important electronic developments, finding improvements in traction and under braking. Laverty finally made a breakthrough with the lack of rear grip that he had encountered during the race weekend and in previous races this season. The pair are well aware of the challenge that lays ahead at Le Mans but they are equally determined to give their best once again.
Nicky Hayden: “I am looking forward to getting to Le Mans and hopefully putting into practice some of the things we found at Jerez. The improvements we made in the test there should help us close the gap to the top. Le Mans is a tough circuit with some hard-braking zones so it will be important to find a set-up that allows us to attack those areas with confidence. We also need to work hard on the acceleration to get us out of those turns. The weather tends to be very changeable at Le Mans so let's hope it is kind to us this weekend. From what we have seen so far this season we will have to work hard from Friday to make sure that we are competitive enough to challenge for a good grid position on Saturday.”
Eugene Laverty: “We did a great job in the test after the Grand Prix at Jerez, finding a solution to our rear grip problems there. That is a positive step as we look towards the next round in France. We have shown our pace over a single lap this season but we have been lacking consistency over race distance and we feel we found that at Jerez. I rode Le Mans during my time in 250cc but that's a long time ago now and it will seem like another new track to me. That won't be a problem though and I'll be doing as much work as I can at home to be prepared. We'll be focused from Friday on doing the best possible job and building on the positive base we found at Jerez”.
MILLER MOTIVATED FOR FRENCH CHALLENGE
Jack Miller arrives at the scene of another of his Moto3 race victories from last season, only this time it will be on board the CWM LCR Honda MotoGP machine.
The Le Mans circuit in north-western France is a classic motorsport venue, although the MotoGP bikes use the Bugatti configuration this weekend which provides a stop-start feel for the 1000cc prototypes.
Nonetheless after a positive test in Jerez, the Australian is hoping to rekindle the form which took him to the top of the ‘Open’ pile in Argentina just a month ago.
Jack Miller #43
“I’m looking forward to the French GP this weekend after a busy week training. The test after the last GP at Jerez went really well so I look forward to this race now to use the things we improved in terms of the feeling of the bike during the test.”
“We’ll have to keep a close eye on the weather here too, it’s really difficult usually at this race in France so we’ll do our best whatever happens and in terms of the things we can control, we’ll try and overcome any obstacles we find.”
ROUND FIVE 2015 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY 17TH MAY
CRUTCHLOW RETURNS TO HAPPY HUNTING GROUND
Cal Crutchlow returns to a happy hunting ground when he arrives at the legendary Le Mans circuit for the fifth round of the MotoGP™ World Championship, the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France. Two years ago the Isle of Man – based Midlander finished second at the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit to equal his best ever MotoGP result and he returns in good form. Riding the CWM LCR Honda Crutchlow lies sixth in the championship after finishing fourth in the previous round at Jerez in Spain.
Eleven points behind him is Bradley Smith in seventh place riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. The Andorra – based Oxfordshire rider secured his first ever podium finish when he was third in the 2007 125 cc race at Le Mans, which he followed up with a second place a year later. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding has also good memories of Le Mans after victory in the 2013 Moto2™ race. His first season on the factory Honda has not been easy and he currently lies 12th in the championship and will be looking for at least a top ten finish. Eugene Laverty makes his Le Mans MotoGP debut on the Open class Aspar MotoGP team Honda. He will be chasing his first points of the season after coming close in the previous two rounds.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes can’t wait to get to Le Mans after such a disappointing Moto2 race at the previous round at Jerez in Spain. Tyre problems kept him out of the points on the Speed Up machine after such a brilliant start to the season, including a maiden victory in Austin. Lowes is sixth in the championship just eight points behind Alex Rins in third place.
Twenty one year old Wiltshire star Danny Kent is running away with the hugely competitive Moto3™ World Championship after winning the last three grands prix. The Leopard Racing Honda rider has built up a mighty impressive 31 point championship lead after just four rounds. Twenty year old Scotsman John McPhee continues to rack up the points on the Racing Steps Foundation supported RTG Honda despite plenty of problems. The Oban – based rider is eighth in the championship and just a change of fortune could see him take that vital first podium finish.
KENT RE-WRITES THE HISTORY BOOKS
- Kent is the first British rider in any of the grand prix classes to win three successive races since Barry Sheene in the 500cc class in 1977.
- He is the first British rider to win three or more successive races in the lightweight-class (Moto3/125cc) of grand prix racing since Dave Simmonds won seven successive 125cc GP races in 1969. Simmonds won the world title in 1969 riding a Kawasaki and is the last British rider to take the championship in the lightweight-class.
- The win at Jerez was the fifth win of his career, making him the most successful British rider in terms of grand prix victories since Barry Sheene.
- Kent is the first British rider in any class to finish on the podium at the opening four races of the year since Phil Read started the 1975 season with four successive top three finishes in the 500cc class.
LORENZO COMPLETES JIGSAW FOR LE MANS
Jorge Lorenzo’s masterclass win in Spain completed the MotoGP™ jigsaw as the championship races into the Le Mans circuit for the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France on Sunday.
The championship is perfectly poised going into round five at the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit at Le Mans. Thirty six year old Valentino Rossi leads the way by 15 points after two wins and two third places on the Movistar Yamaha. The new Ducatis are flying with Andrea Dovizioso second and his team-mate Andrea Iannone fifth. Sandwiched between the two Ducatis are Rossi’s team-mate Lorenzo and world champion Marc Marquez who has only achieved one victory this season on the Repsol Honda.
Fresh from his victory in Jerez Lorenzo arrives at Le Mans with a great record at the track that is part of the famous 24 hour car racing circuit. The Spanish Yamaha rider has won four times including three MotoGP victories. The only rider to match that record is Marquez’s Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa who has one 125, two 250 and one MotoGP win. He hopes to return to the action this weekend after missing the last three races following an arm pump operation. Championship leader Rossi has ten podium finishes including three premier class victories and finished second last year to Marquez who has also secured a Moto2 win at Le Mans. Dovizioso has seven podium finishes but just one 125 cc victory.
Behind the factory riders the battle is equally intense with Cal Crutchlow, riding the CWM LCR Honda holding off the likes of Bradley Smith, the Espargaro brothers and double Le Mans winner Maverick Vinales. Crutchlow’s team-mate Jack Miller returns to the scene of his Moto3 triumph last year.
The partisan French crowd will be supporting Moto2™ Championship leader Johann Zarco. The Ajo Motorsport Kalex rider opened up an impressive 16 points lead over German Jonas Folger who has won two grands prix this season including the last round in Jerez. Zarco finished second in Spain two weeks after winning his first Moto2 race in Argentina. Alex Rins blotted his copybook with a last bend crash in Jerez but still lies third in his debut season while world champion Tito Rabat is struggling despite finishing third in Jerez. The Estrella Galicia 0, 0 Marc VDS rider is sixth in the championship 40 points behind Zarco.
That French crowd will also be right behind 16 year old Fabio Quartararo in the Moto3™ race. He has made a sensational start to his grand prix career and despite a mistake in the last corner at Jerez still lies third in the championship but it will be tough on Sunday with British rider Danny Kent chasing his fourth consecutive win. Riding the Leopard Racing Honda, he has dominated the championship and built up a 31 points lead over his team-mate Efren Vazquez who in turns leads Quartararo by eight points. Another Frenchman Alexis Masbou won the opening round in Qatar but has only secured a single point since.
LE MANS MUTTERINGS
- Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on twenty seven previous occasions, including the Grand Prix “Vitesse du Mans” in 1991, which is the only year that two grand prix events have been held in France in the same year.
- Le Mans was first used for a grand prix event in 1969, when the 500cc race was won by Giacomo Agostini, who lapped all the other riders in the race on his MV Agusta.
- This is the sixteenth successive year that the Le Mans circuit has been used for the MotoGP, starting in 2000.
- Since the introduction of the four-stroke MotoGP formula in 2002, Honda have had seven wins at Le Mans, Yamaha have had five victories and Suzuki took the other win, in 2007 with Chris Vermeulen – Suzuki’s only GP victory in the four-stroke MotoGP era.
- The best results for Ducati at the Le Mans circuit are second place finishes for Loris Capirossi in 2006 and Valentino Rossi in 2012.
- The riders with most victories at Le Mans are Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who have each stood on the top step of the podium on four occasions at the French circuit; Lorenzo has had a single win in the 250cc class to add to his three MotoGP wins, Pedrosa has won at Le Mans once in the 125cc class, twice in 250cc and in 2013 won for the first time in the MotoGP class.
- There have been five GP wins at the Le Mans circuit by French riders: Jean Aureal won the 125cc race in 1969, Guy Bertin the 125cc race in 1979, Patrick Fernandez the 350cc race in 1979, Mike di Meglio the 125cc race in 2008 and Louis Rossi the Moto3 race in 2012.
- In addition to Le Mans, there have been seven other circuits that have hosted the French GP (the figure in brackets is the number of times each circuit has hosted the French Grand Prix): Paul Ricard (13), Clermont-Ferrand (10), Nogaro (2), Reims (2), Rouen (2), Albi (1), Magny-Cours (1).
- The best result by a French rider at Le Mans in the MotoGP class is 4th by Olivier Jacque in 2003. The last French rider to score points in the MotoGP class at Le Mans is Randy de Puniet with a 7th place finish in 2010.
Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 5: France, Le Mans
Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Le Mans, France
Bridgestone slick compounds: Front: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
The fabled Le Mans circuit hosts round five of the 2015 MotoGP™ season, the venue now established as the regular venue of the French Grand Prix since the start of the millennium.
Measuring 4.2 kilometres in length, the Le Mans circuit features a ‘stop-and-go’ configuration with low-speed corners punctuated by a series of short straights. The layout places an emphasis on strong acceleration and braking performance, rather than outright corner speed. With cool temperatures likely and the tarmac being relatively low in grip, the circuit demands a good bike setup to ensure the tyres stay in their optimum operating range. The low temperatures and forces imposed on tyres 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.
For Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tyre allocation for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders will be the soft and medium asymmetric options, while the rest of the field will have access to the extra-soft and soft rear slicks. The front slick allocation for Le Mans will be the extra-soft, soft & medium compound options.
To ensure optimal performance in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for French Grand Prix is the soft compound although limited numbers of the alternative, hard compound wet tyre will also be available.
Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
“It is always a pleasure coming to Le Mans as Bridgestone has shared in many memorable victories here, both in the competition and sole tyre supply eras, including some challenging races caused by unstable weather. The layout of this circuit features many acceleration and braking zones and overall is not so severe on tyres, so this is the first round when we are able to offer our extra-soft compound front and rear slicks. In recent years this circuit hasn’t favoured any particular manufacturer, so I hope to see many riders challenging for the podium this weekend. Although it is often cool and wet at Le Mans, our tyre allocation is designed to work over a wide range of temperatures and conditions, but of course I hope we can see another exciting race take place in dry conditions! This year we have two French riders in Mike and Loris participating in the MotoGP class so there is even more incentive for the local fans to come to Le Mans this weekend to enjoy the action.”
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
Le Mans has a stop-and-go layout and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tyres at Le Mans are low compared to other circuits. Additionally, the tarmac is smooth and low in grip; therefore the French Grand Prix is the first occasion this year where we will offer the extra-soft front and rear slick options. The layout of the circuit means riders want tyres with good rear grip for acceleration out of the corners, and optimal stability from the front tyre for the many braking zones. Although the circuit is generally quite easy on tyres, the right shoulders of the rear tyre are placed under more stress than the left, particularly on the exit of turn nine. As a result, all of our asymmetric rear slicks for Le Mans feature harder rubber on the right shoulder.”