2011 Le Mans MotoGP
Before this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans, MotoGP held its usual pre-race press conference. On the stage Thursday in France were Ducati Team’s Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Colin Edwards and Pramac Racing Ducati’s Randy de Puniet.
Rossi has been on the Le Mans podium seven times in the premier class, which included three wins. VR46 began the conference by talking about the MotoGP test in Estoril following the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati MotoGP says: “We had some new materials to try, especially in the front of the bike and with different settings. I’m happy because we improved our performance. The distance from the top remains too big but we will see this weekend.
“We have big changes on the frame of the bike. We have a small modification in the engine but we have to wait for the next engine due to the regulations, so I don’t know when we can use that.”
Rossi then talked about Le Mans MotoGP.
Valentino Rossi says: “The track is not one of my favorites, because it’s very difficult and has a lot of hard braking, chicanes, but I’ve had some good results here in the past. The Yamaha is always good here, but the Ducati was too with Stoner so we have to be strong enough. We need to improve, and the target is the get on the MotoGP podium as soon as possible.”
Reigning MotoGP Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, will be starting his 150th GP this weekend.
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing MotoGP) says: “It’s a track that is normally good for the Yamaha but we will see what happens this year because the competitors are really strong, they have improved their bikes a lot,” said Lorenzo, who is set to make his 150th GP start this weekend. “We are also competitive and at the Estoril Test we tried some parts that will improve the front feeling a little bit, so I’m excited to try this here.
“I love the track, it’s very flat and has a lot of chicanes, which is one of my specialties. Also you have to carry a very fast corner speed. The circumstances can change a lot so we start here with an open mentality, hope and with a lot of excitement.”
Dani Pedrosa enters Le Mans coming off his first win in 2011 at Estoril two ago.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda MotoGP) says: “I hope I can do well here because I will ride with some pain still, but I think there is nothing abnormal about this after having surgery and rehabilitation,” said Pedrosa, who has two premier class podium finishes at Le Mans to his name. “Right now I’m still sore but I hope I can improve during this weekend.
“It’s a track I’ve had some MotoGP podiums at and some poles, so I’m happy to be here. To finish on the podium for the opening three races with that problem was, for me, very good. The Championship is very long, and we must try and maintain the rhythm in every race.”
The only French rider in 2011 MotoGP, Randy de Puniet, will be looking to better his seventh-place finish at his home track last season.
Randy de Puniet (Pramac Racing Ducati MotoGP) says: “It’s been a difficult start to the season, but I need to manage the situation. After Estoril I was in a lot of pain, and was not too confident about this weekend, but since Monday I’ve been without pain and now I’m at 100% physically which means I can focus on the bike.
“I really want to have a good race here because it’s important to start the season now. I’m quite confident, I hope the weather stays good, the bike is good, and I’ll give my best to be the first satellite rider,.”
The sole American at the conference, Colin Edwards, will be looking to deliver the Monster Tech 3 team some great results, as the team is from France.
Colin Edwards (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) says: “With a new chassis, electronics and engine we’ve had this year the bike has been going well, so I’m looking forward to this weekend and staying back on pace,” said Edwards, who has twice stepped onto the rostrum at Le Mans. “I have no idea why I like this track, I think it’s just because the bike likes it! But it’s very competitive out there and will be again this weekend.”