After completing a one-day test last Thursday at Mugello, in which factory riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo concentrated mainly on preparation work for the Italian GP, the Ducati Team has now arrived in France for the fifth round of the championship, scheduled for the iconic Le Mans circuit.
The track where the bike race takes place – the Bugatti circuit – forms part of the history of motorsport and even though it only shares a small section of the Sarthe circuit where every year the famous 24 Hours car race is held, it offers a fascinating spectacle for the packed crowds who flock to the French circuit every year for the GP.
Andrea Dovizioso has often produced good form at Le Mans, qualifying five times on the front row in ten races, and he has climbed onto the podium three times in MotoGP, the last time in 2015 when he finished third, while twelve months ago the Italian crossed the finish line in fourth place.
Jorge Lorenzo has a truly extraordinary record at Le Mans. Since his MotoGP debut in 2008 he has scored a total of five wins at the Bugatti circuit, the last two in 2015 and 2016. In addition, in his ten races in the French GP, he has qualified five times on the front row, while last year he finished the race in sixth.
The French GP weekend programme gets underway on Friday morning with the first free practice session at 9.55am, while the 27-lap race is scheduled for 14.00.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 5th (46 points)
“If we look at how competitive we were at Jerez, I’m convinced we can also go well at Le Mans, and so from this point of view I’m pretty unfazed. In today’s MotoGP you can’t afford to lose too many points, and so the zero we picked up in Spain is a big setback, but after the performance we demonstrated in the race on a track that on paper was not favourable for us, I believe that we have put the frighteners on our rivals just a little bit more. So I’m confident we can also do a good race in France.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 20th (6 points)
“After what happened at Jerez I can’t wait to race at Le Mans. As I said after the race, despite the crash I think that the information we picked up during the Spanish GP was very positive. We worked well throughout the weekend and improved my feeling with the Desmosedici GP. In the race, even though I didn’t have the best pace, I showed I was one of the quickest riders out there and this should be our starting point in every grand prix. The aim at Le Mans will be the same as always: to be competitive right from day 1 and be able to fight up at the front in the race. I’m full of energy and anxious to race on Sunday at a circuit where I’ve won many times in the past.”
The Le Mans circuit
The ‘Bugatti’ circuit lies about 5 km south of the town of Le Mans. Built in 1965 on the Le Mans 24 Hours car racing circuit, at the end of the 1960s the track became the venue for the grand prix bike race. After a few years the Le Mans round disappeared from the championship calendar until the 2000 season, while work was carried out to improve safety. One of the main features of the narrow track is the strange nature of its curves, which force the riders to brake brusquely and then accelerate hard out. The circuit can accommodate more than 100,000 spectators and has five left-hand corners and nine right.
Fastest Lap: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’31.975 (163.8 km/h) - 2016
Circuit Record: Viñales (Yamaha), 1’32.309 (163.2 km/h) - 2017
Best Pole: Lorenzo (Yamaha), 1’31.975 (163.8 km/h) - 2016
Top Speed: Iannone (Ducati), 316.6 km/h - 2015
Track Length: 4.2 km
Race Distance: 27 laps (113.0 km)
Curves: 14 (5 left, 9 right)
Race Start: 14.00 CET
Podium: 1st Viñales (Yamaha), 2nd Zarco (Yamaha), 3rd Pedrosa (Honda)
Pole Position: Viñales (Yamaha), 1’31.994 (163.771 km/h)
Fastest Lap: Viñales (Yamaha), 1’32.309 (163.212 km/h)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 04
Age: 32 (born on 23rd March in Forlimpopoli, Italy)
Residence: Forlì (Italy)
Races: 280 (182 x MotoGP, 49 x 250cc, 49 x 125cc)
First GP: 2001 Italian GP (125cc)
Wins: 18 (9 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 5 x 125cc)
First Win: 2004 South African GP (125cc)
Poles: 18 (5 x MotoGP, 4 x 250cc, 9 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 French GP (125cc)
World Titles: 1 (1 x 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Desmosedici GP
Race Number: 99
Age: 31 (born on 4th May 1987 in Palma di Mallorca, Spain)
Residence: Lugano (Switzerland)
Races: 272 (178 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
First GP: 2002 Spanish GP (125cc)
Wins: 65 (44 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First Win: 2003 Brazilian GP (125cc)
Poles: 65 (39 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
First Pole: 2003 Malaysian GP (125cc)
World Titles: 5 (3 x MotoGP, 2 x 250cc)