After two successful tests, one in Jerez (Spain) and one in Mugello (Italy), the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team are hoping for a change in fortune this weekend at the Le Mans – Circuit Bugatti in France.

Massimo Meregalli

“Vale, Maverick and the team have had little to no rest since the Grand Prix of Spain, as we have completed two tests last week. The Le Mans circuit suits our bike and both our riders – Maverick secured Yamaha’s 500th Grand Prix victory just last year and Valentino has stood on the French podium many times – making it a good track for us to gain positive momentum after Jerez. So far, the weather forecast looks perfect, so we are looking forward to a competitive race weekend and having both our riders fighting at the front again, like they did last year.”

Maverick Vinales led Johann Zarco home for a Yamaha 1-2 at Le Mans in 2007 - Image by AJRN
Maverick Vinales led Johann Zarco home for a Yamaha 1-2 at Le Mans in 2007 – Image by AJRN

Maverick Vinales is the highest placed Factory Yamaha rider in the championship, MotoGP heads to Le Mans with the young Spaniard in third place on 50-points, eight points behind leading Yamaha rider Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) on 58 points.

Maverick Viñales

“The race in Jerez was very difficult for us again this year. Fortunately, the tests last week were good. We are very close to finding the perfect set-up for me, so I‘m heading to Le Mans with a positive mindset. I have really good memories from my victory on the Yamaha last year, so hopefully we’ll be able to repeat the success we had there. Le Mans is a good track for us, it suits my riding style, and I think we can do a really good job. We’ll do our best to be at the top of the classification.”

Maverick Viñales took Yamaha's 500th victory at Le Mans
Maverick Viñales took Yamaha’s 500th victory at Le Mans in 2017 – Image by AJRN

Despite scoring no points in Argentina, Repsol Honda’s Marquez leads the field on 70-points. His arch-nemesis of late is none other than Valentino Rossi, who also scored no points in Argentina after that infamous clash with Marquez. The Italian is currently sixth in the rankings on 40-points.

Marquez took out Rossi during #ArgentinaGP - Image by AJRN
Marquez took out Rossi during #ArgentinaGP – Image by AJRN

That incident in Argentina set social media alight as keyboards warriors flecked spittle across their keyboards or phone screens as they mashed away in support of their hero Rossi, and/or poured hate on Marquez.  None of that seemed to worry Marquez, he won the following two races in dominant fashion and displayed that mile wide grin of his on the podium which just made Rossi fans seethe even more…

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi – Image by AJRN

Valentino Rossi is eager to try and get one over his fierce young rival at this fifth round of the championship and hopes to score his first podium since the season opener in Qatar. Rossi was fighting for the win in last year‘s race when he crashed out of second place.

Valentino Rossi stood on the podium alongside second placed Marquez at the Qatar season opener which was won by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso - Image by AJRN
Valentino Rossi stood on the podium alongside second placed Marquez at the Qatar season opener which was won by Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso – Image by AJRN

Valentino Rossi

“I’m happy we’re going to France next, because on paper we should be fast in Le Mans – usually the Yamaha works well there. I think that at the moment the situation is difficult to predict, because our rivals are strong, so we’ll see what our potential will be like. I expect to be a bit more competitive compared to the previous GP weekend, but I don’t know where we stand compared to the other bikes yet, so that will be interesting to find out. For sure my guys and I will do our best, as always, to make it a good race weekend.”

Valentino Rossi - Image by AJRN
Valentino Rossi – Image by AJRN

Traditionally, the Doctor scores competitive results at the Grand Prix de France. Throughout his premier class career he has collected three victories at Le Mans (2002, 2005 and 2008), six second places (2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and three third places (2000, 2001 and 2011). Rossi currently sits in sixth place in the championship standings, 10 points behind his teammate.

MotoGP Championship Points

  1. Marc MARQUEZ Honda SPA 70
  2. Johann ZARCO Yamaha FRA 58
  3. Maverick VIÑALES Yamaha SPA 50
  4. Andrea IANNONE Suzuki ITA 47
  5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati ITA 46
  6. Valentino ROSSI Yamaha ITA 40
  7. Cal CRUTCHLOW Honda GBR 38
  8. Jack MILLER Ducati AUS 36
  9. Danilo PETRUCCI Ducati ITA 34
  10. Tito RABAT Ducati SPA 24
  11. Dani PEDROSA Honda SPA 18
  12. Alex RINS Suzuki SPA 16
  13. Franco MORBIDELLI Honda ITA 13
  14. Pol ESPARGARO KTM SPA 13
  15. Alvaro BAUTISTA Ducati SPA 12

The Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit was built in 1965 and is situated just a few kilometres from the city of Le Mans. MotoGP made its first visit to the iconic French track in the late sixties and it remained a fixture until 1996. After some safety moderations, the 4.2km-long circuit was added back on the calendar in 2000. Its lay-out of five left and nine right corners places the emphasis on late braking, hard acceleration, and rear-end traction, and promises to make for a great spectacle on Sunday.

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