Dovizioso 'confident' despite poor record at Le Mans

By Sports Desk May 15, 2019

Andrea Dovizioso is optimistic ahead of the French Grand Prix, despite having a poor record at the Le Mans circuit.

The Italian has never won the race, but believes his Ducati is likely to fare well at the track, at least in comparison to his fourth-place finish in Jerez last time out that cost him the lead in the riders' championship.

Dovizioso, whose 67 points after four races is his best haul at this stage of a MotoGP season, crashed while leading last year's event in France, which was eventually won by world champion Marc Marquez.

Weather could be a factor with wet conditions expected for Sunday's race, and Dovizioso wants to maximise any chance to challenge Marquez.

"I'm confident that in France we can ride a strong race," he said. 

"At Le Mans we should be more competitive than in the last round in Jerez, at least on paper, even though last year in France the race didn't go as planned and the memory is not the best.

"Weather conditions always play a key role at Le Mans, and it's crucial to be able to manage this variable to your advantage. At any rate, I expect to have many fast rivals out there, so it'll be important to start off on the right foot since the very first session and prepare ourselves as well as possible for the race.

"The Ducati has some characteristics that we can take advantage of in France, but we need to iron out some details to maximise our potential and play our cards right on Sunday, which is when points are given."

Spanish riders have been dominant at Le Mans, winning seven straight races, but Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who has four podiums in the past five years at the circuit, is another candidate to end that run.

The 40-year-old has highlighted progress made in the acceleration and rear grip on his bike at the recent Jerez test and is bidding for a first win in the French GP since 2008.

Rossi said: "The Jerez test was quite positive. I think we can also try something during the weekend in France. Le Mans is a track that I like a lot, and our Yamaha is usually competitive there.

"The goal is to have a good weekend, work well from FP1 onwards, and be fast from the first day. We had a good race pace last year, so we want to start working from there.

"I'm hoping for good weather to work in throughout the weekend, so we can show our full potential. I want to get back on the podium, and we will do our best with the team."

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  • MotoGP Raceweek: Rins pips Marquez in Silverstone thriller after Dovizioso crash MotoGP Raceweek: Rins pips Marquez in Silverstone thriller after Dovizioso crash

    Alex Rins snatched a thrilling British Grand Prix victory from Marc Marquez after Andrea Dovizioso and Fabio Quartararo were involved in a huge first-lap crash at Silverstone.

    Marquez looked set to hold off Rins and win the race for the first time since 2014 but was denied by his fellow Spaniard in a dramatic finish.

    Suzuki Ecstar rider Rins nipped in on the inside of Marquez on the final corner and pipped the championship leader by a margin of 0.013 seconds to take his second win of the MotoGP season.

    Dovizioso's last-ditch move prevented Marquez, who was battling wearing tyres, from taking the top step of the podium in Austria last time out and the five-time champion failed to see it out again following a stunning late twist.

    Rins pushed the Repsol Honda pole-sitter all the way and was rewarded when he made one last move and exited Luffield expertly to pull off a sweet victory.

    An elated Rins said: "Two laps to the end I thought it was the last lap and that's why I overtook Marc on the straight. In the last corner I was unbelievable, so much faster than him. And I did it."

    Maverick Vinales worked his way through the field to take third spot ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi, who started in second. 

    Marquez was able to increase his championship lead to 78 points as Dovizioso was taken to hospital after suffering a severe blow to the head when he collided with Quartararo's bike after the Frenchman crashed in a nightmare start.

    Dovizioso's Ducati caught fire as his hopes of back-to-back victories evaporated, with Quartararo also looking shell-shocked after rising from the gravel.

     

    TOP 10

    1. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
    2. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) +0.013secs
    3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) +.0.620s
    4. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) +11.439s
    5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +13.109s
    6. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) +19.169s
    7. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +19.682s
    8. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) +20.318s
    9. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +21.079s
    10. Andrea Iannone (Aprilia) +25.144s

    TITLE STANDINGS

    Riders

    1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 250
    2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-78)
    3. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 149 (-101)
    4. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 145 (-105)
    5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 118 (-132)

    Teams

    1. Ducati 317
    2. Repsol Honda 281 (-36)
    3. Monster Energy Yamaha 234 (-83)
    4. Suzuki Ecstar 192 (-125)
    5. Petronas Yamaha 161 (-156)

  • MotoGP Raceweek: Valentino Rossi fuelled by 2019 critics after return to form MotoGP Raceweek: Valentino Rossi fuelled by 2019 critics after return to form

    Valentino Rossi enjoyed his second place in qualifying for the British Grand Prix even more because of the criticism he has encountered in 2019.

    The MotoGP icon, 40, now hopes to be in the mix with pole-sitter Marc Marquez on race day and end a long absence from the podium.

    Rossi finished second in two of the first three races this season but has not returned to the podium since in a stretch of eight grands prix that included three straight retirements.

    His poor run of form, and a gap of over two years since his last victory, has led to speculation that Rossi may contemplate retirement, but a fourth-place finish in Austria last time showed signs of life and now the Monster Energy Yamaha star has a higher placing in mind.

    Rossi told reporters: "It's normal at my age and at my point of my career, if I make three very bad races, people start to say 'He's old, it's time to stay at home', it's like this. 

    "For this reason I'm happier [with the result], because I know I can be competitive if I ride well.

    "It's already a good result, but it is important on Sunday to make a good race and fight for the podium. I know I have the motivation and I can be strong, because also I feel good physically."

    Rossi, who has his first front-row start since the third race of the year in Austin, believes the Silverstone circuit suits his Yamaha machine, but stressed the team have been making progress over recent weeks regardless of track suitability.

    "The layout of the track, the radius of the corners are good for our bike, medium-fast," he said. "For sure the new asphalt with a good grip helps. 

    "But in the last period Yamaha start to work in the right direction. They start to do clever things, change the situation very much compared to the last two years.

    "The bike is better, we accelerate better, the bike is easier to ride in more or less every part of the corner. We are not fast enough on the straight, but on the rest I think we improve in general.

    "Here at Silverstone is good for Yamaha but also in Austria we were not so bad."

    Five-time world champion Marquez once again distanced himself from the rest of the field on Saturday, claiming his fourth straight pole and eighth from 12 races with a stunning lap that was a stunning 0.428seconds quicker than closest challenger Rossi.

    He lost out to Dovizioso in a dramatic battle in Austria, but still leads the championship by 58 points and his Ducati title rival could only qualify seventh at Silverstone.

    Marquez has only won in Britain once but is in a perfect spot to improve that record, while his Repsol Honda team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is back from injury but only qualified 21st as he continues to battle pain.
     

    TECHNICAL ISSUE HAMPERS QUARTARARO

    The closely matched chasing pack of Rossi, Jack Miller, Fabio Quartararo, Alex Rins, Maverick Vinales and Dovizioso were separated by under two tenths.

    Australian Miller claimed his third front row of the season to celebrate his new deal with Pramac Racing, while Quartararo had been quickest in practice but fell short in Q2, later explaining a warning alarm for an unspecified technical problem hampered him.

    The French rookie said: "The first row I think yes [was possible], because we are [0.010s behind] and in this lap I made many mistakes. 

    "From the second sector of my first lap I had an alarm on my dashboard. I decided to finish my lap and then go to the box to check the problem. We had to change the bike and didn't have time to change the tyre. But we have a good pace and we'll give everything."

    HOME HOPE CRUTCHLOW FRUSTRATED AFTER CRASH

    Hopes of a good home result lie with LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, but he endured a poor qualifying session, crashing at Stowe while on his final flying lap.

    That left him ninth on the grid, his worst Silverstone performance since 2014, with plenty of work to do to do in his 150th race as he looks to bounce back from a retirement in Austria.

    "Bit of an amateur mistake to be honest, braked a bit too deep," Crutchlow said of his crash. "We looked on the data afterwards and I was so close to pulling it down, and if I would have pulled it down, I would have gained a big chunk of time.

    "That was why I committed to the corner, because I knew how deep I'd braked, I knew I had to be smoother and not lock the rear, because it would have sent me on anyway, but I committed to it.

    "On my actual timed lap I lost three tenths in one corner, that would have put me into the 1:58s. This is the way it is. I can't complain, I did the mistake myself and that's it. It's what happens when you push."
     

    THE GRID

    1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda)
    2. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha)
    3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing)
    4. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
    5. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
    6. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
    7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)
    8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha)
    9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda)
    10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
    11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
    12. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing)

    PREVIOUS WINNERS

    2018: No race due to poor weather
    2017: Andrea Dovizioso
    2016: Maverick Vinales (for Suzuki)
    2015: Valentino Rossi

    TITLE STANDINGS

    Riders

    1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) 230
    2. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 172 (-58)
    3. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 136 (-94)
    4. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar) 124 (-106)
    5. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha) 103 (-127)

    Teams

    1. Ducati 308
    2. Repsol Honda 259 (-49)
    3. Monster Energy Yamaha 205 (-103)
    4. Suzuki Ecstar 163 (-145)
    5. Petronas Yamaha 150 (-158)

    WEATHER FORECAST

    A dry, hot race is expected at Silverstone on Sunday, much like conditions for qualifying. Temperatures for the race could potentially reach 30 degrees celcius.

  • Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to claim superb British Grand Prix pole Marc Marquez beats Valentino Rossi to claim superb British Grand Prix pole

    Marc Marquez stormed to pole position at the British Grand Prix, beating Valentino Rossi with a blistering lap in the final seconds of qualifying.

    The Repsol Honda rider claimed his fourth consecutive pole and eighth from 12 races in the 2019 season with a track-record time of 1:58.168 at Silverstone, which was a stunning 0.428seconds quicker than Rossi.

    Jack Miller celebrated his new contract with Pramac Racing by producing an impressive effort to join the two MotoGP icons on the front row of the grid for Sunday's race.

    A 60th career pole for five-time world champion Marquez means he is in a strong position to extend his lead in this year's standings, while title rival Andrea Dovizioso – who trails him by 58 points - was down in seventh.

    Rookie sensation and qualifying specialist Fabio Quartararo had topped the timesheets in practice but had to settle for fourth position, finishing narrowly ahead of Alex Rins and Maverick Vinales.

    Franco Morbidelli and Cal Crutchlow join Dovizioso, winner of a dramatic race last time out in Austria, on the third row.

    Danilo Petrucci, who is third in the championship, was a poor 11th in the second factory Ducati bike, 1.319s off the pace.

    Dovizioso and Rins had to come through Q1 after falling short of the top 10 after FP3, but comfortably beat the rest of the field to join the 12-man battle in the second session. 

    But Q2 saw Marquez impressively beat the rest of the field, with under two tenths separating the closely matched chasing pack of Rossi, Miller, Quartararo, Rins, Vinales and Dovizioso.

    Jorge Lorenzo, the Repsol Honda team-mate of Marquez, will start the race in 21st position on his return from injury.
     

    PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

    1. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda): 1:58.168
    2. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.428s
    3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing): +0.434s
    4. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha): +0.444s
    5. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar): +0.502s
    6. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha): +0.594s
    7. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati): +0.594s
    8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha): +0.928s
    9. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda): +1.075s
    10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda): +1.259s
    11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati): +1.319s
    12. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing): +1.452s

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