Lorenzo gunning for Pedrosa at Le Mans

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 16, 2008
The MotoGP World Championship returns to Europe this weekend for the Grand Prix of France at Le Mans.

Le Mans is one of the least technical circuits on the calendar. The first turn is one of the fastest in MotoGP and it is followed by the first of a number of tight chicanes. The rest of the track is made up of short straights and hairpins.

While Honda’s Dani Pedrosa leads the standings with 81 points, Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are hot on his heels.

Lorenzo has been given the official ‘thumbs up’ from his doctors after undergoing assessment in Barcelona. Dr. Xavier Mir assessed the injuries to both Lorenzo’s ankles, which he fractured during free practice in Shanghai less than two weeks ago. Despite his injuries, Lorenzo managed to finish an impressive fourth place and keep his title hopes alive.

Jorge Lorenzo is ready to go despite injuring both ankles.“I was lucky in China,” says Lorenzo. “If I'd have landed differently it could have ruled me out until the middle of the season and certainly prevented me from enjoying myself as much as I am in this early part of the season.

“In China I realized the risks in this sport; as riders we have to take a lot of risks and that Sunday in Shanghai, with my emotions and my feelings, I knew I had to go through it and take risks again because my team was depending on me in the box. I won't be at 100 per cent for Le Mans but my mental condition should make me strong at one of my favorite circuits and I am really looking forward to the race just the same.”

Lorenzo, who currently sits just seven points behind Pedrosa in second place, had X-rays in Barcelona that confirmed both his ankles are healing well.

“Not enough time has passed yet for the injuries to fully heal, but Jorge's pain threshold will allow him to compete without too much risk this weekend,” says Doctor Mir.

Rossi is also within striking distance of Pedrosa with 72 points after his win in Shanghai. He is hoping to improve on last year’s disappointing performance at the Le Mans track.

 “Last year Le Mans was incredibly disappointing for us - we were hoping for a good result in the dry but the rain came and things didn't go as planned,” says Rossi. “This year however we're going there on a real high after the fantastic result in China and I am confident that we can have a good weekend.

“This is the start of the busiest phase of the championship and it's always hard work but also great fun. Let's hope we can get this run of races off to the best possible start in France.”

Defending MotoGP champion Casey Stoner is 25 points back Pedrosa in fourth, but he is coming off a podium finish in China. He finished on the podium last year at Le Mans and was fourth as a rookie in 2006.

“I haven't had outstanding results at Le Mans in the past but they have been good and I remember last year being really fast in practice and feeling confident for the race. Then on Sunday it rained but I still came away with a podium,” says Stoner. “The track itself is not the most exciting - it's more like a go-kart track, where the bike has to be really efficient on the brakes but agile at the same time and quick on the exit of the corners.”