MotoGP Riders Visit Chateau de Lude

Motorcycle Grand Prix riders are beyond busy, and I’m always shocked that these guys find time for fun while on the road. Between the briefings, training regimes and prepping for practice sessions, things can get a little hectic. The prospect of visiting foreign countries sounds enticing, but for many riders, they often see foreign hotel rooms and paddocks more often than the historical monuments that each nation has to offer.

MotoGP has now started the European leg, allowing additional time for some tourism. Ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans, Loris Baz, Fabio Quartararo, Alexis Masbou, Tito Rabat and Niccolo Antonelli got into character at one of the most historic French castles – the “Château de Lude.”

The bunch got together and dressed for the occasion, sans Nike trainers, at the “Château de Lude”, which is located in Sarthe in the Pays-de-la-Loire region where the Anjou, Maine and Touraine provinces converge. The “Château de Lude” was constructed sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries, and nestled on the banks of the River Loire to help defend against the Normans and English during the Hundred Years War.

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After the need for a military stronghold subsided, it was transformed into one of the jewels of France. It has changed ownership several times over its lengthy history, and each owner brought a unique twist to the chateaux. Beyond that, cultural influence can easily be seen with French and English charm prevalent throughout the grounds. Oddly enough, the castle has been inhabited by the same family line for the last 260 years despite the change of ownership.

From the photos alone, one can easily see that there is a level of opulence that very few of us are accustomed to – I’ll venture to say any of us, actually. But the riders were greeted by Countess Barbara De Nicolay and in her full garb, which is historically accurate to the letter. After the grand introduction, the boys set off to explore the castle – in period correct clothing, no less.

The MotoGP riders probably wished they had a bit free-time on their hands but of course, they all buckled down and began focusing on the upcoming Monster Energy Grand Prix de France. Loris Baz, the only French MotoGP, shared his thoughts on the race: “It is always different and special to ride in front of your fans. I hope I can give them a good result!” MotoGP newcomer Tito Rabat also spoke up as well: “The most important thing is for us to try and be fast and consistent with the bike right from FP1.”

Johann Zarco, the reigning Moto2 World Champion, arrives at Le Mans with a positive outlook – it’s his first time in the region since he claimed his title: “It will be an honor to ride as World Champion for the very first time in France in front of all of the fans. For one weekend only I will feel like Valentino Rossi!”

Fabio Quartararo has had a bit of a tumultuous beginning to the second year of his Moto3 season, but like a true professional, he has a plan to get things back on track: “My plan is to make amends for my bad start to the season. I will push as hard as I can in front of the loyal French fans and I hope to achieve a good result.”

Alexis Masbou who has been piloting the new Peugeot in the 2016 Moto3 season, is pleased with the progress team has made, stating, “Every race the Peugeot is improving!” Peugeot is the latest manufacturer to join the Moto3 paddock. Qatar Moto3 race winner Niccolo Antonelli has a bit of catching up to do. With two DNFs under his belt this season, he’s set his sights on the podium: “After two difficult races in Austin and Jerez, I want to change my luck and get back on the podium.”

The French GP will start taking shape with the official Press Conference, scheduled to take place on Thursday at 5 p.m. local time. On Friday morning, Free Practice 1 will begin.

As always, keep your browsers tuned into Ultimate MotorCycling where we’ll be delivering the latest news regarding the premier road racing league, and of course your favorite riders in silly clothing.