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MotoGP, Zarco: "Everyone at Le Mans expects a podium from me"

Subdued atmosphere at the Bugatti circuit as all thoughts are on Nicky Hayden

MotoGP: Zarco: "Everyone at Le Mans expects a podium from me"

Thinking on you, Nicky 69”. This is what was written on the sign that the riders held up just before the press conference at Le Mans. Their minds are on the battle the American rider is fighting, hit by a car yesterday as he was on his bicycle.

However, tomorrow it will be time to start the engines for the first two free practice sessions. In France, Rossi is called to redemption after Jerez: “In the past the M1 has proven to be competitive on this track – Valentino commented – this time we will have to wait, given the weather conditions, in the hopes of finding the right confidence.”

Alongside him is Marc Marquez, fresh from his second place finish two weeks ago: “I think that it was a big surprise for Honda in Jerez – the Spaniard commented – I was able to battle down to the last lap, plus I had positive responses in the tests as well.”

He doesn’t mind the Bugatti track at all: “I like the track, although sometimes it happens that you are unable to win on favourable tracks – he commented – in 2014 I succeeded and last year I was fighting for the podium until right before the crash. Staying in the top three positions will definitely be the priority – he advised – even if Le Mans will be a question mark since the bikes are different than they were last year and we will have to base everything on the data Cal gathered.”

Pedrosa also has his sights set on the podium. In Jerez the Honda rider was the true protagonist: “In the last two races there has been significant progress – he commented – I don’t want to forget about the last test either, because I was competitive”. Dani is already thinking about the present: “It will be interesting to assess the new asphalt – he explained – in particular, trying to figure the level of confidence in the corners”. He then adds: “Here we need to pay attention to Zarco.”

The Frenchman was listening: “I think this is a special season start – the Tech3 rider commented – my fans are asking me for a podium finish and I would like to do that too.” The recent resurfacing makes him optimistic: “I am hoping for better grip – he revealed – the goal is to try to stay with the fastest riders.” The start of the 2017 season has undoubtedly highlighted the Frenchman’s performance:  “I feel a lot of warmth from the fans – Zarco said – there should be more talk of bikes in France and I think that achieving good results is the best solution.”

He is not the only local rider in the race. In addition to the Moto2 champion, Loris Baz is also here and he talked about the presence of Guintoli astride the Suzuki: “It is never easy when you start riding a bike in mid-season – the Avintia rider commented – it will take a few sessions to figure it out. I’m sure that Sylvain will improve his confidence session by session.”

Jorge Lorenzo also knows the Le Mans track well, so much that he has won on it no less than five times in the top class: “This is a magic track for me and I hope it will be for the Ducati too – he commented – Last season, Iannone and Dovizioso were fast up until the crash.” Jorge then went back to talk about the podium in Jerez: “In the past I have never been so far from the best –he remembered – I did not give up and, in fact, I am understanding the potential of the bike better and better. I am able to feel at ease and it feels like a more natural ride. I think you can see that even on TV. Can I win? “In MotoGP anything can happen. You have to keep your mind free.”

The Majorcan is fresh from the Mugello tests: “It proved to be a positive day for us – he commented – The track was slippery and I did 63 laps with a few adjustments, gaining more confidence.”

Before Mugello, number 99 had also participated in the Jerez tests where Michelin had made the 2016 tyre available with a harder carcass. On this subject, Rossi commented: “I think there was a little bit of progress.Marquez agreed: “I agree with Valentino since I did not find any negative points.”

Pedrosa is of a different opinion: “I did not see a big difference. There are some positive and negative aspects, so the key will be who is able to adapt better.” On the other hand, Lorenzo pointed out: “I think that the best solution is to feel comfortable with both tyres – he said – In fact, all the riders must have the right confidence, without penalizing one rather than another.”

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Translated by Jonathan Blosser

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