Grand Prix de France preview

Round five of the 2015 Moto GP season is upon us and this weekend’s French Grand Prix is impossible to predict.

The circuit of Le Mans has played host to 27 MotoGP rounds since the arrival of the Championship to the circuit in 1969 and this Sunday’s race is set to be one of the most intriguing the French crowd has ever witnessed.

With Jorge Lorenzo grabbing his first victory of the season in his homeland of Spain last time out the paddock has never been closer. The 28-year-old admitted he had endured a tough time mentally after his baron run without a win since Motegi last year, but his fortunes looked to have turned after an emphatic victory in Jerez.

Fellow Spaniard and reigning World Champion Marc Marquez managed an impressive second place after surgery on his hand hindered his ability to use the clutch on his Repsol Honda. Marquez has never been off the podium in France since he made the leap to the premier class and will be hoping to return to winning ways this weekend as he looks to mount a stern defence of his title.

Valentino Rossi enters round five with a 15-point lead at the top of the Championship and heads to a track the Yamaha knows well. Although the Italian hasn’t won in France since 2008 he boasts an incredible run of eight straight podiums and if he is to mount a serious title challenge consistency will be key this season.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa makes his eagerly anticipated return to the MotoGP paddock this weekend after missing the last three rounds recovering from surgery after arm pump in Qatar saw the Spaniard question his future within the sport. Honda will be pleased to see the 29-year-old return with replacement rider Hiroshi Aoyama struggling to match Pedrosa’s results.

Ducati meanwhile, will arrive in France with little expectation, but they have defied the odds before. The Bologna outfit have never secured a race victory on French soil and after Andrea Dovisiozo’s ninth place finish in Jerez their European struggles may continue. The team’s other Italian, Andrea Iannone, will be looking to build on an impressive qualifying performance in Spain, but after crashing out during the race, and then at Mugello during testing last week, he enters the weekend with a dislocated shoulder which will certainly hinder the 25-year-old’s race fitness.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow will be hoping to improve on his eleventh place finish at Le Mans last year after a podium in France in 2013. Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro will also be hoping to go one better and grab himself a podium finish after an impressive fourth in last year’s outing behind team-mate Bradley Smith.

Marc VDS’s Scott Redding last tasted victory in the Moto 2 class at the French circuit in 2013 and with Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandes and Danilo Petrucci will be hoping to pick up where they left off after an intriguing battle saw the Columbian come out on top.

Team Suzuki Ecstar have made large strides and the Spanish pair of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales will be aiming for a top ten finish this Sunday to continue their incredible return to the paddock.

Further down the field Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera currently leads the Open class battle by four points over the up and coming Australian Jack Miller, Aspar’s Nicky Hayden will also be looking to improve on his results so far this season collecting just three points up to this weekend.
Joe Urquhart