DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM RETURN TO EUROPE FOR FRENCH GP The MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe for the Grand Prix of France as the season enters its busiest phase, with five races coming up over the next seven weekends. Despite finishing...
DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM RETURN TO EUROPE FOR FRENCH GP
The MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe for the Grand Prix of France as the season enters its busiest phase, with five races coming up over the next seven weekends.
Despite finishing on the podium in the last round at Shanghai, reigning World Champion Casey Stoner was disappointed that he hadn't been able to repeat his pace from practice in the race and his target for this weekend is to return to his usual highly-competitive self. Marco Melandri achieved his objective in China by improving his feeling with the bike and fighting for a top position, so his clear objective for France is to continue with that level of progression.
Stoner has a decent record at Le Mans, having finished on the podium last year and only just missing out with fourth place as a rookie in 2006. Melandri actually won that race two years ago and he finished an impressive second last season.
LIVIO SUPPO, MotoGP PROJECT DIRECTOR
"On paper Le Mans isn't particularly suited to our bike but last year Casey was on the pace in every dry practice session and managed a podium in a race that was badly affected by the weather. So we go to France feeling confident that we can do well with both Casey and Marco, who began to show in China that the great job done by the team is bearing fruit."
CASEY STONER, Ducati Marlboro Team
"I haven't had outstanding results at Le Mans in the past but they have been good and I remember last year being really fast in practice and feeling confident for the race. Then on Sunday it rained but I still came away with a podium. The track itself is not the most exciting - it's more like a go-kart track, where the bike has to be really efficient on the brakes but agile at the same time and quick on the exit of the corners. At the end of the day though, whether you like a track or not, the objective is still the same - you have to work hard all weekend and prepare a competitive package for the race, something we generally always manage to achieve and have the knowledge to do again."
MARCO MELANDRI, Ducati Marlboro Team
"Le Mans is a track with a lot of heavy braking and it cannot be underestimated because it is quite technical, with slow turns followed by some really fast ones. Even so I think I can do well there because I won in 2006 with the 990cc bike and last year I made the podium with the 800. Personally I have always liked the track so hopefully I can get another good result. We have shown that we're able to come through a difficult situation and we've made real progress so I just can't wait to get back on track now. I feel optimistic and I hope we can confirm our progress on a very different kind of circuit to Shanghai."
Located in the region of Sarthe, a couple of hours' drive from the capital city of Paris, Le Mans is renowned for the 24 Hour automobile race. The Bugatti circuit, which is very different to the actual 24 Hour circuit, plays host to the MotoGP race, having returned to the calendar back in 1999. Considered a "stop and go" circuit, Le Mans is riddled with slow corners but also features one of the fastest on the calendar, which comes at the end of the start-finish straight. A host of hairpins and chicanes call for balance and control under repeated heavy braking as well as corner speed and good acceleration on exit. With nine right-hand corners and only four left-handers the track is also a major test for tyres. The layout was modified two years ago with slight alterations to the first corner in the interest of safety.
Circuit Record: Valentino Rossi (Yamaha - 2006) 1'33.616- 160.741 km/h
Best Pole: Colin Edwards (Yamaha - 2007) 1'35.087- 158.255 km/h
Circuit Length: 4.185 km.
MotoGP Race 2008: 28 laps (117.180 km)