The stars of the MotoGP™ World Championship are ready for their fifth round battle at Le Mans and the Thursday press conference saw Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso, Jorge Lorenzo, Pol Espargaro and Mike Di Meglio address the media at the historic French venue.
Leading the standings with a 100% record so far this season and having this week renewed his contract with HRC until the end of 2016, Marquez was the first rider to speak.
The Repsol Honda man commented: “I’m really happy about the situation and the new contract with Honda, it was an important step to take. I feel good with the team and they feel good with me. It’s a dream come true and I want to say thanks to them.”
Regarding the challenge ahead this weekend, Marquez added, “My level here is usually good. I got pole position here last season and the weather looks better this time. I have had an incredible start with four poles and wins, but I know some day a race will come when victory is not possible, when another rider is stronger, so then you need to be clever and finish second or third.”
Having enjoyed the last round at Jerez, finishing second behind Marquez and therefore joining him on the podium, Rossi previewed the weekend in France saying, “I’m also happy about the start of the championship with two podiums and two second places. Unfortunately it has not been possible to beat Marc but I’m pleased with my speed, my level and my feeling with the bike. I’m working well with my team.”
Asked about his future in Grand Prix Rossi revealed that his is in a positive frame of mind about remaining in MotoGP beyond 2014. He said: “My project is to make another contract for two seasons and I think in the next weeks, during the next races we will talk with Yamaha in order to continue.”
Ducati Team’s Italian representative Dovizioso who sits fourth in the standings after four races, stated, “I’m happy with the result last time from Jerez. We were fifth but the important thing was to close the gap to the front riders and that’s what we’ve done. We tested at Mugello this week which was positive apart from a crash at the end of the day, though it’s better to crash in testing than in an important moment!”
Meanwhile, Rossi’s Movistar Yamaha MotoGP colleague Lorenzo – who boasts three premier class wins in France – reflected on his tough start to the year, which has left him fifth in the general classification so far.
He commented, “I didn’t expect to be in this position and although my gap to the front is not too far, the results have not been what we wanted. Historically Le Mans is a good track for Yamaha, especially from to 2008 to 2010, when we were really strong.”
Lorenzo was also quizzed about his plans for 2015 and beyond in the press conference and he answered, “My priority is to stay at Yamaha and I would like to stay with the team until the end of my career. But I am focused on working at the track and my manager works on talking to the team about the future.”
Ahead of his Monster Yamaha Tech3 team’s home round rookie Pol Espargaro added, “I think I’m doing well and going in the right direction so I need to keep improving. I’m learning a lot.”
On racing against his brother Aleix in MotoGP he added, “It is a bit different with him now that we are racing together, as he is pushing me a lot! But I’ve been surprised by how good he has been this season.”
Espargaro’s fellow rookie, Frenchman Mike Di Meglio, rides for Avintia Racing at his home event and he explained his approach to the weekend saying, “MotoGP is exciting but it is difficult, it is all new for me, and we knew it would be hard before we came into it.
Reflecting on his 2008 125cc win at Le Mans he joked, “It was very nice to win here because no French rider had done it for a long time, but I think it will be impossible to win again this weekend! My target is to get my first points of the year.”
Practice at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France commences at 9am local time with the FP1 run for Moto3™, followed by MotoGP practice at 9.55am and Moto2™ FP1 at 10.55am.