Close contest on the cards in French MotoGP

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MotoGP riders at the pre-event press conference

Bengaluru, May 18: With the stage set for the exciting French Grand Prix at the famed Le Mans Bugatti circuit on Sunday (May 20), it was time for the MotoGP riders to throw down the gauntlet in the pre-event press conference.

Defending champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined by home hero Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Team Suzuki Ecstar's Andrea Iannone, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) got down to racing business in what promises to be an exciting French GP.

Shocked faces

Shocked faces

However, there was time for fun as earlier in the day, Zarco, Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors - Speed Up Racing) and Jules Danilo (Nashi Argan SAG Team) went undercover to welcome fans arriving to the track - with a few shocked faces and double takes as the three went incognito.

Then, the International Handy Racers were once again given the honour of kicking the GP weekend into gear as they took to the track for a couple of laps.

Full focus

Full focus

Then it was full focus ahead for the French GP, and Marquez was the first man to speak first in the press conference. The Spaniard had crashed out at Le Mans last season, and he explained the big step forward Honda has taken since a more difficult 2017 weekend.

"Last year our weak point was acceleration. We were losing out too much and trying to recover in the corners - but this year we've improved that a lot. I hope the general weekend will be different this year."

Extra motivation

Extra motivation

One rider arrives with a lot of extra motivation - Zarco, racing on home turf and second in the title fight. The Frenchman was also on the podium last season, for the first time in the premier class.

It's not more difficult," Zarco smiled and shrugged it off when asked about the pressure of his home round.

Great record

Great record

Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi spoke of both his and the M1's great record at Le Mans.

"We arrive from a difficult moment because I'm not very fast. We worked on small details in Jerez, and Mugello. I think our level is similar to Jerez but usually the M1 works well at this track. In the last years here I was always strong, but we need to understand this year how our level is compared to that of our opponents."

Close competition is the nature of the competition as the French GP practice session begins on Friday (May 18), before the lights go out for the race at 2pm local time (5.30pm IST) on Sunday.

(With inputs from MotoGP)

    Story first published: Friday, May 18, 2018, 11:31 [IST]
    Other articles published on May 18, 2018
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