Previews of this weekend from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
TEAM DEL CONCA GRESINI LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK AT LE MANS
After a bittersweet weekend at Jerez de la Frontera, Team Del Conca Gresini are now looking for a strong showing at to Le Mans, where this weekend the fifth Grand Prix of the 2017 Moto3 World Championship takes place.
Jorge Martin, who is currently third in the championship standings with 59 points, arrives in France with the goal to return to podium form after the ninth place of Jerez, which put an end to his string of three consecutive rostrum finishes in 2017. Despite his 18th place result of 2016 at Le Mans, Martin is extremely confident of his chances on board the Honda NSF250RW after a stellar start to the season.
Le Mans has been kind to Fabio Di Giannantonio: last year, the young Italian rider had a great maiden weekend at the track, which turned his season around for the better. ‘Diggia’ is now looking forward to stepping up his game especially in qualifying, his Achille’s heel so far in the season. Fabio is currently sixth in the title chase with 35 points.
The first free practice session of the quarter-litre class of MotoGP will get underway at 9:00 local time (GMT +2).
JORGE MARTIN #88
“I like Le Mans: it’s a fast circuit which suits well my riding style. My past results don’t show it, but I surely now have the right package to do well there and a bike I can feel fully comfortable on. I trained hard this week and I want to keep battling at the front for the win.”
FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #21
“I love this track: there are plenty of hard-braking spots and elevation changes - especially in the first part of the lap – and all this suits my riding style greatly. We did well in qualifying last year and our fifth place in Jerez was quite encouraging, especially given my starting position in the race. That’s where we need to improve the most, but if we manage to do that then we can aim at an even better result.”
NAVARRO: "LE MANS SUITS MY RIDING STYLE"
Team Federal Oil Gresini and Jorge Navarro are ready to tackle the fifth Grand Prix of the 2017 Moto2 World Championship, which is due to get underway on Friday at Le Mans in France. The 21-year-old has had an encouraging week in his native Spain, first with his so-far personal best race result in Moto2 – a 12th place in Jerez – and then with a positive two-day test at Aragón, where he worked really hard with the team to improve his feeling with the Kalex Honda machine #9.
The circuit suits the riding style of Navarro, who was on the Moto3 podium last year and has never qualified outside the top 4 there. The goal of the young Spaniard is now to find some consistency of results and getting his first top-10 finish in the middleweight class of MotoGP.
The on-track action for the Moto2 World Championship at Le Mans will get underway at 10:55 local time (GMT +2) on Friday.
JORGE NAVARRO #9
“Le Mans has been kind to me in the past: even though it’s not one of my favourite circuits, it appears to be suiting my riding style well. Last year I was on the podium in Moto3 there, so the goal now is to make another step forward and improve on the result of Jerez. We’ll have to get ready for rain I’m afraid, though. I’m not worried about riding in the wet and I’m confident in all ways given the good results of the test at Aragón.”
Canet starts French GP inside overall Top 5
Fresh from his first Grand Prix victory, Aron Canet heads to the legendary Le Mans circuit with Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammate Enea Bastianini this week, for round five of the season: The French GP.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 come into this weekend’s French Grand Prix in winning form, with Aron Canet having achieved his and the team’s first Moto3 victory last time out at the Spanish Grand Prix. It was Canet’s second career podium, following a third place in Australia in his rookie season. There was also a victory at Jerez a fortnight ago for the structure’s Moto2 rider Alex Marquez, showing the progression that the teams have made together with the Monlau Repsol Technical School.
This weekend the World Championship move on to Le Mans, for the French GP. There, Canet was able to start last year’s race from third position on the grid, subsequently riding in the podium positions and setting the fastest lap of the race (1:42.923). After his triumph at the Spanish Grand Prix he climbed three places in the overall standings and rounds off the Top 5 with 31 points.
Enea Bastianini was unable to take part in the French GP last season, due to an injury suffered to his right wrist while training with an off-road bike. Thanks to the intense work done with his crew, the Italian has recently experienced an improvement in his feeling onboard the 2017 Honda and is eager to show his affinity for the Le Mans track -where he finished second in the race in 2015.
11th in the overall standings with 21 points
"We arrive at Le Mans with a boost in confidence"
"The Le Mans circuit is one that I really like. Unfortunately last season I couldn’t ride there because I hurt my wrist beforehand, but two seasons ago I did well there and I got second place in the race. It’s a very fast track and this year they have resurfaced it, so it will be great to race at Le Mans again - although it is a Grand Prix that is affected a lot by the weather. We arrive in France after a very positive weekend in Jerez, where we were able to ride with the front group despite being at a track I had always found very tough, so we go to Le Mans with a boost in confidence.”
5th in the overall standings with 43 points
"We are very motivated"
"We are very motivated because, whether you like it that way or not, a victory always gives you a confidence boost. In addition, Le Mans is one of my favorite circuits, where I have always had a very good feeling. The weather will play an important role at this Grand Prix; I've always ridden in the dry and it looks like this year it will rain, but it's a bit like the Dutch Grand Prix, in that you're never sure whether it will rain or not. Be that as it may, we will continue working in the same way as at Jerez."
Three rider Red Bull KTM Ajo lineup to ride at Le Mans
Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder will be joined for the French GP by Danny Kent, who will ride at the historic Le Mans circuit as a wildcard.
05/17/2017 - Le Mans Circuit, France
Known for its famous 24 hour motorsport events, Le Mans will open its doors for the Moto3 World Championship this weekend. A newly resurfaced Bugatti circuit, 4.185km in length, awaits the riders. The Red Bull KTM Ajo team come to the French GP with a one-off addition to their rider lineup, as regular riders Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder are joined by Danny Kent in a wildcard appearance.
A mistake on the opening lap and later contact with another rider at Jerez ended the chances of Antonelli getting the good result for which he had worked throughout the weekend. After a positive day of testing at the Andalusian circuit on Tuesday of last week, the Italian hopes to finish the race in France in the top group. Le Mans is a circuit that Antonelli likes, and his best result there is a fourth place from his rookie season in 2012.
Bendsneyder comes into the second European event of the season having taken his first points of the year at Jerez. In his first race at Le Mans last year, the Dutchman placed just outside the points, in sixteenth position. However, his main objective this weekend will be to do an excellent job in the Free Practice sessions and in qualifying, to allow him to fight for a top result in the race.
Red Bull KTM Ajo run a one-off third bike this weekend. Danny Kent returns to the structure where he raced in 2012 and 2014. After testing the KTM in last week's test, the Briton will be able to continue helping the team in a Grand Prix scenario. This will be the first race in Moto3 for Kent since the Valencia GP in 2015.
The schedule for the French GP will follow European protocol, with the Moto3 race scheduled for 11am on Sunday. Last year, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team were victorious through Brad Binder.
#52 Danny Kent
"I'm really looking forward to the French GP. I like the Le Mans circuit and I enjoy riding there. Last week I was able to test in Jerez, to prepare for this wildcard appearance and familiarise myself with both the KTM and the team again. It is clear that I need a little more time to fully adapt to the bike, but considering that I only rode for one day, I think we did a great job. I will try to push at 110% and give the team a great result. I want to thank Red Bull, KTM and Aki [Ajo] for giving me this great opportunity."
23 NICCOLO ANTONELLI
"Le Mans is a circuit that I like. I like the layout and I am eager to try out the new asphalt to see how it behaves. We hope that the weather will be favourable, because traditionally it is a GP where rain makes its presence felt. The goal is always to strive to place as high as possible and we want to forget the mistakes we made at the last race. We have to be smart, not rush and be calm onboard the bike. I can’t wait to start the race weekend."
64 BO BENDSNEYDER
"On Sunday at Jerez we took an important step forward, but we still didn’t finish where we would have liked to be. We have to keep working to consistently be in the front group. Little by little we will get there. The Le Mans circuit is one I like. Last year we didn’t get into the points, but I think it's a track that can work out well for me. I hope we can get the same position we achieved at Jerez. For that to happen, it will be key to improve our work in the Free Practice sessions and in QP."
Oliveira and Cardus take on newly-resurfaced Le Mans
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 team head to French GP confident after a second podium of the season, taken by Miguel Oliveira at Jerez. Ricky Cardus continues to stand in for the injured Brad Binder at Le Mans.
05/17/2017 - Le Mans Circuit, France
After two podiums in the first four races of the year, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team’s debut in the intermediate category has got off to a successful start. This positive performance is something that both Miguel Oliveira and Ricky Cardus –standing in for the injured Brad Binder– will want to extend this weekend at the historic Le Mans Bugatti circuit. The French track features new asphalt this season, and those who have already ridden there have indicated that it has high grip levels.
Miguel Oliveira is one of just Moto2 four riders to have scored points at every round of the season so far. With two podiums to his name, the Portuguese lies third in the overall standings, only 16 points off the Moto2 leader. At Le Mans last season he took his first Moto2 Top 10 finish, placing ninth.
Ricky Cardus will ride for Red Bull KTM Ajo for the third consecutive round, as Brad Binder enters the final phase of his recovery from injury. The Spanish rider has achieved two 14th place finishes in his two previous appearances this season.
Le Mans is a completely new circuit for the KTM Moto2 bike, but that will not prevent the team from targetting a finish as high up the order as possible. The Moto2 race will be held at 12:20pm local time on Sunday.
44 MIGUEL OLIVEIRA
"After our second podium of the year in Spain, we are looking forward to this event in France. The first challenge we will face is the new asphalt. It looks like it has plenty of grip, so let's see how it behaves throughout the weekend. Unlike the Jerez Circuit, where we had already undertaken a preseason test, at Le Mans we will start from scratch again, so we have a lot of work ahead. I like the track quite a lot, it's very nice, and it's not very different in characteristics to Jerez –there’s just a few more inclines and dips."
88 RICKY CARDUS
"I approach this third race with Red Bull KTM Ajo with great desire, since it is a circuit that I like very much and at which I am very comfortable riding. Over the last two races I have been able to find the pace we were missing, so I am very motivated by this new opportunity. Brad [Binder] is already at the end of his rehabilitation process, so I hope to finish off this great experience with a good taste in my mouth. I feel strong and better than ever, so both the team and I will work hard to achieve the best possible result."
Leopard Racing Team head for Le Mans
Joan Mir and Livio Loi are determined to reap the rewards of their commitment and work in the Moto3 class at the Bugatti Circuit for the Grand Prix of France.
The World Championship enters its fifth round of 2017 as the paddock arrives at Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans. The track, built in 1965 and located about 200km south-east of Paris, is known to the public for the numerous endurance races.
Le Mans is not an easy track to deal with, and is characterized by heavy braking and hard acceleration. The 4.2 km long circuit winds through five left and nine right hand corners with a straight of 900m. The Leopard Racing Team is in France and determined to achieve good results on their Honda NSF250RW.
Joan Mir enters the Grand Prix de France with the aim of gathering as many points as possible and consolidating his lead in the Moto3 class. The talent of Palma de Mallorca will have to keep an eye on his rivals, many who are particularly comfortable on this track. Mir stands as one of just four riders to score points in all the opening Moto3 races in 2017.
Livio Loi arrives in France with the sole aim of collecting the results he missed in the previous round in Jerez. In 2016, the Hasselt born 20-year-old began and finished in 11th position (just like his race number), but this year he’s after more important results, prepared to fight with the best in the Moto3 class.
Can the two protagonists show their true potential? Sunday morning holds the answer ...
THE SKY RACING TEAM VR46 AT LE MANS FOR ANOTHER STEP FORWARD
The Team of Young Italian Talents on the legendary Bugatti circuit looking for important points for the Championship.
Le Mans (France), May 17th, 2017 - The legendary Bugatti circuit – famous for the 24 Hours of Le Mans - opens the doors to the Sky Racing Team VR46 for the French Grand Prix.
In Moto2, after the incredible podium scored in Jerez de la Frontera, Pecco Bagnaia is looking forward to back on his Kalex for achieving another important placement on a track that is well suited to his riding style. Ready to show his real potential Stefano Manzi, who in Andalucía was closer to the group.
Positive feelings also for the Moto3 team. Le Mans has always given great satisfaction to our young riders. last year, Nicolò Bulega and Andrea Migno closed respectively in fifth and seventh positions. After a race in the front group in Spain, both are motivated to approach the strongest guys.
Weekend with a particular schedule with both, World Championship and Spanish Championship (CEV) on track. In Le Mans, defending the colors of Sky VR46 Junior Team, also Dennis Foggia and Celestino Vietti Ramus.
PABLO NIETO - Team Manager
Le Mans, despite the weather, has always been a friendly track for the Team and KTM. Last year, in Moto3, we brought all of our drivers into the Top10, a really great achievement for the whole crew. Again this year we arrive at the France GP motivated to give our 100%. Andrea and Nicolò made a good race in Jerez. In Moto2, what to say, the podium of Pecco is an incredible injection of confidence for the Team. We have to continue to work hard in this direction, even Stefano, step by step, is coming.
After the podium in Jerez, I can not wait to back on my Kalex. In Austin we have made a great step forward, but we still have rooms of improvement. Le Mans is a track where I have always been strong in Moto3, the weather probably will decide the race, but I'm confident.
In Jerez, for the first time I managed to stay in the second group during the race. Unfortunately, at turn 13 I crashed, but we are closer tho the top guys and this is a good start for the weekend.
Last year, in Le Mans, for the first time I was in the Top10 and from there I made a big step forward for the season. This year the situation is a little bit different, I’m coming from a good result in Jerez, a track where I struggled a lot in the last years, and I look forward to returning to work with all my Team.
In Jerez I struggled more than I expected, but I managed to stay for most of the race in the head group. Le Mans is a track I know pretty well since the CEV, and last year I ended the weekend in fifth place. We have to continue to work in this direction to reduce the gap from the strongest guys.
Next stop: France
Preview: Le Mans GP 2017
For the fifth race of the year the FIM Motorcycle World Championship stops in France. On Sunday, the 21st of May the riders of Peugeot Motocycles SAXOPRINT start in the “HJC Helmets Grand Prix de France” in Le Mans.
For the squad of Peugeot Motocycles SAXOPRINT the upcoming event is a second home race. For the second time since their return to the Motorcycle World Championship in 2016 the manufacturer Peugeot competes in the lightweight class. The team of the French manufacturer and its riders are looking forward to an eventful weekend at the legendary Le Mans Circuit. After the past difficult races the squad hopes to trigger the long-awaited about-turn in front of their French fans.
The track, located 5 km south of the city Le Mans, is the epicenter for motorsport enthusiast of all kind. Besides the motorcycle races, which are staged since 1969, the city in the departments Sarthe is also known for various four wheel and endurance races. The most famous races are for sure the 24-hour races which are held every year.
The 4,2 kilometre-long track is one of the narrowest of all in the race calendar. The circuit consists of many tight and quite slow corners which are crucial for a fast lap.
As usual the opener for this weekend will be the first Free Practice of the Moto3TM category at 9am. The Grand Prix of the lightweight class will be held at 11am on Sunday.
#84 Jakub Kornfeil:
"I am feeling very good about the upcoming weekend. After the first races we definitely know where our weak points are and we are working hard on them. I am really looking forward to Le Mans because I really like the track and I am hungry for points. Every year the atmosphere in France is fantastic. They always have a big program, CEV Spanish Championship will be there as well so it´s going to be a big weekend with a lot of fun. I did a lot of training during the break, I was racing as well so I am already in racing mood and can´t wait for the race. The points are our goal so we will be pushing very hard to get them."
#4 Patrik Pulkkinen:
"Our next stop is Le Mans. I am really looking forward to the race and prepared myself quite good during the last days. I always watch the tracks on video to see what the circuits are like. The track looks very cool, but also quite difficult. In the first sector there are a lot of changes in the direction which is something I still have to learn. The circuit really has a lot of tricky corners so there is a lot I have to practice, but I am really looking forward to the GP. During the break I did a lot of training, so I feel well prepared. Let´s work hard and see what the weekend will bring."
Forward Racing Team duo keen to hit the new French tarmac
With the fifth round of the 2017 Moto2 World Championship season around the corner Forward Racing Team’s Luca Marini and Lorenzo Baldassarri are prepared for another magnificent European classic this upcoming weekend.
Marini, who did an outstanding job last time out in Jerez de la Frontera with a fantastic fifth place finish, arrives at the Bugatti Grand Prix Race Circuit with high hopes to be able to continue his growing process. The young Italian, who is just in his second season in the World Championship scene, showed a great development with consecutive Top 10 results and an immense consistency until now, which sees him currently occupy the seventh spot of the overall standings.
Meanwhile Baldassarri delivered a fourth position in Argentina as his best result to date this season. After having fought through the entire Moto2 field last time out in Spain, he was able to secure five important points on his championship tally. Now the 20-year old can’t wait to arrive at the 4.815-kilometer track in France and wants to display his masterclass again.
As usual in Europe the French GP kicks off with the first free practice at 10.55 local time on Friday morning.
“Le Mans is a track, that I like, because I was fast there last year and I felt strong. This season the asphalt is new and we’ll also get a new tyre composite, which maybe also changes the feeling on the bike and slow all of us down a bit. Anyway, I’m convinced that we can do another great job. It will be important to stay focused and to be fast from the first minute of practice on. In addition, we have to keep our goal in mind, which is bringing home even more great results like the four races before, plus retain the consistency we’ve already shown this year.”
“After a tricky weekend in Jerez we already can’t wait for this next round. I’m convinced we can do even better in Le Mans, after I was fast there last year already. I really like the French track an I’m fill of confidence. For this year, they resurfaced the track and we’ll get another compound of tyres, so I’m curious to see how everything will work out. In general, it’s a great idea, as the old asphalt was very bumpy. I’m looking forward to it. The layout there exists of many hard-braking points, therefore you have to be very strong on the brake and fast at the exit of the corners. As always, we’ll give our best.”
Giovanni Cuzari – Team Owner
“We’re facing another fantastic European classic and the whole Forward Racing Team can’t wait to get the weekend started in Le Mans. After the truly pleasant results last time out in Jerez, I’m feeling more confident than ever that we’ll be able to carry on this way. Luca keeps surprising everyone with his strong performances shown in the first four rounds this year and he’s even able to always go one better. Last time out in Spain, Lorenzo struggled a bit, but I’m sure that together with his experienced crew he’ll soon find answers to his questions. Thanks to our fantastic team and our dear supporters, we anticipate this weekend full of excitement and hopefully an excellent outcome.”
John McPhee ready to get set and go at the French GP
British Talent Team aiming to regain momentum in Le Mans
British Talent Team rider John McPhee suffered an early exit at the Spanish GP, but after a strong run of podiums and points in the opening three races of the year, the Scotsman is ready to get back on track for round five at the French GP.
Le Mans is a track most characterised by hard braking – with five left-handers and nine right - with the longest straight a mere 674m. The Bugatti circuit is 4.2km long, and is one of the most historic venues on the MotoGP™ calendar.
The weather is often a factor at the French GP, with many of the races since it permanently joined the calendar in 2000 affected by rain. McPhee has a previous top ten at the venue to add to his impressive form in the dry so far in 2017, as well as well-known wet weather prowess that could bode well ahead of Le Mans.
Currently fourth in the Championship, McPhee will be pushing for another good haul of points in France as the lights go out at 9:00 (GMT +2) on Friday for FP1, with the Moto3™ race set for 11:00 local time on Sunday.
John McPhee: "I'm looking forward to getting back on track in France, and getting back some of our momentum from the first few races after a more difficult GP in Spain. This year Le Mans has a new track surface, which will be a question mark for everyone, and the weather is always tough to predict in France - so adaptation could be key. We'll try to stay focused, manage the weekend as best we can and concentrate on getting a good haul of points again - whether it's wet or dry."