The following is from Yamaha…The Fiat Yamaha Team heads to the historic circuit of Le Mans this weekend after a largely successful start to the season that has seen them take two pole positions, two wins and three podiums as a team in the first three races. Valentino Rossi arrives in France in perfect shape, leading the World Championship by a comfortable eleven points thanks to his stunning win in Jerez. Jorge Lorenzo meanwhile is targeting a return to his form of the first two races after a disappointing home race.Le Mans has traditionally been one of Yamaha’s best circuits and last year saw a clean-sweep of the podium from the Japanese manufacturer with Rossi on top, Lorenzo second and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards in third. Rossi also won there with Yamaha in 2005 and has one other French victory to his name as well as six podiums in his illustrious career. Last year’s victory was his 90th and he celebrated by giving Angel Nieto a pillion ride, having equalled the Spanish legend’s win tally. This year sees him approaching another milestone; last weekend’s win was the 98th of his career and another win in Le Mans will see him set up an incredible possible 100th win at his home race in Mugello. Rossi and his crew are adamant after the last race that they have found the right set-up for the 2009 M1 and the new Bridgestone control tyres to allow them to fight for victory at every round and the 30-year-old Italian will be aiming to do just that this weekend.Lorenzo turned 22 the day after Jerez and the brilliant young Spaniard is hoping to celebrate in arrears this weekend, after crashing out of his home race when challenging for a podium. With one win already under his belt this season the Mallorcan has shown that he has the form to challenge the established order and he will want to banish the memories of Jerez this weekend by bouncing back to his best. Last year saw Lorenzo pull off one of the performances of the season by riding to second behind his team-mate despite two fractured ankles, which he had sustained just two weeks before in Shanghai.The French track is one of the least technical circuits on the calendar, with the first part being the most complicated where the high speed turn one, one of the fastest in MotoGP, is followed by a number of tight chicanes. The rest of the track is made up of short straights and hairpins, calling not just for balance and control under hard and repeated braking, but a neat and swift transfer from full braking to full acceleration on the exit of the corners.Valentino Rossi – “Special memories”
“My memories of Le Mans last year are amazing because it was my 90th career victory and I made the lap of honour with Angel Nieto on my bike with me, because I equalled his record. Also there were three Yamaha’s on the podium, which was very special. Things are great in our team at the moment, we made a big step forward in Jerez; my bike was fantastic and it was great to win again. Le Mans is a very different track but the Yamaha is always fast there; this year a lot of things have changed but I hope we will still be quick! It’s good to have a rest between races after two together and now we will arrive in Le Mans fully relaxed and ready to work on maximum power.”Jorge Lorenzo – “Another story”
“Le Mans is the next stop and the first after my crash in Jerez. I was very sad about what happened there but now it is another story, everything begins again and I must try to do things step by step. The team and I need to improve after Jerez and main target is to get back on the podium. I am fit and I like Le Mans, another historic circuit. For someone like me that loves films, Le Mans is a mythical place, close to one of the most beautiful cities in the world! I have had some difficult times there, and last year wasn’t easy because I crashed twice during the weekend, but in the end the result was good. I’ve been on the podium in each category and I will remember forever the incredible Yamaha podium of last year. It was amazing! I can see now Valentino, Colin and I enjoying the moment with all the Yamaha people smiling! I hope this year we can repeat that moment. I will also remember that podium because it’s the only one where I was on crutches!”Davide Brivio – “Targeting consistency”
“Last year at Le Mans was great, Valentino won the race and we had three Yamahas on the podium. We’re coming there in good shape and once again our priority is to remain on the podium because this consistency is what’s going to be important for the championship. Of course if there’s the possibility to win we will try as well! We have great memories of the track and now we hope to make some more this year.”Daniele Romagnoli – “Moving on”
“Le Mans was very good for us last year, especially considering that Jorge was not in great physical condition. Jerez was a great disappointment but now we’re keen to move on to France and hopefully we will be able to forget the bad memory from Spain! Le Mans generally suits our Yamaha very well so we hope that we can make the most of it.”The following is from Repsol Honda…The Repsol Honda Team moves north across Europe this week for round four of the 2009 MotoGP World Championship – the Grand Prix of France at the Bugatti circuit in Le Mans. In contrast to the fast turns of the last race at Jerez, Le Mans presents a more stop-start challenge and the factory Honda team will be seeking further progress from the RC212V after showing good pace in the Spanish Grand Prix.Both Repsol Honda riders like the nature of the Le Mans circuit and arrive at the historic venue – famous for its 24-hour car and motorcycle races – confident they can build on their promising starts to the 2009 season. Dani Pedrosa will be determined to pose a real threat to his rivals in Le Mans after an impressive second place at his home event in Jerez. The Spaniard led for much of the race, proving that his injury-hit pre-season can be now forgotten and the serious business of challenging for victories every weekend can begin.Pedrosa had a peerless record at Le Mans in the smaller Grand Prix formulae, finishing third in the 125cc race in 2002, before a three-year winning streak from 2003 to 2005, first in the 125cc class and then in 250s. In 2006 Pedrosa made the podium on his MotoGP debut at the French track having set pole position. He was on pole again last year and set the fastest lap of the race on his way to fourth at the chequered flag. In typical fashion, 23-year-old Pedrosa remains utterly focused in the run-up to the French Grand Prix and knows that his rivals will be strong once again in Le Mans, but it’s a certainty that the three-time World Champion will be eyeing the top step of the podium when the start lights go out on Sunday.
Andrea Dovizioso will also be targeting the podium this weekend at a track that has brought him significant success in the past. The Italian won the 125cc race here in 2004 as part of a five-year podium streak which began in 2003 in the 125cc class and included three 250cc podiums.Dovizioso has already displayed his race pace and talent this season and lies fifth in the World Championship standings after three rounds. He and his crew will be working to extract the absolute maximum from the RC212V package this weekend.In a change from the previous races this season, the practice periods in Le Mans return to one-hour in duration – up from the 45-minute sessions at the first three races of 2009. The change has been made by the FIM after it was decided by the Grand Prix Commission that one-hour sessions are needed to give the teams sufficient time to conduct the extensive set-up work required prior to the race. The Friday morning practice will not be reintroduced, however, because the original reduction in practice time was made to cut the mileage covered during a race weekend, thus reducing costs.So, first practice for the Grand Prix of France begins at 13.55 on Friday, with further practice and qualifying sessions taking place on Saturday. Sunday’s 28-lap race begins at 14.00, local time.DANI PEDROSA – Le Mans 2008: 4th – Current World Championship position: 3rd
“After the Jerez race I’m quite happy to be going to Le Mans because this is another circuit I like and I hope we can go well there again. It’s a track where the weather is often quite unstable and this means we usually have a busy weekend because we have to be prepared to set the bike up for a wide range of weather conditions and temperatures. Still, we have 15 minutes more practice time in each session which should help us with this, and it’ll be interesting to see how our allocation of 20 tyres copes with the extra time too. Some of our rivals’ machines usually perform well at Le Mans so we need to be really focused on getting our bike to work well here. Personally, I’ve had some good results at Le Mans including few victories in 125 and 250, so it’s a circuit I where I have quite a lot of confidence, so I hope to convert that into a good result this weekend.”ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – Le Mans 2008: 6th – Current World Championship position: 5th
“I always look forward to racing in Le Mans and I’m determined to work really hard this weekend. I know that I have to improve and we also need to focus on getting the best out of our machine package. Dani’s recent results in Japan and Spain have given me extra motivation because he’s shown what the bike is capable of. I have always had good results at this track so I’m hoping I can repeat those. The circuit is quite slow and narrow, and it has a lot of changes of direction – it’s a technical track. The changes to the first chicane have robbed Le Mans of part of its fascination, which is unfortunate, but it’s still a circuit I like. The only issue here is the weather, because it rains quite often and we’ve already had enough rain this year!”The following is from Suzuki…Le Mans in France is the next stop for Rizla Suzuki MotoGP on the 2009 MotoGP calendar with both riders in a confident mood to kick-start their seasons at the famous French circuit.Chris Vermeulen returns to the scene of his first victory in Grand Prix racing determined to put the results of this season’s three races firmly behind him as he looks to get his Suzuki GSV-R up amongst the front runners at the 4,185m French circuit. Vermeulen won at Le Mans in 2007 and finished fifth in 2008. He will be looking to better last year’s result and try to repeat his victory from two years ago when he takes to the track on Friday for the first practice session.Loris Capirossi tasted podium success at Le Mans in 2006 and is equally determined to put his machine at the front of the field. Capirossi scored a hard-earned seventh at Le Mans last year after running off the track and fighting his way back through the field.Le Mans is one of the most famous race-tracks in the world and the MotoGP field will race on the Bugatti Circuit, a layout which only shares a short section of the 24-hour track. The circuit itself is a twisty affair with an incredibly fast first corner – taken flat-out in top gear before braking hard for a chicane. Le Mans is approximately 200km/s south-west of Paris and a boisterous crowd is always on-hand to make sure the event is a memorable one.Rizla Suzuki MotoGP will take to the track on the afternoon of Friday 15th May for the first – and only – session of the day. An alteration to the schedule will see the session revert back to an hour, from the previous 45-minute sessions used so far this year. This has been agreed by the Grand Prix Commission to allow more time to get the bikes set-up in readiness for the race and to increase competitiveness for all concerned.The second free practice session will be on Saturday morning followed by an hour of qualifying in the afternoon. Sunday’s 28-lap race gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).Chris Vermeulen:
“I am really looking forward to going back to Le Mans as it holds some great memories for me and has a special place in my heart. I managed a fifth there last year and I will certainly be looking to better that this time out. We have had a tough start to the season and the results have certainly not gone our way for one reason or another, but we need to learn from what has happened and make sure we come out stronger through the rest of the season – starting with Le Mans this weekend!”Loris Capirossi:
“I have said before that I have been disappointed with the results so far this season and I want to be able to show just what the GSV-R and the whole team are capable of. We now have a bit longer to work on the bike with the increased practice sessions and hopefully we can iron-out the few things that we need to make us more competitive. I know that we can be closer to the front and challenging the top guys, we just seem to need that bit of luck and things to go our way for a change!