Le Mans: a closer look at the legendary venue

A city and circuit synonymous with motorsport plays host to the latest 2020 MotoGP™ instalment

After a well-earned weekend off, the MotoGP™ riders are ready to resume the unbelievable 2020 World Championship. Kicking off the second of three triple headers is the SHARK Helmets Grand Prix de France in a city and at a circuit that is steeped in motorsport history – Le Mans.

Built in 1965 around the existing 24-Hour track, the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit lies 5km south of the city of Le Mans and 200km south-west of Paris and hosted it’s first motorcycle Grand Prix in 1969, when the great Giacomo Agostini won the 500cc race, lapping all the other riders on his MV Agusta. The venue has a home to Grand Prix racing since from then but a serious accident to Spanish rider and now Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig in 1995 saw it struck off the calendar until 2000 whilst stringent safety improvements were carried out.

Le Mans is a tight track dominated by first gear corners that place the emphasis on late braking and hard acceleration, whilst rear end traction is also a key area. With the capacity to comfortably accommodate up to 100,000 spectators, most of which sadly can’t be with us this year, the Bugatti circuit also plays host to the 24-hour truck race, the FIA GP2 Championship, French Touring Car and GT races.

French riders of different eras and in different classes such as Johann Zarco, Christian Sarron, Olivier Jacque, Arnaud Vincent, Guy Bertin, Randy de Puniet and Mike Di Meglio have brought their country race wins and titles, adding to France’s significant racing heritage. This season, the 5,000 fans will be welcoming and cheering on a French MotoGP™ Championship leader in the form of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). Can the 21-year-old or Zarco stand on the top step of the podium this weekend?

And talking of Zarco, the home hero is currently the all-time lap record holder thanks to his blistering 2018 pole position lap aboard the Tech3 Yamaha. His 1:31.185 remains unbeaten, while Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Viñales holds the race lap record from 2017 – the Spaniard’s 1:32.309 was set when he and Valentino Rossi went head-to-head in a Le Mans thriller. Can either of those records be beaten in 2020?

The 2020 French GP is all set-up to be a corker. What title race twists does Le Mans have in store for us this weekend? It won’t long until we find out.

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