In A Confident Mood After the long-haul trip to Shanghai, the MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe this weekend as the Grand Prix de France kick-starts the busiest period of the 2008 season. Following the trip to Le Mans are ...
In A Confident Mood
After the long-haul trip to Shanghai, the MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe this weekend as the Grand Prix de France kick-starts the busiest period of the 2008 season. Following the trip to Le Mans are quick-fire races in Italy, Catalonia, Great Britain and Holland, making for a crucial seven-week period in the destiny of the championship.
For Team San Carlo Honda Gresini it is an opportunity to make up points and scale positions in the standings after a disappointing start to the campaign.
Fausto Gresini's team head to France in confident mood despite another unfortunate race in China, with both Alex De Angelis and Shinya Nakano having shown excellent pace throughout the rest of the weekend.
Shinya's target is a season-best finish, whilst Alex is aiming to finally turn good practice pace into a positive race result. Le Mans could provide the perfect opportunity for the San Marino rider, who scored the first of six consecutive podiums in the 250cc class at this track last year as he put together a run of form that saw him enter the battle for the title with Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso.
The team have also been boosted by the promise of new material from HRC. Both Honda RC212V machines will be fitted with new clutches this weekend, demonstrating the support being shown by the Japanese factory to the satellite teams. The same can be said for Bridgestone, who continue to bring new material in line with the demands of the bikes and riders.
#15 ALEX DE ANGELIS
"I'm feeling really confident about Le Mans -- the technical updates with the new clutch have given me a lot of hope and it would be great if it helps to solve the chattering problems that we've been having sometimes under braking. Also, Bridgestone are going to bring some tyres to France that are similar to the ones I tested in the winter, when I found it much easier to go fast. These two factors together make me really optimistic. Looking back to Shanghai I think we could have been much closer to the front than we showed in the race. I lost so much time at the start because Hopkins forced me off track and we also made the wrong tyre choice -- we went for something that was too hard for the cooler track conditions. Le Mans isn't exactly my favourite circuit but it could suit our bike."
# 56 SHINYA NAKANO
"It was really important that we managed to get a good pace together during practice at Shanghai and for that reason I feel optimistic about Le Mans. We want to repeat our good performance from China but this time in the race too -- not just in practice. If we manage that then we can set our sights on the top seven. If you're in there then anything can happen in a race and you can be in the right place for a great result. We're going to a circuit that I like and that is also more suited to our bike compared to Shanghai so we can do well."
FAUSTO GRESINI -- TEAM MANAGER
"Shinya showed great progress in Shanghai, setting lap times that were up there with the best and putting together a good rhythm on race tyres in practice. That improvement is important for everybody, even though the result in the race was below our expectations. For Alex the situation is a little more difficult at the moment -- after so many crashes he's focusing on not making mistakes and trying to understand the bike better. In any case he is learning quickly, he is a fast rider as he has shown many times and I'm sure that before long we'll see him chasing down the lead guys. Le Mans is quite favourable for our bike; the straights are not long so we should be able to hold our own."