Jorge Lorenzo heads to Le Mans this weekend for the French round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship in confident mood. Having celebrated his 24th birthday last week the reigning World Champion will be looking to extend his unbroken run of podium finishes so far this year. An impressive race win at Jerez in treacherous racing conditions and two superb second place podium finishes at Qatar and Estoril mean Lorenzo is the current Championship leader with a four point lead over fellow Spaniard Dani Pedrosa. Le Mans has so far delivered great results, Lorenzo winning there the last two years consecutively and not forgetting a victory in 2007 in the 250GP class.
Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies arrives in France determined to break his run of bad luck with two DNFs from the last two rounds. Spies last visit to Le Mans in 2010 was also hit by misfortune, a big high side in the final free practice session seeing the American tackle qualifying and the subsequent race in some pain with a swollen ankle, ultimately resulting in a crash on the seventh lap and a DNF.
Both riders will be hunting a set up that delivers optimum balance and control under hard and repeated braking. Success at Le Mans requires dispatching several tight chicanes at the beginning of the circuit then attacking the short straights and tight hairpins that make up the remainder. Although arguably most famous for the Le Mans 24HR race, the iconic circuit draws huge crowds for the French MotoGP race.
“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.”
Ive 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 were coming to France determined to make up for it and really kick off our 2011 season again.
We had a fantastic test in Estoril, everybody was surprised with the good weather so we had the opportunity to try many things. Were looking forward to Le Mans; Jorge has always been good there. Hopefully weve found our way back from the test to an improved setting so Jorge can go back to his old riding style of fast corner entry which he was missing a little for the first three races. Weve given that back to him so were confident he can perform well in France and for the rest of the season. Le Mans is a Yamaha track, it works well for us so its also a great place for Ben to come back and aim for the podium.
We left Estoril with some good points from the test and some valuable information. We are going to Le Mans with good confidence to continue our strong performance. Jorge intends to keep his performance high; he has already proved he is strong at Le Mans. Ben has had a challenging start to the year however we had a really good test at Estoril and we are confident he will kick start his championship attack on Sunday in France.
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 36 (16 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 149 (54 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 43 (16 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 3 (MotoGP 2010, 250cc, 2006/7)
Lives: Longview Texas / Lake Como Italy
First GP victory:
First GP: Donington, UK, 2008 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 24
Pole positions: 1
World Championships: 1 (WSB 2009)
Grand Prix Results: Le Mans 2010
1. J.Lorenzo Yamaha 44’29.114
2. V.Rossi Yamaha +5.672
3. A.Dovizioso Honda +7.872
-. Ben Spies Yamaha Tech 3 nc
Le Mans Record Lap
V.Rossi (Yamaha) 2008, 1’34.215
Le Mans Best Lap
D.Pedrosa (Honda) 2008, 1’32.647
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Preview
Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow head to the all-important home race for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team in France this weekend confident they can continue their brilliant start to the 2011 MotoGP World Championship campaign. And not only is this weekend’s encounter at the legendary Bugatti Circuit in Le Mans the home race for Tech 3, the event is sponsored by the Team’s main backer Monster, adding further importance to the fourth round of an engrossing season.
Edwards heads into this weekend’s race in optimistic mood after he claimed his first top six finish of the campaign in the Portuguese Grand Prix earlier this month. And he impressed again during a one-day test at the Estoril track to finish inside the top six having worked on a range of suspension settings to improve rear grip with his Yamaha YZR-M1 machine. The vastly experienced American has produced some of his finest MotoGP performances at the 4.815kms circuit and one of his three premier class pole positions came at the French venue in 2007. And two of his 11 podium finishes have been scored at the Le Mans circuit, which has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar since 2000.
British rider Crutchlow is aiming to continue his fantastic rookie campaign and the 25-year-old won’t be daunted at the prospect of having to learn another new track. Crutchlow had never raced in Jerez and Estoril before but he qualified and finished comfortably inside the top ten in both races. He’s made another impressive top ten finish his prime target for this weekend after he produced a sensational performance in the recent Estoril test. Demonstrating how quickly he has adapted to the challenge of riding a lighter and more powerful MotoGP machine, Crutchlow finished fourth quickest behind Marco Simoncelli, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner and is determined to deliver another good result for Tech 3 and Monster in this weekend’s 28-lap race.
“I am really looking forward to Le Mans because it is a track where I’ve had a lot of success at in the past. The Yamaha YZR-M1 has always worked well there too with the sweet handling characteristics of our bike suiting the layout of the track. We had a really good test after the race in Portugal and found a good direction to work with for improving rear grip and that should help us a lot. The new Yamaha chassis has a lot of potential but we still have to understand it a lot more to get the best performance out of it. A top six in Portugal is going to be hard to repeat because the field is so strong this season, but that’s what I’ll be aiming for. This weekend is huge for Tech 3 and Monster and I’ll be giving it 100 per cent to deliver a good result for both.
“I’m heading to Le Mans with a lot of confidence, even though it is another track I’ve only ever seen before on TV. I know it won’t be an easy task but Estoril was obviously another great weekend form me and then to finish fourth quickest in the test showed what I am capable of. Each time I get on the bike I am learning more and more and thanks to my guys at Monster Yamaha Tech 3 I’ve been able to make some big progress. I’m always determined to get the best result possible but this weekend definitely has extra significance being the Team’s home race and Monster being title sponsor of the event. If I can replicate the results I acheived in Jerez and Estoril I’ll be really happy.”
2011 MotoGP France
Le Mans 09/05/2011
(Valentino Rossi, 1/1/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Daniel Pedrosa, 5/18/2008)
Last Years Winner: