French GP: Fiat Yamaha preview

Rossi and Lorenzo show moves on to Le Mans Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo travel to the legendary Le Mans circuit this weekend looking to continue their trailblazing start to the 2008 MotoGP World Championship after ...

Rossi and Lorenzo show moves on to Le Mans

Fiat Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo travel to the legendary Le Mans circuit this weekend looking to continue their trailblazing start to the 2008 MotoGP World Championship after dominating the headlines over the opening four rounds. The pair have three pole positions, seven podiums and two wins to their credit so far - securing leadership of the Teams' and Constructors' World Championships and delighting their army of fans around the world.

The last round in Shanghai was their most impressive yet, with Rossi reaping the fruit of a blossoming relationship with Bridgestone tyres to take a dominant first victory of the season and Lorenzo producing a heroic charge to fourth place on his Michelin-shod YZR-M1 despite fracturing both of his ankles during free practice.

The Spaniard, who lies second in the championship, faces another huge test of his mental and physical resistance this weekend after being confined to a wheelchair ever since his return home from China. The damage to his ankles will take months to fully heal but Lorenzo has no more time to put his feet up, with seven races coming thick and fast over the next ten weeks as the season enters its busiest phase. The 21-year-old at least has fond memories of Le Mans, having taken victory there from pole position last season.

Rossi has had five podium finishes in the premier-class at Le Mans, including two victories. The Italian's success in China was his 89th in all classes of Grand Prix racing, taking him to within just one of Angel Nieto, who lies second in the all-time winners' list behind Giacomo Agostini.

Le Mans is one of the least technical circuits on the calendar, with the main complication being the first turn - one of the fastest in MotoGP - which is followed by the first of 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;

"Last year Le Mans was incredibly disappointing for us - we were hoping for a good result in the dry but the rain came and things didn't go as planned. This year however we're going there on a real high after the fantastic result in China and I am confident that we can have a good weekend. China was a very important boost for everyone and a great result for all the hard work that everyone has put in so far this season to get us to this point, and now we have to make the most of this moment and keep pushing like this. Yamaha usually goes very well at Le Mans and, although it's obviously the first time we've been there with Bridgestone, I am confident that we will be strong there. We are nine points from the top of the championship but our rivals are very motivated too so there is no let-up and we must go for the maximum points again. This is the start of the busiest phase of the championship and it's always hard work but also great fun. Let's hope we can get this run of races off to the best possible start in France

Davide Brivio - Team Manager;

"Le Mans is the start to a very busy period for the championship but on the evidence of the race in China we are ready! Shanghai was a very important race for us because it showed how much progress we have made since Qatar. The engineers did a great job, Valentino was incredible and that has given us all a big boost in confidence and motivation. With seven races over the next ten weeks this is the core of the championship so the timing of Valentino's first win of the season couldn't have been better. Four different winners from the first four races is fantastic so now let's see who can be the first to repeat. We all feel positive it can be us and we can't wait to fight for it. In 2006 we almost won at Le Mans but for a technical problem and last year we were denied by the rain so we feel we have unfinished business there and we look forward to fighting again."

Jorge Lorenzo;

"I was lucky in China! If I'd have landed differently it could have ruled me out until the middle of the season and certainly prevented me from enjoying myself as much as I am in this early part of the season. In China I realised the risks in this sport; as riders we have to take a lot of risks and that Sunday in Shanghai, with my emotions and my feelings, I knew I had to go through it and take risks again because my team were depending on me in the box. I won't be at 100% for Le Mans but my mental condition should make me strong at one of my favourite circuits and I am really looking forward to the race just the same. I know my team will help me all that they can and hopefully I will be in good enough shape to challenge strongly, as I have at the first four races. China was unfortunate but now I have to move on!"

Danielle Romagnoli - Team manager;

"Obviously Jorge is a little more injured than we first realised in China and the broken astragalus in his right ankle is a problem but we're hopeful he can be fit enough to fight again in France. At the moment there is not much we can do but wait for the most recent updates from Doctor Mir and see how he feels when he gets on the bike on Friday. As far as learning the track with this bike is concerned we have seen in the previous two races that this is not an issue for Jorge, particularly at Shanghai, where he effectively only had only one free practice session. Le Mans is traditionally a 'friendly' track for Yamaha, who have had a lot of good results there in the past. We're at the start of an intense period of GP activity and the next few months will be interesting. For us the most important thing is to stay concentrated."


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Series MotoGP
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Giacomo Agostini , Jorge Lorenzo , Davide Brivio , Angel Nieto