Rossi: A track I like a lot

'Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there ' – Valentino Rossi, French MotoGP.
Rossi: A track I like a lot

Valentino Rossi is looking to put his worst result of the season, sixth place at Jerez, behind him with a return to the front in this weekend's French MotoGP.

For many years Le Mans was known as a 'Yamaha circuit' and although differences between the machines are no longer as clear cut, M1 riders have won three of the last four French GPs.

Those came from Jorge Lorenzo (2015-16) and Maverick Vinales (2017), with Rossi claiming his first premier-class win at Le Mans with Honda in 2002 followed by Yamaha victories in 2005 and 2008.

But the Italian was battling with Vinales for victory in 2017 only to fall on the final lap, then was back on the podium with third last season - his 13th Le Mans podium from 17 appearances.

"Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there," Rossi said.

The tough weekend in Spain means Rossi is now fourth in the world championship.

The Doctor is only nine points from the top but - unlike Honda's Marc Marquez, Suzuki's Alex Rins and Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso ahead of him - hasn't won a race this season. Or indeed since June 2017.

But while Jerez underlined that the M1's issues are far from solved, positive steps have been taken and Rossi is confident of being competitive at favourable circuits, which on paper Le Mans should be.

Although only 17th quickest at the Jerez post-race test, Rossi focussed exclusively on race tyre work and feels improvements were made that could carry over to Le Mans.

“The Jerez test was quite positive and I think we can also try something during the weekend in France," Rossi said.

"The goal is to have a good weekend, work well from FP1 onwards, and be fast from the first day. We had a good race pace last year, so we want to start working from there.

"I'm hoping for good weather to work in throughout the weekend, so we can show our full potential.

"I want to get back on the podium, and we will do our best with the team.”

Team director Massimo Meregalli also hopes the Jerez test progress can give the Yamahas 'an edge'.

"We made some small improvements during the Jerez test, and we will give them another go this weekend to see if they give us an edge," he said.

"We know that the Le Mans Bugatti circuit is usually a good track for us, so we want to exploit this weekend to the fullest and score the best results possible.

"We know both Maverick and Vale are fast here, so we aim to be competitive in every session of the race weekend and have both our riders fight at the front.”

 Vinales, who took his first podium of the season with third at Jerez, is currently sixth in the world championship.