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Riders discuss Le Mans prospects ahead of race weekend

Riders discuss Le Mans prospects ahead of race weekend

Randy de Puniet, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner were the MotoGP names who lined up at the official Monster Energy Grand Prix de France pre-event press conference on Thursday.

Jorge Lorenzo arrived in Le Mans for the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, the third round of the 2010 MotoGP World Championship, and outlined his determination to defend his early lead in the standings at the pre-event press conference on Thursday.

The Fiat Yamaha rider sits at the top courtesy of his win last time out at Jerez and is confident of a good result this weekend, at a circuit that has been kind to him in the past. Lorenzo was second at Le Mans in 2008, his debut season in MotoGP, and won a race last year that he started on wet tyres but ended on slicks.

"This many races in a short space of time is hard physically, because you are always on the bike and you don't have time to stop and rest, but for the riders it's the best thing, because racing almost every weekend is what we live for," declared Lorenzo, who has a four-point lead over Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi as the riders head into a hectic period that will see five MotoGP races in just seven weeks.

The Spaniard also admitted that the Le Mans circuit was one that he enjoys racing at, and added: "This is a track I like and all the predictions say that it's not going to rain this weekend, so I'm happy to be at this wonderful track enjoying this wonderful weather."

A positive Test at Jerez after the race almost three weeks ago has also given Lorenzo added optimism. "We tested some electronic parts in Jerez after the race and also some things to improve our first laps, but mainly we tried some starts. I've had to push too much in the races this season to make up for the start, so this is what we have been working to improve," he noted.

Nine-time World Champion and Lorenzo’s closest rival at present Rossi is now almost fully recovered from the shoulder injury, sustained in a motocross crash, which caused him problems during the race in Jerez.

"My shoulder feels a lot better. For sure still not 100% again, but it's definitely better than it was in Jerez," explained the Italian, who has won three times in the premier class at Le Mans but has also experienced disappointment there as well, including 16th place last year.

"In Le Mans I've had a lot of different results. Sometimes I've had great races with great victories, while some other times I've had some bad luck and some bad results as well. Last year was the worst weekends of my season; I was never fast enough to stay at the front and I arrived last in the race. It was quite a bad feeling!"

"This track is always very tricky, because you need a strange setting for good stability in braking. There's always a problem with wheelie under acceleration from the tight hairpin, but at the same time you need to have a fast bike for the last part and good agility," he added.

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa is another rider who has won at Le Mans in the past, although his three victories were in the 250cc and 125cc classes. After second place and a positive post race test at Jerez three weeks ago Pedrosa will make his 150th GP start on Sunday.

"On one side this track is very fast, but on the other it's very hard because there is a lot of hard braking and a lot of overtaking points,” he said. “Here the racing is always good and in past years we've also had a lot to deal with, because we've had to change bikes or the weather was in between, so it was fun."

Casey Stoner, currently lying eighth in the championship standings, was positive about his chances of clawing back some points from his main rivals this weekend, but the Australian refused to be drawn on the rumours circulating the paddock that he is already deep in discussions with a number of teams about a ride for the 2011 season.

Randy de Puniet heads into his home Grand Prix off the back of good qualifying performances in the opening two races of the season, but the Frenchman remained realistic about his target for this weekend during the press conference.

"This race is so difficult for me; the last five times I've raced here on the MotoGP bike were a disaster, although my results prior to that on the 250 were good. This year I want to be at the front and, if I can finish on Sunday behind these four riders (Lorenzo, Rossi, Pedrosa and Stoner), this would be perfect. I'm confident, but this will be a difficult race, like all the races so far this year."


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