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Rossi determined not to let Le Mans slip this time

Rossi determined not to let Le Mans slip this time

Rossi determined not to let Le Mans slip this time

Valentino Rossi has an old score to settle at Le Mans after the French circuit defeated him last year to become one of only five tracks to deny him a win last season, a finish he is confident will not be repeated this Sunday.

Rossi has been on top form this year and has already won two of the season's first three races. Two weeks ago he also went down in history as the first MotoGP rider to conquer the impressive new Shanghai circuit, and in doing so he clinched his best result in the wet.

Going into the fourth round of the 2005 MotoGP World Championship – with a 37 point lead to boot – Rossi is determined that Le Mans will succumb to him and his Yamaha this time around.

"Le Mans is not one of my favourite tracks, I had a difficult race there last year and only finished fourth," said the Italian. "I hope we leave there having resolved our problems, whatever the conditions are, and I have a feeling that we will.

"It can be quite tricky there if the weather is bad, so I really hope we have a bit of luck and it's dry, but at least if it rains we know we are in a much better position than in the past."

Rossi is more than happy with adjustments made to his YZR-M1 this season and, in part, ascribes the enhancements to his wet win in China.

"The changes we made to the M1 on the morning of the race in Shanghai benefited us and helped us to win my first wet race with Yamaha," explained Rossi. "Basically we made the forks softer, less rigid, and I think these changes will benefit us in the dry as well.

"To beat Sete Gibernau and Alex Barros in those conditions at Shanghai was the most incredible thing," admits Rossi. "Melandri did really well - also in the dry he is doing a good job. For me to be so fast in the rain was fantastic. I had never won in the wet before with Yamaha, so it was very special and the points are so important."

However, this time around Rossi will be watching his back because of an entirely different opponent – Frenchman Oliver Jacque who stormed through the Shanghai race to beat the usual favourites and finish in second place, just 1.7 seconds behind Rossi.

"I am a bit worried about Olivier Jacque now because before the Shanghai race he said that he was only riding in China as a kind of training to learn the bike, and then he could concentrate on racing in Le Mans. He finished second in China so who knows what might happen in France!"

In contrast to Rossi, team-mate Colin Edwards has had a rocky start to the season, including mechanical problems at shanghai two weeks ago that saw him finish in eighth place. However, that aside, he has hand managed to step into a reasonably placed sixth position in the overall standings.

"It's been a funny season for me so far and I'm just hoping everything comes together in France," explains Edwards. "China was very similar to Estoril in that I showed I had the race pace but, through a series of circumstances out of my control, I didn't get the opportunity to push for the podium.

"Nobody is more disappointed about that than myself and I certainly don't expect to be battling it out for eighth place even at this early stage of the season. The main thing is, though, that the positive signs are there and the whole team is working hard. All we need now is a little turn in luck and we'll be there.

"I don't mind Le Mans as a circuit too much – last year was only my second time there but I set provisional pole position and finished fifth in the race. It's a real ‘stop and go' track, as everybody says, with hard braking, tight corners and hard acceleration. We'll have some work to do with the set-up of the bike but we've made a lot of progress over the last few weeks so hopefully we can make it count."

Tags:
MotoGP, 2005, GRAND PRIX ALICE DE FRANCE, Valentino Rossi

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