Team Suzuki Press Office – May 16.
The fifth round of the 2018 MotoGP championship will be held at the historical French circuit of Le Mans, home of some fierce battles and thrilling GPs in the past. Team SUZUKI ECSTAR arrive in France after three podiums in a row, and a positive test in Mugello last week, which was useful for developing immediate setup options, and also for working on the future direction of development.
Being a “Stop & Go” track, the Le Mans circuit is not one of the most suitable for the GSX-RR, but the consistent improvements made since last year gives the two factory riders Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins hope for a good performance.
Iannone is still enjoying the sweet feeling of two podiums in a row – third in Texas and third in Jerez – but is also keeping his focus on this next tricky track. Last year’s race was a tough one and this will be a further motivation for him to return stronger than ever.
Rins is once again arriving as a “rookie”, due to the injury which kept him out at the start of last season. The beginning of 2018 has also been a difficult one for the Spaniard, but the excellent third place in Argentina, and the consistent performances in all sessions of the following GPs, mean that he has kept his confidence and is still aware of his potential.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“I would say we’re arriving at Le Mans in a very different situation to last year, when we had a tough weekend. This year I think things are more straightforward, we come to France after three podiums, but what is especially important is that we have also improved our competitiveness overall. Every weekend we are closer to the top guys, and therefore Le Mans will be another step to check our progress and our level. We had a test in Mugello last week which was quite positive, we were able to explore some new solutions for the future and prepare for the race. We will also try to take the benefits of this test already during this weekend. Andrea comes following a good trend with the two consecutive podiums, and also Alex is arriving after steady improvements, so let’s try to chase good results.”
“Le Mans is not a favourable track for our bike on paper, last year was very difficult, but also Jerez was supposed to be tricky for us and in the end we still got a podium. For sure we are arriving in France in a totally different situation compared to last year, we are in much better shape and we are much more aware of our potential. We will try again to start in a good way and to adapt the GSX-RR to the circuit’s characteristics. Right now we are in a very positive moment; there is harmony and understanding within the team, which is an important advantage when aiming for top results. So we arrive in Le Mans with a big surge of energy!”
“I’m looking forward to Le Mans, and this year they have resurfaced it, but in any case I have very good memories there – as it’s the place where I got my very first podium in Moto3 in 2012. I have a lot of motivation to make a good race. We’re arriving after a very positive test in Mugello last week where we found some new solutions and I gained positive feelings.”
The Le Mans circuit is a tight track dominated by first gear corners which place the emphasis on late braking and hard acceleration, whilst rear end traction is also a key area. It is a prime example of a typical “Stop & Go” circuit. The first part of the circuit is used by cars in the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race and is one of the oldest European tracks still holding racing events. In 2016 a third place in the GP resulted in the first podium for Suzuki since their comeback. The track is 4.2 km long with an average width of 16 metres and with a 674 metre-long straight.
Qualifying: 17th – 1’32.844 (Q1)
Race: 10th – +48.332
DNS – out with injury.
Qualifying: 23rd – 1’34.082 (Q1)
Race: 15th – +1’06.878
Story issued by Team SUZUKI ECSTAR