Le Mans MotoGP 2015 Preview
Following a two-week break since the opening European round of 2015 MotoGP at Jerez, the Grand Prix Championship heads north to France’s Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix circuit – one of the tightest tracks on the 18-round calendar.
The #FrenchGP began at Le Mans in 1969, though the track was absent from 1996 – 2000 due a safety concerns after the Spanish rider Alberto Puig suffered a serious accident. The track, which forms part of the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, was revised and returned to the schedule in 2001.
As MotoGP heads to the Le Mans track that is dominated by first-gear corners, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi leads the way with 82 points – 15 ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
The nine-time World Champion has been the dominate rider throughout the opening four races, finishing on the podium in every round, which includes wins in Qatar and Argentina. At Jerez, Rossi earned his 200th GP podium – a new record in the series.
Rossi only claimed three MotoGP wins at Le Mans – 2002, 2005, 2008 – but finished a strong second last year.
“I’m happy to go to Le Mans, it is a nice track, but every year it’s different. Usually it’s a good race for us, Yamaha and me, but last year our competitors were very strong. I imagine that Marc (Marquez) will also be strong this year, but I like this circuit, I like to ride here and our bike seems to go very well, especially on Sunday afternoon!
“This is a good thing, because we have to fight for the Championship. In Jerez we didn’t have a perfect weekend. Third place was positive, but we can do better. Jorge did a great race, so the YZR-M1 is doing really well. At Le Mans we have to work well and fix the bike better. I’m confident. See you in Le Mans!”
Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo – who dominated at Jerez following a slow start to 2015 MotoGP – is now third in the championship, just 20 points behind Rossi. He is the most successful rider at Le Mans with four wins – one in the 250cc class (2007) and three in MotoGP (2009, 2010, 2012).
With his win at Jerez, which was the 34th of his premier-class career, Lorenzo is now only five points behind Dovizioso. The Italian Ducati GP15 pilot Dovi suffered a ninth place finish at Jerez following three-straight second-place finishes.
Le Mans is a tough circuit for Ducati, and the Bologna-based manufacturer has never won there. As for Dovi, he earned two podiums there (2011, 2010). As for his teammate, Andrea Iannone – fifth in the standings with 50 points – has a best finish of 11th at Le Mans.
Fourth in the point standings with 56 is the reigning MotoGP Champion, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. The 22-year-old Spaniard continues to recover from his dirt-track training accident, reporting his finger is healing well. Marquez won last year’s French GP, and also took a win there in the Moto2 class (2011).
He also dominates Le Mans qualifying, earning the pole in France the past-three years.
“Since Jerez we’ve been able to rest and now I’m feeling much stronger for this weekend. I visited Dr. Mir for a check up and my finger is definitely improving and healing well. I haven’t trained much this past week in order to give my finger a chance to restore back to 100%, which was our main goal. I like the Le Mans track, the weather is always changeable but last year it was really good and I took my first win in the MotoGP class, so let’s hope it’s the nice for us again this year,” Marquez reports.
Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa will make his return to the grid following a three-race absence. Pedrosa, who claimed four wins in Le Mans across all classes, underwent surgery to cure arm-pump – an issue that has plagued the Spaniard for years.
The Team Suzuki Ecstar duo of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales continue to develop the new GSX-RR, and just missed a double top-10 finish at Jerez. Espargaro finished last year’s Le Mans MotoGP in ninth, and Vinales earned a Moto3 win there in 2013.
As for the satellite riders, CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow finished 11th at Le Mans last season, but claimed a podium in 2013. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro just missed the podium at last year’s French GP by four-tenths of a second, and his teammate Bradley Smith took 10th.
Estrella Galicia’s 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding won the Moto race in Le Mans in 2013, and crossed the finish line 12th last season, and Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez was 13th. These two, along with Hernandez’s teammate Petrucci and Vinales, will be looking to continue their exciting battle from Jerez, which saw Hernandez come out on top.
In the Open class, Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera leads the way with 10 points, four ahead of CWM LCR Honda’s Jack Miller and seven ahead of the sole American in MotoGP – Nicky Hayden aboard the Aspar MotoGP Team RC213V-RS.
Le Mans MotoGP 2015 TV Schedule
Fox Sports 1 will provide live coverage of Le Mans MotoGP 2015 beginning at 7:30 a.m. EST.
Le Mans MotoGP 2015 Preview Photo Gallery: