New to here

Tickets purchase
VideoPass purchase

Grey skies loom over Le Mans

Grey skies loom over Le Mans

Grey skies loom over Le Mans

All eyes were focused on the gloomy skies at Le Mans today, as the legendary circuit prepares to play host to the Grand Prix Polini de France amidst changeable weather conditions. Light rain and showers are predicted for the weekend, but the riders and teams remained focussed on the fourth round of what is already developing into an intriguing 2003 season.

Proceedings were cut short here last year when a sudden downpour interrupted the race after 21 laps, handing victory to Valentino Rossi, but the reigning World Champion is ready for a different challenge this season in light of recent rule changes which allow Race Direction to restart the MotoGP race for a minimum of three laps regardless of the distance already covered.

´If the rain comes this year we will restart the race, so we will all be giving 100%,´ said the Italian. ´Le Mans is not one of my favourite circuits - with the 500 and the four-stroke I have always had a lot of problems with traction on the exit of the hairpins. I prefer places like Jerez, but they are all worth 25 points and it is important to focus on the championship.

Rossi and his fellow four-stroke MotoGP revolutionaries will finally be joined on track tomorrow morning by the Proton KR V5, set to make its belated debut after a series of teething problems meant it had to be held back for the opening three races. The prototype machine roared into life this afternoon whilst across the garage the team's lightweight KR3 two-stroke machines remained on standby at a track, which could ironically be more suited to them - particularly if the race is run in wet conditions.

Ryuichi Kiyonari got his first taste of life as an official MotoGP rider, having previously wandered amongst the imposing trucks and hospitality units at Jerez two weeks ago. Kiyonari makes his debut appearance aboard the RC211V in tomorrow's first free practice session, after testing in private at Clermont Ferrand earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Japanese youngster's new team-mate Sete Gibernau joined local hero Olivier Jacque on a visit to a local children's hospital. The popular pair distributed gifts to the delight of the patients.

It was a quiet day at the paddock's own Clinica Mobile, where MotoGP medic Doctor Costa reported no major treatment other than the normal check-ups and massages regularly administered ahead of such an intense weekend of racing. Nicky Hayden, who limped gingerly from a high speed crash in the second round at Jerez two weeks ago, has fully recovered from minor leg injuries, although Loris Capirossi, who also crashed out in Spain, was suffering the effects of a stomach bug.

MotoGP, 2003, Grand Prix Polini de France

Other updates you may be interested in ›