Podium: 1st Marquez (Honda); 2nd Petrucci (Ducati), 3rd Rossi (Yamaha)
Pole Position: Zarco (Yamaha) 1:31.185 (165,2 km/h)
Fastest lap: Marquez (Honda) 1:32.312 (163,2 km/h)
The birthplace of the can-can, the namesake of the Hollywood modern classic and a well-known Parisian landmark, the Moulin Rouge remains an icon to this day. Still putting on shows and welcoming crowds through the door more than a hundred years since inception, the forerunner to cabaret remains a frontrunner in visual spectacle – and that’s where Quartararo and Zarco were headed for Tuesday evening.
A troupe of more than 80 artists put on the spectacular “Féerie” show the riders were treated to, with the splash of colours lighting up the stage as everything from sequins to feathers shimmied their way towards the can-can and then the grand finale. And then, when the curtain came down, it was time to head backstage.
There, the riders were able to meet the dancers and Zarco even compared a few moves with some, doing a few backflips backstage but leaving the splits to those who’d warmed up – and whose costumes were a little more accommodating. Both riders were then also able to get up on stage and see the set they’d just enjoyed from afar.
The next morning, it was back on the tourist trail and this time it was the Eiffel Tower on the agenda. One of the most famous, loved and visited sites in the world, the tower receives almost 7 million people each year – so what’s a famous few more from MotoGP™?
Lorenzo joined Quartararo and Zarco for the final stop on the ways to Le Mans, with the three posing for a photo opportunity in front of the tower…and a local artist capturing the moment too, with a little help from a five-time World Champion!
Jorge Lorenzo: “It’s always nice to see this monument, more than 100 years of history and still looks so young! It’s wonderful, and together with Johann and Fabio and the bikes. it’s a nice event and hopefully it’ll bring me some luck for the weekend. The first four races ave been difficult to get results, to be competitive. but in the Jerez test we found some details that will probably give us more speed and hopefully we can show it here at this track.”
Johann Zarco: “Pretty nice event in Paris, we have fantastic weather again in Paris, and ‘working’ in Paris streets, big avenues, in our leathers with the bike near to the Eiffel tower is a special feeling we can’t have every day…and yesterday in the Moulin Rouge it was a fantastic show and I enjoyed it a lot so the whole thing has made me smile and has almost made me forget the French GP! But on Friday i’ll be back on the bike, happy to be there and happy I’ve done some tests here before so it’ll help me have as good pace as possible from FP1.”
Fabio Quartararo: “I think I’m kind of different to other people who take the focus. A lot of people must be calm, thinking totally about the race but I’m completely the opposite. I have to do a lot of activities, not think a lot about the race and I think it’s good to have an event in Paris and, of course, at the Eiffel Tower! I’m feeling good. Of course we will try to do our best in the French GP, but it was good to get back on the bike after Sunday, and the Monday test was really positive.”
SECOND EUROPEAN ROUND OF THE 2019 MOTOGP SEASON
APRILIA ON THE HISTORIC ASPHALT OF THE LE MANS TRACK
The second European round of the 2019 MotoGP season is set to be held on the Le Mans Bugatti track. It is history-charged asphalt, shared in part with the much longer Circuit de la Sarthe, the setting of the famous 24-Hour car race.
It is a very particular track, with hard braking followed by low speed acceleration sections, always with the unknown of unpredictable weather than can have a heavy impact on the way the weekend goes. In the Aprilia camp, the search for the best setup in Le Mans began immediately after the last GP in Jerez on the day of tests that the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini conducted on the Andalusian track after the race.
Aleix Espargaró’s objective remains a top-ten spot, an achievement that slipped through his fingers in the finale of the Spanish race and which has clearly been within the number 41 rider’s reach in all the races held so far in this promising early part of the season. With three times as many points as last season at this point, Aleix is headed to Le Mans confident in the RS-GP’s excellent braking capabilities and hoping for some stable and fair weather.
Andrea Iannone will be back in the saddle after the injury he suffered on the Saturday of the Jerez weekend. The Italian rider’s fitness will be assessed on Thursday by circuit medical staff, but it seems like there will be nothing to worry about. Precisely on the run when he crashed, Andrea was testing a promising change to the setup on his Aprilia RS-GP with good results. From this base and the outstanding Friday he had in Spain, his growth path will resume.
“Le Mans is a track that I like and on which I think the Aprilia RS-GP can do well. Braking is one of our strong points. The bike stays stable in hard braking and that could help us. I am also hoping for a dry weekend. It rains almost every year in France and that makes everything more difficult. As always, our goal remains the top 10”.
“I have positive feelings as I head to Le Mans. In Jerez, we were able to figure out a few important things. It is a small step forward that will also help us in France. We still need to see how much my foot will bother me. In any case, I have been working hard to be as fit as I possibly can.”
The Ducati Team ready for the fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship at Le Mans
After finishing the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez with both its riders in the top five, the Ducati Team is ready to take it back to the track at Le Mans (France) for the fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship. At the Bugatti Circuit – which shares the first section with the historic Circuit de la Sarthe, home of the famous 24 Hour car race – Ducati took six podiums overall, the last of which dates back to last year when Danilo Petrucci took second place with the Pramac Racing Team colors starting from first row.
As Petrucci, Andrea Dovizioso – who already finished on the podium at Le Mans with Ducati in 2015 (3rd) and was particularly competitive last year before crashing out of the race while in the lead – is also keen to make the most of the French track’s characteristics to be a protagonist during the weekend and rewrite the statistics. For the occasion, the factory Desmosedici GPs will feature a brand-new livery with Dovizioso and Petrucci’s personalized logos on the fairings. Heading into round five, Dovizioso is third in the Riders standings with 67 points, only 3 points behind provisional leader Márquez, while Petrucci is fifth with 41 points to his tally. Ducati is second in the Manufacturers standings with 70 points, while the Ducati Team leads the Team rankings with 108 points.
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Ducati Team) – 2nd (67 points)
“At Le Mans we should be more competitive than in the last round, at least on paper, even though last year in France the race didn’t go as planned. Weather conditions always play a key role at Le Mans, and it’s crucial to be able to manage this variable to your advantage. At any rate, I expect to have many fast rivals out there, so it’ll be important to start off on the right foot since the very first session and prepare ourselves as well as possible for the race. The Desmosedici GP has some characteristics that we can take advantage of in France, but we need to iron out some details to maximize our potential and play our cards right on Sunday, which is when points are given. I’m confident we can ride a strong race.”
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Ducati Team) – 5th (41 points)
“Le Mans is one of my favorite tracks, and it features many hard-braking areas and quick accelerations that suit the characteristics of our Desmosedici GP, so much that last year in France I probably rode my best race ever to finish second. Our target for this round is the podium, which I think is within our reach. We didn’t finish far from it at Jerez, but first of all we’ll need to be quicker in qualifying to ride at the front since the very start of the race. It’s never easy to put all the pieces of the puzzle together at this level, but we have what we need to be competitive and take another step forward in the right direction.”
The Ducati Team will resume action Friday, May 17, at 09:55 local time (CET) for the first free-practice session.
After the Jerez Test the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team are all set to get to work again this weekend for the Grand Prix de France.
Rossi is currently fourth in the championship rankings, but only nine points from the top. Knowing that the Le Mans circuit is usually well-suited to his Yamaha‘s nimble character, the Italian is looking to score his third podium finish of the season, and the odds are in his favour.
Traditionally, the Doctor scores competitive results at the French GP. Throughout his premier class career he has collected three victories at Le Mans (2002, 2005, and 2008), six second places (2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016), and four third places (2000, 2001, 2011, and 2018).
Viñales returned to the podium at the previous round in Jerez, which is essentially a difficult track for him. The third-place confidence boost made him determined to also pay a visit to the French rostrum again, of which he has fond memories. In 2017 the Spaniard secured a hard-fought win there on his YZR-M1, and one year earlier he also scored a MotoGP third-place race result.
The number-12 rider moved up from 12th to 6th place in the championship a fortnight ago and now has a 40-point gap to the leader. After last week‘s test he approaches the race in Le Mans with a positive mindset and will be giving his all to further fight his way up the standings.
The Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit was built in 1965, just a few kilometres from the city of Le Mans. MotoGP made its first visit to the iconic French track in the late sixties, and it remained a fixture until 1995. After some safety modifications, the 4.2km-long circuit was added back to the calendar in 2000. Its lay-out of five left and nine right corners places the emphasis on late braking, hard acceleration, and rear-end traction, which makes for some great battles, such as the head-to-head between Viñales and Rossi in 2017 to score Yamaha its 500th Grand Prix win.
“We‘ve kept pretty busy after the Grand Prix of Spain, because we want to show stong form at the French GP. 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. 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.”
“The Jerez test was quite positive and I think we can also try something during the weekend in France. Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there. 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.”
“Getting a third place in Jerez was a good confidence boost, for sure, so I‘m feeling positive. Le Mans is a circuit that I really like and it‘s also the track where I scored some of the best results of my career. So, to me, that‘s a track to be back at the top. I really like going there. I just hope that the weather will help us a little because, if not, Le Mans is a really tough track. In Austin we were quite fast in the wet, so we have to see. I‘m curious to see what we can do there.”
Grand Prix de France
MotoGP 2019 Round 5
Repsol Honda Team ready for French GP challenge
The French GP will offer Honda the first opportunity to take win number 300 in the premier class as Marquez looks to extend his lead and Lorenzo prepares to bounce back.
With a dominating start-to-finish victory, Marc Marquez banished his Austin demons at the Spanish GP to walk away with 25 points and the lead in the MotoGP World Championship standings. The Le Mans Circuit has offered the Repsol Honda Team rider somewhat mixed results in the premier class with two wins and a total of three podiums to his name. Maintaining momentum and continuing to build his points lead is the reigning champion’s primary objective for the weekend.
Jorge Lorenzo arrives in France looking to build on what he and his Repsol Honda Team found during the post-race test. Despite a challenging weekend in Spain, Lorenzo and his crew remain hungry to improve their results on the RC213V. With five premier class victories to his name at Le Mans, Lorenzo has proven speed around the 4.2 kilometer long French circuit.
Victory at the French GP for one of the four Honda RC213V machines of Marquez, Lorenzo, Crutchlow or Nakagami will mark Honda’s 300th premier class win, a 53-year journey which began with Jim Redman’s first win on the RC181 in 1966.
Lorenzo’s French GP starts a little early with a special trip to Paris before Free Practice 1 starts at 09:55 local time on Friday, May 17. The race will take place at 14:00 local time on Sunday, May 19.
“We had a very strong weekend in Jerez and a productive test but this is MotoGP and we must always keep working. Between races I was able to relax a little bit at the F1 and also the Leipzig versus Bayern game, riding my bike in the stadium was great and the noise was incredible. Le Mans can be a tricky GP, especially with the weather so we must be prepared for any conditions. Last year I was able to win here but we always face a lot of opposition.”
“After a tough weekend I am pleased to be able to get back on the Honda without too much time between races. In the past, I have gone well in France but we will need to see how this weekend goes. The test we had on Monday after Jerez was productive and importantly I was able to get more time on the bike which should help us to understand and improve.”
Tech 3 KTM
Red Bull KTM Tech3 awaits home Grand Prix with high tension
With loads of impressions and new sensations following the first European GP and a test day in Jerez de la Frontera, Miguel Oliveira and Hafizh Syahrin jet to Le Mans this weekend full of motivation. Yet, the French Grand Prix, is the most exciting event of the calendar for the entire Red Bull KTM Tech3 team, as it is the home round of the squad based in Bormes les Mimosas.
Although MotoGP newcomer Oliveira was the best rookie of the field at the chequered flag of the Spanish Grand Prix, the Portuguese youngster aims to improve his KTM RC16 and his result this weekend in front of the passionate French crowd. Likewise, Malaysian Syahrin, who was able to stick with his teammate until the last laps last time out, can’t wait to be back on his bike at 9.55 local time this Friday for FP1 to further grow aboard his new machine.
“Le Mans is a very nice track. It’s our team home GP, so it’s obviously quite special for everyone. After Jerez I think we have the good amount of work and the right direction, so I think we can basically confirm every little step we made in Jerez test and during the whole Grand Prix there now in Le Mans. Therefore, I guess we’ll going to have a good weekend and finishing close to the points or better inside the points is still the target. I’m motivated and very keen to discover this track on the MotoGP bike.”
“The French Grand Prix in Le Mans is for sure a very special event for the Red Bull KTM Tech3 team. Your home round is always a very special one. Of course, there are more French fans than anywhere else on the MotoGP calendar and a lot of national media you want to treat well, because for some it’s the only event where you see them. We still remember the unbelievable welcome we received from the crowd last year, which is for sure something that might be a bit different this year without a French rider on board, but still Miguel speaks really good French and Hafizh, I believe is very popular with all his jokes in the French public. It’s also very important for us as France is a key market for KTM, an important market for Red Bull, but in addition we have our fuel and oil sponsor, Elf, which is French and is going to do a lot of communication around the team for the French GP. I really believe that after the though Grand Prix in Spain, the test on Monday was quite productive. Thanks to KTM we received a few new items to test, that were all quite positive – not an immeasurable gain, but small gains and I think this is the way we will grow up together. We were quicker, had a more constant lap time, a better pace and more confidence for the riders. Although we’ve been never there with the KTM RC16, from my point of few, it should be a little bit easier than what we faced in Jerez. The weather is going to be a big question mark, as usual there, but this is something that is going to be the same for everyone, except that our two guys never rode one lap in the wet on the KTM, so I think everybody and even more us, we are looking forward for dry conditions and hopefully sunshine. Last year Claude Michy, the French Grand Prix organizer, managed to have the highest attendance on Sunday and hopefully with Fabio Quartararo in MotoGP class now, Johann Zarco in Factory KTM plus the whole Tech3 team carrying the French flag, we can at least match that result and make this event very special and sweet. We can’t wait to be there, we can’t wait to see the fans and give them what they come to find.”