JORGE LORENZO (Yamaha Factory Racing): “We arrive in good shape having always been in the first two positions in the three races of the year so far, I want to keep this going in Le Mans. Last year we struggled, especially in acceleration but I feel that this year is going to be a little different. It’s a good track for my riding style so we will try to fight for the win again but always thinking about the Championship”.
BEN SPIES (Yamaha Factory Racing): “I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike again this week. My confidence has been rebuilding well now we’ve found a good set up that works so I think we can make another step and improve our performance again at Le Mans. It’s not my favourite track but I’m going to give it 100% as always to achieve a good result on Sunday”.
CASEY STONER (Repsol Honda): “The past two tracks have not historically been my best but I’ve managed wins at both of them so I’m hoping we can go to Le Mans and be competitive again. I’ve had some mixed results there in the past, the track layout is unique, it’s a little stop-start with a lot of braking and I think this year both the Honda’s and Yamaha’s will be competitive there. It was disappointing that the weather in Estoril on Monday prevented us from testing, we need to work on the chatter issue we have on the bike so let’s hope we have some dry sessions from day one in Le Mans so we can get out on track and work on it”.
Words of CASEY STONER (Repsol Honda) announcing his retirement at the end of this season: “After a long time thinking, a lot of time talking with my family and my wife, this has been coming for a couple of years now but at the end of this 2012 season I will be not racing in the 2013 Championship. I will be finishing my career at the end of this season in MotoGP, and go forward in different things in my life. After so many years of doing this sport which I love, and which myself and my family made so many sacrifices for, after so many years of trying to get to where we have gotten to at this point, this sport has changed a lot and it has changed to the point where I am not enjoying it. I don’t have the passion for it and so at this time it’s better if I retire now. There are a lot of things that have disappointed me, and also a lot of things I have loved about this sport, but unfortunately the balance has gone in the wrong direction. And so, basically, we won’t be continuing any more. It would be nice if I could say I would stay one more year, but then where does it stop? So we decided to finish everything as we are now”.
DANI PEDROSA (Repsol Honda): “Le Mans is a hard circuit, quite similar to Estoril, a stop and go track where you need to prepare a bike with good stability, traction and acceleration. In the past I felt comfortable riding there, I had good results in 125cc and 250cc, but not really perfect in MotoGP, so I have something small inside me I want to achieve. Last year I did the fastest race lap, but I couldn’t keep the pace before the crash, so I want to do better this time. We’ve had three good races so far, I’m riding well, but I missed something in all of them, especially on the first laps, where I’ve been stronger in the past. I need to put everything together and if we get better starts, we will start winning races”.
VALENTINO ROSSI (Ducati Team): “It’s a shame that we lost the post-race test in Portugal because we would have continued our development work, and as we had very recent data from the race, we could have made some interesting comparisons. Still, this won’t influence us much from a technical point of view at Le Mans, as any updates would have arrived later anyway. In France, we’ll prepare for the race by working on the bike like we did at Estoril, starting from the base setup that we’re now a bit more familiar with and trying to continue with the settings one step at a time, in such a way that we reach Sunday at the maximum of our current potential. Le Mans is another place where the weather can be challenging, particularly at this time of year, but it’s also the track where I had my best result with the Ducati last year. We’ll see how it goes, but we’d like to do a little better than we did in Portugal”.
NICKY HAYDEN (Ducati Team): “I certainly wouldn’t say Le Mans is my favourite track on the calendar, but there are some things that I like about it. Sometimes it lacks grip somewhat, which I don’t like so much. On the other hand, it has a fair amount of hard braking, and I think some of those parts should suit our bike well. It will also be interesting to be at a different type of track compared to what we’ve seen so far this year. It’s a shame we didn’t get to test in Portugal because it certainly would have been nice to try a few things, but we’ll get to France, see what kind of weather we get, and try to get a good result”.
ALVARO BAUSTISTA (San Carlo Honda Gresini): “The weather at Estoril finally afforded us some dry track time and we were able to make some changes to the bike and get a good rhythm together before the race. At the start we were struggling for feeling with the front Bridgestone but gradually it improved. In the race I was struggling in T4 because the bike did not feel great in corner entry so I was just focused on holding my position. Now we go to another circuit where the weather is always unpredictable so we have to be ready to adapt. With the data we gathered in Portugal I think we can take another step forward and find a few important tenths to close the gap to the guys in front of us. I don’t really like this circuit, unfortunately. Le Mans has a lot of direction changes, short straights and the worst thing is the low grip levels and cool track temperatures. I have never finished on the podium here in the 125 or 250 classes but hopefully we can have a good race this weekend and improve on the results from Estoril”.
MICHELE PIRRO (San Carlo Honda Gresini): “The memory of picking up our first points at Estoril is still fresh in my mind and I think it is a nice confidence boost for myself and all the guys in the team, who have been working tirelessly on this new project, which we all believe in. We have achieved our first objective and now we need to focus on developing from here. Unfortunately the post-race test at Estoril was cancelled so we missed the opportunity to try some new things but as usual we remain upbeat and look to make up for it this weekend at Le Mans. The circuit is definitely not one of my favourites but that doesn’t matter one bit. We have to try our best to improve and close the gap to the top guys in the championship”.
STEFAN BRADL (LCR Honda): “Le Mans is another good circuit which I like and last year I gained the third position in the Moto2 race. However, as I said for the previous rounds every track is different from the past because the MotoGP bike is another story. I am quite confident we can proceed with our good results: on this surface you must find the right setup in braking and you use the front tyre more than the rear one. It’s important to pick up the bike faster. We shouldn’t struggle with rear grip issues here. Estoril was a different layout and the asphalt was not excellent. I had a look at the weather forecast, probably we will have another rainy weekend so I must remain focused”.
HECTOR BARBERA (Pramac Racing): “Le Mans is the circuit I like a lot and I tend to do well there. The people in Le Mans love motorbikes, they love the smell of fuel. This track has a lot of chicanes and it is fun for me. I had one of my best results of last season here and if I were able to do that in 2011 then I should do much better this year. Our main goal is fighting to stay in the top-ten position, we know we will be able to catch good results, around the 7th place, and we are working tirelessly to achieve our goal. It usually rains in France at this time of the year so let’s hope we get lucky and have a sunny weekend”.
RANDY DE PUNIET (Power Electronics Aspar Team): “I was hoping to be feeling better by now but I am still suffering from the crash at Estoril. My back and ribs are still very painful but hopefully I can make some improvements over the next couple of days. Le Mans is a circuit I always enjoy going to because I have thousands of fans there and it has some great corners, like turn one”.
ALEIX ESPARGARO (Power Electronics Aspar Team): “Le Mans has a lot of tight corners and personally I prefer fast tracks but I am currently the top CRT rider in the championship and I want to leave this race in the same position before we go to my home Grand Prix in Catalunya”.
CHRIS VERMEULEN (NGM Mobile Forward Racing): “I’m really looking forward to being back in MotoGP. I had four years there and I really enjoyed it in terms of racing in the premier class on the best bikes, tyres and all that. To have the opportunity to get on a decent CRT bike and to hopefully give them some feedback and help develop the bike will be good fun. I haven’t ridden for a while and I wouldn’t say I’m nervous but the first day is going to take a bit of work getting back up to speed and it is not like I am getting a couple of days to test. I’ll be straight out there and it should be fun and there is no pressure from that side. The bike is new and we don’t know how it will work around Le Mans but I’m just going out there to enjoy myself again on a motorbike. I miss riding and if something comes of this in the future with a test ride or a few more wild cards then that would be great. I don’t expect to go out to be the first CRT rider and everyone knows these bikes are not capable of winning races but it is an interesting project. My general fitness levels are as good as they’ve ever been. I did a couple of triathlons in Australia during the summer, but I know that riding a MotoGP bikes uses a lot of different muscles. I expect I’ll be sore after a race weekend. I was also doing some dirt track training in the summer back home and felt comfortable with my knee for the first time in a while, so that’s a good sign. I am running again and cycling again and I had to do a lot of work just to get my leg up to strength”.
Sincerely, Eduard Ballús