2013 Le Mans MotoGP Press Releases Previews

Press release previews from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans:


Yamaha Head to France for Le Mans

Gerno di Lesmo (Italy), 14th May 2013

Yamaha Factory Racing heads to France this week for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at the historic Le Mans circuit on Sunday, 19th May. The classic French track has a history littered with the victories of both Yamaha riders, Jorge Lorenzo can claim three premier class wins and one 250cc GP victory whilst Valentino Rossi also claims three premier class victories and one 125cc GP win.

The Yamaha pair arrive in France hoping for track conditions that are kinder to the tyres than in Jerez where extremely short tyre life made for a complicated race day.

The YZR-M1 motorcycles of both Lorenzo and Rossi will have a special logo in tribute to Yamaha legend Jean Claude Olivier who passed away tragically earlier this year in a road traffic accident. Known to all as ‘JCO’, Olivier was a Yamaha icon and loyal employee for 45 years until his retirement in 2010. JCO competed in the Dakar Rally for Yamaha from 1979 to 1989, finishing second in 1985. A former President of Yamaha Motor France, he was a guiding light in numerous classes of motorcycle racing for Yamaha Motor France. There will also be a display of images inside Yamaha’s Hospitality depicting highlights of Yamaha Motor France’s story in road racing.

This year will be the 56th time the Grand Prix has run at the Le Mans circuit and should as always guarantee a bumper crowd of racing fans. The major challenges of the team will be to set up the YZR-M1 to provide Lorenzo and Rossi with optimum balance and control under hard braking whilst retaining the bike’s class leading balance to tackle the tight chicanes and hairpins and short straights.

Jorge Lorenzo

“Now we travel to France, to Le Mans, a special circuit which is a very different track to Jerez. I am looking forward to racing there. I arrive with a lot of motivation after the Jerez results. Perhaps we expected better there but we struggled much more than we expected because of the extreme heat on the track. Fortunately we worked a lot on the test day afterwards to solve little problems. That session helped us to understand what the main problems had been on the Sunday. I've always had very good results at Le Mans and it brings me good memories. Last year in fact, I got a victory in the wet by a great distance over the rest. I rode a perfect race, without making a single mistake and in terrible track conditions. I have won many times in France and think it's a good track for both me and the Yamaha M1.”

Valentino Rossi

“Le Mans is a good track for me, also because in the last two years I was able to arrive on the podium in the dry and also in wet conditions. We hope to do the same and also better with Yamaha because this is a good track for the M1. In Le Mans the weather will be very important, because usually the weather is quite bad. It can be cold and wet so we will see. We will have to work well like always and try to understand the weather and the conditions of the track. We will try to do the maximum as always.”

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

“Le Mans is also one of the tracks that the Yamaha suits really well. I think it will be interesting to see what the level is on that circuit and if we are able to fight for the victory. That’s what we were missing for the last two races and we will try hard to seek this in France.”

Massimo Meregalli

Team Director

“In Jerez, during the test we collected a lot of good data so we will face this weekend confident that we can do well. Le Mans has always been a good track for Yamaha and for this reason we will aim this weekend to achieve maximum results, there is every reason to do so. We definitely want to do better than our weekend in Jerez. In the past both riders have achieved good results in France and this is an important thing. Hopefully the weather is good for us to make it easier to setup the bike for Sunday!”

Lin Jarvis

Yamaha Motor Racing, Managing Director

“This weekend we head to Le Mans for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, one of the most important European GP events and traditionally strongly supported by Yamaha Motor France. This time we will sadly be without the presence of the former President of YMF, Jean Claude Olivier, who sadly passed away following an automobile accident earlier this year. Jean Claude was a legend in our industry and the man behind decades of top-level Yamaha Motor France participation in all forms of motorcycle racing. This weekend we will pay our respects to Jean Claude, both on-track with the “JCO” logo on the cowlings of our Yamaha Factory Racing YZR-M1s and off-track with our display of “JCO images” featuring YMF’s engagement with Road Racing over the years in the Team Hospitality. Yamaha Factory Racing and Yamaha Motor France remain committed to continuing the JCO legacy into the future”.


Repsol Honda Team head to Le Mans leading the Championship

After the fantastic 1-2 result in Jerez just over a week ago, Honda has now won 12 out of the last 15 races and Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez will be hoping for another solid weekend in Le Mans.

Built in 1965 around the existing 24-Hour track, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit lies 5km south of the city of Le Mans and 200km south-west of Paris. It is a tight track dominated by first gear corners that place the emphasis on late braking and hard acceleration, whilst rear end traction is also a key area.

Dani has finished on the podium 6 times in Le Mans, with three victories in the lower classes - 2003 in 125cc, 2004 and 2005 in 250cc, but success in the MotoGP class eludes him. Marc has had mixed results at this circuit but took a podium in 2010 (125cc) and a victory in 2011 (Moto2). This is a new track for Marc to learn on the bigger 1000cc MotoGP machines.

Marc Marquez Championship Standing: 1st - 61 points

"We go to Le Mans and again we arrive there starting from zero, as I haven't done any tests there. I'll do my best and I'll try to make the most of the situation. I hope it doesn't rain so we can prepare the bike on a dry track, this is very important to find the right set up. I'm very happy at the moment but we have to keep our feet on the ground as the coming circuits are new for me in MotoGP. A huge part of our success in this first part of the season is down to the help that Honda and the team have given me and it had helped my riding a lot"

Dani Pedrosa Championship Standing: 2nd - 58 points

"After a fantastic weekend in Jerez and a productive test on the Monday, I'm looking forward to going to Le Mans. I had good results in the past and I enjoy the circuit, so I'm hoping that the bike works well there. Practice management in Le Mans can sometimes be difficult and complicated due to the weather but I'm finding my comfort again on the bike and I'm working well with the team. I will go to France and aim to use all of my experience and remain focused for the whole weekend"


French Grand Prix up next for Ducati Team

The Ducati Team, having carried out two days of testing at Mugello last week, now heads to France for the second European stop on the 2013 MotoGP tour, at Le Mans. The venue is legendary in motorsports, and although the Bugatti Circuit that hosts the bikes only shares a small section of the longer Circuit de la Sarthe that is used for the historic 24 hour automobile race, it nonetheless presents its own challenges, including many hard-braking zones that could suit some characteristics of the Desmosedici GP13.

Although this will be Andrea Dovizioso’s first visit to the track aboard the Ducati, the Italian has enjoyed good performances at the French circuit, earning his first Grand Prix pole position there in 2003 (in the 125cc class), along with a pair of premier-class podium finishes, in 2010 and 2011. Nicky Hayden doesn’t include Le Mans on his list of favourite circuits, but he’s hopeful of a respectable performance, particularly if his still-recovering right wrist is in better condition than it was in Spain.

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team

“The conditions at Le Mans are always tricky, in part because it’s typically raining! Still, I think it’s a good track for Ducati, and it’s a really good track for me. That being the case, we should go there with confidence and see if we can understand a little bit about where we can improve, although for the moment, we still shouldn’t think too much about the result.”

Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team

“We’ve had a couple of days off after a very busy week, so I was able to head north and regroup. Honestly, I’ve struggled at Le Mans, but one of the keys to the track is hard braking, which is a strong point of the Desmosedici. We’ve seen a lot of spectators at the last couple of races, and I imagine that will also be true at Le Mans. My wrist has improved since Jerez, and although it’s still not perfect, I expect to have less pain in France. Hopefully we can have some fun and do a good race.”

Vittoriano Guareschi – Team Manager

“Le Mans is a particular circuit with a stop-and-go layout that’s much different from the tracks where we’ve raced so far this season, and we’ve gone well there in recent seasons, with podium finishes the last two years. We’re coming off of a busy week of testing, during which we were able to try some things with our setup that we hadn’t explored before. It would be nice if the weather allowed us to take advantage of a dry track all weekend, although that’s not often the case at Le Mans.”


CONFIDENCE HIGH FOR LE MANS DATE

After a positive third round of the season at Jerez, Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini head for the next date on the MotoGP calendar at Le Mans this weekend with renewed enthusiasm. Alvaro Bautista is confident of finding a better feeling with his front suspension for the French track and hopefully less sliding on the rear after working hard with Showa's engineeers in a day of testing following the Grand Prix of Spain. Sixth place in the race there was already a boost for Alvaro and the team, who are now determined to build on it and score even better results in the coming races. Bryan Staring's confidence was also given a major boost in Spain, where he scored his best result of the season so far and only narrowly missed out on the points. The Australian's adaptation to MotoGP continues apace and with the determination and willingness to learn that he continues to show he will no doubt be taking more steps forward this weekend.

Alvaro Bautista “After the weekend at Jerez and the post-race test I am feeling very motivated. We have worked very hard to find more rear grip from the bike after suffering over the course of the weekend and in the test we found some solutions that make me confident that we are on the right path. We worked closely with HRC and Showa and we improved our pace from the race so we can go to Le Mans with renewed enthusiasm. I hav e not enjoyed particularly good results at this track in the past and the weather usually plays a role here so we have to be prepared for everything. Last year didn't go badly for us in the dry but the race was wet and we struggled because my visor was steaming up. With the progress we are making right now though I am convinced that we have the potential to be battling in the top five again and this is our objective. This is a 'stop & go' circuit with a lot of direction changes. It is quite slow and technical that suits a bike that handles well. There are no long straights and that makes it physically demanding because you don't get chance for a rest!”

Bryan Staring “I am still really happy with the result from Jerez because it has given us a nice boost to try and do even better in the races coming up. Lap by lap I am adapting my riding more and more to MotoGP and I am pushing the bike with more conviction. I can't wait to get out on track at Le Mans, which is a place that fascinates me even though I have never been before. In fact out of the next seven tracks I only know one of them so I have to concentrate hard on learning them and adapting quickly so that we can start working on set-up. We have been making progress lately so we need to keep going like this and I am sure we will soon achieve our first objective of scoring points. ”

Fausto Gresini “A race like Jerez and the day of testing we had there has given us a boost that we needed. Alvaro, the team and Showa have worked hard together to make some progress, which we hope to confirm at Le Mans. We are making improvements to the front and the rear of the bike and giving Alvaro more confidence. I feel he is ready to take another step forward in quality and start challenging for some top results. Bryan Staring is also making solid progress and thanks to his determination he is adapting to the demands of MotoGP. Now it feels like the points-scoring pos itions are a realistic objective and I am sure he will be amongst them soon.”


BRADL KEEN TO RIDE AT THE LEGENDARY LE MANS RACE TRACK

Le Mans, 16 May: MotoGP ascends to Le Mans this weekend for the Grand Prix de France at the legendary “Circuit des 24 Heures” which holds one of the longest traditions of Grand Prix racing on the current MotoGP schedule. At this week’s event LCR Honda MotoGP Team is pleased to announce that Elf will act as Title Sponsor branding Stefan Bradl’s Honda motorbikes ahead the fourth round of the season.

Elf is a brand of TOTAL, one of the largest major integrated oil and gas companies in the world, with activities in more than 130 countries. Elf, since the 70’s, never ended its commitment on the various prestigious motor sport platforms developing year after year the most advanced chemical technologies for producing top performing racing fuels, engine lubricants, hydraulic and brake fluids including all kinds of industrial and automotive grease products.

“We arrive at Le Mans with two DNFs from three rounds and some issues with the front-end that we partially solved in the Jerez test session. Le Mans is another good circuit which I like and in my debut year in the premier class I finished 5th. This increases my motivation and my will to be back at the front with the other guys. However, we are conscious of our set-up problems which affect my corner entries and my riding style. We collected further data in Jerez to begin the Le Mans weekend with a good base set-up and, session after session, we will try to adjust the package.”


Round 4 – Le Mans Circuit

The Bugatti Circuit, which is situated approximately 200 km (124 miles) from the City of Lights, has hosted the French Grand Prix since 1969, when Giacomo Agostini topped the 500cc class. Last modified in 2008, the track is currently 4.185 km long (2600 miles) and rather narrow, with several slow hairpins that riders approach hard on the brakes.

This fourth round of the MotoGP championship promises to be rather unique for the team, as the French Grand Prix is somewhat of an unknown for Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team rider Andrea Iannone.

The Italian, who last year finished fourth in the Moto2 race, is still recovering from a painful wound to his left knee incurred in a crash during the previous round, at Jerez. This limits his ability to use the leg to maneuver the bike, and in addition, Andrea is recovering from an operation to his right forearm just seven days ago. Fortunately, Iannone’s recovery is proceeding well, and his goal for this race is to continue the setup work done on the bike as well as possible.

Andrea Iannone – Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team

“I can say that we’re in decent shape. Ever since the operation on Tuesday, the arm has been steadily improving. Now, though, it’s difficult to say: I think I’ll only really be able to understand my condition after doing some laps on the bike, so that I have a chance to try accelerating and braking and doing the movements that I normally do when I ride. My scar is really big; I have around 22 stitches that I’ll remove as soon as possible. That’s another reason that we’ll have to wait until tomorrow; I think that after the first session, I’ll understand what’s possible. It would certainly help us if it rains, but we’ll see. I’m here, and I want to try.”


Round 4 – Le Mans Circuit

The Bugatti Circuit, which is situated approximately 200 km (124 miles) from the City of Lights, has hosted the French Grand Prix since 1969, when Giacomo Agostini topped the 500cc class. Last modified in 2008, the track is currently 4.185 km long (2600 miles) and rather narrow, with several slow hairpins that riders approach hard on the brakes.

This fourth round of the championship promises to be rather unusual for the team, as Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider Ben Spies, still injured, will be substituted by Ducati test rider Michele Pirro. The Italian already rode at Jerez, in the first of three wildcard appearances that he’s making this season.

The Pramac Racing team would like to thank Ducati and Michele for their cooperation.

Michele Pirro – Ignite Pramac Racing Team

“I’m happy to have this opportunity. This weekend I’ll use the same bike that Ben would have used. I’m sorry for him because I know he’s struggling due to his shoulder injury, and since MotoGP bikes are very physical, if you’re not truly fit, riding is difficult. I hope to do my best and to repay the trust that the guys from the team and Ducati have placed in me. We’re really working hard.”


NGM Mobile Forward Racing riders await the fourth round at Le Mans

The fourth round of the season will take place on French soil at the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans this next weekend.

Colin Edwards is no stranger to the podium at Le Mans; both in 2005 and 2008 he finished in third place. The American rider enjoys riding at Le Mans and looks forward to riding on his FTR-Kawasaki bike this weekend. Teammate Claudio Corti also knows what it feels like to be on the podium here. The Italian rider had a podium finish last year while riding in the Moto2 category and would like to take his first MotoGP points at the this very same track.

In Moto2, our NGM riders Simone Corsi, Alex De Angelis and Mattia Pasini have previously been on the podium at Le Mans, all of them managing a third place in 2010, 2007 and 2008 respectively. All three Italians are eager to repeat their results at Le Mans. Their Spanish teammate Ricky Cardús was unable to finish the race in his previous visits to Le Mans but hopes that this year will be the turning point for him at the French track.


ESPARGARÓ THE CRT PACESETTER AS DE PUNIET PREPARES HOME CHALLENGE

POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar pair head to Le Mans looking to continue dominance of CRT category

The MotoGP World Championship is gathering pace as the European road trip moves north from Spain to France this weekend and the paddock sets up at one of the most legendary venues on the entire calendar: Le Mans. With a race every two weekends between now and the end of July, when Laguna Seca signals the start of the summer break, it is an intense period for the teams and riders. The Bugatti circuit plays host to the fourth round of eighteen with three different race winners aiming to become the first to double up, Dani Pedrosa having followed in the footsteps of Losail and Austin winners Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez last time out at Jerez.

Outside the top three in the championship Aleix Espargaró continues to be the standout rider, the POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar man breaking the mould on the ART machine to compete regularly with factory MotoGP prototypes. The Spaniard is the indisputable leader of the CRT category after three races and a clear favourite to retain the title he won last year. Randy De Puniet is aiming to make life difficult for his team-mate having also made a strong start to his season, which was scuppered by a crash last weekend at Jerez. The Frenchman is targeting a return to form in his home Grand Prix, where he wants to finish as the top CRT and close the gap to Aleix in the championship.

Aleix Espargaró: "We have started the championship in a great way and I am super happy with the way things are going. We keep closing the gap to the factory prototypes and that's a good sign, it shows we are doing a good job but our job is to be the best CRT. So far we are doing our job well and we have to keep working at it because there is no doubt that our rivals will close the gap. Le Mans is not one of my favourite tracks but I don't dislike it either. Last year was a bit strange because of the weather but it was the weekend when we found our base wet set-up and after that I always had a great feeling in the wet. Le Mans has a lot of hard braking and acceleration zones, which is where we suffer compared to the factory prototypes, but we will keep working hard and giving our best anyway."

Randy De Puniet: "This is my home race and Le Mans is always a very special weekend for me. We crashed at Jerez and didn't manage to finish the race and even though we haven't made a bad start to the year in general it has been below our expectations so hopefully we can turn things around this weekend. The results in the first two rounds were good but I am still not riding at the level I feel I can ride at so I will be aiming to do that this weekend with the support of the fans. We will start out with our base set-up on Friday and try to adapt it to the hard braking at Le Mans, which is a circuit that requires good stability and handling."


Karel Abraham will race in Le Mans, one month after shoulder injury

Czech rider Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) is still rehabilitating after collar bone fracture sustained in Austin, Texas. That said, Karel Abraham will race in this weekend’s MotoGP event in Le Mans.

Karel Abraham:

“I am looking forward to getting back to racing. Hopefully we’ll all be able to do our best for good results. My shoulder has not quite healed yet, but it is much better compared to Jerez. I don’t think it is going to affect my performance very much. I am hoping for a dry race because the Le Mans circuit is notoriously known for having several types of asphalt, each with different adhesion qualities.”


Bridgestone MotoGP™ Preview - Round 4: France, Le Mans

14 May 2013

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft, Soft Rear: Extra-soft (Symmetric), Soft, Medium (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)

The fourth round of the 2013 MotoGP™ season takes place at the iconic Le Mans circuit after an exciting start to the championship that has yielded three different winners from the first three races.

At 4.185 kilometres in length, the Le Mans circuit places more emphasis on acceleration and braking rather than outright corner speed due to its many slow corners that are connected by a series of short straight sections. The relatively slow corner speeds means that Le Mans is the least severe circuit on the calendar for tyres, and this combined with the generally cool temperatures means the front and rear slick compounds offered here are at the softest end of the spectrum. The soft rubber compounds ensure quick warm-up, high grip and excellent temperature retention.

At Le Mans, Bridgestone’s rear slick tyres will be available in the extra-soft and soft compounds for CRT riders, and soft and medium compound for the riders on works bikes. The soft and medium rear slicks will be asymmetric in construction with harder rubber on the right shoulder, while the extra-soft rear slick will be symmetric. The front slicks for Le Mans will be the extra-soft and soft compound options. To ensure adequate tyre warm-up in wet conditions, the main wet tyre for Le Mans will be the soft compound.

Hiroshi Yamada - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department

“Le Mans is susceptible to unsettled weather which can throw up some interesting race results and the weather forecast indicates we may once again have cool and wet conditions over the race weekend. If conditions are changeable, this could make evaluating tyres and finding a race setup a challenge for the riders so I expect it will be an especially busy weekend for all the teams. We’ve had such an exciting start to the season and with Le Mans having a history of delivering dramatic races, I hope the excitement continues at what is one of the most famous motorsport venues in the world. I am glad to see that Karel Abraham will make a return to racing after his absence through injury and I extend my best wishes to Ben Spies and hope him a swift and full recovery from his shoulder injury.”

Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

“Le Mans is a slippery and smooth circuit and often for this race the track temperature can be quite low, so we bring slicks with softer compounds to ensure adequate warm-up performance and grip. The circuit has a stop-and-go nature and overall, the lateral loads placed on the tyres at Le Mans are low, which is another reason we provide softer compounds here. Another performance requirement here is to provide tyres that provide maximum stability under braking. The circuit has an unbalanced layout that uses the right shoulders more than the left, especially on the exit of turn nine, so the soft and medium rear slicks are asymmetric with harder rubber on the right shoulder, while the CRT-specific extra-soft slick is symmetric in construction.

“The unstable weather at Le Mans can have a significant impact upon bike settings and tyre choice and in previous years we have seen vastly different conditions from one session to the other. The propensity for cool weather at Le Mans means the soft compound wet tyre is main specification for this weekend.”


Round Number: 
4
2013

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