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Le Mans has been a happy hunting ground for Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi over recent years. The Italian has an impressive seven podiums to his name in his last ten visits to the French circuit.
His form in recent years has an even greater success rate with four visits to the podium in the past five seasons, of course including the dramatic final lap crash of 2017 whilst battling teammate Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) for the win.
2017 French Grand Prix: MotoGP™ Full Race
A victory that, despite his top three form, has escaped him in France for now eleven years; a stat he will most certainly be looking to rectify this weekend at the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France. Plus, if he can put his Le Mans drought to bed, The Doctor will keep himself firmly in the championship picture.
Just nine points separate Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) and Rossi, with the not-so small matter of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Alex Rins (Team Ecstar Suzuki) in between, so what better time to take your first premier class win in nearly two years. Especially with Mugello on the horizon.
Has Rossi found the answers after testing in Jerez?
“The Jerez test was quite positive,” said Rossi, after making small improvements on the acceleration and rear grip of his Yamaha M1. “I think we can also try something during the weekend in France. Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there. The goal is to have a good weekend, work well from FP1 onwards, and be fast from the first day.”
“We had a good race pace last year, so we want to start working from there. I'm hoping for good weather to work in throughout the weekend, so we can show our full potential. I want to get back on the podium, and we will do our best with the team.”
That last Le Mans win back in 2008 helped Rossi to the eighth or his nine World Championships; will triumph under the Tricolour in 2019 mark the start of a charge towards number ten? Find out from 09:55 local time (GMT+2) on Friday morning, as MotoGP™ FP1 gets underway.