2011 MotoGP Le Mans Press Release Previews

The first of the press release previews for this weekend's MotoGP action at Le Mans, with, as a bonus, a promotional video from Honda, featuring Casey Stoner riding the CBR1000RR:


Bautista in determined mood for Le Mans

Publish Date: Monday, May 09, 2011

Rizla Suzuki's Álvaro Bautista has been undergoing a comprehensive training programme to improve his fitness in readiness for this weekend's French Grand Prix.

Bautista made an astonishing comeback at the Portuguese race just six weeks after breaking his femur and is now eager to make up for missing the first two races of 2011. He is determined to perform well at Le Mans after the disappointment of missing last year's race, following a crash that aggravated an existing injury and forced him to withdraw from the event.

Le Mans is one of the most famous race-tracks in the world and the MotoGP field will race on the Bugatti Circuit, a layout which only shares a short section of the 24-hour track. The 4,185m circuit is a real stop-and-go design which will certainly test Bautista's physical ability to change direction. The track also has an incredibly fast first corner – taken flat-out in top gear before braking hard for a chicane. Le Mans is approximately 200km/s south-west of Paris and the usual lively crowd that fills the camp-sites around the circuit will add a unique atmosphere to the fourth round of the season.

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP takes to the track on Friday 13th May for two free practice sessions, followed by another free session on Saturday morning and an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday's 28-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

"I have been working hard since the Portuguese Grand Prix and test to improve my fitness and get ready for Le Mans and the rest of the season. It was great to be back on the bike at Estoril, but it showed me that I still have some work to do to be up to race fitness. I plan to go to Le Mans in a better condition than I went to Estoril and in a much better condition than when I arrived in France last year! My target is to get to the finish line this year – because I didn't manage that in 2010 – and then build on things for the remainder of the season. There are still plenty of races left so we have plenty of time to show what we can do. The few laps that I did in the test were good because they showed that the new chassis is an improvement, so we will use that in France and hopefully it will help us to be more competitive."


Yamaha Factory Racing Riders Prepare for Round Four in France

Jorge Lorenzo heads to Le Mans this weekend for the French round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship in confident mood. Having celebrated his 24th birthday last week the reigning World Champion will be looking to extend his unbroken run of podium finishes so far this year. An impressive race win at Jerez in treacherous racing conditions and two superb second place podium finishes at Qatar and Estoril mean Lorenzo is the current Championship leader with a four point lead over fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. Le Mans has so far delivered great results, Lorenzo winning there the last two years consecutively and not forgetting a victory in 2007 in the 250GP class.

Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies arrives in France determined to break his run of bad luck with two DNF's from the last two rounds. Spies' last visit to Le Mans in 2010 was also hit by misfortune, a big high side in the final free practice session seeing the American tackle qualifying and the subsequent race in some pain with a swollen ankle, ultimately resulting in a crash on the seventh lap and a DNF.

Both riders will be hunting a set up that delivers optimum balance and control under hard and repeated braking. Success at Le Mans requires dispatching several tight chicanes at the beginning of the circuit then attacking the short straights and tight hairpins that make up the remainder. Although arguably most famous for the Le Mans 24HR race, the iconic circuit draws huge crowds for the French MotoGP race.

Jorge Lorenzo

"I am coming back to Le Mans, a track I really enjoy and where I won last season. The people in Le Mans love motorbikes, they love the smell of fuel. We are on the top, but we should be focused on getting as many points as possible. Our main goal is the podium, our fourth podium, and to be in front in Montmeló. This track has a lot of chicanes and is funny for me. The weather is always changing, we have to be careful with the forecast, it can change everything."

Ben Spies

"I've had a really relaxing few days off after Estoril back home in Como, Italy. I had a good chance to get out on my bicycle and really work off some of the frustration from the race. Having felt so good at the start I really believed we could have delivered some strong results in Portugal. Anyway, we all move on together and as a team we're coming to France determined to make up for it and really kick off our 2011 season again."

Wilco Zeelenberg

"We had a fantastic test in Estoril, everybody was surprised with the good weather so we had the opportunity to try many things. We're looking forward to Le Mans; Jorge has always been good there. Hopefully we've found our way back from the test to an improved setting so Jorge can go back to his old riding style of fast corner entry which he was missing a little for the first three races. We've given that back to him so were confident he can perform well in France and for the rest of the season. Le Mans is a Yamaha track, it works well for us so it's also a great place for Ben to come back and aim for the podium."

Massimo Meregalli

"We left Estoril with some good points from the test and some valuable information. We are going to Le Mans with good confidence to continue our strong performance. Jorge intends to keep his performance high; he has already proved he is strong at Le Mans. Ben has had a challenging start to the year however we had a really good test at Estoril and we are confident he will kick start his championship attack on Sunday in France."


09.05.2011

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Monster Energy Grand Prix de France

Preview

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Lorenzo leads the way to Le Mans

Three rounds into the 2011 season and the MotoGP World Championship has already delivered a wealth of thrilling on-track action, as well as a dose of intense competitive rivalry off it which has added spice to what is already shaping up to be a fantastic title battle.

The drama will continue this weekend at Le Mans where reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo heads into the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France holding a slender four-point advantage over Dani Pedrosa at the top of the standings, after three rounds. Yamaha Factory Racing rider Lorenzo is preparing for his 150th GP start this weekend, which would make him the youngest rider ever to reach the milestone (taking the record off Pedrosa), and he won last year's race at Le Mans. Lorenzo knows that his Repsol Honda rival is feeling fit and sharp after taking his first win of 2011 at the previous round in Portugal however, and the pair are now level on 36 career GP wins each.

Casey Stoner stands 20 points adrift of his Repsol Honda team-mate after three races and will bid to take what would only be his second ever podium finish at Le Mans across all classes this weekend. The Australian is closely trailed by Valentino Rossi, who has won at Le Mans three times in the premier class (seven podium finishes in total), and the Italian will be pushing for his first Ducati podium at a circuit at which the factory has never before won a MotoGP race.

Rossi's Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden and Repsol Honda's Andrea Dovizioso are level on points and finished fourth and third respectively in last year's Le Mans race, and Hiroshi Aoyama has enjoyed a good start to the season with the San Carlo Honda Gresini team, something he will aim to maintain in France.

The Japanese rider's team-mate Marco Simoncelli's current points haul belies the Italian's form so far this season. After placing fifth in Qatar he has crashed out of the last two races; at Jerez whilst leading and at Estoril after displaying a pace throughout the weekend which had indicated that an elusive first premier class podium was more than attainable.

British rookie Cal Crutchlow's debut season continued on an upward curve in Portugal and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider will make his racing debut at Le Mans. Team-mate Colin Edwards has twice stood on the podium at the track and the pair will be confident of following up an impressive previous round in Portugal at their team's home GP.

Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) crashed out of a premier class race for the first time in his career in Portugal and will be determined to make amends in France, as will rookie Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), and Toni Elías (LCR Honda) has twice won at Le Mans (once in 250s and last year in Moto2).

Ben Spies' (Yamaha Factory Racing) season has not started as the American would have expected after two crashes in the last two races, and his target will be a points-scoring finish at a circuit at which he did not finish last year's race. Pramac Racing duo Loris Capirossi and Randy de Puniet will try to follow up their Portugal results with another encouraging step forward, whilst Álvaro Bautista has had further time to recover following his incredible comeback from injury at Estoril.

The Moto2 show arrives at Le Mans with German rider Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing) the form man in the category. Bradl has started each of the opening three rounds of the 2011 season from pole position and has taken two victories (Qatar and in the previous round at Estoril), and currently leads the Championship standings by 13 points ahead of Andrea Iannone.

The Italian surrendered the Championship lead to Bradl in Portugal when he slid out of the group fighting for victory in the race with three laps to go, and will aim to recover lost ground at Le Mans. It is a circuit at which Iannone has a best-ever finish of fourth, which came in last year's Moto2 race.

Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project) has had a consistent start to the season and scored a podium result at Le Mans last year in the Moto2 race, and Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2) returns to the scene of his last-ever GP victory (in the 125s in 2006) determined to take his first Moto2 win having crashed out of the Portugal race when in the leading group.

Julián Simón took his first podium of the year in Portugal and was second in last year's Moto2 race at Le Mans, and the Mapfre Aspar rider is also seeking a maiden Moto2 win, whilst Yuki Takahashi also stood on the rostrum for the first time this year at Estoril and goes back to the site where he won his first ever GP race in 2006 in the 250cc class.

Bradley Smith (Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Marc VDS Racing) experienced difficult races in Portugal and will be eager to put the third round behind them with strong results in France. The latter of the two is still in search of his first Championship points of the season, as is reigning 125cc World Champion Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol). Italian rider Claudio Corti (Italtrans) will undergo a medical check on Thursday to asses his fitness after suffering a shoulder injury in Portugal.

Two wildcard riders will also participate this weekend, with Australian Alex Cudlin riding a Moriwaki for the QMMF Racing Team and South African Steven Odendaal on a Suter and riding under the MS Racing banner.

Nico Terol remains the man to beat in the 125cc category, having opened up a 25-point lead at the top of the Championship standings after just three rounds. The Bankia Aspar rider has won the first three races of the campaign – the first rider to do so since Masao Azuma in 1999 – and at Le Mans will line up for his 100th GP start, all of which have come in the 125cc class.

With the Spaniard in such strong form a chasing pack has formed in his wake, with German duo Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Frenchman Johann Zarco (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) a trio of riders battling one another.

Cortese leads the threesome whilst Folger and Zarco are level on points, and the French rider will be eager for a strong home result after stepping onto the podium for the past two consecutive races. His competitors are also in rostrum-finishing shape after the opening three races of 2011.

Spaniards Efrén Vázquez (Avant-AirAsia-Ajo) and Sergio Gadea (Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing Team) know that they will need to produce strong results in France to maintain contact with those ahead of them, even this early in the season, whilst Gadea's rookie team-mate Maverick Viñales will have taken great encouragement from his display in Portugal where he was denied a first podium in only his third GP by just two-thousandths of a second. Other rookies in the shape of Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) continue to impress, whilst British rider Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing) will hope to be fit to ride after a crash in QP at Estoril ruled him out of the race with a shoulder injury.

Three wildcard riders will supplement the field at Le Mans with French youngsters Kevin Szalai (Maxiscoot MVT Racing) and Kevin Thobois (Team RMS) and Swiss rider Patrick Meile (Albatros Racing) riding.

The on-track action at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France commences on Friday at 9.15am local time, when the 125cc class takes to the track for the opening practice session of the weekend.


Preview - Monster Grand Prix of France, Le Mans

Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow head to the all-important home race for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in France this weekend confident they can continue their brilliant start to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship campaign.

And not only is this weekend's encounter at the legendary Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans the home race for Tech 3, the event is sponsored by the Team's main backer Monster, adding further importance to the fourth round of an engrossing season.

Edwards heads into this weekend's race in optimistic mood after he claimed his first top six finish of the campaign in the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier this month. And he impressed again during a one-day test at the Estoril track to finish inside the top six having worked on a range of suspension settings to improve rear grip with his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine.

The vastly experienced American has produced some of his finest MotoGP performances at the 4.815kms circuit and one of his three premier class pole positions came at the French venue in 2007. And two of his 11 podium finishes have been scored at the Le Mans circuit, which has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar since 2000.

British rider Crutchlow is aiming to continue his fantastic rookie campaign and the 25-year-old won't be daunted at the prospect of having to learn another new track. Crutchlow had never raced in Jerez and Estoril before but he qualified and finished comfortably inside the top ten in both races.

He's made another impressive top ten finish his prime target for this weekend after he produced a sensational performance in the recent Estoril test. Demonstrating how quickly he has adapted to the challenge of riding a lighter and more powerful MotoGP machine, Crutchlow finished fourth quickest behind Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner and is determined to deliver another good result for Tech 3 and Monster in this weekend's 28-lap race.

Colin Edwards, 9th in standings, 18 points:

"I am really looking forward to Le Mans because it is a track where I've had a lot of success at in the past. The Yamaha YZR-M1 has always worked well there too with the sweet handling characteristics of our bike suiting the layout of the track. We had a really good test after the race in Portugal and found a good direction to work with for improving rear grip and that should help us a lot. The new Yamaha chassis has a lot of potential but we still have to understand it a lot more to get the best performance out of it. A top six in Portugal is going to be hard to repeat because the field is so strong this season, but that's what I'll be aiming for. This weekend is huge for Tech 3 and Monster and I'll be giving it 100 per cent to deliver a good result for both."

Cal Crutchlow, 8th in standings, 21 points:

"I'm heading to Le Mans with a lot of confidence, even though it is another track I've only ever seen before on TV. I know it won't be an easy task but Estoril was obviously another great weekend form me and then to finish fourth quickest in the test showed what I am capable of. Each time I get on the bike I am learning more and more and thanks to my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 I've been able to make some big progress. I'm always determined to get the best result possible but this weekend definitely has extra significance being the Team's home race and Monster being title sponsor of the event. If I can replicate the results I acheived in Jerez and Estoril I'll be really happy."


SIMONCELLI CONFIDENT FOR LE MANS AFTER ESTORIL TEST AS AOYAMA LOOKS TO CONTINUE GOOD FORM

Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli heads to France this week looking to turn the page on negative results in the last two races at Jerez and Estoril. The Italian was able to release his frustration at a race crash in Portugal during a day of testing at the same circuit on the following day, when he set the fastest time. That performance confirmed that his pace and confidence have not been affected and he is now targeting a first career MotoGP podium at Le Mans. It is typical of "Super Sic" to draw the positives out of an unfortunate situation and the mistake he made at Estoril has simply served as motivation to not do it again. Simoncelli has already established himself as one of the best riders in the category and a top result soon will simply confirm it. Hiroshi Aoyama has been consistent throughout the opening three races of the year and finds himself just three points off fourth place in the championship. Team San Carlo Honda Gresini's Japanese star is constantly improving his feeling for the Honda RC212V and his growing relationship with the team is sure to be an important base for future progress. Hiroshi has never enjoyed much success at Le Mans but he is looking forward to taking his good recent form there this weekend. After changing venue no fewer than eight times the Grand Prix of France has now been held at the historic Le Mans circuit, home to the famous 24 hours race, for the past eleven years. The Bugatti layout used for MotoGP measures a little over four kilometres, as opposed to the car track which is over 13 kilometres.

Marco Simoncelli "The Estoril test on the day after the race was a good way for me to put the race behind me and go to Le Mans with a different attitude. Now I am just looking forward to putting it behind me properly. The test was a useful and important one ahead of the fourth race of the season. I am more sure than ever that I can run with the front guys and I will be giving everything to come out with a top result. I will certainly be trying to make sure I don't make the same mistake on a cold tyre because the only good thing that came out of it in Portugal was a nice picture of my aerial barrel roll! Joking aside, I am keen to do well at Le Mans, a circuit I don't particularly like even though I won there in 250 in 2009 and finished second in 2008."

Hiroshi Aoyama "I am happy with the results so far and with my position in the championship. I have made good progress and I am adapting more and more to MotoGP thanks also to the brilliant job being done by the team and the excellent relationship we are building. The test after the race at Estoril was positive and we got some good information for the future. Now we go to Le Mans feeling sure we can continue on this path. The track is not one of my favourites and I have not had good results there in the past but I am sure we can change that this weekend."

Fausto Gresini "Le Mans is a nice, flowing circuit although all riders have their own personal favourites. It has always been a good track to the team and I hope that is the case this year for both Simoncelli and Aoyama. We are determined to make sure Marco finshes the race and at Le Mans he can and must do that because if he rides as he knows how then he will be able to push to his limit, especially in the demanding final corner. It is a circuit for champions and Simoncelli has shown the potential to be one. At Le Mans we will also have another chance to evaluate the good form of Hiroshi, who has made notable progress in his adaptation to MotoGP."


The Repsol Honda Team head to Le Mans in positive spirits

The 2011 MotoGP World Championship resumes this weekend for round four in Le Mans, France.

After his first win of the 2011 season in Portugal, Dani Pedrosa has now cut the gap to World Championship leader Jorge Lorenzo down to just four points. Team mate Casey Stoner - 3rd in Portugal, is currently third in the Championship with Andrea Dovizioso in 6th place.

Pedrosa has enjoyed wins in 125cc (2003) and 250cc (2004, 2005) at Le Mans, but victory in MotoGP class eludes him, with his best result being 3rd in both 2006 and 2009. He has also achieved five pole positions at this circuit. Stoner has had mixed fortunes at Le Mans, with only one podium finish in 2007 he will be looking for a good result here on his RC212V. With a win in 125cc in 2004 and a 3rd place finish in 2010, Dovizioso will be hoping for a podium finish in Le Mans also.

The Le Mans circuit - most famous for it's legendary 24hour car race, demands a very specific set up with it's series of tight chicanes and an incredibly fast first corner. The weather is also an unknown factor and has influenced the races in recent years, in both 2007 and 2009 the races were wet-dry - with riders needing to swap bikes in pits. This is sure to be an epic race for the large French crowds that attend the event every year.

DANI PEDROSA – 2nd in Championship – 61 points

"It's been the first week in a long time in which I have felt calm and confident, especially after the race we had in Portugal. It was a great release for me to feel good on the bike after the operation and makes me see things differently. After the race and Monday's test I was very tired and sore. I spent three days resting to relax the muscles and then I continued with the physiotherapy and gently working with my trainer. Now, I look forward to getting back on the bike. Le Mans will be, as always, a difficult and busy weekend. I've done well overall in this circuit, I have quite a lot of confidence there, but I am yet to win in MotoGP and I would like to. It's similar to Estoril, a stop and go track where Yamaha has been also very strong in the past. We need to take a big profit of the practice sessions to prepare a bike with good stability, traction and acceleration and be prepared f or any track condition because of the weather. In this track you need to be also very focused because the race is long and it's very important to be consistent and not make any mistakes".

CASEY STONER – 3rd in Championship – 41 points

"In Estoril I was very happy to retain 3rd and keep some valuable points for the Championship. We've always had some reasonable results in LeMans but never really quite good enough. The practice sessions will be important to get the set up of the bike just right, and I feel the Honda should work well there so I'm looking forward to it".

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – 6th in Championship – 30 points

"After the improvements made in the post GP test in Estoril, we arrive in Le Mans more competitive. We will use the new clutch we tested in Portugal and take advantage of the set up solutions tested there. Le Mans is a slow track and has a lot of changes of direction, unfortunately the circuit has lost part of its fascination after changes made in the past years. I have always scored good results on this track, last year we had a very good race finishing on the podium. We head to Le Mans determined to repeat it. Our target is the podium and to achieve it we need to work well from the first day."


Honda Australia Video of Casey Stoner riding the CBR1000RR


Bridgestone MotoGP Preview - Round 4: France, Le Mans

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Soft, Medium

For the French Grand Prix, held at Le Mans on 15 May, Bridgestone will introduce a new asymmetric rear slick tyre. The soft option rear is Bridgestone's first soft asymmetric offering, and features soft compound rubber in the right shoulder with extra soft compound in the left side.

Initially scheduled for first use at the postponed Japanese Grand Prix, Le Mans now represents the debut for this tyre which will provide better initial grip and warm-up performance and will provide better performance in the cold conditions that can be expected in France. The nature of the Le Mans circuit is also slippery which demands softer compound rubber to generate good grip.

Asymmetric rear slicks are required to provide good durability and stability through the nine right-handed corners whilst not sacrificing warm-up performance in the left side of the tyres which is only used five times each lap.

Le Mans can be called a stop-and-go circuit, which is to say that rather than being a flowing lap it is punctuated by a succession of heavy braking points followed by hard acceleration. Heavy braking places emphasis on the centre section of the front tyres, whilst the hard acceleration out of corners means good edge grip is important. Having said that, with its smooth tarmac and low temperature Le Mans is the least severe circuit of the year for tyres which is why the soft and medium front and rear slicks have been selected by Bridgestone.

The weather in the region is unpredictable and whilst last year was dry, in recent years the race has been interrupted by rain so Bridgestone have selected the soft wets for the fourth time this year.

Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

"The French GP is always popular with fans and is a large and important race for Bridgestone and our local sales companies too. I'm also pleased that we have developed a new tyre over the winter that we are using for the first time at Le Mans. It shows that we are not resting on our laurels and still working hard and constantly developing our MotoGP tyres, listening closely to the riders in an effort to provide them the best possible tyres in terms both of performance and of course safety."

Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division

"Le Mans is a slippery and smooth circuit, and run early in the year when the track temperature is low, so softer compound tyres are required to generate grip and this is why we will use our new soft asymmetric rear tyre in France. We developed the extra soft compound at the end of last year and used it in Portugal and Valencia, but over the winter we have incorporated it into a soft compound asymmetric tyre which is totally new. It is designed to work when the conditions are colder to warm-up faster and provide riders with better feeling in the first stages of use.

"The circuit has quite a stop-and-go nature, although the last part of the lap is high speed. Lateral loads placed on the tyres are relatively low but good stability under braking is crucial, especially into turns three and nine which come at the end of the two straights. The circuit has an asymmetric layout that uses the right shoulders harder, hence our choice of asymmetric rear slicks."


NEXT STOP LE MANS FOR MOTOGP PADDOCK

MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá ready to put rare race crash at Estoril behind him

The MotoGP World Championship stops off in France this week as the Le Mans circuit prepares to host the fourth round of the 2011 season. Now a familiar date on the calendar in the month of May, the French Grand Prix presents the world's best motorcycle racers with an opportunity to compete at the home of one of the most famous four-wheeled racing events in the world: the Le Mans 24 Hour. A one-day post race test at Estoril two weeks ago means the teams and riders are more prepared than ever to measure themselves and continue a close championship battle that has already seen three different winners from the opening three races: Stoner, Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Of the so called 'Fantastic Four' only Valentino Rossi is left to win a race so far this year.

Héctor Barberá heads to Le Mans with his confidence recovered and the news that fracture in his vertebrae has already fused. A crash on the opening lap of the Grand Prix of Portugal left the MAPFRE Aspar in pain and unable to ride in the test but within a week he was able to resume his personal training programme. The Le Mans circuit was the scene of one of his best results of last season - eighth place - and he is looking forward to picking up on the excellent progress he had made already this season before the Estoril crash.

Héctor Barberá: "Le Mans is a circuit I like a lot and I tend to go well there. I had one of my best results of last season there and if I was able to do that in 2010 then I should be much better this time around. After a crash on the first lap of the last race I am desperate to put it behind me this weekend, especially because I know I could have done well in Portugal so I feel like I have unfinished business. I am totally recovered from the injury, I have been able to train and luckily there were no problems so I am very motivated. The first sector at Le Mans stands out to me because it is so fast and I also like the final bend into the front straight."


2011

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