Last year at Le Mans, right up until the final corners, three M1s led the way in the French GP. Valentino's crash was the only negative note on a Sunday in which everything went to plan for Yamaha. Many things have happened in the last twelve months though and it will be tough for the Iwata bike to put in another such performance.
After the struggles at Jerez, tests in Spain and at Mugello proved useful, allowing the team to better understand the M1s issues, though it will take more than a few days to fix them. Right now then, Rossi and Vinales need to make the most of every opportunity, and Le Mans looks like being a good one.
In the reigning class alone, the Doctor has scored 3 wins, 6 second places and 3 thirds at the French track.
“I'm happy we're going to France next, because on paper we should be fast in Le Mans - usually the Yamaha works well there. I think that at the moment the situation is difficult to predict, because our rivals are strong, so we'll see what our potential will be like."
Despite this, Valentino tries to see the glass half full.
“I expect to be a bit more competitive compared to the previous GP weekend, but I don't know where we stand compared to the other bikes yet, so that will be interesting to find out. For sure my guys and I will do our best, as always, to make it a good race weekend."
A promise that Maverick Vinales also makes, he too battling with an M1 that is not at the level of its strongest rivals. The Spaniard seems to be feeling more confident after the recent tests.
“The race in Jerez was very difficult for us again this year. Fortunately, the tests last week were good. We are very close to finding the perfect set-up for me, so I’m heading to Le Mans with a positive mindset."
He also recalls his 2017 success.
"I have really good memories from my victory on the Yamaha last year, so hopefully we'll be able to repeat the success we had there. Le Mans is a good track for us, it suits my riding style, and I think we can do a really good job."