Crews prepare for MotoGP Round 5 challenge at Le Mans

  MotoGP crews visit the resurfaced Le Mans Circuit for Round 5 of the Championship, this weekend. The Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit was built in 1965 and started hosting Grand Prix from the late sixties until 1996, and from 2000 after a serious accident in 1995 saw the track update its safety. The 4.2km lay-out of five left and nine right corners with a 674m longest straight, places the emphasis on late braking, hard acceleration and rear end traction, which plays into the hand of Yamaha and promises for a great show on Sunday.

League leaders Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales have recharged their batteries after the Spanish GP and the Jerez test and are ready to continue challenging for glory at Le Mans. Rossi is looking to make a strong return at the front of the pack at the upcoming race, following some positive findings in last week’s Jerez test. He continues to hold the lead in the championship and aims for a competitive start to the fifth round of the championship, at a track where he has a good record. The Doctor has already claimed three premier class victories at Le Mans (2002, 2005 and 2008), six second places (2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and three third places (2000, 2001 and 2011), but there is always room for an extra trophy in his cabinet.

Viñales also stepped onto the Bugatti Grand Prix podium last year, which was his first MotoGP podium, and is eager to revisit the rostrum this year. As he likes the French circuit, he is confident he can add another top score this weekend, to equal his 125cc win in France in 2011 and Moto3 win in 2013. The Spaniard currently holds second place in the championship, just two points behind his teammate. Having topped the time sheets of the Jerez test a little more than a week ago, he looks forward to being more competitive aboard his YZR-M1 over the Le Mans weekend.

Reigning Champion Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are prepared to take on the next challenge, after each scoring one win and one additional podium finish in the last two races. Both Repsol Honda riders have moved up in the standings to third (-4 points) and fourth (-10) respectively and they aim to make the best of the progresses they’ve achieved on their RC213V in order to continue at the same level during another quite unpredictable season, which so far has seen three different winners in four races.

Pedrosa has achieved four wins at Le Mans; once in 125cc in 2003, twice in the 250cc (2004 and 2005) and a victory in MotoGP in 2013. He has accumulated an additional 3 podiums and 6 pole positions, as well. Marquez has two wins at Le Mans (Moto2 in 2011 and MotoGP in 2014), along with an additional 2 podiums and 5 pole positions.

Over in the Ducati camp, Jorge Lorenzo, who came off the back of his first podium of the year at Jerez, has an extraordinary record at Le Mans. Since his debut in MotoGP he has notched up a total of five wins at this circuit, two of which in the last two editions. In addition, in nine French GP races here he has qualified on the front row on five occasions, including pole position for last year’s race.

Lorenzo aims big for the weekend’s race, “I have good memories because I have managed to win a number of times and in different categories. I have to say however that every circuit has its own story, and here we’ll have to see how my Desmosedici goes with the new tarmac. The most important thing however is to maintain the positive spirit that helped us to get onto the podium at Jerez.”

Team mate Andrea Dovizioso has also been able to score some good results at Le Mans, qualifying on the front row five times in nine years. Dovizioso has stepped onto the French podium three times in MotoGP, the last one in 2015 when he finished third, while last year a crash put paid to his race while he was in third place.