Defending MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has admitted that this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Le Mans is ‘critical’ as he aims to get his title campaign back on track. Yamaha will provide new parts for the M1 in a bid to eradicate the chatter problems that have plagued their season to date.

Le Mans is certainly not a favourite for either Rossi or team-mate Colin Edwards due to its stop-start nature, but a double podium result there last year, led by Rossi’s fastest lap and success, has given the team reasons to be confident as they bid to finally get on top of the M1.

Chatter problems returned to plague both Rossi and Edwards at last weekend’s Grand Prix of China, but while both riders rode around the problems to run at the front of the field, it was Edwards who went on to take a podium slot as Rossi’s charge from 13th on the grid ended with a front tyre problem.

The Yamaha M1 is clearly a quick bike, but the persistent chattering has caused much concern and new parts brought to Le Mans are critical for if they fail to cure the problem then the following run of five races in seven weeks could see Rossi’s title hopes disappear.

“Luck has definitely not been on our side but the most important thing now is to sort our problems out as soon as possible because we have a run of important races coming up – starting at Le Mans,” Rossi said. “The next four or five rounds in Europe are the &lsquomain course’ of the season and it is a critical time for us.

“We have got some new things to try at Le Mans so hopefully they can help us find a good base set-up but still have enough room for improvement to keep the pace with our rivals,” he added. “We are up against good riders on good machinery and we have to be at our maximum level to beat them.”

Team boss Davide Brivio added that part of the developments brought to Le Mans include a new chassis for Rossi. “The engineers at Yamaha have been working very hard to make sure that Valentino will have a new chassis available from the first practice session on Friday,” he said.

“We will compare it with the current one and will decide later if we will use it or not,” he added. “We will also remain there for a test on Monday to continue with our development.”


For Edwards, Le Mans has always been a happy hunting ground and after reaching the podium in China despite visible vibrations, the Texan is confident of repeating his third position of last year.


“It’s no secret that we’ve been having problems with the bike but we’re working hard and if we’re capable of winning races and taking podiums when we’re in trouble then just think what we can do when everything is running smoothly,” he said.

“We’ll have some work to do with the set-up of the bike but this track was good for us last year so hopefully it can prove a little bit easier to adapt to and not as critical in terms of the problems we’ve had at the last few circuits.”


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