Last year at Le Mans MotoGP, Valentino Rossi finished third, which was his best-ever finish since joining the Ducati Team.
And so far this year, the Rossi/Ducati struggles have continued; Rossi’s finishing-record in the first three rounds of 2012 MotoGP is 10th at Qatar, ninth at Jerez and seventh at Estoril.
Rain was a major issue throughout not only all three races so far, but also pre-season testing and the post-Estoril test (canceled due to rain). Due to the weather issues, the Ducati Team had minimal time to optimally tweak the 1000cc GP12.
But at Estoril, Rossi reported feeling more comfortable on the GP12, and the nine-time World Champion will begin Friday’s practice session at Le Mans with the settings he used at Estoril.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “It’s a shame that we lost the post-race test in Portugal because we would have continued our development work, and as we had very recent data from the race, we could have made some interesting comparisons.
“Still, this won’t influence us much from a technical point of view at Le Mans, as any updates would have arrived later anyway. In France, we’ll prepare for the race by working on the bike like we did at Estoril, starting from the base setup that we’re now a bit more familiar with and trying to continue with the settings one step at a time, in such a way that we reach Sunday at the maximum of our current potential.
“Le Mans is another place where the weather can be challenging, particularly at this time of year, but it’s also the track where I had my best result with the Ducati last year. We’ll see how it goes, but we’d like to do a little better than we did in Portugal.”
As for Rossi’s teammate Nicky Hayden, the American doesn’t particularly like the Le Mans circuit, but is hoping to do much better than Estoril, where he finished 11th.
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team GP12 MotoGP) says: “I certainly wouldn’t say Le Mans is my favorite track on the calendar, but there are some things that I like about it. Sometimes it lacks grip somewhat, which I don’t like so much.
“On the other hand, it has a fair amount of hard braking, and I think some of those parts should suit our bike well. It will also be interesting to be at a different type of track compared to what we’ve seen so far this year.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get to test in Portugal because it certainly would have been nice to try a few things, but we’ll get to France, see what kind of weather we get, and try to get a good result.”
Ducati Team Manager Vittoriano Guareschi also commented on the upcoming work needed for success at Le Mans.
Vittoriano Guareschi says: “Le Mans is a bit strange, a classic stop-and-go track that’s very different from Estoril. This will give us an opportunity to check the work that we’re doing on the GP12′s setup: Valentino used it all weekend at the last GP, so we’ll continue like that in an effort to also make progress at Le Mans, where he had a really nice race last year. Though this isn’t one of Nicky’s preferred circuits, he’ll also use the experience he has gathered while using this setup on the GP12 since the start of the championship.”
The Ducati Team will be on the 2.597-mile French circuit Friday for the first practice sessions; stay clicked to UltimateMotorCycling.com for results as they become available.
Le Mans MotoGP Track Records:
- Circuit Record: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2011), 1:33.617 – 160.932 Km/h (99.999 mph)
- Best Pole: Dani Pedrosa (Honda – 2008), 1:32.647 – 162.617 Km/h (101.045 mph)
- Circuit Length: 4.185 km
- MotoGP Race 2012: 28 laps (117.180 km)
- MotoGP Schedule 2012: 2 p.m. local time
- PODIUM 2011: 1st Casey Stoner, 2nd Andrea Dovizioso, 3rd Valentino Rossi
- POLE 2011: Casey Stoner (Honda), 1:33.153 – 161.733 Km/h (100.496 mph)
Ducati Team’s Best Results at Le Mans:
- 2011: 3rd (Rossi)
- 2010: 4th (Hayden)
- 2009: 5th (Stoner)
- 2008: 15th (Melandri)
- 2007: 3rd (Stoner)
- 2006: 2nd (Capirossi)
- 2005: 7th (Capirossi)
- 2004: 8th (Bayliss)
- 2003: DNF
Ducati Team: Rider Info
- Bike: Ducati Team Desmosedici GP12
- Race Number: 46
- Age: 33 (born in Pesaro, Italy, 16 February 1979)
- Residence: Tavullia (Pesaro, Italy)
- Number of GPs: 261 (201 x MotoGP/500cc, 30 x 250cc, 30 x 125cc)
- First GP: 1996 Malaysian GP (125cc)
- Number of Wins: 105 (79 x MotoGP, 14 x 250cc, 12 x 125cc)
- First GP Win: 1996 Czech Republic GP (125cc)
- Poles: 59 (49 x MotoGP, 5 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
- First Pole: 1996 Czech Republic GP (125cc)
- World Championships: 9 (6 x MotoGP, 1 x 500cc, 1 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc)
Rossi’s MotoGP/500cc track record at Le Mans
- 2011: Grid, 9th; Race, 3rd
- 2010: Grid, 1st; Race, 2nd
- 2009: Grid, 4th; Race, 16th
- 2008: Grid, 4th; Race, 1st
- 2007: Grid, 4th; Race, 6th
- 2006: Grid, 7th; Race, DNF
- 2005: Grid, 1st; Race, 1st
- 2004: Grid, 4th; Race, 4th
- 2003: Grid, 1st; Race, 2nd
- 2002: Grid, 1st; Race, 1st
- 2001: Grid, 3rd; Race, 3rd
- 2000: Grid, 10th; Race, 3rd
- Bike: Ducati Team Desmosedici GP12
- Race Number: 69
- Age: 30 (born in Owensboro, Kentucky, USA, 30 July 1981)
- Residence: Owensboro (Kentucky, USA)
- Number of GPs: 154 (154 x MotoGP)
- First GP: 2003 Japanese GP (MotoGP)
- Number of Wins: 3 (3 x MotoGP)
- First GP Win: 2005 USA GP (MotoGP)
- Poles: 5 (5 x MotoGP)
- First Pole: 2005 USA GP (MotoGP)
- World Championships: 1 (6 x MotoGP, 2006)
Hayden’s MotoGP track record Le Mans
- 2011: Grid, 10th; Race, 7th
- 2010: Grid, 5th; Race, 4th
- 2009: Grid, 13th; Race, 12th
- 2008: Grid, 6th; Race, 8th
- 2007: Grid, 7th; Race, DNF
- 2006: Grid, 10th; Race, 5th
- 2005: Grid, 5th; Race, 6th
- 2004: Grid, 7th; Race, 11th
- 2003: Grid, 13th; Race, 12th