Le Mans: Four winners from four races?

motogp preview le mans
Monday, 13 May 2013

The start of the 2013 MotoGP™ season has witnessed three different winning riders in as many races, with Jorge Lorenzo, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa having celebrated victory at Losail, Circuit of the Americas and Jerez. Can another name now make it a quartet of victors as the fraternity heads to historic Le Mans?

It’s been five years since the first four Grands Prix witnessed as many different victors. Back in 2008, the fourth was Valentino Rossi as he took his Yamaha to success in China. Shanghai may no longer feature on the calendar, but Rossi is certainly still in attendance and striving for his first win since returning to the Japanese marque. Judging by the form so far this season, the seven-time premier class champion certainly seems the man most likely should the winner be different again.

Heading to France, it is Marquez who heads the standings as the youngest ever man to have become the sole leader of the championship. Repsol Honda Team are now first and second (61 points to Pedrosa’s 58), whereas reigning title holder and Rossi’s teammate Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) is a further point behind and only four off the top spot. Many saw his reaction to the Jerez collision with Marquez as a positive example of sporting behavior, although one can be sure that the on-track battles will be only more tension-filled following that memorable last-corner dive.

A key factor for the upcoming French event - for both keeping dry in the grandstands and winning a motorcycle race - will be the Maine weather. As the 2012 race proved only too well, conditions can be changeable to say the least, although it certainly made for an unpredictable afternoon of racing; Lorenzo won, Rossi finished second on an underperforming Ducati and the now retired Casey Stoner came home third. To the credit of the whole field, only three riders failed to make the finish.

For the sake of those in battle, let us hope that the forthcoming drama does not come in the way of accidents. As those around him were caught out by the boiling temperatures of Jerez, Lorenzo was practically the only front-runner who did not fall during the weekend (if you don’t count the final corner clash, that is). As for Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow, who had two heavy shunts in Spain, a clean weekend is the priority.

At Ducati Team, Le Mans is a highly important meeting. Following the positive debut of the GP13 Lab chassis in the hands of Michele Pirro last time out, regular riders Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso had their turn in the Jerez post-race test; a further two-day outing on the current GP13 came at Mugello, but included more GP13 Lab development by test rider Franco Battaini. For Le Mans, Pirro covers for the injured Ben Spies at Ignite Pramac Racing.

Performances are also on the up amongst the CRT runners, not least as they have now sampled the first significant ECU software upgrade - delivered by Magneti Marelli and improved based on requests from the teams themselves. The ECU in question is being used by all CRT runners except those on ART machinery (Power Electronics pairing Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet plus PBM’s Yonny Hernandez).

Opening practice for the 2013 Monster Energy Grand Prix de France begins at 9am local time on Friday, whereas Sunday’s race gets underway at 2pm (GMT +2).

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