10 MotoGP Quotes: Le Mans Pre-Race Press Conference

French riders Johann Zarco and Loris Baz joined the championship leader, defending series titlist, and Jerez winner at Thursday’s event.

2017 French GP
Racers at the pre-race press conference at the 2017 Grand Prix of France.Photo: MotoGP

Questions surround this weekend's HJC Helmets Grand Prix of France, round five of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship. A brand-new, ultra-smooth track surface received high marks following a recent test, but a variable weather forecast has all involved on edge.

Last October, the 14-turn, 2.6-mile Bugatti circuit was completely resurfaced. Reportedly, more than 50,000 square meters of asphalt were removed and replaced. Rain is expected on Friday but is less likely on Saturday and Sunday—a scenario similar to that of round four in Jerez, Spain.

Le Mans is located about 130 miles southwest of Paris and four hours from Clermont-Ferrand, home of MotoGP tire supplier Michelin. France is represented in the premier class by Johann Zarco, Loris Baz, and this weekend, replacing injured Alex Rins, Sylvain Guintoli.

#GoNicky, Nicky Hayden
MotoGP riders keep Nicky Hayden in their thoughts at Le Mans.Photo: MotoGP

Prior to Thursday's press conference, current series points leader Valentino Rossi spent a few minutes talking about 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, who suffered life-threatening injuries in a bicycle accident on Wednesday in Italy and remains in critical condition.

“Very, very bad news,” Rossi said. “I spoke with a doctor, my friend, who said to me that the situation was from the first moment very difficult. Nicky is a great friend and a great rider, a world champion, but especially a good guy. We all hope for the best.”

Valentino Rossi, Movistar YamahaPhoto: MotoGP

Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha: "The weekend in Jerez was very upsetting for me and the team, especially considering the results of the first three races and the last years. Unfortunately, we lost the small advantage we had on the two Hondas, but I'm still at the front with the points."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: "In the last two races, we made improvements. We are getting better—practice by practice, race by race. The test at Jerez, overall, was very good. We need to test the new surface here but the riders who have tested it already said grip was quite good."

dani pedrosa post-race jerez test
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa testing at Jerez following his Spanish GP victory.Photo: Repsol Honda

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: "Jerez was not one of my best weekends, but I was able to fight for the victory. I am happy for the result and also for the Monday test. I tested many things and improved a bit. Now, here in Le Mans—another circuit where we have struggled—we will see."

Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3: "It's a special weekend after a great season debut. All the fans are pushing to say, 'Zarco podium, Zarco podium.' I want that, too, but I need time to control everything. We have new asphalt and maybe this can help me have a good feeling."

johann zarco
Johann Zarco, Yamaha Tech 3Photo: MotoGP

Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha: "We have to work because, in Jerez, it looks like the marriage between the tires and the M1 and the track is always very bad. For this reason, we don't know what to expect from this weekend. In the past, the M1 was always good."

JL99 at Le Mans
Last year, Jorge Lorenzo ran away with the French GP, taking a flag-to-flag victory on the Yamaha.Photo: Movistar Yamaha
Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati TeamPhoto: MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team: "From 2003, when I achieved my first front row, this has always been a good track. I achieved good results in all of the classes, so it's a magical track for me. It can also be a good track for Ducati. The weather look rainy but, for sure, it can improve."

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol HondaPhoto: MotoGP

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda: "It's hard to say in this moment what conditions will be for the weekend. We struggled here in the past. I'm hoping the bike works better this time. For sure, you must always count the Yamaha here, and Zarco is riding well."

Loris Baz, Reale Avintia Racing: "I remember coming here as a child to watch the GP and cheer for the French riders. I remember very well the first GP I did here two years ago. It's a moment that you keep in your mind all of your life. Racing is quite famous in France, more than we think."

Loris Baz, Avintia Racing DucatiPhoto: MotoGP
Marc Marquez, Repsol HondaPhoto: MotoGP

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda: "I like this circuit. In 2014, I won; 2013 was also a good race in the wet. Last year, I was fighting for the podium. So, we will see. We will try our best. We know that a podium here would be a good result."

Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3: "If I have something more, why not stay with these top riders? When I analyze the race from the last race there are many things to learn, and I want to learn them as quickly as possible. The potential of the bike is to be on the podium."