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MotoGP returns to Europe with Grand Prix Alice de France

MotoGP returns to Europe with Grand Prix Alice de France

MotoGP returns to Europe with Grand Prix Alice de France

The MotoGP World Championship continues apace this weekend with the fourth round of the season seeing the series return to much more familiar territory after its groundbreaking first sojourn to China two weeks ago. The historic Le Mans circuit has been a regular feature on the Grand Prix calendar since 1969 and this weekend it welcomes the world's premier motorcycle racing series for the 18th time.

Current World Champion Valentino Rossi leads the standings after three rounds and arrives in France looking to improve on a comparatively poor record at Le Mans. Fourth place last season was one of only three occasions the Italian actually finished a race outside the podium positions on his way to the title for Yamaha and he will be desperate to rectify that statistic this weekend as he aims to become the factory's first rider to score seven consecutive top-three finishes since Wayne Rainey over a decade ago.

Whilst Marco Melandri currently lies second in the championship, 25 points behind his compatriot, this weekend presents his Honda team-mate Sete Gibernau with the ideal chance to get his season on track after a disastrous start. The Spaniard, who has finished runner-up to Rossi in the championship for the past two seasons, is already 37 points adrift of his great rival and will look for his third consecutive victory at this circuit to repair the damage caused by a crash and a fourth place finish from the past two rounds.

Rossi's biggest challenge, however, could come from the unexpected source of home favourite Olivier Jacque. The Frenchman returned to MotoGP as a replacement for the injured Alex Hofmann at the last round in Shanghai and stormed to an incredible second place, Kawasaki's best result in the premier-class since Mick Grant won the Isle of Man TT race in 1975. Jacque's first podium finish in MotoGP was also the first for any French rider since Regis Laconi at Phillip Island in 1999 and the local hero will receive huge home backing as he aims for a repeat this weekend.

Whilst Hofmann again misses out through injury, Makoto Tamada could make his return to action for Honda after undergoing intense physiotherapy on a wrist injury. The Japanese rider was replaced in China by Jurgen Van Den Goorbergh, who rode to a highly creditable sixth place, and will undergo a late fitness check in France before deciding whether to compete for a place on this Sunday's starting grid. Meanwhile, Team KR have confirmed that they will return to action this weekend with British rider Shane Byrne in the saddle after missing the last round due to a lack of engine parts.


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