Le Mans Bugatti Circuit
Le Mans weekend warms up with press conference
Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Randy de Puniet were all present at the official press conference on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s Monster Energy Grand Prix de France.
The formalities for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France got underway on Thursday at the Le Mans circuit, where five of the MotoGP class riders were in attendance at the official press conference prior to the start of Round 4.
Current Championship leader and reigning World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, kicked off proceedings and the Yamaha Factory Racing rider is anticipating another competitive weekend at a track at which he has won for the past two seasons.
I love the track, it’s very flat and has a lot of chicanes, which is one of my specialties.
“It’s a track that is normally good for the Yamaha but we will see what happens this year because the competitors are really strong, they have improved their bikes a lot,” said Lorenzo, who is set to make his 150th GP start this weekend. “We are also competitive and at the Estoril Test we tried some parts that will improve the front feeling a little bit, so I’m excited to try this here.”
He added: “I love the track, it’s very flat and has a lot of chicanes, which is one of my specialties. Also you have to carry a very fast corner speed. The circumstances can change a lot so we start here with an open mentality, hope and with a lot of excitement.”
Dani Pedrosa trails his fellow Spaniard by just four points in the standings after his victory in the previous round at Estoril, and the Repsol Honda rider’s confidence is evident following his improved physical condition.
“I hope I can do well here because I will ride with some pain still, but I think there is nothing abnormal about this after having surgery and rehabilitation,” said Pedrosa, who has two premier class podium finishes at Le Mans to his name. “Right now I’m still sore but I hope I can improve during this weekend.”
“It’s a track I’ve had some MotoGP podiums at and some poles, so I’m happy to be here. To finish on the podium for the opening three races with that problem was, for me, very good. The Championship is very long, and we must try and maintain the rhythm in every race.”
Valentino Rossi has a strong record at the circuit, having stepped onto the podium seven times in the premier class, three of which have been victories. The Ducati Team rider has a best finish of fifth place so far this season in his debut campaign with the Borgo Panigale factory, and was encouraged by what he found at the Estoril Test.
“We had some new materials to try, especially in the front of the bike and with different settings. I’m happy because we improved our performance. The distance from the top remains too big but we will see this weekend,” said the Italian. “We have big changes on the frame of the bike. We have a small modification in the engine but we have to wait for the next engine due to the regulations, so I don’t know when we can use that.”
Speaking about Le Mans, he continued: “The track is not one of my favourites, because it’s very difficult and has a lot of hard braking, chicanes, but I’ve had some good results here in the past. The Yamaha is always good here, but the Ducati was too with Stoner so we have to be strong enough. We need to improve, and the target is the get on the podium as soon as possible.”
Randy de Puniet will want to improve on his best MotoGP result of seventh (from last year) in front of his home crowd. The Pramac Racing rider took four consecutive podiums here in the former 250cc class, and would love to kickstart his 2011 season with a strong result on home soil.
“It’s been a difficult start to the season, but I need to manage the situation,” De Puniet said. “After Estoril I was in a lot of pain, and was not too confident about this weekend, but since Monday I’ve been without pain and now I’m at 100% physically which means I can focus on the bike.”
“I really want to have a good race here because it’s important to start the season now. I’m quite confident, I hope the weather stays good, the bike is good, and I’ll give my best to be the first satellite rider,” he concluded.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards has had a good start to 2011, and is keen to impress at his team’s home GP.
“With a new chassis, electronics and engine we’ve had this year the bike has been going well, so I’m looking forward to this weekend and staying back on pace,” said Edwards, who has twice stepped onto the rostrum at Le Mans. “I have no idea why I like this track, I think it’s just because the bike likes it! But it’s very competitive out there and will be again this weekend.”