LE MANS: Valentino Rossi arrives at Le Mans for this weekend’s French MotoGP targeting back-to-back wins after his masterful ride in Jerez and with a watchful eye on the weather.
The man from Urbino shut out his title rivals with a dominant pillar to post success in Spain to inject fresh life into his bid for a tenth world title.
He moved to within 24 points of Marc Marquez and seven adrift of his Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
In Jerez, the 37-year-old Rossi prevented Marquez from claiming his third successive success after wins in Argentina and Austin.
Rossi, a three-time MotoGP winner at the famous Le Mans circuit in the Loire region, took second to Lorenzo last season when he missed out on the title in the last grand prix.
“Last year I had a good race but I was not able to beat Jorge — I’ll try again this year,” he said.
If he succeeds this will be the first time the exuberant Italian known as “il dottore” has won two races in a row since 2009.
But he’s concerned about conditions.
“The negative thing about Le Mans is the weather, it is always very uncertain. It can rain, it is often cold and so there are many factors that you must be careful of,” Rossi said.
“First we will start the weekend in the same way as we did in Jerez. There we found a good set-up on Friday and this has helped us to be competitive in the race,” he added.
Like Rossi, Marquez has one eye on the barometer needle.
“You never know what it will do there,” said the two-time world champion who was only four when Rossi won his first world championship in the 125cc category in 1997.
“Last year the temperature rose significantly on Sunday and we suffered a lot with front grip in the race. Rain also isn’t unusual,” he added.
Lorenzo, who is leaving Yamaha for Ducati next season, has fond memories of last year’s visit when he notched up his fourth French Grand Prix success, but like his title rivals is also wondering whether he’ll need an umbrella.
“France is often tricky because of the weather, so we need to be prepared in case it rains,” said the 29-year-old.
Marquez’s Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa came in fourth in Jerez after grip issues and occupies the same position in the riders’ standings.
“In the last race, I couldn’t go full-throttle on the straights because the rear tire was spinning too much, and I think that also in Le Mans a lot will depend on how the tire will get grip from the track,” he added.