MotoGP™ returns this weekend at the Monster Energy Grand Prix de France, where Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner will look to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings.
He will face stiff competition from his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo, who have been the only three racers to stand on the podium this season. They have already cemented themselves as one of the greatest rivalries in the 64-year history of the sport, having shared the podium a record 16 times – four more than any other trio in the past.
Le Mans, which will host the Grand Prix for the 55th time this weekend, also sees Stoner chasing his 19th successive podium. Having won the last two races, and showing clear signs of recovery from his arm pump problem, he remains the man to beat. Lorenzo, only one point behind the Australian in the standings, has been the most consistent challenger so far and will be looking to get one over on the current World Champion at a track where he has won twice already in the premier class.
Pedrosa on the other hand, who recorded his 100th podium finish last time out at Estoril, will be looking to get his first win of the season at a track where he has not yet won in the top category. Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso have so far provided some great inter-team battles and will be aiming to not only out-do one another once again, but to find that extra bit of pace to catch up to the front three.
Ducati Team pair Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden, who both had mixed fortunes last time out, will be heading to the French track with optimism after Rossi recorded his best Ducati result this season in seventh. Having finished 26 seconds behind race winner Stoner, this was the closest any Ducati rider has finished to the race winner since Rossi’s seventh place finish at Misano last year. The Italian will also hold fond memories of the French track, as Le Mans was the setting for Rossi’s sole podium last year.
Honda satellite riders, San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s rookie Stefan Bradl will look to build on their solid performances so far this year, while Pramac Racing’s Héctor Barberá on-board his satellite Ducati will look to improve on his 10th place at Estoril. Cardion AB Racing’s Karel Abraham has not finished a race this season so far and will hope to turn his fortunes around.
After suffering a broken left collarbone in Estoril qualifying, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards will be replaced by 2007 Le Mans race-winner Chris Vermeulen, making his first MotoGP appearance since 2009. Power Electronics Aspar pair Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró will be gunning for top CRT honour once more, with de Puniet having the added motivation of Le Mans being his home track.
San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Michele Pirro and Came IodaRacing Project’s Danilo Petrucci will once again hope for a solid performance, while Speed Master’s Mattia Pasini, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison and Avintia Blusens pair Yonny Hernandez and Iván Silva will look to reverse their fortunes this time out and complete the race.
World Championship Standings MotoGP™
1- Casey Stoner - AUS - Honda - 66
2- Jorge Lorenzo - SPA - Yamaha - 65
3- Dani Pedrosa - SPA - Honda - 52
4- Cal Cructhlow - GBR - Yamaha - 37
5- Andrea Dovizioso - ITA - Yamaha - 35