The MotoGP Teams Get Ready For Le Mans
The MotoGP Championship heads to Le Mans in France this weekend and all the riders are looking to score points.
The Le Mans circuit has had some modifications to the layout in readiness for the MotoGP improving safety to the revised new lap length of 4,185m while keeping it’s unique character.
Valentino Rossi on the Fiat Yamaha is hoping to continue his good fortune from his win in China earlier this month. It was the first win for the Italian so far this season and he hopes to take his next victory on the French circuit, which he feels he should have done better at last year.
Rossi said “Last year Le Mans was incredibly disappointing for us. We were hoping for a good result in the dry, but the rain came and things didn’t go as planned. This year, however, we’re going there on a high after the fantastic result in China and I’m confident we can have a good weekend. Yamaha usually go well at Le Mans and, although it’s the first time we’ve been there with Bridgestone, I’m confident we’ll be strong there. I’m nine points from the top of the championship but our rivals are very motivated too, so there’s no let-up and we must go for the maximum points again.”
The reigning champion, Casey Stoner, is hoping for a better performance at Le Mans although he has already confessed to it not being one of his favourite tracks but is eager to get on with the job in hand and decrease the 25 point difference between himself and the current leader of the 2008 championship, Dani Pedrosa.
The Ducati rider said “I haven’t had outstanding results at Le Mans in the past, but they have been good and I remember being really fast in practice last year and being confident for the race. Then on Sunday it rained but I still came away with a podium.”
“The track itself is not the most exciting. It’s more like a go-kart track, the bike has to be really efficient on the brakes but agile at the same time, and quick on the exit of corners. But at the end of the day the objective is still the same, whether you like the track or not.”
His team-mate, Marco Melandri has had success on the track in the past and said “I think I can do well there because I won in 2006 and last year I made the podium. Personally, I have always liked this track so hopefully I can get another good result.”
The Kawasaki rider, John Hopkins is hoping to be back to full fitness for the next race after injuring his leg at the Shanghai round. He caught the back of his knee on the footpeg of his Ninja after getting in a tangle with Alex de Angeles, forcing him off the track but he rejoined and continued to take fourteenth position in the race.
Hopkins said “My leg is completely black and blue with bruising but, while it looks quite nasty, it hasn’t caused me any problems. I’m confident it won’t be an issue on the bike. I’m looking forward to Le Mans because it’s a track that suits my riding style. There’s a lot of hard braking, quick changes of direction, and hard acceleration, and that’s exactly what the ZX-RR has been designed for. When you combine this with our Bridgestone tyres, which always seem to work well here, I think we’re in a strong position.”
His team-mate, Anthony West was equally disappointed with his race at Shanghai and has been working hard with his crew to solve the traction problems he has had since the start of the season.
West said “I’ve had some problems this year with the rear tyre spinning up too easily out of the turns but, after discussing the problem with my crew and Kawasaki’s technical staff, we think we’ve identified what we need to change on the bike to see an improvement in this area. If we can fix this problem, then I am confident that a top ten finish in France is a realistic goal for me.”
Chris Vermeulen who won at the French circuit last year in the pouring rain for the Rizla Suzuki team is hoping to do the same again but preferably in dryer conditions. He said “I’m looking forward to Le Mans, and not just because of the memory of my first MotoGP win. We need to get back on the bike and try to get the GSV-R as competitive as it can be.”
“It was really disappointing after Shanghai. The results we’re getting are not what we all deserve for the hard work we’re putting in, maybe we just need that bit of luck to go our way. What better place than Le Mans for that to happen?”
His team-mate Loris Capirossi said “I believe that the bike is very capable of running at the front. We need to start getting the positions that we want and everybody at Suzuki is working hard to make it happen.”