Fabio Quartararo & Johann Zarco ready for home race in Le Mans!
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Fabio Quartararo & Johann Zarco ready for home race in Le Mans!

By FORMULAMotoGPMag - 13 May 2022

Author: Myanna Wedes

The 2022 Le Mans French MotoGP race weekend has arrived, and the local fans are incredibly passionate, waiting to capture glimpses of local heroes Fabio Quartararo and Johann Zarco whilst the beer is cold and sun shining. Both local riders are eager to secure a quality result at a circuit which can be punishing on your mindset and weather that can shift in the blink of an eye from sunshine to rain so quickly. With the testing completed in Jerez, we are eager to see how the riders feel considering the turbulent reports about tyre pressures and apparent cheating amongst teams. The news headlines have been about two main issues: tyre pressures and Suzuki leaving the sport. We thought in the early stages of 2022, it would be about contractual negotiations. This is certainly not the case now, and we fear for both Joan Mir and Alex Rins in terms of their futures and where they will end up if the Suzuki squad do remove themselves from the premier class as suggested. No doubt, Mir will be in contact with Honda whilst Rins looks for where there is free space or potentially a new team arriving on the grid, of course dependent upon the manufacturer choice: Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, Yamaha….

With that said, the focus is currently on the World Championship for the riders and Quartararo does not want to buy into any conversations about other Yamaha riders. He wants to remain locked, and laser focused on his job rather than worry about how his fellow Yamaha competitors are tracking. The energy from the fans is guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of the teams and we know it will be an action-packed SHARK Grand Prix de France. At present, the main goal for Fabulous Fabio is to qualify strong and work his way from there. He does not want to jump to conclusions about who he may be racing closely with and is anticipating everyone on the grid. The young rider will be watching Aprilia and Ducati closely to see how they shape up early into the weekend because that will determine whose machine is strongest for one lap speed and race pace. In comparison, Zarco wants to do well and mentioned that Jack Miller will be strong this weekend. Is that code for Zarco following Miller closely to see what lines he takes, the direction of the bike, speed trap and overall feeling in order to compete for the top spot? Consistency is a word Zarco dropped during the pre-event and he wants to stay up the front because a World Championship can be won purely based on finishing in the top spots regularly. As his confidence builds, so will the results.

Fabio Quartararo #20:

“The second place in Jerez was a good result, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t want to win. I actually came really close, so I’m now looking forward to a rematch in Le Mans. I’m feeling positive about this weekend, but we will see what happens. It’s been an unpredictable season so far. Anyway, it’s my home GP, so for sure I will push to the limit and give it my all. Hopefully we'll have nice weather.”

Credit - www.motogp.com (Zarco)

Johann Zarco #5:

"I hope I will be able to use the bike well here. We should have some good sessions in the dry, so it will be great to find the right feeling early. After a disappointing race, the test was great to find something else and try to go faster. I hope this will continue here in Le Mans. There is the energy from the fan here. They’ve been waiting two years and both yesterday and today they are already here, ready to scream your name and that's giving great energy. Let’s see then about the weather. It was planned to be fully dry for the weekend but maybe now it can change. So, we will adapt and see. All of them are pretty ready and strong to fight. Jack likes the track here and he will be there. I will do my job and see what I can do.”

New fan favourite Aleix Espargaro is ready to conquer Le Mans with a smile. The weather conditions in the past with the Aprilia have made things challenging so he is curious to see how the bike responds this weekend considering how much it has improved. In amongst the testing schedule at Jerez, we know that A Espargaro wants to sort out the clutch issues and this weekend he will use a new carbon clutch that is lighter and better from the start of the race. The factory team is working around the clock to bring new tech, improve the feeling of the bike and stay competitive. The fact they have found a new clutch system to integrate showcases how bad they want to win and will put in the hours to ensure success. It is now down to A Espargaro to prepare the bike well from FP1 onwards and qualify with strength to allow him to charge forward in the race.

Credit - www.motogp.com (Espargaro)

Aleix Espargaro #41:

"We are coming from some good tests in Jerez where we found a few interesting solutions for improving our performance on the starting grid. It’s important for us to continue improving. The RS-GP is definitely at an outstanding level but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t margin for growth. Especially in the early stages of the race which are then conditioning the end result more and more. We're headed to France calm and aware. We’re working well."

The two riders we are keen to see this weekend as to their performance levels are Pecco Bagnaia and Marc Marquez. The Ducati rider is fully aware that his teammates Miller and Zarco will be lightning fast. Everyone will be watching Bagnaia closely specially to see how Ducati run their bikes with the latest tyre pressure saga. Clearly, the race winner Bagnaia was on a whole new level which came out of nowhere and many were questioning how he could go from poor form to rocket fast in such a short time frame. The saga was first reported by journalist Max Oxley who uncovered some data evidence that suggests Bagnaia failed to meet the minimum specified front tyre pressure during a single lap of the race that took place in Jerez. If it was any other sport, normally an immediate disqualification would occur and this time, it was silence and an eventual press release to explain the situation. Some of us are still confused as to why the race winner has managed to get through without being reprimanded. This weekend will be interesting as we watch the Italian rider closely to determine his performance levels after the tyre pressure debates.

Credit - www.motogp.com (Bagnaia)

Pecco Bagnaia #63:

"This week off has definitely helped me recover and let my shoulder rest after the two consecutive Grands Prix of Portimão and Jerez, which were very demanding. We are coming to France to a track that I generally like a lot and where I always enjoy riding, but it is definitely not an easy track either, where we struggled a bit in the dry last year. Compared to last year, the weather should be better this year: no rain is forecast, and the temperatures also seem higher. Our goal is to continue the excellent work done at Jerez and be competitive and fast here in France.”

Credit - www.motogp.com (Marquez)

Marc Marquez #93:

“Overall the Jerez weekend was good when we also include the test because we were able to learn a good amount. Now we arrive in France to see what’s possible. The important thing is to keep building, keep improving and keep closing the distance to the front. In Jerez we made progress and now we must keep on going, especially after the test it’s important to see how everything is. I have had some good races in Le Mans and some more challenging races there, it can depend a lot on the conditions but they’re looking good for this weekend.“

Here is the press release regarding the tyre pressures:

MotoGP™ Technical Director Danny Aldridge:

"In cooperation with the MSMA and following a request from the MSMA, the Technical Direction of the Championship is currently in the process of evaluating a new tyre pressure monitoring protocol. This procedure must include the introduction of a unified sensor and receiver system, because it is the only way to have reliable data for scrutineering. In addition, a detailed protocol of how the new regulations will be enforced has been discussed with the MSMA and it has been unanimously agreed that it will not be implemented before the start of the 2023 season. "This protocol has preliminary been agreed within the MSMA on the condition that it would be evaluated by all manufacturers during the 2022 season. To aid in this evaluation, all manufacturers have unanimously agreed to freely share their riders' tyre data after each event with all other manufacturers; as this data is supplied voluntarily and the sensors are calibrated individually by each sensor manufacturer, it cannot currently be verified for its accuracy. "As agreed between Michelin, FIM, IRTA, MSMA and Dorna, the tyre regulations will continue to be enforced as they have been for many years, under the control of the Technical Director and Michelin, until such time that the proposed new procedure is ready to be introduced."

What are your thoughts on the stance on the tyre pressures?

For fans of Miller, Maverick Vinales and Pol Espargaro, all three riders have provided some insight as to their expectations for the weekend. Two of the three are ready to fight whilst Vinales still discovers himself and the bike. It is still not a sync of 100% with the rider and the bike at Aprilia which is interesting considering the performance levels of A Espargaro. Whereas Miller and A Espargaro are becoming like one with their machines and Le Mans is a circuit that both enjoy. Who knows, we may see both battle one another as comfort levels and confidence will determine where they end up this weekend.

Jack Miller #43:

"I'm happy to be back racing in France, where I definitely had some good memories after the win last year! I really love the Le Mans track, and I feel I can be competitive again this year with the Desmosedici GP 22. The weather forecast for this weekend is good, but the weather in this region always tends to be rather unpredictable. In any case, I'm ready to tackle the weekend in any conditions to get another good result on Sunday in the race!"

Maverick Vinales #12:

"Our quest to adapt continues. We’ll probably be able to draw some advantages from some solutions we tested in Jerez on Monday but it will be especially important to move forward step by step. I'm able to be fast in the race - extremely fast in some situations - but clearly my feeling with the RS-GP is still keeping me from expressing my best performance. This becomes particularly clear on Saturday in qualifying when everything has to be perfect. It’s a process we’re working on. Both the bike and I have strong points, we just have to find the best way to exploit them."

Pol Espargaro #44:

“Last year I think Le Mans was one of the first weekends where we could really start to show our potential. I know how myself and the bike have improved since then so I am looking forward to going back and putting into action what we found during the test. I’ve had some good races in Le Mans, the cooler conditions and the high levels of grip suit my riding style a lot. MotoGP is very close at the moment so we can’t rely on the past, no matter what we need to work well from the start of the weekend – qualify well and fight hard during the race.”

It is a seriously tough weekend for Team Suzuki Ecstar with reports suggesting they will certainly end their MotoGP campaign at the end of 2022 unless an agreement can be reached with Dorna. We feel for both Mir and Rins because Mir is a Suzuki World Champion and both riders are class. They are doing a wonderful job in 2022 and we anticipate that they will improve as the race weekends come and go. The fire within the belly to ride for everything on the line is as accurate as it gets.

At present, their statement is clear:

“Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending its participation in MotoGP at the end of 2022. Unfortunately, the current economical situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the Automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to shift costs and human resources to develop new technologies. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our Suzuki Ecstar Team, to all those who have supported Suzuki's motorcycle racing activities for many years and to all Suzuki fans who have given us their enthusiastic support.”

Alex Rins #42:

“Le Mans has a really nice layout with a few flowing sections and then plenty of hard braking and slow corners. It’s always a challenge to ride this track, but it’s one of the old classics and it’s good to have it on the calendar. I’m aiming for strong result after my struggles in Jerez.”

Joan Mir #36:

“I took victory here back in my Moto3 days but I haven’t yet managed a podium position or win in the top class in Le Mans, so obviously I want to change that. It won’t be easy, especially given how competitive the championship is this year, but let’s give it a go.”

We look forward to the battles and watching how the weekend unfolds as fans arrive early, enjoy the sunshine and incredible energy. Time to go racing!

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