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France impatient for MotoGP glory after four years

France impatient for MotoGP glory after four years

France impatient for MotoGP glory after four years

France stands in 11th position alongside Finland, New Zealand and Venezuela in the table of victories recorded in Motorcycle racing's premier category with a total of three.

Considering Randy de Puniet´s emergence of late and Olivier Jacque's recent success in the 250cc class it seems surprising to have to search back until 1999 at the GP of Valencia to find France's last 500cc winners trophy thanks to the efforts of Regis Laconi; the country's only win in a barren spell of 14 years. 1999 was also the last year that a Frenchman stood on the podium.

Laconi aside the only other riders to have seen the tricolore colours raised in their honour after a 500/MotoGP event is Christian Sarron in Germany during Freddie Spencer's dominant 1985 season and Pierre Monneret on home turf back in 1954.

France have been aptly represented in the 125 and 250 categories in the last few years thanks to the efforts of current defending number one Arnaud Vincent and 2000 World Champion Jacque. Indeed, the 250 series boasts no less than 11 race winners since the inception of the class with names such as the Sarron brothers (Christian and Dominique), famous elbow-scraper Jean Philippe Ruggia and Jean-Francois Balde remaining fresh in the memory.

Monneret was the first Frenchman to win a 500cc GP riding a Gilera at the Reims circuit. He defeated Italian Alfredo Milani, also on a Gilera by 16 seconds, while fellow countryman Jacques Collot was two laps behind in third! Sarron, with his success riding a Gauloises Yamaha at Hockenheim, had the distinction of being the reigning 250cc World Champion at the time.

Of course if Olivier Jacque does take the chequered flag this weekend, he will still have some work to do in order to become France's first ever MotoGP World Champion in the 54 year history of the competition.

MotoGP, 2003

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