The historic Le Mans circuit in France awaits MotoGP riders for the fifth round of the 2016 World Championship this weekend and following the positive GP of Spain, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró and Maverick Viñales are both enthusiastic to take advantage of the work done in last Monday’s test.
Espargaró arrives in France after very positive improvements he made in Spain. After a tough start to the season, he has found confidence back in his GSX-RR, and at Jerez, finally got back to his normal competitiveness. He is also determined to put last year’s Le Mans event behind him, when he suffered a bad crash in FP3; which affected his overall performance.
Viñales, in contrast, had positive feelings about the track last year and he is now eager to test the GSX-RR’s improvements at such a tight track. The recent race in Jerez left him the desire to further improve, as he is getting closer-and-closer to the fastest riders on track. The progress made so far has given him hope for better results, and Le Mans holds good memories; a circuit where he has tasted victory in the past.
Built in 1965 around the existing 24-Hour racetrack, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit is a tight track dominated by first-gear corners that place the emphasis on late braking, which is an aspect of the GSX-RR that was tested and improved last Monday in Jerez during the test day following the race. The track is 4.2 km long with an average width of 16 metres and with a 674 metre-long straight.
Last year’s race at Le Mans saw Espargaró suffer a huge high-side in FP3 that prevented him taking part in the time attack that could have given him direct access to Q2. He qualified 10th for the race despite fighting with pain from the accident and in the race, a clutch issue took him out of the game on the second lap. Viñales missed Q2 by just 0.027s in FP3, but struggled in Q1, finally qualifying in 13th, while in the race he recovered positions to finally score ninth position.
“I’m looking forward to Le Mans because I have the enthusiasm after the improvements we did at last race. In Jerez, in particular, I found a good set-up and my confidence with the GSX-RR has grown a lot. I struggled in the beginning of the season and I’m so happy to be back to the top. The bike has a lot of potential and my crew is working really hard, and with this combination I’m sure we’ll get to better results very soon. Le Mans is a particular track; very tight, and where we will need a lot of traction. We have worked a lot on this area recently as it was pretty-much an issue to us and we made big steps forward, so I hope the work we’ve done will pay off.”
“After Jerez I had confirmation that we made great improvements, but also that they are not enough. We have a lot of room for improvement and we must be good in exploiting our better potential. We are much more competitive than last year and this makes me confident for the job we are doing; also in Jerez in the test we made big steps forward and we found different solutions that will help us a lot. Le Mans will not be an easy track, but we are working hard and hopefully this will pay us back. We know which areas we still miss-out on and our understanding of the machine and electronics has increased a lot, so this will help us to find better solutions.”
GP of France Results in 2015:
Qualifying: 10th - 1'33.665 Race: Retired
Qualifying: 13th - 1'34.245 Race: 9th - +41.571