Le Mans: French flare, chasing Marc Marquez and dedicated fans
The circuit of unpredictable weather has arrived with riders eager to chase one another to the finish line. This is the fifth round of the World Championship at the Bugatti Circuit which intertwines with the Circuit de la Sarthe where the Le Mans 24 hour race takes place. The French circuit is a beautiful one to race on and the factory Desmosedici bikes will feature a brand-new livery with Dovizioso and Petrucci's personalized logos on the fairings.
We are very excited to see how the grid lines up and chases Marc Marquez who at this point in time is stronger than ever with his race performance, mental strength and determination. In 2018, Marquez won and no doubt will be looking to repeat his success. MM93: “We had a very strong weekend in Jerez and a productive test but this is MotoGP and we must always keep working. Between races I was able to relax a little bit at the F1 and also the Leipzig versus Bayern game, riding my bike in the stadium was great and the noise was incredible. Le Mans can be a tricky GP, especially with the weather so we must be prepared for any conditions. Last year I was able to win here but we always face a lot of opposition.”
In contrast, the pressure will be on for teammate Jorge Lorenzo who is still trying to find his feet. It has been a challenging past few races for the Spartan. Will he be able to finish in the top five is the question? JL99: “After a tough weekend I am pleased to be able to get back on the Honda without too much time between races. In the past, I have gone well in France but we will need to see how this weekend goes. The test we had on Monday after Jerez was productive and importantly I was able to get more time on the bike which should help us to understand and improve.” The learning of the Repsol Honda MotoGP bike has to be fast tracked because the expectation of being in a top seat is mentally draining.
When you turn towards the factory Ducati team, Andrea Dovizioso would love to win on French soil. Could 2019 be the chance he has always dreamed of? AD04: “At Le Mans we should be more competitive than in the last round, at least on paper, even though last year in France the race didn't go as planned. Weather conditions always play a key role at Le Mans, and it's crucial to be able to manage this variable to your advantage. At any rate, I expect to have many fast rivals out there, so it'll be important to start off on the right foot since the very first session and prepare ourselves as well as possible for the race. The Desmosedici GP has some characteristics that we can take advantage of in France, but we need to iron out some details to maximize our potential and play our cards right on Sunday, which is when points are given. I'm confident we can ride a strong race.” The red beast will have competition with Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi waiting to take the top step!
Le Mans is a circuit that Rossi likes a lot and Quartararo will be wanting to improve his result after a devastating blow with his bike suffering a mechanical failure. VR46: “The Jerez test was quite positive and I think we can also try something during the weekend in France. Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there. The goal is to have a good weekend, work well from FP1 onwards, and be fast from the first day. We had a good race pace last year, so we want to start working from there. I'm hoping for good weather to work in throughout the weekend, so we can show our full potential. I want to get back on the podium, and we will do our best with the team.” In comparison, the young French rider is excited to get back in to full swing and feels confident in his ability at a home Grand Prix. He knows the fans will be crazy and is aiming to feed off the energy that they will bring. It is important as a local rider to utilise the crowd and allow it to boost your performance. In France, there is extra motivation and the Yamaha package is looking strong. FB20: “We can only draw positive conclusions from the Spanish GP. We took pole position, we were fighting for the podium and on Monday we were the fastest at the test whilst we were trying out many things for the coming races. It’s good to go to Le Mans after a great weekend like we had at Jerez. There will be a lot of fans at the French GP and that will give me extra motivation. It also generates more stress and pressure as it’s my home Grand Prix, but in the end it’s good to have a race where the fans are all behind me. I think the Yamaha YZR-M1 will be well suited to Le Mans, because in recent years Yamaha have done well there. I believe we can get a good result. We will do our best and work in the same way as we did at Jerez. I’m looking forward to the race.”
Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins are both natural fighters. They work hard and are also very aware of their emotions as they compete in such a dynamic season of MotoGP. Over the past few weeks, Vinales has been vocal about his feelings and where he is frustrated. Inside the box, his facial expressions were that of frustration, confusion and also happiness after the third place finish in Jerez. He is a rider that goes through a rollercoaster of emotional experiences and Le Mans will be another test of his discipline. MV12: “Getting a third place in Jerez was a good confidence boost, for sure, so I’m feeling positive. Le Mans is a circuit that I really like and it’s also the track where I scored some of the best results of my career. So, to me, that’s a track to be back at the top. I really like going there. I just hope that the weather will help us a little because, if not, Le Mans is a really tough track. In Austin we were quite fast in the wet, so we have to see. I’m curious to see what we can do there.” When you look towards the Team Suzuki Ecstar garage you also see another rider that wants to charge for more top class results. In Jerez, Rins and his team tried a lot of new things in particular a new spoon swing arm. The test was positive and the team are aiming to translate this in to more race wins and podium finishes. If you are not fast and lacking in overall performance, the challenges of a circuit where you accelerate rapidly and brake hard make the mind question its ability to be positive. Therefore, it is critical that Rins starts off in a strong way. AR42: “The latest results have been very positive, but we’ll stay grounded and not get carried away. We need to follow our path, which is to improve race by race. We know that Le Mans can be a tricky circuit for us as it is mainly ‘stop and go’, but at the same time the growth we’ve done with the bike compared to last year, and my increased experience could be two important factors for a good race in France. We know the points we definitely need to work on to improve further, one of them is qualifying. We must be aware that we have a competitive package and we need to keep the positive trend to place ourselves at the top.”
Finally, Australian rider Jack Miller and British rider Cal Crutchlow is hoping to change their luck around and get back on the train of points. Both riders know that you have to be optimistic and also put the power to the ground at this particular event. The corner entry will be the key area for the Honda machines whereas the acceleration more beneficial for the other bikes in particular the Ducati. With that said, Miller will need to remain calm after it was heard that he and Aleix Espargaro argued after the Jerez Grand Prix. The temptation to get square must be resisted by Miller who has the ability to be ahead of Espargaro. So will a French rider win their home race, could Marquez demolish the Le Mans circuit and run away or will we see a completely different outcome? Be sure to tune in!