Preview press releases from the MotoGP teams, Michelin and more ahead of this week's French Grand Prix:
Repsol Honda Team head to historic Le Mans for Round 5
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are en route to France after scoring solid third- and fourth-place finishes, respectively, in the Spanish GP, which was immediately followed by a positive one-day post-race test. The Repsol Honda riders look forward to trying to make the best use of the data gathered there, and to start the French GP on the right foot beginning with the FP1 session, which will start Friday morning at 9:55 local time.
Marc has had mixed results at the historic Le Mans Circuit. He took the MotoGP victory in 2014 and the Moto2 win in 2011, as well as podium finishes in 2013 (MotoGP) and 2010 (125cc). Last year he earned pole position but experienced difficulty with his front tyre during the Sunday race after temperature significantly increased compared to the rest of the weekend. He made the best of the situation, managing to finish fourth after a hard-fought battle with Andrea Iannone during the final five laps.
Dani has finished on the Le Mans podium seven times, including a MotoGP win in 2013 and three victories in the smaller-displacement classes (250cc in ’04 and ’05, 125cc in ’03). Last year he returned to racing in Le Mans after missing the Americas, Argentine and Spanish GPs (having received surgery to his right arm to alleviate discomfort from arm pump); unfortunately, he crashed out of the race on the second lap. The Spaniard showed grit and determination by re-joining the race in last place and finished in 16th.
Championship Standing: 1st - 82 points
“I like the Le Mans track although it requires that you be ready to deal with many variables. To begin with, the weather: you never know what it will do there. Last year the temperature rose significantly on Sunday and we suffered a lot with front grip in the race. Rain also isn’t unusual there. In addition, the track has a stop-and-go layout, with many slow turns where braking and acceleration are crucial. We’ll see if we find ourselves in a situation similar to Austin, where acceleration out of slow corners was a lot better than expected, or if we have to face a bigger challenge. During the last test in Jerez, we worked a lot on electronics and the chassis setting to find more grip, and on the balance of the bike to reduce wheelying. It’s always a compromise but I think we’ve gathered useful info for Le Mans and, knowing how far we’ve come since this winter and how quickly we’ve been able to react to many situations, I feel confident and look forward to starting the next racing weekend.”
Championship Standing: 4th - 40 points
“I enjoy the Bugatti circuit, and we’ve had good results there in the past, but this year there are some factors to consider. In the last race I couldn’t go full-throttle on the straights because the rear tyre was spinning too much, and I think that also in Le Mans a lot will depend on how the tyre will get grip from the track. Normally this isn’t a ‘super-grippy’ track, so we’ll have to continue working on that side in order to make it better. In the Jerez test, we tried to improve our feeling, testing different things such as suspension and some other solutions thought to provide more grip out of the turns and to make the bike faster into the tight corners. We’ll see if the info collected will be useful on a practical level in Le Mans. Finally, let’s hope the weather will be kind to us.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Focus on French Grand Prix
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are eager to get aboard their YZR-M1s again for the fifth round of the MotoGP championship after a superb weekend in Jerez a fortnight ago, which ended with the first Yamaha 1-2 of the season. The results of the last race and the successive test gave both riders an extra confidence boost ahead of the forthcoming Monster Energy Grand Prix de France to be held this weekend.
After a strong performance at the previous round, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are keen to put on a show again this weekend at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit.
The combination of Lorenzo and his Yamaha visited the French podium multiple times. He has secured four premier class wins in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2015 and scored a second place in 2008.
Having showed a very fast and consistent pace aboard his YZR-M1 during the Jerez test last week, the Mallorcan, who celebrates his 29th birthday today, is eager to challenge for a top result again this weekend as he aims to climb up the championship ranking order from his current second place.
Having claimed his first victory of the season in Jerez, teammate Rossi is excited to start the fifth round of the championship and add another good result to his already extensive list of podium finishes at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit.=
Traditionally, The Doctor scores good results at the French GP. Throughout his premier class career he has collected three victories at Le Mans in 2002, 2005 and 2008, five second places in 2003, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015 and three third places in 2000, 2001 and 2011. The Italian currently holds third place in the championship standings.
The Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit was built in 1965 and forms part of the famous 24H Motos track, just a few kilometres from the city of Le Mans. MotoGP made its first visit to the iconic French track in the late sixties and it remained a fixed feature until 1996. After the track underwent safety moderations it was added back on the calendar in 2000, yet the changes have not affected the visitors' experience. With an emphasis on late braking, hard acceleration and rear end traction, this circuit is the scene of a lot of racing action that more than 100,000 spectators can enjoy.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"After a great weekend in Jerez, we are feeling energised as we head to Le Mans. This has been a good track for us in the past and we are looking forward to going there and getting back into action. We will start the first free practice session with the intention to continue the momentum we built at the previous round and we will carry through the same hands-on approach throughout the weekend. The French GP can be unpredictable in terms of weather, but I am confident we will be able to find a solution for whatever the circumstances will be."
Championship: 2nd, 65 points
"Jerez was a good race, not perfect because of the result, but at least we could add one more podium to our tally. This season it's going to be crucial to keep scoring the maximum number of points every race, like we did in Jerez, so we can now focus on Le Mans, where we intend to do the same. France is often tricky because of the weather, so we need to be prepared in case it rains. Anyway my target is to try to get another podium and be a constant at the front, though it's still uncertain how we will be able to manage with the new tyres. Every race is different but we need to be focused the whole weekend and try to get the maximum from our package."
Championship: 3rd, 58 points
"Le Mans is a track where the YZR-M1 usually goes very well. The negative thing about Le Mans is the weather, it is always very uncertain. It can rain, it is often cold and so there are many factors that you must be careful of. Last year I had a good race but I was not able to beat Jorge, I'll try again this year. First we will start the weekend in the same way as we did in Jerez. There we found a good set-up on Friday and this has helped us to be competitive in the race. We will do our best also in Le Mans."
TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR LOOKS FORWARD TO LE MANS MotoGP™
Team Suzuki Press Office – May 4.
The historic Le Mans circuit in France awaits MotoGP™ riders for the fifth round of the 2016 World Championship this weekend and following the positive GP of Spain, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales are both enthusiastic to take advantage of the work done in last Monday’s test.
Espargaró arrives in France after very positive improvements he made in Spain. After a tough start to the season, he has found confidence back in his GSX-RR, and at Jerez, finally got back to his normal competitiveness. He is also determined to put last year’s Le Mans event behind him, when he suffered a bad crash in FP3; which affected his overall performance.
Viñales, in contrast, had positive feelings about the track last year and he is now eager to test the GSX-RR’s improvements at such a tight track. The recent race in Jerez left him the desire to further improve, as he is getting closer-and-closer to the fastest riders on track. The progress made so far has given him hope for better results, and Le Mans holds good memories; a circuit where he has tasted victory in the past.
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.
Last year’s race at Le Mans saw Espargaró suffer a huge high-side in FP3 that prevented him taking part in the time attack that could have given him direct access to Q2. He qualified 10th for the race despite fighting with pain from the accident and in the race, a clutch issue took him out of the game on the second lap. Viñales missed Q2 by just 0.027s in FP3, but struggled in Q1, finally qualifying in 13th, while in the race he recovered positions to finally score ninth position.
“I’m looking forward to Le Mans because I have the enthusiasm after the improvements we did at last race. In Jerez, in particular, I found a good set-up and my confidence with the GSX-RR has grown a lot. I struggled in the beginning of the season and I’m so happy to be back to the top. The bike has a lot of potential and my crew is working really hard, and with this combination I’m sure we’ll get to better results very soon. Le Mans is a particular track; very tight, and where we will need a lot of traction. We have worked a lot on this area recently as it was pretty-much an issue to us and we made big steps forward, so I hope the work we’ve done will pay off.”
“After Jerez I had confirmation that we made great improvements, but also that they are not enough. We have a lot of room for improvement and we must be good in exploiting our better potential. We are much more competitive than last year and this makes me confident for the job we are doing; also in Jerez in the test we made big steps forward and we found different solutions that will help us a lot. Le Mans will not be an easy track, but we are working hard and hopefully this will pay us back. We know which areas we still miss-out on and our understanding of the machine and electronics has increased a lot, so this will help us to find better solutions.”
Ducati Team gets ready for French Grand Prix at Le Mans
After completing a one-day private test at Mugello yesterday, the Ducati Team has now arrived in France for the fifth round of the championship, to be held at the Le Mans circuit.
The track where the bike races are held – the Bugatti Circuit – forms part of bike racing history and even though it only shares a small part with the Circuit de la Sarthe, where every year the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour car race takes place, it offers a superb spectacle for the thousands of French fans who pack the grandstands every year.
Andrea Dovizioso has often been able to produce good results at Le Mans, the Italian in fact always qualifying for the race on the front row in the last five years. Dovi has stepped onto the podium three times in the premier class, the last time twelve months ago when he placed third after qualifying second on the grid. In his three MotoGP races at Le Mans on the other hand, the best result for Andrea Iannone was fifth place last year.
In the last few days one of the main activities within Ducati Corse was a careful analysis of the cause of Andrea Dovizioso’s retirement on lap 10 at Jerez, during the Spanish GP. The conclusion was that the #04 Desmosedici GP’s retirement was not caused by a breakdown of the water pump, but by a problem with another component that prevented the pump from functioning correctly. Ducati Corse wishes therefore to reiterate its full confidence in the quality of the products supplied by OMP, a company which for many years has been an extremely reliable partner for the racing department of Borgo Panigale.
The Le Mans weekend gets underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55 am, while the 28-lap race is scheduled for 2 pm on Sunday.
Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 10th (25 points)
“Today we have arrived at Le Mans, a track I like a lot. Last year it was a positive race for me and I was quick, despite the shoulder injury I picked up when I crashed in Mugello testing. My approach is therefore relaxed and positive, because this year I know that we have really excellent potential. Obviously, after the difficulties we had at Jerez, now we have to keep up a high competitive level in all the coming races.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 11° (23 punti)
“With the new tyres, this year it is really difficult to know what a circuit is going to be like before we take to the track on Friday morning. Every race weekend is completely different to the previous one and so you have to start the work afresh. We have to understand how the tyres are going to work here on my Desmosedici GP, but I am confident because Le Mans is a track where I always manage to express my potential and hopefully we have the chance to be competitive and fight with the top guys.”
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.
Fastest Lap: Marquez (Honda), 1’32.042 (163.6 km/h) - 2014
Circuit Record: Rossi (Yamaha), 1’32.879 (162.2 km/h) - 2015
Best Pole: Marquez (Honda), 1’32.042 (163.6 km/h) - 2014
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati), 316.6 km/h - 2015
Track Length: 4.2 km
Race Distance: 28 laps (117.2 km)
Corners: 14 (5 left, 9 right)
Race Start: 14.00 CET
Podium: 1st Lorenzo (Yamaha), 2nd Rossi (Yamaha), 3rd Dovizioso (Ducati)
Pole Position: Marquez (Honda), 1’32.246 (163.3 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Rossi (Yamaha), 1’32.879 (162.2 km/h)
APRILIA HEADS TO LE MANS WITH ALVARO BAUTISTA AND STEFAN BRADL DETERMINED TO RIDE THEIR RS-GP MACHINES INTO THE POINTS
The second European round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship will be held this weekend on the French "Bugatti" track at Le Mans. This is an historic international motoring theatre, part of the famous Circuit de la Sarthe that hosts the renowned "24 Hour" endurance competition.
Relatively short with a lot of heavy braking sections and direction changes, the French track with these characteristics could prove to be "friendly" for the Aprilia RS-GP bikes, a new project with developments that continued even this week with a series of private tests at Mugello and that has already demonstrated promising values in terms of reliability and performance.
The unknown at Le Mans that must always be taken into consideration is the weather, which can change suddenly and heavily influence the practice sessions and races. This is another important element that will demand maximum concentration from the entire Aprilia Racing Team Gresini.
ROMANO ALBESIANO - APRILIA RACING MANAGER
“Our development programme continues. On Monday at Mugello we completed a few important electronics tests with Bautista and Bradl in terms of power output, whereas on Tuesday and Wednesday the tests continued with Mike di Meglio and the Aprilia test team. At Le Mans there will once again be aerodynamic changes, engine performance improvements and some further fine-tuning on the electronics package that we will be trying out on the French track. We are coming from a race at Jerez where the RS-GP showed some important signs of competitiveness and we aim to continue the positive trend”.
FAUSTO GRESINI - TEAM MANAGER
“In the private tests and Mugello we tried out the technical updates on the track that had already been introduced in the post-race tests at Jerez, but unfortunately the weather conditions weren't the best. So at Le Mans we'll continue testing the chassis upgrades that already gave us positive indications in Spain with improvements in terms of stability and the way the bike performs coming out of corners. We will definitely be able to take another important step forward, continuing development leading up to the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, which is a very important found for us”.
“Le Mans is a relatively small track with a lot of direction changes and really unpredictable weather. We'll have one eye on the sky in every session! After the good weekend at Jerez, despite my crash in the race, we hope to continue improving my feeling in the saddle and the bike's performance. In the tests after the race we put in a lot of kilometres, continuing our development programme with upgrades that we will continue to focus on in France as well. I would like to battle like I did last round, going through to Q2 in the qualifiers and battling in the top 10 zone during the race”.
“I'm very anxious to get to the second European round at Le Mans. We'll have some upgrades and this is a track that I think can really cater well to the characteristics of our bike. In terms of layout it isn't a very fast track, but there are a lot of heavy braking sections where the RS-GP has proven to perform rather well. We'll arrive at the French round ready for action. We are working well and I'm sure that we'll bring home important championship points here as well for me and for Aprilia”.
Espargaro and Smith fired up for Tech3 home GP at Le Mans
The Tech3 duo keenly await the forthcoming Monster Energy Grand Prix de France at the legendary Le Mans circuit with both riders fully confident of clinching two strong finishes at the team’s home round.
Pol Espargaro will once again be targeting to finish as close as possible to the factory MotoGP riders as he intends to seal the leading satellite placement in the race for the third time this year. The Spaniard, who currently sits in 5th in the Championship standings, undertook a successful test after the Spanish GP and he now intends to use the findings to aid his fight to snatch a notable result.
Whilst Bradley Smith aims to turn around his tricky season so far and battle with his teammate for the top independent position aboard the Yamaha YZR-M1. After making progress at the Jerez test, the 25-year-old British will be gunning to repeat his strong performance in last year’s race at Le Mans, where he seized 6th.
Championship: 5th Points: 36
"Next up is Le Mans and I am looking forward to doing my best there plus making the team proud at their home Grand Prix. The circuit is one of the most famous in the world and I do enjoy riding it every year. I have some fond memories such as finishing in 4th in my rookie season with the Tech3 team after qualifying in 2nd. Of course, I’m not under any illusion that it will be easy to achieve this result again as the competition level has risen this year, yet I will give it everything I’ve got. After the Spanish GP, we had a useful test where we made some positive steps forwards with regards to the suspension and the setup. Therefore, I’m excited to see what we can achieve with these changes in France as I feel that we made some valuable discoveries in Jerez. The weather is always a tricky factor in Le Mans because we have often had rain in the past but I hope that the skies stay clear for this weekend! In any case, I am excited and ready to get the show going in France."
Championship: 12th Points: 20
"Although this season has been quite challenging for me, I am determined to turn things around in Le Mans, especially as it’s the Tech3 team’s home race, plus the Grand Prix is sponsored by Monster Energy who are the team’s title backers. Le Mans is always interesting and the weather there is similar to what we get in England so we all have to be prepared for rain, even if I am keeping my fingers crossed for a dry weekend. However, despite the fact whether it’s wet or not, I am going to do my absolute best and hopefully, we get the bike set up well on the opening day in order to be in a good position to fight for the top independent placement on Sunday. This is what I’ll be aiming for but we will have to work hard to be able to get there. Anyway, we ran well at Le Mans last year and we made some progress at the test in Jerez so we will see what happens. Yet, I am keen to get going and give the Tech3 fans something to cheer about."
Hervé Poncharal - Team manager :
“This weekend will be a very busy one for the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team but it’s an event that we all love because it’s our home Grand Prix. The fans are always fantastic at Le Mans and the circuit is legendary so it’s great that we can compete there. In addition, the GP is backed by our lead sponsor Monster Energy which makes the event even more special for us. In terms of results, we hope that Pol can keep his head down and ride to another strong position at a track that we know he likes. He made some good steps forward at Jerez, therefore, we are sure that he can show everyone what he is capable of in France. As for Brad, he has had a challenging start to the season and is finishing in places that he can’t be satisfied with. However, he is trying his absolute hardest and we are supporting him as much as we can, so I hope that he can fight with his teammate for the top independent placement in Sunday’s race. We are all excited about the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France and we fully aim to do our best for the fans.”
MotoGP heads to Le Mans, Loris Baz’s home race
Avintia Racing riders, Hector Barbera and Loris Baz heads to the legendary Le Mans circuit for the fifth round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship this weekend. For Loris Baz these will be four busy days inside, but also outside the track, starting with the Official Press Conference on Thursday. The 23 year old is the only French rider in the MotoGP grid, and after his recent qualifying performances, with two successive Q2, heads his home grand prix determined to fight for a good result on Sunday’s race.
Hector Barbera is ready to battle in any condition. The Spaniard knows well the weather can change quickly at Le Mans, but he is confident about his pace at the 4,185 meters track. His goal in France will be to maintain the regularity and try to finish once again in the top ten in Sunday.
“The weather always play a big part in France race weekend and the rain can appear at any moment, but I go to Le Mans in confident mood because we already showed a good pace in wet condition. I’m more prepared than ever and during the last week I had time to think and analyse the first four races of the season. We know that we have the potential to go a step forward and we head to Le Mans in high motivation and eager to keep working in the same direction, because this is the best way to archive better results.”
“I’m looking forward to Le Mans, my home race weekend. Sure I’ll be busy attending to sponsors and media, but it’s part of my job and I also like to do it. But what I really want is to be fast on the bike, we will see how the weekend goes, but we are in the pace with the lap times and now we have to focus on get the best result in the race, and fight again to be in the Q2 on Saturday like in the last few races. If we can do it, then we’ll be able to celebrate a good result with my home fans on Sunday.”
LCR HONDA HEAD TO LE MANS
The LCR Honda Team head to the world famous Le Mans circuit in France this weekend for the fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship. With Cal Crutchlow having picked up his first points of the season last time out in Spain, the Team is positive of making further progress following a busy one-day test session at the Jerez circuit.
The stop-start nature of the Bugatti track configuration is a challenging prospect, but Crutchlow will also be able to draw on his experience of past podium glory at the Le Mans circuit, where he finished second in a wet race in 2013. Current forecasts in the Sarthe region are for dry weather until Sunday afternoon. The team hope that can remain the same until after the MotoGP race, which gets underway at 2pm local time on Sunday, with first free practice starting on Friday at 9.55am.
#35 Cal Crutchlow
“It’s always a good feeling to be going to Le Mans, I like racing there. Yeah, it might not be the best circuit on the calendar for me, but I’ve had a podium there in the past. Last year things didn’t go to plan at all for me there, but I hope to put in some hard work on the Honda there this weekend. We know the manufacturer is pulling out all the stops, and from the LCR Honda Team point of view we’ll also be doing our best job as always.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of fans there over the weekend, because it’s a massive event that fans travel to watch from all over France, and I just hope that we can be competitive from here on in the championship.”
Miller and Rabat set for legendary Le Mans
The historic Bugatti track in Le Mans poses the next challenge for Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat at this weekend’s French MotoGP round.
The pair completed a mammoth stint of over 150 laps between them during a recent post race test session in Jerez, which allowed them to focus on improving the set-up of their Honda RC213V machinery for the specific test that will be provided by the Le Mans venue.
Le Mans features a stop and go layout of 4.2km in length, and its various tight hairpins place significant emphasis on braking stability and hard acceleration, which Miller and Rabat worked extensively on during the one-day Jerez test. A low grip surface and frequently cold and wet conditions also add to the challenge of conquering the famous Le Mans venue.
Miller won at Le Mans in Moto3 back in 2014 and he is hopeful of a return to the point scoring places this weekend, having had more time for his troublesome right ankle injury to recover.
Rabat has also tasted success in Le Mans and the Spaniard was a podium finisher in Moto2 in 2014 and 2015. And he is hoping to put the confidence and experience gained during the Jerez test to good use, with the clear goal to secure a fourth top 15 finish in five races.
The French Grand Prix in Le Mans has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP World Championship schedule since 2000 and the Bugatti track forms part of the iconic 24-Hour circuit.
“I’m feeling good physically after another week to focus on getting my right ankle stronger. Le Mans doesn’t have as many right turns as Jerez, so I’m expecting this weekend to be a little easier on my leg. I’m still working hard on a daily basis to get the ankle better but I am excited to get to Le Mans and improve where we left off at the end of the test in Jerez. We had a few things to test in Jerez and we’ll try and put together what we learned to find a good setting for Le Mans. I’m expecting to be more competitive than Jerez because cooler conditions seem to favour the Honda package a bit more, and traditionally the weather in Le Mans is known for being pretty cool.”
“The biggest priority for me is to feel good again on the bike and confirm that I am getting stronger in MotoGP. The result is obviously important but more than anything my priority is to be consistently fast and have a good rhythm for the whole weekend. I picked up many things during the recent test in Jerez, especially with my lines. I followed Marc and Dani and I can see their lines and how they get the best from the bike. I will try some different lines in Le Mans and I feel ready and better prepared than ever. I will give my 100% like always and hope that means we can return to the points again.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“We head to Le Mans after a positive post race test in Jerez. Jack wasn’t hampered at all by his inured right ankle and the additional physiotherapy he’s done since then should mean he’s in even better physical condition this weekend. The test was also an important one for Tito, who made a big improvement in both his lap time and his understanding of the Honda RC213V. We go to Le Mans looking for another race finish for both riders, but this time in the points.”
Ambitious Aspar Team riders head for France
Tuesday, 03 May 2016 10:06
Eugene Laverty aims to defend coveted ninth place in the championship as Yonny Hernández takes good feelings to Le Mans
The second European round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend as the Bugatti circuit of Le Mans plays host to the Grand Prix de France, just as it has done every year since 2000. The legendary track first played host to Grand Prix motorcycle racing back in 1969 and this year's winner will write their name into the history books after 28 hard-fought laps. Marc Márquez arrives in France as series leader after taking two wins and two third places from the opening four rounds. The Spaniard is the only rider to have scored podiums in every race so far, helping him to a 17-point lead over Jorge Lorenzo, with Valentino Rossi, winner of the last race at Jerez, now 24 adrift.
The battle to finish as the top independent rider in this year's championship currently sees three riders separated by just eight points, with Aspar Team rider Eugene Laverty firmly in the hunt. The Irishman is currently ninth in the overall standings and he is determined to maintain his top ten position at Le Mans, preferably by finishing as the top independent rider. Laverty travels to Le Mans feeling confident after his ninth place at Jerez, where he was just 1.5 seconds behind the top independent. Yonny Hernández has had this round circled on his calendar since the schedule was announced. The Colombian scored his best result of last season at Le Mans when he finished eighth, a result he would love to repeat this weekend as he aims to turn some recent bad luck around.
Eugene Laverty: “I was very satisfied with the last race at Jerez. My aim was to maintain this strong top ten form and we did exactly that with ninth position. We arrive at Le Mans with good confidence and good momentum, my aim is to make another top ten finish and keep fighting to be the top independent team. We were so close at Jerez, just 1.5 seconds off, so this time we want to make sure we arrive first. I think the Le Mans circuit should actually suit our bike a lot, so I am looking forward to it.”
Yonny Hernández: “After the test at Jerez last week I think we have some interesting information and a good feeling to take with us to Le Mans for the French Grand Prix. I think we can be fighting to be in the top ten positions if the track conditions and the bike are consistent over the weekend and we don't have any external issues that make things difficult on race day.”
MICHELIN HEADS HOME AS LE MANS STAGES THE FRENCH GRAND PRIX
Michelin will take the short journey across home soil as it heads to the fifth round of the 2016 MotoGP™ World Championship which will be staged at the historic Le Mans circuit in France.
After four very different races this year, Michelin has used all the data gathered from those events, plus the recent one-day test at Jerez, to make a range of tyres which are ideally suited to the unique demands of Le Mans. The 4,185m long circuit is very much a stop-and-go track, with a lot of emphasis placed on late braking and hard acceleration out of the corners. The nine right-hand and five left-hand corner configuration is not particularly stressful on tyres, but with the extra demands of more right turns the MICHELIN Power Slicks for the rear will both feature an asymmetrical design with a harder right shoulder. These will be available in a soft (white identifying band) and medium (no band) compound, both of which are new versions that will be used for the first time this season. The front tyre allocation will feature all three compounds; soft (white band), medium (no band) and hard (yellow band), with the soft MICHELIN Power Slick featuring a new compound that is softer in manufacture to cope with the expected cooler conditions. The MICHELIN Power Rain tyres in soft (blue band) and hard (no band) will be available for use in wet conditions.
Round five of the MotoGP championship will be staged on the Bugatti circuit, which is a permanent race track located within Circuit des 24-Heures and is named after Ettore Bugatti, the famous automobile designer and manufacturer. The circuit uses a part of the legendary 24-Heures circuit, plus a separate purpose built section. Michelin has a rich history at Le Mans with many premier class motorcycle Grand Prix successes and 24 wins, including 18 consecutive victories, at the 24h of Le Mans car race since 1988. The French Grand Prix is always a lively affair with a very partisan and passionate crowd in attendance, and this year’s race looks like being extremely busy with a sell-out crowd expected to pack the circuit.
Michelin and the rest of the MotoGP paddock will begin track action on Friday 6th May with two free practice sessions, followed by another Free Practice on the Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place in the afternoon to decide grid positions for Sunday’s 28-lap race, which is scheduled to get underway at 14.00hrs local time (13.00hrs BST, 12.00hrsGMT/UST).
Nicolas Goubert – Deputy Director, Technical Director and Supervisor of the MotoGP Programme:
“The weather is often unsettled for Le Mans so you have to be ready for everything, from rain, overcast skies and chilly temperatures, to hot, bright sunshine. Le Mans is a circuit that is low on grip, so we don’t expect wear to be an issue. The chief difficulty is covering the wide spectrum of possible conditions.”
Piero Taramasso – Manager of the Two-Wheel Motorsport Group:
“This weekend is very important for us, as it is our home Grand Prix and one that we all want to do well at. There will be many guests from Michelin here to support us, as well as the backing of the French fans who all want to see us succeed, because Michelin is such an important name in France and one that its people are very proud of. We have a wide range of tyres available so hopefully we will be able to meet whatever conditions we encounter at the circuit and there is always a chance of rain at Le Mans at this time of year. Whatever the weather brings, we will be ready and doing all we can to make sure the race is as exciting as it can be and that the big crowd that is expected gets to see the best of Michelin.”
Monster Energy Grand Prix de France
ROUND FIVE 2016 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY 8TH MAY
CONSISTENT LOWES LEADS THE WAY AT LE MANS
The consistent Sam Lowes leads the Moto2™ World Championship by a precious ten points arriving for round five of the title chase at the legendary Le Mans venue on Sunday. The Lincolnshire rider won the last round at Jerez in Spain after finishing second in the two previous races in Argentina and America. Riding the Federal Oil Gresini Kalex he faces another tremendous 26 lap battle round the 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit against the likes of Alex Rins, World Champion Frenchman Johann Zarco and four times Le Mans winner Tom Luthi, who won the opening round of the year in Qatar. Wiltshire-based Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent is finding life tough on his return to Moto2 and will be looking for some morale boosting points to improve his 14th place in the championship.
Irishman Eugene Laverty roars into Le Mans after an extraordinary start to his MotoGP™ season. Riding the Aspar Ducati 14.2 he’s ninth in the Championship after finishing every race including a fourth place in Argentina. Last year he was 14th on his Le Mans MotoGP debut. The three other British MotoGP riders have struggled this year adapting to the Michelin tyres and standardised electronics but they all have happy memories of the French circuit.
Bradley Smith took his very first grand prix podium finish in the 2007 125 cc race when he finished third. He currently lies 12th in the MotoGP Championship riding the Monster Tech3 Yamaha. He finished sixth last year in France. Gloucestershire-based Scott Redding is four points behind him on the Octo Pramac Ducati and will look back to his first Moto2 grand prix win three years ago. Isle of Man – based midlander Cal Crutchlow scored his first points of the season riding the LCR Honda at the previous round in Jerez after crashing out of the previous three rounds. Three years ago he brought the French-based Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team a brilliant second place at Le Mans.
Twenty–one year old Scotsman John McPhee is having a tough time in the competitive Moto3 Championship. The Racing Steps Foundation supported Peugeot MC Saxoprint Mahindra rider’s only points scoring ride came with an excellent seventh place in Argentina.
DID YOU KNOW
• Le Mans has hosted a grand prix event on twenty eight 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 17th successive year that the Le Mans circuit has hosted a motorcycle grand prix event, 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 six 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 rider with most grand prix victories at Le Mans is Jorge Lorenzo, who has stood on the top step of the podium on five occasions at the French circuit; a single win in the 250cc class to add to his four MotoGP wins.
• 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.
OPEN CLASS - THREE WINNERS IN OPENING FOUR RACES
With three different winners in the opening four grands prix, forecasting the victor at the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France at the legendary Le Mans circuit on Sunday is not easy. Double MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez has won two, to lead single race winner World Champion Jorge Lorenzo by 17 points with Valentino Rossi just seven points adrift after his comprehensive win at the previous round in Spain.
All three have previous MotoGP wins around the technically demanding 2.600 miles Bugatti circuit which uses the same start and finish area as the famous 24 Hour car race. Marquez brought Repsol Honda victory two years ago in the middle of his amazing run of success, but the Movistar Yamaha pair of Rossi and Lorenzo have tasted the victory champagne in the MotoGP class seven times at this circuit. Lorenzo won last year, his fourth premier class victory here, while Rossi has won three although the last time was in 2008.
The only other premier class winner at Le Mans in the 28 lap race is Marquez’s team-mate Dani Pedrosa who really needs a repeat of his 2013 win to kick start his season. Former Le Mans 125cc GP winner Pol Espargaro has slipped under the radar to hold fifth place in the championship after finishing the first four races in the top ten on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha while others have fallen by the wayside. His older brother Aleix is involved in a tremendous all Ecstar Suzuki battle with team-mate, double Le Mans winner, Maverick Vinales who leads the fight by two slender points despite all the speculation about a future move to replace Ducati bound Lorenzo as Rossi’s Yamaha team-mate.
The factory Ducati team, and Andrea Dovizioso in particular, are looking for a black cat at the track when practice starts on Friday morning. After his second place in the opening round, two crashes caused by others and a mechanical problem have kept him out of the points, while team-mate Andrea Ianonne’s only podium came in Austin. While the factory Ducatis have struggled the independent teams have flourished. Hector Barbara and Eugene Laverty on the 14.2 versions of the factory bike are separated by just three points in their battle for eighth. Good news for Ducati is the first appearance of the season of Danilo Petrucci in the Octo Pramac team after a serious hand injury sustained in pre-season testing.
Britain’s Sam Lowes arrives for the Moto2™ race fresh from his Jerez victory and with a precious ten point lead in the championship. The 26 lap race on Sunday should be a cracker with Alex Rins and Frenchman Johann Zarco desperate to prevent Lowes opening up a bigger points advantage. World Champion Zarco is third in the championship 16 points adrift, with Rins, who is chasing his first Le Mans win, ten points behind Lowes. Tom Luthi won the opening round of the year and has a great record at Le Mans with two Moto2 wins including last year and two 125 cc victories.
South African Brad Binder secured an amazing first Moto3™ win in Jerez starting from the back of the grid to open up a 15 point lead in the Championship, riding the Red Bull Ajo KTM. Second placed Jorge Navarro still chases that elusive first grand prix win but third placed Romano Fenati won the race in France last year. Italian teenager Nicolo Bulega has made a sensational start on his debut season. Riding for Valentino Rossi’s Sky Italia KTM he took his first pole in Jerez and was second in the race to secure fourth place in the championship.