Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
DORNA Sport SL – GP of Le Mans preview. Thursday, May 14 2015
MotoGP™ squad prepares for the challenge of the #FrenchGP
Monster Energy Grand Prix de France kicks off with two press conferences, the MotoGP riders along with French Moto2 Championship leader Johann Zarco and the top 4 riders of the Moto3 class standings expressing their opinions on the season so far. Other GP riders were lucky to enjoy some time with horses participating in a fascinating acrobatic equestrian discipline.
The top 4 riders in the championship Valentino Rossi (ITA), Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Jorge Lorenzo (SPA), Marc Marquez (SPA) were joined by Pol Espargaro (SPA) and Moto2 rider Johann Zarco (FRA). Everyone is aware that this circuit is traditionally favourable for the Yamaha machines…
Current championship leader Valentino Rossi (Yamaha MotoGP Movistar), who finished in 3rd place at the last race in Jerez & has 3 premier class wins at Le Mans to his name, said: “It’s been a great start to the season, especially for the 2 victories and because I was always on the podium, which is important for the championship.
“Jorge started with difficulty but his performance in Jerez was fantastic – fastest from Friday to Saturday. Jorge is always fast in Le Mans, historically it’s a good track for the Yamaha too. Last year Marc was faster, but we have to see if this year we are closer. “It’s not my best track, there’s not a lot of grip and the weather is an issue: cold in the mornings and low temperature in the afternoon. This means you have to use soft tyres for grip.”
Andrea Dovizioso (Team Ducati) has a total of 7 career podium finishes here at Le Mans and 1 win in the 125cc class in his championship-winning season. His claims his recent testing session at Mugello was crucial for this GP: “The Mugello test was important, at Jerez we went the wrong way with testing & we weren’t so competitive. I’m happy now because we come here with a much better feel than in Jerez.”
Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo, who was the undisputed ruler of the Jerez GP, hopes for similar success at the French track: “In Jerez everything was perfect from the beginning. Le Mans is a new story, anything can change. But at Jerez I was good on corner entry, if I can keep this feeling at Le Mans I can be competitive.
“Le Mans is a good track for Yamaha historically, last year Marc was strong, but we still finished on the podium. This year the Yamaha is better & I think we have a big chance.”
The reigning world champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) may not be a huge fan of the Le Mans circuit, but his results speak for themselves: “6 years ago I got my first pole position here. My first Moto2 victory was here too. I don’t like it a lot but normally I get good results.
“Last year I arrived here in a very different position, but we have 14 races left so there is no panic.”
Speaking on his recent finger injury, Marquez added: “My finger is at 100%, it’s a bit bigger than usual [laughs], but I have the power in it back.” 23-year-old Pol Espargaró (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) claimed the best result of his rookie season last year in Le Mans with fourth place: “In Jerez we recovered some confidence and I think we have a good feeling to come to the home GP for the team. We hope it will be close to last year. I like the track – I have good results here in 125 & Moto2 and last year in MotoGP I had surprising results. We will try to repeat it!”
French Moto2™ rider Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) joined the conference as a special guest to share his excitement over racing in his home Grand Prix, especially due to the fact that it has been 11 years since a French rider arrived for the French GP leading the world championship: “I don’t have too much pressure, 16 points advantage is good and I want to keep this mindframe and enjoy being on the bike.”
The Moto3 top four spoke in a special press conference held in Le Mans today. Just 44 points separate Danny Kent (GBR), Efren Vazquez (SPA), Fabio Quartararo (FRA) and Enea Bastianini (ITA), who respectively sit at the head of the standings. Kent has a comfortable 31 point lead, while the following 3 are separated by just 13 points.
Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) is dominating the championship thus far with three consecutive victories. He wants to continue this trend in Le Mans: “It’s been a great start to the year, 3 wins out of 4 starts, but still, there’s a long year ahead and I need to keep my feet on the ground. I will keep working hard.”
When asked if his winning streak was due to him or the bike, Kent responded that it’s a mix of both: “The package we have is really good. I’ve also been working a lot on my fitness and I’ve lost a few kilos. I’ll just keep trying to be consistent.”
Efren Vazquez lies in 2nd place behind his team mate. The Basque rider, currently 31 points from Kent, is hoping to close that gap in Le Mans: “I’ve had a good start to the year, not as good as Danny though! But I’m happy with 2 podiums and second place in the championship.”
As a veteran of Moto3, Vazquez was asked for his opinion on the new blood in the championship: “The level is higher every year, the bikes are more level and it’s really interesting for the championship. The young riders come with full batteries ready to fight for the win. It’s harder for me, sometimes the fight is with myself.” Moto3™ rookie Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) is looking forward to his home race, having already proved in the FIM CEV Repsol championship that he can win here: “I’ve only ridden once here in CEV, just one race. The level of the riders is higher in this championship though…”
An assorted group of Grand Prix riders went ahead and gave out a try to a 1 horsepower ride today. Mike di Meglio, Maverick Viñales, Sandro Cortese, Alexis Masbou and Louis Rossi – an avid horse lover – enjoyed a voltige initiation class this morning with the French World Champion Jacques Ferrari at Le Pôle Européen du Cheval less than 15km away from the Le Mans circuit. Voltige is a traditionally French equestrian discipline which consists of acrobatic and artistic activity performed while on horseback. Watch the exclusive video on motogp.com to find out how they got on.
Tomorrow the three classes of MotoGP World Championship take to the track for Free Practice sessions FP1 and FP2. The actions starts at 9am local time with Moto3 FP1.