Marquez Aiming For Le Mans MotoGP Win


Published on May 17th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Marquez Aiming For Le Mans MotoGP Win

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda RC213V) travels to legendary motorsport venue Le Mans this week with the aim of continuing his historic run of successes. So far this year the 21-year-old has dominated the MotoGP World Championship, taking pole position and race victory at all four rounds.
Not since 1971 – when MV Agusta and Giacomo Agostini were utterly dominant – has a rider taken the pole/win double at the first five races of the season. Indeed Agostini took pole and victory at the first eight races of 1971. Of course, that was a very different era, when MV Agusta were the lone factory team, competing against a grid made up mostly of privateers. Marquez races against 11 factory-equipped riders, including team-mate Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC213V) who holds second place in the points chase, having taken four podium finishes from the first four races.

Marquez’s 2014 successes in Qatar, Texas, Argentina and Spain have all been dominant performances in their own way and have shown the youngster getting more and more confident and consistent on his RC213V. At the last three rounds the former 125 and Moto2 World Champion was able to break away from the pack and fully control the race. Perhaps Le Mans could be a trickier event because the French Grand Prix is often marked by rainy weather. However, during last year’s rainy Le Mans GP – Marquez’s first MotoGP race in the wet – it took him just eight laps to become the fastest man on track and finish in third place, so it would take a brave man to bet against him continuing his winning streak.

If there’s one man who knows he can better Marquez this weekend it is Pedrosa, who won that race at Le Mans last May. Some years ago the former 125 and 250 World Champion struggled in the rain, but some specialist training – riding a dirt bike on slick tyres in sandy terrain – helped him perfect the art of racing in low-grip situations and now he is one of the most accomplished wet-weather riders.

Following his third-place finish at Jerez a fortnight ago, Pedrosa underwent surgery for arm pump. He wasn’t the only one. Former Moto2 title winner Stefan Bradl (LCR Honda RC213V) also had an operation to fix arm pump, a condition that affects many racers due to the huge forces they contend with while controlling a high-powered motorcycle, especially during heavy braking.

Arm pump ruined Bradl’s race at Jerez, where he was in the battle for fifth place, only to slip back to tenth as his right arm became weaker. The German has shown that he can run close to the front this year, with a front-row start at the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas where he finished fourth, less than two seconds off the podium.

Nicky Hayden (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) has had a good start to 2014 aboard Honda’s brand-new production MotoGP racer, built by the factory to give private teams a chance of gunning for top-ten results. Eighth at the season-opening Qatar GP, the 2006 MotoGP World Champion has been 11th at the last three GPs, crossing the line at Jerez less than three seconds outside the top ten.

The American’s team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive 7 Aspar Honda RCV1000R) had a slightly slower start to the year but the former 250 World Champion beat Hayden in Argentina after a last-lap sort-out and finished just a few seconds behind him at Jerez. No doubt the pair will continue their duel to be the top RCV1000R rider at Le Mans on Sunday.

MotoGP rookie Scott Redding (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RCV1000R) continues his MotoGP apprenticeship at Le Mans, where he scored his first Moto2 victory this time last year. The Briton has scored points in three of the four races so far this season, working all the time to increase his knowledge of electronic rider control systems, which aren’t used in Moto2.

Alvaro Bautista (Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini RC213V) scored his first points of the year at Jerez, following three crashes at the opening three races. The Spaniard’s hard-fought sixth-place result could have been better but for the fact that he was determined to take no big risks to be sure of his first score of 2014. Bautista was also sixth at last year’s soaking French GP.

Like most MotoGP riders, Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing Honda RCV1000R) stayed on at Jerez for a one-day test session and the Czech rider believes his team gained important information that will improve his performance at Le Mans and beyond.

Le Mans first joined the motorcycle World Championship calendar in 1969, since when the French GP has been hosted at the Sarthe venue as well as Circuit Paul Ricard, Nogaro and Clermont-Ferrand. The motorcycle GP uses the 4.8km/2.6 mile Bugatti circuit, as opposed to the much longer street circuit used for the Le Mans 24 hour car race. Last month bike racing’s biggest 24 hour event – the Bol d’Or – was also staged at Le Mans.

The circuit is characterised by mostly slow-speed corners, which prioritise braking, steering, traction and acceleration. Honda have enjoyed many great premier-class victories at Le Mans, with Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Mick Doohan, Alex Crivillé, Valentino Rossi, Sete Gibernau, Marco Melandri, Casey Stoner and Pedrosa all enjoying victory at the circuit.

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