Motoette -in forward motion

Le Mans~ Monster Energy Grand Prix de France

The historical French circuit, famous for its 24 hour race, lands as host to the 4th round of the GP 2011 calendar starting this Friday, May 13th. The shortened 2.5 mile circuit has a certain je ne se quois with the premier riders, imposing mixed feelings towards the inconsistent track. With its 9 right and 4 left hairpin turns, linked by a series of straights; the Le Mans circuit demands a tremendous amount of hard braking followed by intense acceleration, often being described as a “stop and go” track from its lack of flow.

The Factory Yamaha team is feeling confident for this weekend. Current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo feels especially good, winning at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix Circuit the last 2 years and leading in standings with an impressive 65 points. Finishing every race this year on the podium and also celebrating his 24th Birthday last week, just gives the young rider another reason to want to party on!

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.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum, teammate Ben Spies does not have fond memories of France with a DFN in 2010 after highsiding in the seventh lap and most recently with 2 DFN’s in the last two races. The talented American is hoping to break his streak of bad luck by taking a little R& R over the two-week break.

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.”

The Repsol Factory Honda triad team continues to have the “bring it” attitude this weekend after dominating the top spots for the 2011 season to date.

Dan Pedrosa is still riding high after his first win of the year at Estoril and keeping in close contention with fellow Spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo by just 4 points in standings. Teammate Casey Stoner trails behind in 3rd for the Championship and Andrea Dovizioso in 6th.

Dani Pedrosa:
“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 from the practice sessions to prepare a bike with good stability, traction and acceleration and be prepared for any track condition because of the weather. In this track you also need to be very focused because the race is long and it’s very important to be consistent and not make any mistakes.”

Casey Stoner:
“In Estoril I was very happy to retain third and keep some valuable points for the Championship. We’ve always had some reasonable results in Le Mans 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:
“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”

The San Carlo Honda Grisini duo looks on to the next round with certainty after having success in the Official MotoGP tests. The “wild haired” Italian, Marco Simoncelli continues his training in preparation for a crash-free race weekend and feels more in tune with his RC212V in placing at the top of the time sheets the following Monday after a disastrous weekend at Estoril. Teammate Hiroshi Aoyama has proved himself to be very consistent with the past 3 races, placing 7th just 3 points off from a 4th position for the Championship. Although the Japanese rider does not have a great affection for the unusual track, he welcomes once again working with his new team and furthering his positive progression.

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 certain 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.”

The Marboro Ducati team enters into the next round with a renewed love for their Italian machines after making substantial headway from the Offical MotoGP testing superseding Sunday’s race at Estoril. Valentino Rossi holds 3 past victories at the Bugatti Grand Prix circuit and although the feisty Italian does not consider the French track to be very technical, he looks forward to a triumphant race weekend in finally finding his comfort zone on the GP11.

American teammate Nicky Hayden has a positive past with the Italian bike on the French circuit by just missing a podium finish last year, coming in 4th. The Desmosedici rider also feels more confident in the stability with the forthcoming arduous demands in hard braking and quick exit acceleration.

Valentino Rossi:
“Le Mans is a historic track, and I always like to go to these places with rich motorsport traditions, even if the stop-and-go layout is a little particular. The atmosphere is always really nice, with the grandstand filled with fans on both Saturday and Sunday. The track isn’t particularly technical but maintaining a good rhythm is tricky: there are many points where we brake really hard for corners, so then it’s important to have strong acceleration on the exit. We’ll see how well we’re able to deal with those characteristics. We’re coming off a test that confirmed that we’ve started to go in the right direction and, although we’re still in the first phase, we hope we can find a good set-up for Le Mans so that we can be faster in the qualifying session. We’re all working hard, and we’re making progress, but we still have to keep improving.”

Nicky Hayden:
“Traditionally, Le Mans hasn’t been a good track for me. I’ve never had a podium or a front row there, but I was fourth there last year, which was my best-ever result. You can’t really make too much out of that, but we’ll try to take the information we collected during the test at Estoril and see if we can put it to good use in France. The weather at Le Mans can be either way, especially this time of year, which is just part of racing. One good thing I look forward to is that I think the best strength of our bike right now is stability under hard braking, and Le Mans has a lot of hard braking. Traditionally, the grip there isn’t very good, so that’s something we’re probably really going to have to work on. We’ll go there and see what we’ve got.”

Mapfre Aspar’s Hector Barbera claims to be fully recovered after a vertebrae injury sustained in the first lap of the race at Estoril. The Spaniard was unable to participate in the Official MotoGP testing, but has been continuing his training in preparation for this weekends showdown.

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.”

Another continuing recovery is solo rider for Rizla Suzuki, Alvaro Bautista, undergoing a comprehensive training regimen to greatly improve his fitness level for Le Mans. The Spaniard made a remarkable comeback at Estoril just 6 weeks after breaking his femur. With missing two races in 2011 and a history of the same at Le Mans, the Suzuki rider plans on not taking any chances this time around and makes some aggressive changes to catapult him into a successful future.

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.”

Points in standing

Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points
1 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha SPA 65
2 Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 61
3 Casey STONER Honda AUS 41
4 Valentino ROSSI Ducati ITA 31
5 Nicky HAYDEN Ducati USA 30
6 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Honda ITA 30
7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda JPN 28
8 Cal CRUTCHLOW Yamaha GBR 21
9 Colin EDWARDS Yamaha USA 18
10 Hector BARBERA Ducati SPA 14
11 Karel ABRAHAM Ducati CZE 12
12 Toni ELIAS Honda SPA 12
13 Marco SIMONCELLI Honda ITA 11
14 Ben SPIES Yamaha USA 10
15 Loris CAPIROSSI Ducati ITA 9
16 Randy DE PUNIET Ducati FRA 6
17 John HOPKINS Suzuki USA 6
18 Alvaro BAUTISTA Suzuki SPA 3


Look for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France race weekend, starting with FP1,  to commence this Friday May 13 starting at 10:10am local time (GMT+2) 

If you can’t come to the track, then the track will come to you compliments of our very own hosted by @mpaines.

We will have a live feed on Twitter to ensure all of our fans stay up to date on all the racing action. Make sure to follow us @girlracermotogp.

May 12, 2011 - Posted by | Alvaro Bautista, Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, Casey Stoner, Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Ducati, Estoril, girlracer, Hector Barbera, Jorge Lorenzo, Le Mans, marco simoncelli, MotoGP, motorcycle racing, Nicky Hayden, Yamaha

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